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Ramsgate sex offender referred to Attorney General over Canterbury Crown Court selfies

A sex offender who posted selfies taken at Canterbury Crown Court on social media shortly after being spared jail for molesting a teenager has been hauled back before a judge for a severe rebuke.

Charlie Steine now faces the possibility of further prosecution having also shared photos taken inside the building, with the matter referred to the Attorney General.

Charlie Steine was given a suspended prison sentence at Canterbury Crown Court, but was hauled up in front a judge over pictures he shared of himself afterwards. Pic: Facebook
Charlie Steine was given a suspended prison sentence at Canterbury Crown Court, but was hauled up in front a judge over pictures he shared of himself afterwards. Pic: Facebook

Sharing images of inside a court building is an offence of contempt and therefore KentOnline has chosen not to publish the pictures.

The 23-year-old, from Ramsgate, was said to have since deactivated his Facebook account but not before the report of his sentencing hearing and subsequent wrongdoing had been seen by Judge Mark Weekes.

Having given Steine a suspended sentence last month for an offence of sexual assault, the judge had told him to leave court and "reflect" on the "considerable milk of human kindness" demonstrated towards him by the victim's mother.

But within a few hours he had updated his Facebook profile picture to show him posing outside the court, captioning the image with a laughing emoji and saying "Crown court for the 7th time this year".

On the same day he also shared one of him posing in the courtroom corridor, despite numerous signs around the building saying cameras and photography are strictly forbidden.

Steine even claimed in response to a question asked by one of his Facebook friends as to why he was at court that it was "For having to say guilty for something I was innocent of, how crumbled the system is."

Having therefore been ordered that he return to court on Thursday last week, Judge Weekes remanded him in custody for two hours before lambasting him for his "totally unacceptable" behaviour.

He told a contrite Steine that the victim's mother would have been "rightly appalled" that her sentiments expressed for him in her impact statement had been "thrown back straight in her face".

Furthermore, Judge Weekes warned Steine that although the photos he snapped outside the building were not in contempt, the matter of any taken inside was to be referred to the Attorney General to consider whether an investigation was required and, ultimately, prosecution.

He told Steine his immediate reaction to learning of the Facebook post had been to send him to prison.

Charlie Steine laughed on Facebook about his seventh appearance at Canterbury Crown Court in a year. Pic: Facebook
Charlie Steine laughed on Facebook about his seventh appearance at Canterbury Crown Court in a year. Pic: Facebook

"When I sentenced you I invited you to go out and reflect on what I considered to be an extremely humane victim personal statement compiled by your victim's mother who wished you the best in life. I invited you to think long and hard," chided Judge Weekes.

"What in fact you appear to have done was gone out and effectively mock that because you emerged from court, took selfies of yourself around the car park and included the caption 'Crown court for the 7th time this year' with a laughing emoji.

"I can only imagine, if your victim's mother is a reader of KentOnline, what she thought when she saw that. Not only that but you included a suggestion you had been required to go to court to admit something you had not done. You knew full well that you had.

"When I first heard about it, I could see very little alternative to bringing you back and activating the suspended sentence. I suspect there are many inside and outside this court building who expect that is what I'm going to do and you would have no cause for complaint."

Judge Weekes said however that as he was "satisfied there is material that merits inquiry" by the Attorney General it would be "disproportionate" to activate the suspended jail term as well.

He added it was also "taking it a little too far" to say Steine had mocked justice.

But the judge warned him: "You have been remanded in custody and I hope that was a salutary lesson. If you ever appear in front of me again as a consequence of breaching your suspended sentence order you know what awaits you.

"And if you dare go out of this court and post some post such as you did after your last appearance, I can assure you your feet will not touch the ground and you will be going to prison.

"The Attorney General will now investigate whether there is a contempt of court. But if you so much as put a foot out of line in relation to the suspended sentence order I will not hesitate to activate it.

"This is your last warning. I don't regard what you did as remotely acceptable. It was totally unacceptable, absolutely appalling."

Charlie Steine’s actions has been referred to the Attorney General. Pic: Facebook
Charlie Steine’s actions has been referred to the Attorney General. Pic: Facebook

Having been handed an 18-month jail term suspended for two years, with 20 rehabilitation activity sessions and a 12-month drug rehabilitation requirement at his sentencing hearing, Steine was told on Thursday he would now also be subject to a review of his progress in front of Judge Weekes every three months.

Kerry Waitt, defending, said his client was "terrified" at the thought of going to prison and that his short spell in the court cells had given him "some time to eat the bread of reflection in the house of correction".

"His stupidity is not wasted on him. He understands that by his actions and posting what he did on Facebook - and reported in the press - was a thoroughly stupid thing to have done. He bitterly regrets his actions," the lawyer told the court.

"His explanation for it is that he was greatly relieved not to go to prison when sentenced....He tells me his primary motive in posting the picture of him outside the court was not to mock the court system but to show his readers or followers on Facebook how far he had come, how far he had changed, that he was no longer a drug addict.

"He was relieved...It was not intended as a mark of disrespect to Your Honour or to the court."

Mr Waitt added that Steine "did not appreciate" his Facebook account settings had been public and "immediately closed it down" after being "advised and warned" about his posts by his probation officer.

Contempt of court is punishable by a fine or up to two years in prison.

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