SOCIAL MEDIA: THE BLACK COUNTRY AND CRUISING FOR A FALL: DEFENDANT FILM THYSELF
It is easy to cause problems on social media. It is particularly easy to cause problems for yourself. We have looked several times at the role of social media in the courts. Another example can be found in the judgment of Mr Justice Holroyde in Wolverhampton City Council -v- Green  EWHC 96 (QB).
Several local authorities had obtained injunctions prohibiting car cruising in the Black County area.* There was a practice of racing cars and driving stunts which caused danger and annoyance to the public. The defendants, knowing of the injunction, carried on with the practice. They were brought before the court for contempt.
DOWNLOADING VIDEOS OF THE BREACH ONTO SOCIAL MEDIA
We have another example of a defendant downloading incriminating evidence onto social media.
The Respondent, Mr. Green, filmed some of the activity and uploaded it to social media. I have seen two clips of the film which he recorded. I accept from the evidence I have seen that there is an audio content to the recording, although I have not been able to listen to it. What I have seen would win few awards for cinematography, but it makes very clear what was going on. Mr. Green, first of all, recorded his own car. It has been equipped with some special system of lighting which enables him to cause not only the headlights, front side lights and rear lights, but also additional and very bright roof-mounted lighting, to flash continuously. It does so doggedly throughout the minutes of film I have watched.
The film also shows the other cars assembled on the car park, for the most part stationary during the clips I have seen, and it shows various young men and women standing around or walking around the car park looking at one another’s vehicles. There are to be seen a few steps of dancing, consistent with the evidence that loud music was being played from the cars.
At some point in the longer clip of film the visual image is accompanied by a message. It says: “Everyone from all car clubs land in Flood Street”: clearly, an invitation to anyone watching the live broadcast on social media to make their way to the scene and add to the numbers present, and thereby of course to add to the nuisance caused.
Mr. Green (who has represented himself with considerable ability) tells me that it was not he who actually posted that message, it was probably one of the companions who were with him when he was filming. I am prepared to accept that is so, but it is nonetheless, in my judgment, a serious aggravating feature of Mr. Green’s breach of the injunction that he saw fit to film it and to transmit a live broadcast via social media.
The defendants were sentenced to four months’ imprisonment, suspended for a year provided the injunction was complied with.
(*Since this site has readers from outside the UK who may not be familiar with the area I should explain that the Black Country is the long-standing name for part of the midlands in England. It gets its name from the smoke that used to pour from thousands of foundries and forges, see the BBC guide).
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