[Article from our Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association newsletter]
The 17-year-old offender let his mobile ring with the music of American rapper Akon before he answered the call while sitting in the front row of the Darwin Magistrates Court yesterday, reports the Northern Territory News.
But when the teen "backchatted'' after he was told off, magistrate Daynor Trigg shouted across the courtroom and sent him to the court cells for three hours. The magistrate said he could have confiscated the phone for 28 days for the "rude'' act.
"How dare you answer a phone in court ... that allows transmissions from court ... which is a serious contempt,'' he yelled at the teen when he answered the phone. When the teen's phone initially rang, Mr Trigg immediately yelled: "If I hear one one more word from you, you're going to be in custody.''
His call came just minutes after Mr Trigg had warned a woman whose phone rang that she and "anyone else in court'' would get into trouble if they did not turn their phone off. When the alleged juvenile offender did not appear to care about his phone misdemeanour, waving it off as "my bad'', Mr Trigg lost his temper and ordered he be taken away just after 10.30am. "The woman next to you was rude enough to have her phone go off,'' Mr Trigg yelled. "I said to everybody to make sure your phones were turned off.''
"Sorry I thought it was,'' the teen replied. "Well you should have checked,'' Mr Trigg said. "Alright, my bad,'' the teen replied. "Sorry?'' Mr Trigg said. "My bad. Next time I'll know,'' the teen replied. "Don't talk back to me. Go into custody. Get a guard, take him into custody,'' Mr Trigg said.
The teen was in court to face two charges of entering a dwelling with intent and stealing when his phone rang, and Mr Trigg charged him with contempt of court. When the youth was brought back into court at 12.46pm he stood up and apologised. "Sorry your honour for um ... having my phone on and answering it during court and backchatting,'' the teen said.
"Thank you sit down,'' Mr Trigg said, lamenting that some young people did not realise how to behave in today's society. "One of the problems that seems to be developing within our community is that there is so much time devoted by schools and others to telling people what their rights are, without the corresponding lessons being taught as to what people's obligations are,'' he said.
He found the teen guilty of contempt of court, but said his time in the cells was punishment enough. And although he warned that his phone could have been held by the court for 28 days, he said "hopefully'' the teen had learnt that "rules in court are a little bit different to out on the street''.