Contempt sentence appeal dismissed

Defendant must serve an extra 44 days for disturbing the court

A man who received sentences totaling 44 days for contempt of court lost his appeal this week and will have to serve the time after he finishes a sentence handed down by another judge. 

Sven Brett Connor, 34, received sentences of 14 days and 30 days’ imprisonment from Magistrate Valdis Foldats for disrupting the Summary Court on Aug. 5. He appealed to the Grand Court on Monday. 

Crown counsel Scott Wainwright told Justice Charles Quin that Connor received the 14 day sentence, and then another 30 days for carrying on after being warned, using expletives against the judge. 

Defense attorney Amelia Fosuhene said Connor wrote a heartfelt letter of apology, which she handed up for Justice Quin to read. 

She agreed that court proceedings should not be disrupted. In this case, she said, Connor was banging on the cell bars below the courtroom to get the attention of custody officers because he had a toothache and was in pain and distress. She asked the court to consider whether 30 days was excessive, noting that Connor was not necessarily the most diplomatic person but now had had time to reflect on what he had done. 

Mr. Wainwright observed that if it were accepted that expletives were used, the sentence was not excessive. He pointed out that the Penal Code provides for a maximum sentence of four years. 

Justice Quin said Connor’s behavior had interfered with the administration of justice. Such offending had to be dealt with because people in court have a right to hear what is going on in a dignified manner. 

In delivering his decision, he commented on various kinds of disrespect. “When a defendant, having been warned, says ‘f––– the judge,’ that’s a whole different ball game. I can’t see myself interfering with what the judge did,” he said. 

He commended Connor for the letter he wrote, saying it was impressive. 

Connor asked if he could apologize to the magistrate. “I didn’t curse him to his face,” he pointed out. 

The judge said there could be no harm in the magistrate receiving the letter and an apology.  

At the time of his contempt, Connor was in Summary Court on a charge of causing fear or provocation of violence. That matter was adjourned to another date. 

The sentence for contempt is to be served after Connor completes a term imposed by the Grand Court for using cellphone texting to abuse, threaten and harass.