So a guy named David Davies was recently caught filming evidence at Cardiff Crown Court and putting it online. That’s a pretty daft thing to do. It’s a pretty flagrant violation of the law, right in a place dedicated to prosecuting people who break the law, and it’s hard to see what he stood to gain. It’s pretty much one step up from trying to burgle a police station. A lot of people had a giggle at what was a pretty stupid thing to do, but it’s not until you look at the details that you get a chance to appreciate just how many levels of stupidity were going on. Here’s a bit of a breakdown of the main ways in which Mr. Davies just didn’t think his act of rebellion through.
Breaking the Law
Okay, this is the blindingly obvious thing. But when you consider all the other things at play, the fact that it’s so blindingly obvious actually starts to look like part of Davies’ stupidity. It’s not just that he actually broke the law, nor that he ignored the many prominent signs warning him that he could be prosecuted for it. Even professional journalists with reputable news outlets are not allowed to do so much as snap a photograph in court, and the question of whether they should be allowed to bring in cameras and how freely they should be able to do so is a pretty big bone of contention right now. So it’s pretty much in the interest of the court not to undermine the matter by ignoring some random guy with a cameraphone casually sticking a video of a trial on the internet.
Doing it in Court
Breaking the law while in a courtroom isn’t just ironic, it’s pretty stupid. As a place specifically designed to hold and sentence criminals, a crown court will tend to have a fair amount of security. It will also have a number of judges (who can, to some degree at least, take immediate action against rule-breakers during a trial) and police officers at any given time. It’s not exactly the best place to break the law and expect to get away with it. It’s probably one of the best places to break the law if you want to maximise your chances of being caught and fast-track your prosecution.
Sticking it Online
Despite that, Davies might have gotten away with it if he had just taken the video and kept it to himself or, maybe, some trusted friends down the pub. But he didn’t. He decided to live-stream the video of the trial on Facebook for all to see. Predictably, people did see it. And they contacted the police. Sticking video evidence of your wrongdoing on the internet is the act of a very brave or very stupid criminal. Davies is definitely one of these things.
Returning to the Scene
They say a criminal always returns to the scene of the crime, and perhaps Mr. Davies took this to be a rule he shouldn’t break. The police could, of course, have gone and found Davies and then arrested him after they were alerted to his video. But it turned out they didn’t need to. He obligingly walked straight back to the court later that week, where he was taken into custody and subsequently handed a jail sentence.
The other thing that Davies apparently didn’t think through was the risk-reward ratio of his crime. Most criminals commit their crimes for financial gain or for romantic reasons like revenge or a way to strike out at a society that doesn’t understand them. It’s hard to say what Davies’ motive was, but it seems like a toss-up between “This is cool, so I should film it” and “This will get me so many likes on Facebook!”