Judge blasts Doncaster's Phillip Hartley as 'warped and irrational' in damning verdict after Facebook contempt trial
One of Britain’s most senior judges has blasted Doncaster sticker seller Phillip Hartley after jailing him for contempt of court, describing him as holding ‘warped and irrational views,’ ‘troublesome,’ ‘rude’ and ‘abusive’ in a damning judgment report.
Judge Jeremy Richardson QC sentenced Hartley to ten months behind bars and ordered him to pay more than £22,400 costs after hearing he had posted a number of offensive, rambling and foul-mouthed live video feeds on Facebook about a family court case he was involved in, revealing confidential details.
Now a full judgment into the hearing has revealed that Hartley repeatedly missed court dates, was abusive to court staff and police, rejected help from a string of solictors and sent abusive emails, calling staff ‘morons’ and saying they faced the ‘eternal flames of hell.’
In a damning 35-page report he said: ”I have every suspicion the defendant and others with similarly warped and irrational views about the family justice system in this country will regard the defendant as akin to a martyr of a certain type.
"He is nothing of the sort.
"He has shown contempt for the court. He is nothing akin to a martyr. Only someone equally irrational as he is, would ever think he was.”
Sitting as a judge of the High Court, Judge Richardson revealed Hartley failed to attend court on five seperate dates between July and September this year and sentenced him in his absence last Friday after he began swearing and shouting at the bench and was taken to the cells.
He also heard that Hartley, who describes himself as the #LoveCampaigner, had committed ‘very serious’ contempt by discussing the case on Facebook, with the Government's Attorney General bringing the case against him.
He said: “He was present at court, but after two attempts to bring him into court by custodial officers, he was so disruptive that it was impossible to produce him in the dock.
"He was abusive to the court and refused to participate in any meaningful way.
"His wilful refusal to engage with the court and his abusive attitude to the court has been the hallmark of his attitude throughout the entirety of this case.
"He declined to engage with the court or approach the case in any semblance of a civilised manner. Indeed, at one point he stripped naked in the custody suite causing officers immense problems at a police station, such that he could not be brought to court on that day.
"When at last he was persuaded to instruct solicitors, he dismissed them after 21 minutes in a conference in respect of which they had gone to immense trouble to arrange. He insisted on representing himself, despite the court explaining that was an unwise course.
“It is my view the defendant has deliberately endeavoured to taunt the court. I have overlooked the repeated rudeness and immense disrespect towards the court.
"It was at one stage hoped, with the assistance of solicitors, the defendant would agree to a psychiatric assessment. That was made impossible by the defendant. I am convinced, even if a medical consultation had been arranged, the defendant would have briskly disengaged from that process, as he has with everything connected to this case.
"I have a suspicion the defendant has some form of personality defect, but, having seen the defendant conduct himself in court, I am entirely satisfied that most of his behaviour is confected in an endeavour to deflect the court from its purpose; and is designed to be as insulting as he can contrive.”
Hartley, 38, formerly of Christ Church Road, but who had recently moved to an address in Mexborough and who describes himself as the #LoveCampaigner has been detained at HMP Doncaster following his sentencing.
Added Judge Richardson: “This case has been exceptionally difficult – not because it is inherently difficult – far from it – but because the defendant has chosen to be as troublesome as he could throughout the entire process.
“At any stage of the process the defendant could have engaged and presented his case. Instead he has acted with a curious mixture of indifference laced with a variety of taunts in e-mails to either the court or lawyers acting on behalf of the Attorney General. He has also been rude to me and the court generally. He has been extremely difficult with court custodial officers, police officers and others.
“I have addressed the issue whether the defendant is competent. I am entirely satisfied he is competent. The fact he is making unwise decisions is not to the point. There is nothing in the evidence before me or anything which suggests the defendant lacks competence.
"At one point the defendant brandished a bible in court and made reference to a deity. He also asserted he had mental health issues.
"I have a suspicion he has a personality defect, but much of what he exhibited to me appeared confected. Certain it is, he does not lack competence to make decisions – even unwise ones – about this litigation.”
In his verdict, Judge Richardson revealed how Hartley had responded to emails from the court with a series of emojis of smiling faces while in another message he stated “Creep”,
“Good Luck Moron” and “Eternal Flames of Hell await thee”
Revealing how he had watched a number of Hartley's Facebook rants, the judge said:” The defendant repeats details of the case on a number of occasions.
"He is repeatedly abusive. Every post is littered with expletives and unpleasant profanities.
“There is also much rambling and bizarre language during all the posts.
“There is a substructure of malevolence and anger about each one of the posts. There is also a distinct air of confrontation and menace about each one of the posts – increasingly so as they unfold.”
Hartley, who describes himself as a ‘sovereign child of God’ repeatedly asked to be referred to the ‘man Phillip’ during the case.
“Mr Julian Blake, counsel for the Attorney General, assisted the court by alerting me to the fact the defendant at various stages has raised issues about his name. What he chooses to call himself publicly (or, indeed, privately) is a matter for him. His name remains what it is, unless he changes it in accordance with the law,” added Judge Richardson.
"The defendant seems to use the title or epithet “Love Campaigner” on his emails, but it is noteworthy the name of the defendant is encompassed in his email address.
“I regard the conduct of the defendant to be a very serious contempt.
“I am aware the defendant has a sense of grievance. It is not justified, but he feels it is. He has every right to vent his feelings – however misguided – about the family justice system, but he is not allowed to reveal details of a case heard in private.”
The court heard how Hartley had been repeatedly asked to remove the videos – but refused.
Added the judge: “The postings have been widely viewed – doubtless by many who share the misguided and warped opinions of the defendant. Unless this sort of conduct is punished appropriately, it will give the green light to others to do the same or similar in relation to other court proceedings which are conducted in private.
“The previous convictions of the defendant have been made available to me. He has breached many orders of the criminal courts. He has committed acts of violent crime and harassment.
"There are many pages of previous convictions from 1997 to 2021. He has been convicted of crimes of dishonesty and violence. It is clear the defendant defies orders of the
criminal courts too.”
“There is not a shred of remorse by the defendant. Indeed, the reverse – utter defiance of the court.”
“It must be made clear – and this must resonate to those who might be foolish enough to think they might try doing as the defendant has done in this case – if a person does as the defendant has done in this case, severe punishment will flow from that conduct.
“Put very shortly: if a person does as the defendant has done here, a long period of immediate custody awaits.”
The full judgement is available HERE