Online contempt of court 'a joke'
HIGH-PROFILE politicians have slammed a soft sentence handed down to a serial offender this week, calling on the State Attorney General to appeal the “grossly inadequate sentence”.
Shadow Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie and LNP Member for Southern Downs Lawrence Springborg yesterday expressed their dismay Stanthorpe woman Tanya Marie Smith was not only allowed to walk free but publicly flaunted her freedom.
Avoiding jail on Wednesday for not one or two but five breaches of a suspended sentence, Tanya “Tonk” Smith took to her Facebook page to gloat over her inability to have a jail sentence “stick”.
Dubbing herself “Teflon Tonk” this week, Smith ridiculed the system that allowed her jail-dodging, posting on her page “Teflon tonk hey. Nothing sticks to me. Lmfao (Internet slang for Laughing my f------ a--- off)”.
Mr Bleijie criticised the decision to let Smith walk free from court and said it was Labor’s soft sentencing laws that were to blame.
“Serial offenders like ‘Teflon Tonk’ need to know that they won’t get away with crime,” Mr Bleijie said.
“The Attorney must immediately appeal this grossly inadequate sentence.”
Mr Bleijie said suspended sentences under this Labor Government had become nothing more than a “get out of jail free card” and allowed serial offenders to “thumb their nose at the law”.
“If courts aren’t willing to enforce breaches of suspended sentences then that sentencing option is useless,” he told the Daily News.
This is not the first time Smith has used the social networking site to mock and ridicule the justice system after a stint in the courtroom.
In February Smith took to Facebook, encouraging her friends to comment if they thought she should dress inappropriately for court the following day.
She then posted she had dressed in skinny jeans, platform boots and a “cleavage shirt” in an attempt to get kicked out of court for a second time.
Smith wrote: “The word of the day will be ‘inappropriate’. Wonder if I can get kicked out of court again today?”.
Earlier that week Smith was sent home to change into something more appropriate and later unleashed an online barrage of demeaning insults at the magistrate.
But despite her bravado Smith also declared online that she was preparing for jail time, at one point posting: “My friends shud (sic) keep me drunk til I go to court on friday. Might be going on a wee holiday”.
Mr Springborg yesterday penned a letter to Attorney-General Paul Lucas to ask for an appeal, saying decisions such as this caused people to lose confidence in the justice system.
“Frankly it is a joke and it just goes to show a person can go out and show such contempt of the courts and get away with it,” Mr Springborg said.
“People should be infuriated and sickened by a person who thinks it’s really smart they got away with it.”
Mr Springborg said laws could only be respected if they were enforced and those in power led by example.
“If you breach a suspended sentence once you should be dealt with, let alone these people who breach again and again and again and again,” he said.
Mr Springborg said the sentence was a “green light” for offenders to continue to do what they wanted and think they could get away with it.
“A suspended sentence is for people to get their life back in order, not to commit further offences,” he said.
“People see it is a joke and the conduct of this offender is an insult to the justice system and the community.
“This is someone who is incapable of having respect for the system, let alone society norms, the community and authority.”
A spokesperson for the Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Paul Lucas yesterday said Mr Lucas would consider any advice he might receive from the Director of Public Prosecutions and would not speculate prior to that point.
Mr Springborg yesterday said he thought people like Smith would probably enjoy their disregard for the law being publicised – a point which may have been proven by another of Smith’s posts.
“Wonder if I’ll make front page news again tomorrow,” she wrote on Facebook.
“If u want my autograph I’ll be at the Country Club”.