Magistrate stands by 'absolute scum' remarks

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The Independent Online

A magistrate who is facing disciplinary action after describing two teenage vandals as "absolute scum" insisted today he had used "appropriate" language.

The 16-year-old boys scribbled racist and sexually abusive graffiti on prayer books and bent a valuable cross out of shape in Blackburn Cathedral, Lancashire.

Sentencing the pair, who were caught after signing their names in the visitors' book, Austin Malloy, chairman of the bench, said: "Normal people would consider you absolute scum."

Mr Malloy said his fellow magistrates agreed with him but a court clerk objected to the language, claiming it was "inappropriate".

The mother of one of the youths, who cannot be identified due to their age, then lodged a complaint and an inquiry into the incident was launched.

Speaking on GMTV, Mr Malloy said: "We are trained and told to communicate with young offenders, any offenders for that matter, in language they understand. You have got to use language appropriate to those people so they understand exactly what you are doing.

"We felt we had to discipline the young boys and that's the language we used to make them understand the gravity of the crime they had committed."

He added: "It was a disgraceful crime. We considered it at length in the retiring room and it was the appropriate statement that we agreed on."

Mr Malloy criticised the actions of the clerk, Christine Dean, claiming she had acted "totally out of her brief".

He said: "She could have turned around and faced the bench and had a quiet word. If we could not agree then we would have retired and discussed it. It's not done to bring the bench embarrassment like she did.

"I believe that the magistrates' system has been brought into disrepute by her actions."

A Facebook page, the Austin Malloy Magistrate Support Group!, has attracted 377 supporters.

A spokeswoman for the Judicial Communications Office said: "Mr Molloy has not been suspended. The Chairman of the Bench and the Justices' Clerk are working together to find out exactly what happened in court with a view to determining whether any further action is required.

"In the meantime, Mr Molloy has agreed not to act as a Bench Chairman though he will continue to sit as a magistrate.

"All complaints are for the local Advisory Committee to consider and, if they think necessary, to refer to the Office for Judicial Complaints. No formal complaint has been received in this case."