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Prison video rappers get nine-month jail sentences

2015-12-23 12:52:26

Demehl Thomas and Moysha ShepherdDemehl Thomas (left) and Moysha Shepherd

A judge has handed nine-month jail sentences to two prisoners at HMP Birmingham who starred in a three-minute rap video recorded behind bars on an illegally-held mobile phone.

Moysha Shepherd and Demehl Thomas, who appeared in court via a videolink, sniggered as a judge said he did not want to waste time watching their rap duet.

The defendants, both 25, pleaded guilty after becoming the first ever inmates to be charged with making an unauthorised sound recording in prison.

Father-of-six Shepherd, formerly of Hamstead Road, Handsworth, was charged with breaching the 1952 Prison Act in September while serving a five-year sentence for dangerous driving and involvement in a prison van break-out plot.

Thomas, previously of Vernolds Croft, Highgate, was serving a seven-year term for aggravated burglary.

After the men admitted making the illegal recording between August 1 and 16 this year, prosecutor Peter Grice told Birmingham Crown Court the video was the subject of a national newspaper report on August 17.

Judge Patrick Thomas QC was then asked by Mr Grice if he would like to watch the video before passing sentence.

Opting not to view the short film, Judge Thomas replied: “It’s unlikely to appeal to me and unless it informs me (in passing sentence) I am not going to take up valuable court time.”

The court heard that a third unknown inmate had recorded the musical video, which contained nothing which could be considered grossly offensive.

Demehl Thomas and Moysha ShepherdDemehl Thomas and Moysha Shepherd reportedly used illegal mobile phone to record rap in HMP Birmingham

Geraldine Toal, mitigating for Shepherd, said of the footage: “I have seen it twice. It’s simply a rap video.

“It is clear that there is someone else there taking this video.”

The other defendant’s counsel, Thomas Schofield, told the court: “ This is two men singing and rapping to another prisoner inside about their hopes for release and the future.”

Judge Thomas told the amateur rappers that illegal possession of mobile phones could be “highly disruptive” and have serious consequences for prison security.

The judge added: “No great crime seems to have been committed by you in respect of that mobile phone above and beyond the possession of it.

“I hope we don’t have any more of this kind of offending - mobile phones are banned in prison for a reason.”

Detective Constable Jim Farrell, from West Midlands Police prison-based team, said the sentencing would hopefully deter others from doing the same.

He said: “These two inmates defied prison rules, and the decision to take them to court shows this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated.

“These individuals showed a blatant and deliberate disregard for the law which is there for a reason .

“It is there to minimise the potential for a camera or recording device being used to produce images or sound which can then be transmitted to people outside the prison and possibly compromise security or pose a threat to the safety of prisoners and staff.

“The message is clear: we will always look to prosecute offenders.”

G4S Director for HMP Birmingham, Pete Small, said: “Today’s sentence sends a strong message to prisoners who think they can brazenly break prison rules without consequences.

“While these men were put onto the most basic prison regime at the time, I am delighted that West Midlands Police also brought charges and they now face additional time behind bars.

“Today’s decision is testament to our strong links with the police and prisoners should be in no doubt that where legislation exists in addition to prison rules, we will always pursue the toughest sanctions possible.”

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