Barrister hit by fit of the giggles while reading Gangsta-style Facebook messages in court

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By Alex Aldridge on

Crown Court judge intervenes as barrister succumbs to uncontrollable laughter


Hull criminal barrister John Thackray has the appearance of a man who’s been gnarled by the hard-bitten realities of his professional life.

I mean, just look at the deep lines etched into the forehead of the rugged Wilberforce Chambers tenant — who, with his close-cropped hair, has an aura of 90s The Bill hardman DI Burnside about him. This isn’t someone, you’d assume pretty confidently, who’d succumb to an uncontrollable fit of the giggles


Well you’d be wrong about that. Last week at Hull Crown Court, Thackray’s frantic chortling forced a judge to tell a jury to retire so that they could read key pieces of evidence in an unlawful wounding and sexual assault trial.

In fairness to Thackray, he seems to have been handed a bit of a hospital pass by judge Mark Bury — who, according to the Hull Daily Mail, asked the barrister to read some gangsta-style Facebook messages with the following quip:

“We could do with a teenager at this point, but we haven’t got one, we’ve only got Mr Thackray. He’ll try to do his best.”

The first message seems more Yorkshire than gangster:

“Sent me message today through my mate, a bloke in jail, she was on visit today.”

And Thackray just about handled it. It was the response that set him off:

“I know dat.”

With the barrister unable to regain his composure, it was at this point that the judge asked the jury to leave court to read the messages, telling them:

“Perhaps it’s better if you retire to read them because this could get quite embarrassing.”

Fortunately, during his subsequent summing up, the judge was able to hold it together himself as he quoted some of the messages, including this one:

“I’m catted up. Ruthless. I’m going to stab the life out of him.”

Seemingly quite enjoying himself by now, the judge went on to admit to knowing the meaning of ‘LMFAO’ but declined to share it with the court.

The defendant, Andrew Reid, was found not guilty of unlawful wounding and sexual assault, but admitted criminal damage.