Has judge broken the law by ordering artistic pot smoker to sketch him in court?

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By Thomas Connelly on

Cannabis consuming teenager ordered to draw judge and solicitors three times a week


A 16-year-old at Londonderry Magistrates Court in Northern Ireland — having failed a police drugs test on Wednesday — has received a somewhat unusual order from the bench.

District Judge Barney McElholm — clearly fancying a self-portrait for chambers — ordered the unnamed teenager to become the unofficial court sketch artist for the week.

The pot smoker — who according to a BBC News report has a penchant for all things artistic — must attend court for three days, bringing a sketch pad and pencil.

According to the report, Mr McElholm said:

You must bring with you a sketch pad and a pencil and you can draw me and the solicitors for two hours each day. Only me and the solicitors, and I will review the matter on Wednesday.

Warning the teen, he continued:

If you look stoned you will be arrested.

Martin Beckford, Home Affairs editor for the Mail on Sunday asked his 6,000-plus Twitter followers whether this was legal.

After some initial back and forth between Beckford and barrister-turned-legal-affairs-guru Andrew Keogh, both agreed McElholm would be in breach of the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1945, the legislation prohibiting images being sketched within Ulter courtrooms.

It would appear the 16-year-old is in a bit of a predicament. Better have a quick spliff to calm down.