Minister looks to change curfew rules after thug's Thai holiday
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is looking to change court guidelines after a criminal from Cornwall convicted of attacking three people had his curfew lifted so that he could go on holiday to Thailand.
In a letter to magistrates, Mr Grayling said he had ordered his officials to "review" rules that had allowed Nathanial McIntosh, 23, from Falmouth, to apply to get his curfew lifted to go on a pre-booked month-long trip.
He had been convicted at Bodmin magistrates' court of a "sustained attack" which included kicking and punching three victims in Newquay.
He received a 12-week suspended prison sentence and an eight-week curfew from 7pm to 6am. But magistrates at Truro agreed to relax the curfew for the duration of the holiday.
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The amateur footballer's conviction gained notoriety after McIntosh posted a shirtless picture of himself on social networking site Instagram wearing swimming shorts on a sun-kissed beach. The story appeared prominently in several national newspapers.
He also told his friends what an amazing time he was having at Thailand's full-moon parties and wrote of "going for drinks with the lads" when he returns to the UK.
A Ministry of Justice source said: "I don't think the public would understand why someone can put a metaphorical 'two fingers' up to the law.
"If a punishment has been handed out because an offence has been committed, then I don't think most people would understand why someone is allowed to go on holiday in spite of having a punishment for something they've done wrong."
The Conservative minister's letter warns of the need to "take steps to prevent things like this from happening in the future" and adds: "I do not believe that the public can have confidence in a system where an offender can delay a penalty in order to go on holiday".
The letter reads: "It appears that this decision was taken within the current rules, but the case has prompted me to think that we need to look again at those rules and take steps to prevent things like this from happening in future.
"I am reluctant to limit magistrates' discretion, but I do not believe that the public will have confidence in a system where an offender can delay a penalty in order to go on holiday. I am therefore asking my officials to review the current situation in consultation with yourselves, and to look at the most appropriate way of closing what seems to me to be an inappropriate loophole in the way we administer justice."
David Davies, Tory MP for Monmouth, had criticised relaxing the curfew for a holiday as "absolutely horrifying". "But sadly this is an all-too common story of an offender not having their sentence properly enforced," he said.