Lewis Jenkins found not guilty of communications charge after filming aftermath of tragic crash and posting on social media

A clubber who filmed the aftermath of a horror smash – and then posted the footage to the internet – has been cleared of sending an obscene communication.

Saturday, 5th September 2020, 7:00 am
Lewis Jenkins

Lewis Jenkins, 21, admitted using his iPhone to capture seven seconds of devastation after the 4.15am crash in Chichester Road, South Shields on Friday, January 24.

Prosecutors at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court said the grainy video was grossly offensive.

Mr Jenkins, of Carrol Walk, South Shields, admitted he could be heard shouting at the scene.

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The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

The court heard he had been nightclubbing with the occupants of the crashed Audi and had been following in a second vehicle.

As he got out and began shooting the footage from about 15ft away, which he immediately uploaded to a messaging app, the driver of the car he had been in sped away, the court heard.

While a woman survived the accident, but with life-changing injuries, Barry Armstrong, 25, died after the smash and another man was hurt.

Prosecutors claimed Mr Jenkins had known posting the film would cause gross offence to the 15 people in his group on the social media app, none of whom were related to the victims.

But magistrates, who branded his actions while drunk “very, very foolish”, decided he had not been in a fit state of mind, due to shock, to fully understand the implications of his actions.

Clinton Leeks, chair of the bench, told him: “Did you send a message? Yes, clearly you did, and you have admitted that it was grossly offensive.

“Clearly it had the ability to grossly offend people, especially those relatives of the young people in the car.

“Did you intend it to be grossly offensive at the time? We do not think that in the state of mind that you were in that you considered that you were being grossly offensive by sending that material.

“We are satisfied that you did not realise that the material that you were sending was grossly offensive.

“We do think that you were very, very foolish but that is not the same, in this context, of acting in a criminal way.

“The case is not proven. The case is dismissed.”

The court heard Mr Jenkins, who had pleaded not guilty, and his friends had split into two cars to drive to a house party after the club.

It was solely by chance he had got into the rear seat of the second car, whose occupants did not see the accident but came across it seconds later.

Giving evidence, Mr Jenkins admitted to filming the aftermath and posting it, but insisted he had not done so to be deliberately offensive.

Asked by prosecutor Jeff Taylor if he had intended to cause offence, anxiety or distress, he replied: “No, not all.”

David Forrester, defending, said: “He was in a vulnerable state, emotionally, at that point.

"In fact, it would be counter to all knowledge of human emotion to think otherwise.”

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