UK judge sentences man to prison via Skype on iPhone


iPhone with gavel.
A world first?
Photo: Tingey Injury Law Firm/Cult of Mac

A judge in Carlisle, England, on Tuesday sentenced a man to prison using the Skype app on iPhone.

It is believed to be the first time in history that an iPhone was used to hand down a sentence. Crown Court judge Nicholas Barker was using a laptop for the video call, but technical difficulties forced him to resort to a smartphone.

“I’m doing [the hearing] by iPhone — the wonders of modern technology,” Judge Barker said as he began the proceedings, according to a News & Star report, via iMore.

The sentencing was done remotely as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and U.K. government guidelines that call for strict social distancing. Some courts remain closed following a countrywide lockdown.

A first for iPhone?

The 26-month prison sentence was handed down to former soldier and Carlisle local Andrew Ryan, 41, who admitted to stabbing his brother last December. Matthew Ryan suffered a punctured lung but survived the attack.

Video conferencing isn’t new to the courtroom, of course. In the U.K., Skype was already being used in certain circumstances, and it has become an integral courtroom tool since lockdown began on March 23.

Judges don’t usually have to use an iPhone for remote hearings, but if it works … it works?