An on-the-run robber has mocked South Yorkshire Police on their own Facebook page – hurling foul-mouthed abuse and saying he was ‘laughing’ at efforts to find him.
Sean Chamberlain was part of a South Yorkshire robbery gang who targeted a 4ft 3ins stage actor.
His trial went ahead in his absence because he had gone missing and police couldn’t trace him.
Prior to the trial starting on Tuesday, police issued an appeal to find Chamberlain on Facebook, putting out his picture and a description of him online.
Sheffield Crown Court heard Chamberlain had initially been taken in custody but was then granted bail and had failed to attend court hearings since October.
Chamberlain himself replied to the police appeal – posting a series of messages mocking the force’s efforts to find him after he failed to attend a number of court appearances relating to the case.
In one he said: “Says sumet when they looking so hard ive just been in shop at side of a cop lmfao.”
Some of the Facebook messages were read to court by prosecutor Nicola Quinney as part of an application to allow the trial to go ahead in Chamberlain’s absence.
When Judge Jeremy Richardson QC asked for an explanation of what ‘LMFAO’ stands for, defence barrister Gul Nawaz Hussain explained it was an abusive abbreviated way of saying he was laughing at the force.
In other messages, Chamberlain said he was not ‘running or hiding’ and if police did their job he would be in court.
Chamberlain claimed in another message the charge against him was a ‘set up’.
But a jury unanimously found him guilty of being part of the robbery of a Range Rover from victim Luke Pendlebury, a stage actor who was threatened by a group of men to hand over his car or face having his house burnt down.
Judge Richardson said: “The defendant has made entries himself on Facebook. He has been suggesting in a number of entries that the police have not done their jobs and if they had he would be before the court.”
He said this ‘could not be further from the truth’ as the police had made repeated inquiries with his family and associates to find him.
Judge Richardson added: “I have been told the defendant has placed what can only be described as an extremely offensive and vulgar acronym on the police Facebook page.
“I’m told he has entered the following – ‘LMFAO’. I have been told the words that fall within the acronym but I forbear to set out in the course of a judgement what that acronym stands for.
“It is vulgar, offensive and provocative in the context of this case.”
He said it was in the public interest to proceed with the trial in the defendant’s absence.
Following the guilty verdict, Judge Richardson explained to the jury that Chamberlain was on the run and had been ‘taunting the police electronically’.
He said that when he is caught, Chamberlain will be sentenced not just for the robbery but also for contempt of court and can expect ‘quite a substantial sentence’.
Chamberlain, aged 30, of Cumberland Way, Bolton-on-Dearne, Barnsley, will be sentenced today.
Three other men admitted robbing actor Luke Pendlebury‘s Range Rover and a fourth pleaded guilty to attempting to intimidate him.
Luke Blakemore, of Laburnum Road, Mexborough, Ryan Taylor, of Schofield Street, Mexborough and Joshua Roddis, also of Schofield Street, all pleaded guilty to robbery. John Gilliver of Schofield Street admitted witness intimidation.
They forced their victim to hand over his car claiming he owed £5,000.