‘Flour bombing’ teen sentenced for ‘nasty attack’ on woman
A teenager who lost his job and college place, and was subjected to “worldwide opprobrium”, must now repay the community for his part in a “nasty attack” on a vulnerable woman.
Cohan Semple was the only one of five teens to have turned 18 when charged and then convicted of ‘flour bombing’ the 49-year-old in Bury St Edmunds on July 27.
As such, Semple, of Willcox Avenue, faced adult sentencing for threatening, abusive or disorderly behaviour, in an incident that drew ire from across the globe.
After pleading guilty in Ipswich on November 1, Semple returned to relive the case, as prosecutor Lucy Miller described the victim sitting on a bench off St Olaves Road when approached by a group of youths who asked if she wanted to buy drugs and then spat on her.
Some disappeared, she told the court, before returning with eggs and flour, which the group threw over her – an act captured on camera by Semple, who shared the photo with about 20 Snapchat contacts – one of whom posted the offending image on Facebook.
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Semple gave up the names of his co-conspirators when they were put to him in interview, but would not divulge his Facebook password and bemoaned receiving “death threats, humiliation and invasions of privacy”. Only with a solicitor present, did he express remorse for the photo, which he insisted was not intended for publication beyond a small group.
Representing him in court, Declan Gallagher said he would not mitigate the offence, which he called a “nasty piece of work”, but asked the bench to consider Semple’s early admission and his turning 18 three days before being charged, while his youth co-defendants each received 12-month referral order sentences.
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“He never sought to minimise his involvement, but he was far from the ringleader,” said Mr Gallagher, who explained Semple was not among the trio to buy the flour and eggs from a nearby Spar.
He said Semple had lost his warehouse job, was under home curfew for six weeks and received “worldwide opprobrium”, but was now engaging with mental health services to address problems evident before the offence.
Presiding magistrate Michael Cadman said the bench had considered Semple’s guilty plea, immaturity, and time spent under curfew. He received a 12-month community order, with 60 hours of unpaid work and 20 hours of rehabilitation activity. He must also pay £100 in compensation.
At an earlier hearing, four other teens admitted their involvement in what presiding magistrate at the time, Simon Ilett described as a “despicable attack on a vulnerable woman”.
The 17-year-old, 16-year-old and two 15-year-olds pleaded guilty on the same day as Cohan Semple.
All four were given 12-month referral orders and must pay £100 compensation.
The 16-year-old also admitted possessing a small quantity of cannabis when arrested – and was fined £20 for the drug charge.
A sixth boy, 17, denied the offence and faces trial on February 13.
Meanwhile, one of the 15-year-old boys separately admitted criminal damage but denied a charge of assault – both unrelated to the incident.
His referral order was set to run concurrently with an existing nine-month order for possession of a bladed article.
He faces trial for assault and sentencing for criminal damage on February 13.