The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

From The Postbag

I get quite a few emails, and here is an edited version of one:-
I am a magistrate and I'm particularly interested in council tax liability orders.
We refused to grant liability orders which were presented to us in a block of about 200 in court yesterday. We adjourned the case so they could provide information to prove that the correct procedure had been followed prior to the court hearing. The council was able to prove that it had sent out summonses, but unable to prove that it had sent out final notices (where appropriate) as required by law. We got the same reaction in court we would have got if we'd given Crippen a condiditional discharge.
Our reasoning was that the police are required to prove that they have complied with procedure before we will convict. Is it not reasonable to expect a similar standard of proof from councils? If we just grant liability orders without making any enquiries, it appears not to be possible for taxpayers to challenge whether the procedure has been followed because our court has already "signed" to say it has.
Why get courts to grant liability orders at all if we cannot inquire into whether procedures have been followed? Is it just to give the whole thing the appearance of accountability and judicial scrutiny? Or are we being paranoid?
Interesting point. For what it's worth I think that it's right to put the council's representative, who is on oath, through a proper, albeit random, examination and to decline to just sign the orders en bloc. We usually take the thick files out the back, and pore over them with a cup of coffee, and make notes of anything that we want clarified.

An Insider's View

This piece is in The Independent. I have no comment to make because the author can obviously speak for himself.

A Bit of a Drama

Most town pubs have at least one. You know, the slightly odd-looking bloke, always sitting alone, taking his time to drink his beer, cocking an ear to the regulars' conversations, but never included in them. Any drinker who allows himself to be trapped will have to endure mind-numbing tedium as Mr. Odd relates the many infamies (often inolving a divorce or the police) that have been visited on him.
He had recently become a regular in the Black Dog, a run-down boozer with no pretensions to be anything else. Oddly, he had sat for half an hour on the bus from his home to get in for his 11 a.m. pint. Someone was unwise enough to sit near him and in no time he was getting his ear bent. The barman saw Mr. Odd pick his holdall up from the floor and open it for his new friend to look inside. On top of the contents was a pistol.
The barman slipped out the back and dialled 999. The armed police were some way off so two plain clothes coppers arrived quickly, bought drinks, and kept a wary eye on the two drinkers. After about 25 minutes a policeman's mobile rang, and he spoke a few words. Next moment the pub's double doors burst open and the heavies crashed in screaming at both men to get on the floor. They were quickly handcuffed, having had a close up view of the nasty end of a Heckler and Koch MP5. It was a smoothly professional operation and the next morning we heard the whole story when our loner appeared in custody charged with possession of an imitation firearm with intent to do something or other. His unfortunate companion had been released without charge. Mr. Odd went off to the Crown Court, so I never did find out the rest of the story, but my hunch was that he was more sad than bad. He was lucky not to have been shot.

Monday, February 26, 2007


There have been many press reports about a boy who has become seriously overweight. He has been named and photographed. If he appeared in court as a defendant he could not be named. If he were a witness or a victim the court would make an order forbidding the publication of anything that might serve to identify him. For the crime of being fat, he is being publicly humiliated. How very very cruel.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Thinking The Unthinkable

The 'Independent on Sunday' claims to have obtained a leaked Home Office document that considers a limited relaxation of the supply of drugs to addicts. For many years this has been the Great Unsayable for politicians. Tough but meaningless talk about the War on Drugs has been the stock-in-trade of successive Home Secretaries for a generation. I was still at University when James Callaghan rejected out of hand the Wootton report. Sunny Jim had first-class political antennae, and whatever common sense arguments were in the report he was having none of it. Nearly 40 years later the courts have dropped into an uneasy twin-track approach; cautions and small fines for cannabis users, pretty much the same for small personal use quantities of Class A heroin and cocaine, and enormous prison sentences for importers and commercial-scale suppliers - only last week a cocaine importer was given 18 years.
I am no expert, but I have seen a lot of drug users. I have seen people apparently wrecked by cannabis-induced psychosis, and by heroin and crack addictions. Legal, illegal, or under government control these drugs are damaging, but so is the collateral damage, at the lowest level from 90-plus percent of shoplifters being users, to the enormous amount of money that has been poured into the big-city gangs, bringing murder and intimidation in its wake. Rich countries' hunger for cocaine and heroin has wrecked the economies of Colombia and Afghanistan too - no Fair Trade there.
It is important to know that there are realists in the Home Office, but what really matters is whether Ministers will grasp this nettle at last, or whether the research goes, like all its predecessors, into the 'too difficult' basket.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Reforms - An Update

This is how the latest reforms are looking from the sharp end of what our administrators insist on calling a business:-

Conditional Cautions A slow start. One Thames Valley area managed to issue fewer than 45 of them in eighteen months. Given the investment in training police and CPS they must have cost a bomb. I have no idea if the conditions are being enforced. A London court area that brought these cautions in last November has imposed, at the last count, two of them.
Community Justice The concept is being 'rolled out' across the country. Charlie is as keen as can be. The model, as I have said before, will not be the gold-plated Liverpool one, where resources were thrown at it, but rather the cheaper Salford scheme, which courts are expected to implement without any extra funding. I have spoken to some of the JPs involved, and to be fair they are keen on what they are doing, but the aims are pretty limited, at least for now. Salford sits one 'community' court a week, adults in the morning and youth in the afternoon. It only deals with a part of the court's area. There is nothing wrong though with magistrates getting involved with the community - we already do it, but there is no harm in sharpening up our act a bit.
CJSSS Criminal Justice - Simple Speedy and Summary is currently flavour of the month. As with Community Justice there is no new money, but it is about agencies doing what they should have been doing all along. The pilots have worked well, but all of the judges and magistrates I have spoken to say the same thing - it's a great idea, but the CPS won't be able to hack it - and they are the key to the whole thing. At one meeting we were told that the CPS would have case files at court by 9.30 at the latest, and that the prosecutor would have read them The bench could then look through them before starting business. The room erupted with laughter.
Legal Aid is turning out as practitioners predicted. Delay and cost is being built into the system, and the quality of justice will suffer.

Let's give it a go is the general feeling.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Cheeky Chappie

From The Police (Property) Act 1897
Where any property has come into the possession of the police in connexion [with their investigation of a suspected offence] . . . , a court of summary jurisdiction may, on application, either by an officer of police or by a claimant of the property, make an order for the delivery of the property to the person appearing to the magistrate or court to be the owner thereof, or, if the owner cannot be ascertained, make such order with respect to the property as to the magistrate or court may seem meet.
The applicant, who was represented by a solicitor, was a local car trader. He had been raided by the police who had taken away a dozen vehicles for further examination, suspecting them to be stolen. Things then went quiet, and a few months later, no police action having been taken, he applied to have the vehicles returned.
He was an engaging chap, and when invited to take the oath he apologised that he could not read, turning to me with a grin and saying "I can add up though". He claimed that he had bought the vehicles for cash, but had been a bit remiss with his paperwork.
In response we were shown police photographs, and there was undoubtedly something a bit dodgy going on, as every single engine and chassis number had been ground away, and a couple of vehicle ID plates had been crudely spot-welded into place.
To have a hope of hanging on to the property the police had to prove that it was stolen, and there they had a problem. In the absence of any chassis numbers they could not find any owners who had lost vehicles. When this dawned on them the best that they could do was to assign a traffic PC for one afternoon to try calling people from the phone book. Unsurprisingly he drew a blank.
The proceedings were civil ones, and we were obliged on the balance of probabilities to order the return of the property to Mr. Cheeky. We had to give him his lawyer's costs too. He gave me a cheery wave and a bright "Thanks Guvnor" as he left the courtroom.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Er - Sorry About That

I wrote in November about an upright citizen who suffered from heavy-handed policing at the Eurostar terminus and was unwise enough to accept a caution. The Police have now apologised and wiped off the caution (how?). That's as it should be, but how likely is is that someone without the Brigadier's impeccable character, and without his ability to get a letter in The Times, would receive anything other than a brush-off?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

So That's All Right Then

the age at which suspects can receive mandatory five-year sentences for possession of a weapon will be lowered from 21 to 17.

The Prime Minister denied the move was a knee-jerk reaction to the recent spate of shootings in London and Manchester.

This quote from a news report neatly sums up the breadth of the gulf between what happens on the street and the politicians' reaction to it. I do not doubt the PM's sincerity (although many do) but I do perceive the effect on him of a decade and a half that he has spent surrounded either with sycophants or with enemies, years which have served to erect a wall between real life and the political response to it.
Just imagine. We are in a run down flat in a run down part of South London. Four or five streetwise young men are there, perhaps gang members or perhaps aspiring to be gang members. Dope is smoked, perhaps a little crack too. The aspirants look wide-eyed at the seriously cool 19 year-old who has the £150 trainers and the chunky gold chains, funded like his other bling from drug dealing. The guy from three doors along has, they all know, a gun. It is produced from time to time with the reverence that in an older society was reserved for holy relics.
"Bad news, boys" says the senior. "We all gonna have to stop thinkin' about carryin' them guns, 'cos it's now at least five years when they get you".
So come on, Tony, what's the reaction going to be? Want a clue? Try derision. They don't see getting caught as a likely event because they are young and daft, just as we all were once.
There is no easy answer. Let us hope that the next generation of politicians understand that.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Dog Man Digs a Hole For Himself

The man who made an unglamorous living by disposing of unwanted (aka slow) greyhounds has appeared for sentence, and the magistrates have committed him to the Crown Court as they feel that their powers are insufficient. Interesting, that. He was charged under the environmental protection law, and there is no suggestion that any cruelty was involved. He simply killed the dogs and buried them, and in doing so he breached the rules. There is nothing illegal about killing and burying animals, but certain precautions need to be taken to avoid polluting watercourses, and so on. During the foot-and-mouth outbreak a few years ago millions of animals, all of them a deal heavier than a greyhound, were killed and either burned or buried. The magistrates had, as we do in environmental cases, a fine of up to £20,000 available, and/or six months in prison.
I was not in court, so I don't know what the bench heard, but I am sure that they will have focused their minds on the environmental issue and put any feelings of distaste for the fate of the dogs to one side.
We shall see what the Judge comes up with. My hunch is that he will sentence the case within the lower court's power (as happens in nearly half of all committals for sentence).

Later - following a complaint I have replaced the earlier photograph of a skinny dog with a less controversial Greyhound.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Courts Day By Day

Here are a few things I have noticed in the last couple of weeks:-

Legal Aid continues to cause delays in getting cases started. In the case of someone who is self-employed it can easily take a fortnight to assemble the required information.

Far fewer people are nowadays being granted Legal Aid. Those who pay privately and who are either acquitted or have their case dropped get their costs back from central funds, but these are of course at the private client rate, which is far higher than the legal aid scales. Those who planned the reforms appear not to have thought of this, and it will erode the potential savings.

We don't always have to order a pre-sentence report before sending someone to prison, so long as we are satisfied that we have enough information before us. The fact that someone has just driven while disqualified for the eleventh time counts as enough information.

The Prison Service claims that it de-toxes several times more people per year than the NHS. Unfortunately there is no follow-up, so many drug users head for their dealer as soon as they get out.

A JP who deals with cases from a major airport tells me that there are several hundred people who live semi-permanently in the terminals, a high proportion of them mentally ill or addicted.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of Vietnamese nationals in prison, almost all of them for growing cannabis.

Many Chinese illegal immigrants are jailed for destroying their passports en route, but nobody knows what to do with them on release because China refuses to take them back.

I have seen quite a few Harassment allegations in my time, only two of which were for the classic stalker type of offence that the law was meant to deal with.

Brixton Prison stands in Jebb Avenue. Major Jebb invented the radial prison design that allows supervising officers to see right along the wings from one place. Pentonville was the first such to be built.
Wormwood Scrubs stands on DuCane road, named after General DuCane who built it. He used mostly prisoner labour and the bricks were dug and fired on the site which accounts for the deep cellars below the wings.
Pentonville is the busiest prison in Europe in terms of inmate movements with over a hundred going out each morning and over a hundred (not necessarily the same hundred) going in at night.

A man who specialised in plundering hotel car parks was found to have six Mercedes sat-nav heads, and the proper tools to get them out quickly. Who buys them? They are certainly not a do-it-yourself item to fit as Merc electronics are notoriously complex.

A man who had a row with his partner took an axe to household fixtures to express his frustration. I hope he felt better afterwards, because we awarded compensation of over £6,000 to the housing association that owns the house. That works out at around £600 per minute of temper-time.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Defence lawyers love indications, and those magistrates who have the confidence to give them love them too.
We are about to sentence a reports case. We have read the pre-sentence report outside, and we have had a quick straw poll on how we feel about its contents. We agree that the probation officer's proposed sentence makes sense (this is most often the case where an addiction has to be addressed). Defence brief gets to his or her feet, set on dissuading us from doing the things that we could do but in fact have no intention of doing. As he draws breath, I speak firmly:- "Mr. Smith. My colleagues and I have read the reports and we have had a preliminary discussion of their conclusions. Unless you seek to persuade us otherwise, we are minded to follow the report's recommendations. Of course we will be happy to hear any submissions that you wish to make". The brief glances to check that I have finished, and the next bit usually starts: "I am grateful sir, and I have nothing to add".
Job done, ten minutes saved, everybody happy.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Apocrypha (20)

A prison governor of my acquaintance was involved in a worthwhile programme of visiting local schools to tell pupils about the reality of prison life, in an attempt to remove any spurious glamour that teenagers might perceive in it. He found that he learnt quite a bit from the kids, including the technique for removing a tag without damaging it, so that your social life is not tiresomely disrupted by a mere court order. Apparently if you warm the bracelet slowly and carefully with a hair-dryer, the plastic softens enough for you to remove the tag and park it by the phone. We have no idea if this is true, but I should not be in the least bit surprised if it were.

This Might Be Interesting Next Time Round

I am grateful to Exlex, who is a new kid on the blogging block, for this appeal result. The (rather splendidly-named) DJ didn't find that there were no special reasons, if I read aright, but rather refused to hear the argument at all. So now both sides will instruct expert witnesses and we shall all learn whether belching, to which the most delicate of us may fall victim when drink has been taken, can move alcohol from the stomach in such a way as to influence an Intoximeter reading. The lucky bench, lay or professional, that rehears this will find itself with a lifelong knowledge of the minutiae of the eructative process.

Where Have All The Coppers Gone?

It's a dinner-party and saloon-bar standby isn't it? If there is currently a record number of police officers, why do you rarely see one on the street or on the road? The Daily Telegraph has a look at the problem today. As we all suspected it is a failure of management that must be laid at the feet of the government. Of course it is right and proper that the performance and priorities of the police should be monitored, but the iron law of unintended consequences means in many cases that the pursuit of targets now obstructs the police's fundamental responsibility of keeping order. As you will see from the many police blogs an ambitious and bright young officer will rise up the ranks more swiftly and surely through being a committee and paperwork expert than through expertise in good old-fashioned policing.
This is a worm that will have to turn, because any politician will realise that public confidence is essential - if order appears to break down then some very nasty solutions might emerge.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Wrecked Lives (2)

Rogerborg, who is a regular commenter, chides me, not for the first time, for being an old softy:-

And another wholesale purchase of the 'umble contrition act by Bystander. Feeling sorry for themselves because they've been caught doesn't mitigate their thefts one whit.

As a matter of fact remorse can amount to mitigation (have a look at the bench book). The three people on the bench were in complete agreement about these two cases. Between us we had about 45 years' experience in the courts, as well as long experience in business and professional life. Our assessment of the people we saw before us concurred. It is easy to be cynical looking at the case from afar, but the whole point of a court is that citizens judge other citizens, while looking them straight in the eye. These two had both owned up on the spot when challenged, they both had no previous convictions and they both stood to lose everything they had built up including their good name - a conviction for dishonesty (only one was a straightforward theft) does not improve a 40 year-old's CV.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Sleep Soundly Tonight

A PC Wiley has issued an £80 fixed penalty to a young man who made a rather rude snow sculpture. My advice to the young man is to refuse the ticket - I don't think this one will stand up in court.
Seriously though, this will now go into the book as a Sanction Detection - a solved crime. Bear that in mind next time the Government claims that it has improved police performance.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Wrecked Lives

I saw two people this week, each of whom had wrecked their life by the commission of fairly trivial offences.
The first, a man in his late thirties, had held a well paid and interesting job with a major company. He cares, as a single parent, for his child, the mother of which left him a few years ago. He had no previous convictions, but in recent times he had stolen from his employer, a bit here and a bit there to a total of about £300. He was caught of course, and appeared looking dreadful after a night in the cells, bail having been refused by the police for reasons that I can't mention. As an employee, he had breached the trust placed in him and the thefts revealed a degree of planning. The duty solicitor told us that her client was depressed, and was involved in a dispute with his ex-partner. He had been summarily sacked, and therefore had no money and no prospects. He sobbed his way through the hearing.
The second was a woman of 42, also in a well-paid and respected profession, who had committed an offence that was related to her job, although not directed at her employer. She too had been fired within hours of being arrested; she too was visibly distressed.
What they had in common was that the punishment they had brought upon themselves by the loss of their good jobs and their good names far exceeded anything that the court was likely to impose. Each was of previous good character, had the benefit of a guilty plea, and was unlikely ever to repeat their offence.
We fined one, and gave the other a conditional discharge - it doesn't matter which was which. We had a cup of tea and all three of us on the bench agreed that we felt a sense of waste. We were confident that we had dispensed justice, but we still felt a strange sense of loss.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Your Chance To Have A Say

The Sentencing Guidelines Council has issued a consultation on a comprehensive revision of the Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines that is in progress. It's a big pdf, but it needs to be, because the new guidelines will cover a lot more offences than the previous ones.
Responses need to be in by May.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Tragic Irresponsibility

R -v- Davina Smith

Sentencing Remarks by His Honour Judge Radford
at Snaresbrook Crown Court – 2 February 2007

It is my baleful duty now to sentence you for the 4 offences of Causing Death by Careless Driving, when unfit through Drugs of which you were found Guilty by the jury who tried you and the offence of Aggravated Vehicle Taking to which previously you had pleaded Guilty upon arraignment.

The facts of this case are stark and tragic. Not long after 6pm on the evening of the 31st January 2006 you set off from your home in Tilbury driving a previously stolen car. You knew it had been stolen; you were on bail at the time for offences of theft and driving another motor car without the owners consent.

You held no driving licence. You had never held any form of driving licence.

You had no insurance. You had taken amphetamine at some earlier time prior to the driving of the stolen car on the 31st January.

When a blood sample taken from you at 11:51pm that evening was analysed it was found to contain 0.3 micrograms of amphetamine per millimetre of blood.

That amount of amphetamine in the blood the jury heard was above that expected after use of a typical abuse amount, possibly by a factor of two or three times.

No back calculation from the time of the taking of the sample to the time of your driving 5 ½ hours or so earlier was possible but, on the whole of the evidence the jury and I heard, I am satisfied that the forensic scientist Dr Slaughter was correct in his opinion that the amount of the amphetamine you had consumed is likely to have been higher at the time of your driving that car that night than at the time you provided the later blood sample, though I accept that the amount of amphetamine you habitually consumed was within the range customary for drug users.

In that car on that fateful journey were 4 children. Two of them were your daughters 4 year old Kalli and 8 year old Karris. The two others were two 16 year olds Lee Gray and Kezia Adger. There were no booster or child seats in the car.

It is clear that although seatbelts were fitted to this car and were in working order, you did not require any of the children to use them.

That alone was criminally irresponsible. That alone heightened your duty to drive with the greatest care, given the likely injury that any accident would cause.

It is plain that you took no such care and that the amphetamine you had ingested caused you to re-act in a grossly negligent way to your wholly belated awareness of the presence of other cars being driven lawfully and carefully along the road ahead of you.

In what was a well lit broad road with good visibility you failed to realise that the speed you were driving at (which was probably about 50mph) whilst within the prevailing speed limit, was well above that of the convoy of slower moving vehicles ahead of you.

When, it seems, you did come to realise this, your reaction was not, as it should have been, to brake, but to over steer your car into the oncoming traffic lane where you lost control of it causing it to present broadside on to an oncoming car being properly driven towards it on its correct side of the road by its luckless, blameless and distraught driver. A collision was inevitable and as a result the
children were all thrown from the car and tragically received fatal injuries.

You were much luckier. You were taken to hospital by Ambulance and recovered from your injuries.

When the police had an opportunity, on the 4th February 2006, following your medical treatment to ask you about the collision you would not answer their questions. However, you provided them with a prepared statement (not therefore an instant response to questions put without warning,) which, with the assistance of your lawyer, you had devised.

In it, you denied that you were the driver of the car, denied that you knew it was stolen and asserted that 16 year old Lee Gray had been the driver.

Each of these assertions were lies as you well knew. The lie that the now dead Lee Gray had been the driver of the car was a terrible wicked lie, compounding as it did the grief and suffering of his family.

It was not until some months later when to your credit you pleaded guilty to the charge of Aggravated Vehicle Taking that you acknowledged by so doing that what you had told the police were indeed lies.

Whilst it is true that at the time of these offences you had never yet to be convicted of any criminal offences (though you were going to be), it cannot be said that you were of good character. It is plain that your use of amphetamine, your driving of stolen motor cars and your driving without licence or insurance had become a settled pattern of behaviour before that dreadful evening.

Even now, I have read in the pre-sentence report you continue to deny that your use of amphetamine would have affected your driving that night and insist that you were a good driver, and that the collision occurred without any error on your part.

Throughout the interview with the Probation Officer who prepared this report you accepted only minimal responsibility for the collision and you attempted to justify your actions.

I read that you displayed only limited acknowledgement of your offending and almost no acknowledgment of the distressing impact that your behaviour had had, not just on the children who died as a result of it, but on many others.

I have read the heartfelt and heart rendering personal statements from the Mothers of Lee Gray and Kezia Adger. The pain, grief and all encompassing anguish of losing one’s children to such a tragic and utterly premature death can hardly be imagined still less recovered from.

Given the loss of life of your own two children the death of whom I am sure you feel keenly. it is difficult to understand how you have not faced up to accepting responsibility for the deaths not only of them but of those whose Mothers have had to try to live with the tragedy you have visited upon their families.

No sentences that I can pass today whatever might be their length can restore the human lives that have been lost nor can such loss be measured by the length of a prison sentence. I recognise too, as successive Lord Chief Justices have said in previous cases, that no term of years imposed on an offender can reconcile the family of a deceased victim of crime to their loss nor will it cure their anguish.

Any sentence I pass has to have regard to the guidance given by the Court of Appeal and within the limits of the law reflect the aggravating and mitigating factors present in the facts of the case.

In doing so in this tragic case, I would like to underline to others the message that the facts of the case all too tragically bear out. Those who take drugs and drive on our roads causing death or serious injury to others because of the inability caused by the effects of taking such drugs to respond to the everyday situations which drivers on our roads have to be aware of and respond to.

Those who drive carelessly while impaired through drugs such as amphetamine can expect condign punishment if thereby they cause the death of others.

In your case, Davina Smith, only immediate custodial sentences are warranted for the seriousness of these offences.

I have to consider whether it is my duty to pass indeterminate sentences, given that all these offences are defined as serious specified offences in the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

Given the lack of previous offences of this gravity or any record of violent offences in the past and the absence of any positive finding to such an effect in the pre-sentence report and knowing the expected effect of the sentences that otherwise I can pass I do not judge that such is required.

I have considered all that has been said on your behalf.

I find that there are aggravating factors here – not least the number of deaths you caused and the amount of amphetamine ingested which, not withstanding that you are not to be sentenced for offences of causing death by dangerous driving, mean that, in my view, this is a case falling within the most serious culpability range.

Of course, I have borne well in mind that you must live with the loss of two of your own children, which is itself a punishment for your criminality.

Taking everything into account, giving you credit for your plea of guilty to the Aggravated Vehicle taking offence, the sentence of the court will be as follows:

ON COUNTS 1 TO 4 you will go to prison for 9 years concurrently and you will be disqualified from driving for 10 years after which you will not be able to obtain a driving licence until you have passed an extended driving test.

ON COUNT 5 you will go to prison for 5 years concurrent and you will be disqualified from driving for 10 years

I direct that the 348 days that you have served on remand in prison will count towards the service of the sentences I have passed upon you.

For the two summary offences involving insurance there will be no separate penalty.

Same for the mandatory penalty points endorsement.

HH Judge Radford
Crown Court at Snaresbrook
2 February 2007

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Poetry Corner

This is my favourite poem:

Alas! 'tis true I have gone here and there,
And made myself a motley to the view,
Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear,
Made old offences of affections new;
Most true it is that I have look'd on truth
Askance and strangely; but, by all above,
These blenches gave my heart another youth,
And worse essays prov'd thee my best of love.
Now all is done, save what shall have no end:
Mine appetite I never more will grind
On newer proof, to try an older friend,
A god in love, to whom I am confin'd.
Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,
Even to thy pure and most most loving breast.

Of course its beauty is enhanced for me by the fact that I connect it with a lovely lady from my past.

This one is a perfect description of what the psychologists call post-coital tristesse:

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjur'd, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;
Enjoy'd no sooner but despised straight;
Past reason hunted; and no sooner had,
Past reason hated, as a swallow'd bait,
On purpose laid to make the taker mad:
Mad in pursuit, and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof,—and prov'd, a very woe;
Before, a joy propos'd; behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows; yet none knows
To shun the heaven that leads men to this

Sorry to wander off-topic, but it's my party and - oh you know the rest.

Monday, February 05, 2007


There is a bit of fuss on the radio at the moment about someone who was charged with kidnapping a young man whom he had caught red-handed doing something or other. I was reminded of a case a few years ago where a minicab driver had a dispute over his fare with a passenger, and drove past the passenger's house and kept going while the argument continued. He was duly arrested and charged with kidnapping. The driver wanted to see a lawyer so we gave him unconditional bail and that was the end of it as the CPS took one look and decreed NFA - No Further Action.

Seems About Right

The cat-in-the-washing-machine case has been sentenced to four months suspended.

What Happens Now?

This horrible accident involved an unattended car rolling into and killing a passer-by. What now? By the logic of the new law on causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving the fact that a death occurred should surely render the driver who (presumably) failed to set the handbrake properly liable to imprisonment, despite the relatively trivial nature of the carelessness.

Friday, February 02, 2007

From The BBC

Humans blamed for climate change

Well, that narrows it down a bit, doesn't it?


Here is a cogent piece about the unhealthy trend for police to work hand-in-glove with the media.