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.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Exploiting Grief

This is a prime example of all that is wrong with the reporting of criminal cases in this country, and of the corrosive effect this is having on public understanding of, and thus confidence in, the justice system.
Of course the victim's families are bereaved and distraught. As a father and a grandfather, my heart goes out to them, but surely anyone can see that they are the very last people who can say anything meaningful about a sentence. To them, no sentence will ever be severe enough. That's human nature.
The poor father quoted in the report parrots the tabloid mantra that the family is serving life (and I do not blame him). He says that they will 'be appealing' against it - which they cannot. In grief and rage another says 'The judge is supposed to represent justice'.
Well actually, he does. His job is to consider the case carefully, having heard the evidence and having had the jury decide on it, to take account of case law and guidelines, then to place the crime on the scale of man's inhumanity to man, and determine sentence.
It shows how far we have come that a 20-year minimum sentence on a man of 20 can be denounced as inadequate. The crime and its consequences were awesome. So was the sentence.

Later - The Judge said this.