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.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

He May Be Right

This week I had to tell a young man that he was going inside on his first custodial sentence. The main offence was a nasty violent one, and there were further ones that made our decision inevitable.
He had arrived at court on bail, so he was in the open dock. In these cases we have a well-rehearsed routine - once the bench decides that it is to be custody we call the clerk out into the retiring room and run it past him or her to check that we have got the law right. A phone call is then made to the cells, asking for an escort to come up. The officers stand outside court until sentence is pronounced, at which point they are given a discreet signal from the clerk and they enter while the chairman is still speaking, but after the defendant has realised that he is going inside. Once the pronouncement is finished the officers discreetly slip a cuff onto one wrist, and take their man down the steel staircase.
This chap was a young man who had been given every possible non-custodial disposal and had failed them all. You name it, he's got it - drugs, drink, family problems, illiteracy, the lot. As he was taken down he called out "I'll get worse". He could have a point.