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.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Mirror, Mirror

A few weeks ago we had finished a trial, and we were asked to help out the remand court that was struggling with overnight custody cases, many of them involving lengthy bail applications. While our CPS prosecutor had a read through some files we dealt with a young man who had been arrested on a warrant for breaching his community order. The Probation prosecutor told us that the breaches of more or less all of the conditions of his order (and half-hearted compliance with the rest) meant that he was unsuitable for it, so would we please revoke the order and re-sentence him. She suggested tentatively that a curfew order might fit the bill. Our suspicions aroused, my colleagues and I asked for full details of the original offence, and we discovered that our man had been convicted of an unprovoked and drink-fuelled assault on a stranger late one night. Injuries were mercifully light, amounting to no more than a few bruises, but there were hints of racial motivation in the background. We firmly squashed any suggestion of a curfew, and informed our man that we were of a mind to impose a custodial sentence since he had shown himself unable or unwilling to comply with a community order. A further report was required and we arranged for it two days later; we remanded him in custody to be sure that it was done. I then lost touch with the case but it will have gone one of two ways:-either a major attitude adjustment once he shaped up to reality, with an increased community order, or a custodial, immediate or suspended. My money is on four months suspended, plus unpaid work plus supervision.
The next matter in was a CPS one, and we were required to sentence a rather unusual case about which I can't say too much for the usual reasons. This chap's solicitor addressed us on the lines of "I realise reports are inevitable, but I hope to persuade you not to send my client up to the Crown Court". After a quick heads-together with my colleagues I asked the solicitor to address us on other types of disposal: the penny dropped immediately, and her submissions convinced us that a hefty fine would be just as well as expedient. We took about £700 off him with costs (payable within 7 days) and I told him that his previous good character (he was 32) and early pleas had allowed us to drop down-tariff to a fine, but that the dishonesty-related conviction he now had would not improve his CV.
So we went well up-tariff on one, and well down-tariff on another. I think we were right in both cases, and that's how the system is supposed to work.