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.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sad Sight

I knew as soon as he came into the dock that he was a junkie - serious, long-term, set in his habit. He looked terrible, with the hollow eyes and sunken cheeks that follow heroin use, but at least he lacked that awful dead look that you sometimes see in a man who has given up completely. He had 40 previous convictions, nearly all for shoplifting and was given a community order at the end of last year, including supervision and drug treatment. His compliance had been patchy, but a few weeks ago he had relapsed. The local drug unit withdrew his methadone since he was using street heroin, and he stopped reporting to probation, which was a real shame since they had been close to getting him a place in residential rehab. We were asked to revoke the order, which we did, and re-sentence him. It was hard to see any outcome other than prison, but we were persuaded to order a fresh report on him and to put the case off for three weeks.
That left the problem of what to do with him in those weeks, with no probation support and no methadone. All that we could do was to tell him to get back to the voluntary drug agency, so that he would be able to show the next bench that his motivation was not entirely extinct. I told him that we could make no promises, and that all options would be open to the next court, but that three weeks of voluntary co-operation with the drug unit might just help him to avoid prison. I was really talking to his equally drug-raddled lady friend at the back of the court in the hope that she could encourage him through to the next court in the hope that the residential rehab might be a possibility again.
What are his chances? Fifty-fifty at best, I reckon. Prison is completely pointless, other than for an enforced detox; treatment may or many not work. A distinct possibility is a lonely drug sodden death in some festering rat hole of a flat. As I said, a sad sight.