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, October 17, 2007

Shadows of War

We are increasingly seeing cases into which issues arising from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have intruded. One case in the last year or so involved a young soldier who was due to start pre-Iraq training in a week's time. It was a case where a driving disqualification was discretionary, and we were asked to consider not imposing a ban to allow him to drive home from camp to see his girlfriend in the eight weeks he had left in the UK. In another an NCO was abroad training for a specialist role and the defence applied to defer his trial for a month, when he would be back in the UK. We were shown a letter from his Commanding Officer stating that the role for which the NCO was being trained was an important operational one. The CPS opposed the application and said that he case should go ahead like any other. In yet another case, (and one of a type that I expect to see more of) a serviceman of long service and good character had driven while way over the drink limit; medical and other reports suggested that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder might be present following a strenuous tour in Iraq during which he was in a constant state of fear, and saw some horrible events.
We treated each case on its merits - not always an easy decision though. We can't just have carte blanche for anyone who has served in the war zone to behave as they like. On the other hand those who have served their country are entitled to have their cases considered carefully. As I said, I fear that we have not seen the last of these.