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.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Charlie was already an old man when I met him, and he had a reputation among the neighbours for being a rather private man, and a bit prickly on occasion. We became firm friends after a while, and on a summer Sunday my wife and I would often sit in his garden with Charlie, his wife Mary, and a glass or two of of beer or whatever. Charlie had been a teacher in his time, and by he time that I met him he had been retired for about twenty years.
One day Charlie arrived at my door looking unaccustomedly worried, and asked if he might have a private word with me about a legal problem. Of course I agreed, and we retired to sit in my study. He showed me a bundle of papers that turned out to be his car insurance renewal documents, and told me that he was very worried about them. The renewal invitation contained the usual reminder that any criminal convictions or motoring incidents had to be declared. To my amazement, Charlie told me that he was worried sick about this, because he did in fact have a conviction that he had never declared to his insurers, and what should he do. Would he get into trouble?
It turned out that Charlie was a regular soldier in the Thirties, rising to the rank of Sergeant. When he was posted to a particular camp he discovered that his predecessor had a fiddle going with a civilian contractor, and Charlie allowed this to continue. He was caught, convicted in a civilian court, and served twelve months in prison. Thereafter he returned to the colours as a private, war being imminent, and soldiered through the war until 1946, when he trained as a teacher and taught handicrafts until he retired.
I reassured him about the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, and I went on to say that it was almost certain that no record remained of his conviction. Further, I said that there was not the slightest chance that his insurers or anyone else would be in the least bit bothered about a conviction from more than sixty years ago.
After he had gone, I pondered the contrast between this decent and hard working old man who had literally lost sleep over an ancient conviction for which he had long since paid the price, and the insouciant yobs who swagger into court accompanied by a list of fifty or more previous convictions, and who no doubt sleep soundly in their beds.
I can write this because Charlie and Mary have both passed away, leaving no descendants or relatives, and donating their valuable house to a charity. I still miss them on a summer Sunday.