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.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good Sense In A Strident Debate

There has been a predictably intemperate reaction from some populist commentators on the case of a crime victim who was sent to prison for wreaking violent retribution on one of the men who had robbed and assaulted him. Of course it makes a good cynical why-oh-why headline to say that the victim went to jail while a criminal 'walked free' - or as free as you can be with brain damage.
Ever-willing as I am to dip a toe into troubled waters I was about to do a piece about the case, but having read the Anonymous Prosecutor and this from PC Bloggs, the point is made for me:-
I don't even fully object to the sentence handed out to businessman Munir Hussain, who bludgeoned a burglar with a metal pole, fracturing his skull. Mr Hussain had been subjected to an ordeal, but where he went wrong was gathering a posse, chasing the offender outside, and then continuing to beat him until he was almost dead. Worse still, he made up an array of lies but was found out by independent witnesses. He was tried by jury, who if they had felt enough sympathy with his plight could have acquitted him. Following a guilty verdict the judge had little choice but to jail him. As we keep saying on these blogs, GBH with Intent is a serious crime that should attract jail. And what isn't revealed in the attached article is whether Mr Hussain had previous convictions for violence. I sympathise with his situation, but surely a few kicks would have done the job and they could have then detained the burglar for the police.

The law gives considerable rights of self defence to householders, but as with most other aspects of the law those rights need to be exercised reasonably and proportionately. Nobody expects someone who hears a burglar downstairs to sit down and do a risk analysis, but it is blindingly obvious that getting help and then battering the burglar into irreversible brain damage is way over the top. As Bloggs points out, this case went before a jury of ordinary people who heard all of the facts, as well as the law, and went on to convict. That will do me.