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 03, 2009

Not As Simple As It Looks

The Policeman's Blog has started to highlight 'mad judges' as it calls them. The latest rant refers to this report. The Judge's sentence is described as 'ludicrous' - but is it?
The woman's offence was utterly despicable. She systematically stole from her aged relative, in as gross a breach of trust as you are likely to find. Reading the report carefully, it seems that she pleaded guilty, and was given a Community Order with 200 hours unpaid work (effectively the maximum on a plea of guilty) as part of a Suspended Sentence Order of 52 weeks' imprisonment. The hearing at which she was ordered to pay £5 was a separate POCA hearing in which the prosecutor told the judge that Price had no assets, and therefore invited him to make a nominal order - which is what he did because he had no alternative, all of the stolen money having been spent.
So let's have a look at the substantive sentence. The culpability and seriousness passed the custody threshold, as most people would agree. There is no guideline for forgery at the moment, but if you look at theft in breach of trust you find at (g) on page 100 that if a custodial sentence is justified consideration should be given to whether it can be suspended.
So it was a tricky one to deal with and the judge dealt with it within the guidelines and within the constraints forced on him by the fact that the defendant was broke. You can argue about whether the sentence should have been suspended, but 'mad'? I don't think so.