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 31, 2009

What Would Be Enough Then?

Many years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Colman Treacy QC in action prosecuting an attempt murder in Birmingham. All I can say is you wouldn't have wanted to come up against him.
Today - now a judge - he has weighed off the killers of Craig Hodson-Walker for 34 years apiece.
It's not enough, but it's a damn sight better than most murderers get.

The above quote, from a police blog of course, expresses the usual view that no sentence is ever long enough. It does raise the question of how long would be long enough - although in my extensive saloon-bar research most people of that mindset go on to express a preference for capital punishment anyway.
Many magistrates go out to speak to schools and community groups on a regular basis, and some of the available handouts feature sentencing exercises in which the audience are taken through the facts of a real but anonymised case and it is always a pleasant surprise when ordinary people who have heard all of the facts and considered all of the options pitch their sentence, as most do, squarely within the range that the original bench chose.
Some sections of the media have a clear agenda to mislead the public about sentencing in the hope of stirring up indignation and selling more papers, the recent Hussain case being an example. The resulting cynicism doesn't help society, in my view.