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, January 26, 2012

De Minimis CPS Curat Quite A Bit

The other day we were presented with an allegation of criminal damage to....a garden gnome. I won't go into the details of the case, but the officer who attended took a lovely sharp A4 photo of a sad little gnome with a crumpled ear. Value: £15. Defendant pleads guilty and says sorry from the moment that he is collared.

It was the end of a long day, and I am sorry to confess that I found the opportunity too good to miss.

I adopted my most serious frown and my most portentous tone and said: "In this court we take a very serious view of wanton damage to garden ornaments." As I had hoped, a couple of lawyers developed grins. "You have damaged this sculpture (!) and you must pay for it. Our sentence is a conditional discharge, but you must pay £15 for the damage. As you are on sickness benefit, we will limit costs to £15". The defendant missed the irony, as I had expected, and shuffled off.

Yes, I was self indulgent, but what the hell is the justice system doing with nonsense like this going through a court? Yes, the def had a bit of petty previous over 15 years or so, but in a system where people are getting cautions for ABH and the like, where is the commonsense sergeant or CPS lawyer who can smell a pile of rubbish when it appears?