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On the light side

I have just read this story about three 18-year-olds who tortured a 17-year-old aspergers sufferer in a very nasty attack.

They apparently received a community sentence of 3-months curfew accompanied by 80-hours unpaid work.  I can only hope that the reporting of this story is hopelessly wide of the mark for I cannot think how the actions reported can justify such a low sentence.

Some low sentences can be explained by the existence of a "text".  A text is a letter from  a senior police officer to a judge that explains that Defendant X has provided information to the police that has been very helpful to them in fighting ongoing crime and it asks that the judge reflects this help in the sentence.  A text is never referred to in public and although the defendant's lawyers can see it, a copy is only provided to the judge and nobody else.  Because it is a secret sentences for other offenders are commonly reduced in line with that of the informant's so that it is less obvious that somebody has grassed.  Texts are not common and even when issued do not always result in a massively lowered sentence.

However, even with a text, I am more than a little surprised at the leniency of this sentence based on the press reports.  If anyone has more information about the facts then I'd love to hear them.

On a side note, another reason that this particular report annoys me is because Hazel Blears is one of the few people I actively hate and this story makes me agree with her... grrrrrrrrrrr (even though I'm sure she's only doing it to get her name out there as siding with the victims of crime after she somehow clung on to her seat at the last election rather than because she actually cares about anybody other than herself).


  1. I too have commented on these sentences not sounding right - but I haven't been able to find out exactly what the charges were. Presumably not common assault as it was at Crown Court. There is reference to a sexual element in the report I've read in the Mail as well, but maybe this wasn't reflected in the charges. I'm assuming CPS will appeal.

  2. Sadly Jim, I wouldn't assume CPS will appeal at all. They may - but I wouldn't hold my breath

  3. Can there be an appeal (technically a Reference by the AG) unless they were convicted of an indictable only (presumably S18) offence?

  4. To me, the stunning part of the judge's summation was going on about their remorse and coming from decent homes. Clearly we have different definitions.

    News articles and Defence Brief do a service by shining a light in the ratholes of civilisation.

  5. I think I read somewhere that they pleaded to s.47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (actual bodily harm), but I'm not certain of that.

    Section 36 of the Criminal Justice At 1988 allows the attorney-general to appeal a sentence to the Court of Appeal Criminal Division if he considers the sentence to be "unduely lenient". However, s. 35 of CJA 1988 limits the cases that the AG can refer to those triable only on indictment (at the Crown Court only) or specific offences that have been specified in an Order made under s.35.

    For some reason, the only offence under the 1861 Act listed by the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Reviews of Sentencing) Order 2006 is section 16, which is making threats to kill. I'd have thought ABH would be included if threats to kill is, but there you are.

    If Jim is correct and there was a sexual element then most likely an appeal by the AG is possible as most of the either way (offences triable either by the magistrates or crown court) offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 are listed by the 2006 Order.

    Just to make this comment extra dry and boring, I'm going to let you know that the 1861 Act originally talked about a conviction being on indictment only and that an offender would be liable to be kept in penal servitude; however, happily for actual bodily harmers everywhere the Magistrates Court Act 1980 amended the mode of trial to allow the mags to deal with it as well.

  6. Leigh, the strange thing is that if you come from a decent home then you tell that to the bench to suggest that the family will help keep you out of trouble in future (really only works for a first offence). But, if you come from a really bad home then you tell the court about how terrible your life has been etc etc.

    Incidentally, judges used to use the code GBH when making notes of mitigation in which a defendant was said to be a "good boy at home", usually by his mum.

  7. well it could be that someone like you provided some good mitigation............... and some silly old wig who lives in a gated community somewhere fell for it. Job done, school fees paid, game over! Sleep well.

  8. Ed (not Bystander)18 October 2010 at 22:05

    Gadget, everyone knows that in fact all of these problems are caused by the police. It's not Parliament's or the government's fault. No, it's the police's fault.

    Sleep well.

  9. Oh dear, it`s handbags at two paces time.

  10. Hi Gadget, yes I'm sure that a solicitor was so eloquent that he was able to totally blind the judge to a horrific assault with just a few well chosen words. Maybe he was a Jedi solicitor?

  11. I presume then that Gadget would prefer unsavoury offenders to be defended by selected not-very-good advocates.

    When police officers face a court they usually get the best brief they can find - as is their and anyone's right.

  12. Why are you suprised? Pop down on a Sunday to the local community service centre where im sure you will find byy way of quick straw poll that those convicted for OAP's are all doing minimum hours. Which i agree do not reflect the gravity of the crime commited. Its simply the way that it is.Crimes of violence do not attract the same kind of un paid work hours as for example someone convicted of a crime against the revenue.

    No doubt a bruise ,cut or indeed emotional injury are far harder to measure or quantify than a sum of money is this why the benefit of lenient sentences is afforded to those who committ crimes of violence.

    in summary kick shit out of someone and get 40hours but defraud the revenue and get 300hrs.
    Dont get me wrong im not advocating lower sentences for us rogue tobbacco dealers but i would suggest that next time i get caught i would like to be sat next to a violent offender doing the same!

  13. Smuggler, I agree. Although, I'm bound to say that if you defraud the government or one of its agencies then you are likely to go to prison rather than get high level unpaid work.


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