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Delayed justice is no justice

I have just read this story on the BBC website.

I don't practice immigration law and have never studied it at any level, I also know nothing about the original case that led to Amy Houston's death.  But the case does show the difficult decisions faced by judges every day as much as it shows the inadequacies of the current system.

First, the judges.  They were, in effect, being asked to chose whether to throw a criminal out of the country and thus deprive his children of their father or allow him to stay and cause hurt to Mr Houston.  It's not a decision that I would have liked to have taken.

Turning to the system.  Could the system have avoided placing Mr Houston and Ibrahim's wife and young children in this position?  Well, yes it could have done easily by hearing this case in a timely fashion in 2003 while Ibrahim was still serving his four-month sentence.  Given that the authorities were seeking his removal from the UK, I wonder whether at that time they would have had an argument to hold him in custody pending a decision.

In the criminal courts cases can take more than a year from CHARGE to come to trial - note that I said from charge, not from commission of the offence.  Things seem to be improving slowly, but it's not that long ago that Snaresbrook Crown Court was listing cases for a trial a FULL YEAR after the plea and case management hearing.  For those who don't know, to get to a PCMH in a theft case, for example, you are charged then appear at the magistrates' court a week or two later.  You say not guilty and elect crown court trial.  Assuming you are on bail a date will be fixed for a committal hearing at least six-weeks in the future.  It's not uncommon for the CPS not to be ready, but lets say they are then you'll have to wait another four to six-weeks for the PCMH hearing.  As I've already said only a little while ago Snaresbrook was listing from then to trial a year in advance!  So from charge to trial can easily be more than a year.

One thing that would really help those seeking justice is for our system to be properly financed, i.e. more judges and courts, so that cases are heard in a reasonable time frame.


  1. "...being asked to chose whether to throw a criminal out of the country and thus deprive his children of their father or allow him to stay and cause hurt to Mr Houston."

    The third option is to remove the offender from the country and leave the decision to follow him or stay put with his family.

    Responsibility for his own actions must be enforced. If the responsibility for a crime is his...and the consequences of such actions are deportation... then the responsibility to deal with the fallout from that on his family is equally his.

    I'll never understand women who get involved with... and have children to... criminal men, least of all foreign men. If you thought you may one day end up having to leave the country of your birth and live in his it just might make some women a lot more choosy about their "life and breeding" partners.

  2. As I said, if the courts had dealt with the matter quickly then there would have been no decision to make and no need for your third option.


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