Ludicrously light sentencing

The justice system in the UK and abroad

Ludicrously light sentencing

Postby Gavin » 04 Jun 2012, 11:31

I thought it might be worthwhile having a single thread here merely to catalogue the many instances of ludicrously light sentencing which we hear about in the news. Very often, of course, criminals are actually given no sentence at all. There are many cases we never hear about, many crimes go unreported or "recategorised" in order to meet targets.

Then, when criminals are sentenced the sentences are often ridiculously lenient and then the perpetrators only end up serving half of their time anyway, due to "good behaviour" - which should of course be expected by default, not rewarded. (As for the comfortable conditions in which they typically serve their time, suffice it to say that Dalrymple has catalogued some offenders explaining to him that they commit their crimes in order to get into prison.)

So, feel free to here mention any such cases , even going back over the last few years, so we can see just what has been going on. Feel free to name the guilty judges and magistrates too. Very often the criminals they release go on to commit further assaults, burglaries and so on, and in my view the legal and "welfare" professions share the responsibility for these crimes.
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Re: Ludicrously light sentencing

Postby Gavin » 04 Jun 2012, 11:34

My first offering comes directly from the writing of Dalrymple:

A young man [in Manchester, UK] named Joseph O’Reilly asked three drunken men why they were kicking over garbage bins; they turned on him, knocked him to the ground, and kicked him unconscious, breaking his jaw and giving him a brain hemorrhage. One of the gang said as he joined in, Clockwork Orange–style, “I’ve just been let out [of prison] for GBH”—grievous bodily harm, according to English law the most serious grade of assault, just below attempted murder. All three left the victim for dead. O’Reilly spent a month in the hospital, had a metal plate inserted into his face, and can now chew only with the right side of his mouth. He fears leaving his home.

Two of the three attackers, David Chrapkowski and Thomas Lane, pleaded guilty and were not even imprisoned. (The third, Oliver O’Neill, out on bail for a previous assault, received a 27-month prison sentence, of which, thanks to automatic remission, he will serve only 13 months.) The judge took Chrapkowski’s protestations of remorse seriously and “punished” him with community service. As he emerged from the court, he was photographed with his arms triumphantly aloft and a big smile on his face. Such was Lane’s contrition—he, too, received community service as a sentence—that he gestured rudely to the press as he walked free.
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Re: Ludicrously light sentencing

Postby Gavin » 04 Jun 2012, 15:04

That is a classic indeed, but try this for size:

Two men attacked and killed an elderly man (a Muslim) outside his mosque and got less that 5 years each (that's not including "good behaviour" time). They're probably out now.

I suppose the only reason we are not hearing about this one still in the news now is that the perpetrators were black. Had they been white, there would have been inquiry after inquiry with all white people being evil and racist, etc., etc.
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Re: Ludicrously light sentencing

Postby Gavin » 04 Jun 2012, 15:21

Here's another gem, a shocking story: In 2007 family man Garry Newlove challenged a gang of delinquent thugs who were outside his house vandalising his car. As a result, they beat him to death there and then in the street.

Image

One of the murderers had been released on bail only hours before the murder.

The judge in this case was a Mr Justice Andrew Smith. He gave the thugs "life" sentences of 17 years and below, so they will be out in their early 30s or before. One of them has since had his sentence reduced by two years, while another is appealing his conviction.

Mr Newlove's widow attacked the government for failing to get a grip on thuggery in the UK. Fat lot of good it did: a few years later the riots happened.
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Re: Ludicrously light sentencing

Postby Malcolm » 04 Jun 2012, 18:55

All part of the general trend to improve the lot of prisoners, on the basis - one presumes - that the quality of a society should be judged by how it treats its least fortunate members. Now that the most brutish and recidivist of convicts enjoy comforts and entertainments that are out of the reach of a sizable chunk of our retired population we have surely reached the acme of civilisation - or have we? The fallacy in that last sentence is, of course, that it omits entirely the concept of deservedness, which has little place in the modern liberal consensus.

The European Convention on Human Rights (now apparently extended to sub-human rights) must take a lot of blame for this. The right to a family life, and hence conjugal visits, seems to be fairly well established and votes for villains surely can't be too far away. But If we want to improve the lot of prisoners, why stop at the vote; what about holidays? When the average chav takes a week in Benidorm for granted, to go a year without experiencing the mixed aromas of Stella, Ambre Solaire and chips must be a cruel and unusual punishment indeed.

You’d have to be careful of course. You probably wouldn't want to send nonces to Butlins for instance, but if it were done well you could find the real villains dobbing themselves in after just a single job to get their week on the Costa Convict. And, if you subscribe to the Michael Howard theory of justice (if they're in prison they're not burgling my house) then you'd probably see a reduction in crime rates after the initial qualifying offence.

I may be going a bit far here, but there is a serious point. I was under the impression that prisoners in the UK already had civil rights. We house them, keep them warm and clothed and feed them three squares a day. We also give them TVs, X-Boxes and anything else they might need to keep them from thinking too much about their lives. Just as importantly we don't make them break rocks anymore and we don't stick electric cattle prods up their backsides. This is in marked contrast to many regimes in the world, where to be in chokey is a pretty unpleasant thing; one in fact that, once experienced, you would be in no hurry to repeat. This is a fact little understood by the people who never, or perhaps once in a lifetime if they are really unlucky, come up against prisoners doing the things that get them into prison.
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Re: Ludicrously light sentencing

Postby Gavin » 04 Jun 2012, 19:20

Hello and welcome to the forum. I agree with what you say and I would have them working, and I mean really working, in prison or outside prison, with men with rifles watching them. I saw this in America only recently and it seemed to work well. One only needs to read Dalrymple to see why prisoners can't wait to get into our prisons.

Liberals would say "That's because their lives are so hard on the outside..." - I would say they are chaotic, but not hard, by any stretch of the imagination. And even if they were hard it wouldn't follow that we should make prison easy. We are reaping a whirlwind for having done so. I agree with the Michael Howard school of thought - it's the Dalrymple one too.
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Re: Ludicrously light sentencing

Postby Gavin » 04 Jun 2012, 19:40

Dalrymple wrote about thuggery in football in the article I cited above. It so happens that I read about this lout today in the news.

This Premier League footballer has a criminal record as long as your arm, mainly for common assault and affray. One can judge others, I think, from the company they choose to keep and this chap is friends with Ricky Hatton, boxer, and Noel Gallagher.

Known among his 1.5 million Twitter admirers as something of a philosopher for quoting Nietzsche and so on (in the sense that Eric Cantona was a philosopher) Mr Barton has been found guilty of a catalogue of violent assaults, both on and off the pitch.

I think Dalrymple must not have known of this individual otherwise he might have mentioned him in the above article. Just read the Wikipedia or the news article to see what a violent criminal he is - there is a list of sickening assaults. Anyway, for the point of this thread I will select only one - Sky reports:

He served 77 days of a six-month sentence for common assault and affray in 2008 for an incident in Liverpool city centre in which he punched a man repeatedly until the man lost consciousness.

That's less than half the sentence. His behaviour has not ended his career either. The millionnaire thug remains in the Premier League. The BBC describes this particular crime of his in more detail and the convicting judge who gave him 6 months which he did not have to serve was a Judge Henry Globe QC.
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Re: Ludicrously light sentencing

Postby Caleb » 05 Jun 2012, 03:44

I wonder what people here think the purpose of the penal system should be, and how it should be funded (and to what extent). Is it even economically feasible to lock everyone up, even if we want to? I know the argument could be made that while locked up, they won't engage in crime to a particular economic value, but I still wonder if the two would balance each other out. Does anyone have any figures on this topic?
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Re: Ludicrously light sentencing

Postby Gavin » 05 Jun 2012, 12:32

I don't have figures on this, Caleb, but I think the penal system has a mixture of purposes.

When a person commits a crime we have a sense that a moral equilibrium has been upset, so to speak, and must be redressed. It does not seem right that a person should see right and wrong and simply do wrong and face no consequences. Thus there is a punishment aspect.

Then there is the practical deterrent idea of this punishment.

Then there is the idea of rehabilitation.

I think the first point is too much neglected today. Much more of an example could be made of criminals too, with more public shaming of them. On point three, they could be required to really work.

I am not aware of the economics and would appreciate some views too, for example as to whether building more prisons would cost more than the current cost of keeping these people in society. But it couldn't cost more in terms of suffering, so I think we must do it. Also the prisoners could be made to work for society, thereby offsetting costs, instead of playing pool etc. Prison is supposed to be place where they do not want to be and where they are repaying their debt to society. They can then leave with a pretty much clear conscience for a new start. As it is I don't think they can have that feeling, they just take advantage of the system.
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Re: Ludicrously light sentencing

Postby Gavin » 05 Jun 2012, 12:41

I'm going to try not to give out to many details of these heinous crimes as people can follow the links to read about them if they wish to do so, but I noted a few of these cases over the years so I have a backlog to post here. I will try to stick to the nature of the crime and incredibly lenient sentences, again trying to name the judges.

These two individuals murdered a young white man in Kensal Green, London, in 2006, bereaving his fiancee.

Mr Justice Aikens sentenced them to life imprisonment, which in Britain means they will be out in their 40s or before. He said their victim was "in the wrong place at the wrong time", thus implying it was his fault to be on a British street after dark!
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Re: Ludicrously light sentencing

Postby Gavin » 05 Jun 2012, 13:11

This is a picture of murderer Learco Chindamo with what looks to be a female admirer, shortly after being released from prison.

Chindamo is an Italian Philippino who moved to London when he was 6. A gang member, he murdered headmaster Philip Lawrence outside his school gates in 1995 as Mr Lawrence attempted to protect a student whom Chindamo was attacking with an iron bar.

Though he was found guilty, the UK could not deport Chindamo to Italy, because he successfully asserted his "right to a family life". Widow Mrs Frances Lawrence protested to the Labour government about this (to no avail) and Mr Cameron said the UK needed a "UK BIll of Rights" (note absolutely no action on this ever since).

The trial judge (I have not been able to find his name) recommended that a minimum of 12 years should be served by Mr Chindamo in a British leisure centre prison. He was released in 2010, still a young man aged 29, to go on to be arrested in Catford and detained by police for questioning in connection with a mugging. He was also alleged to have threatened to kill a man before robbing him of a wallet and mobile phone in Camden Town. It looks like he is probably a reformed character then.
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Re: Ludicrously light sentencing

Postby Caleb » 06 Jun 2012, 02:13

Gavin: Clearly, there is something wrong with the criminal justice system now. Yet I think we need to look at the crime rates and the rates at which people re-offend, and compare these to either earlier times or other countries (as similar as possible). I don't really want to pass judgement on how the criminal justice system should be until we see those figures.

For instance, I've often heard that the U.S. has more criminals behind bars than all of Western Europe combined. Their system seems to be harsher too. Yet is it actually working (either as a deterrent or for rehabilitation)? Also, as mentioned, how much does that cost the American taxpayer? Are they really getting value for money?

I do think that criminals shouldn't be living in glorified leisure centres. They probably should be working instead (and preferably at something they can then do if/when they get out).
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Re: Ludicrously light sentencing

Postby Gavin » 06 Jun 2012, 19:36

I agree we need to see such figures, Caleb, but I think my purpose 1 of the justice system (moral equilibrium) stands to some degree independently of them and is not currently being met.

I'm sure I have sufficiently illustrated my point and will leave it with just one further example for now (though I have many more):

A career burglar with 688 crimes behind him was let off a jail sentence and was then caught driving without insurance. Authorities did not bring charges for this. He began burgling houses again and was finally sentenced to (only) five years, boasting online:

'Be out in 18 months or before.. Yeeh is guna ride this s**t'.'


No doubt he's right. Guilty judge: Judge Christopher Ball, QC.
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Re: Ludicrously light sentencing

Postby Gavin » 06 Sep 2012, 16:20

We've got a new low. It's not an April Fool!

Not content with handing out silly sentences, a judge just commended a criminal on his activities.

I meant to mention also the man who woke the other night to find four balaclava wearing intruders downstairs in his isolated farmhouse. He shot two of them with his double-barrelled shotgun. He was promptly arrested. The word is, now, that amazingly he is not due to be prosecuted for defending himself as the CPS could not build a case against him. Whether they will against the burglars we will see. It's hardly worth it really though when you consider the sentences they are likely to receive.

Nigel Farage from UKIP is currently on James Whale's show on LBC discussing this. He is saying "Can we please put the victim first for once"? Whale is saying "People say prison doesn't work. Frankly, I don't care - let's just lock these people away from the rest of us for a long time". Farage agreed. Can anybody find me a supposed Conservative who will express these same views?

We've really lost the plot in this country.

Guilty judge: Peter Bowers
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