Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Damage to us all

A drunken lout, we are told, broke a woman's jaw for questioning his behaviour after he threw a burger at her outside McDonald's. But the culprit has been spared jail, to the anger of the victim's partner, who called it "a complete insult".

Reece James Bell was given a suspended sentence at Leicester Crown Court yesterday. He was also ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, and to pay £250 compensation to the victim.

The victim, Sarah Lucas, was "petrified" for weeks after the attack, said her partner Adam Gibson, 26, of Braunstone Town. He said: "I think it is absolutely disgusting. When you think about youngsters who were given time in jail for encouraging riots on Facebook, and this guy gets a suspended sentence for punching a woman in the face and fracturing her jaw – it's a joke and it makes no sense."

According to Richard Littlejohn, though, this makes perfect sense. Attacking the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, he tells us that, "While some people think ... that the four-year prison term handed to two youths who used Facebook to incite violence was excessive, the courts are entitled to take into account the circumstances of the crime".

Whatever Starmer believes, Littlejohn continues, "there's a world of difference between wholesale looting and a little light shoplifting. If he can't distinguish between a criminal mob, co-ordinating arson, violence and theft on an industrial scale, and a drunk putting his boot through a bus shelter on a Saturday night, he's in the wrong job".

Of course, we're not all highly-paid sophisticates like Littlejohn, which is possibly why we can see the difference between the sad inadequates or the opportunists, all of whom got caught up in the madness, and the hard core thugs, who started it all off and did the real damage ... most of whom have not been caught.

That is why, supposedly, we have a justice system, with the earnest magistrates – professional and lay – the lawyers, the clerks and all the rest. All of those are supposed to dispense reasoned, measured justice, that is seen to be appropriate and fair, distinguishing between the different layers of offence and motivation.

Instead, at the first available opportunity, we have knee-jerk reactions, the justice system going totally over the top, then supported by the King of the Pontificators in the Daily Mail.

And the reason why the justice system cannot afford to go over the top is quite simply because you then come across cases where a scrote bashes up the Sarah Lucas's of this world, and your sentencing looks disproportionate on the one hand, and insufficient on the other.

People are not stupid – they can see the difference. Every time a scrote or a nonce walks away with a light sentence, they will be pointing to the riot sentences, and making the same comments. And thus, given a task to perform, the system that holds itself in judgement over us all failed. In so doing, it has damaged itself ... and done damage to us all.