The judicial circus

I’m no legal expert, but I can spot injustice when I see it.

The top story on the BBC News site at the moment concerns the case of a Portuguese lorry driver who was found guilty of ‘causing death by careless driving’ today.

He got 3 years in prison but is only expected to spend half that time in custody.

Now, I’m not going to do what some people already are doing and bay for blood, but what the judge said has angered me:

“I bear in mind the maximum sentence is five years.

“Although six deaths, this was one episode and the prison sentences must be concurrent.

“This was one of the most serious offences of its kind.”

So…he gives the driver 3 years.

WTF?

As I’ve said I’m no legal expert but, as I understand them, the sentencing guidelines would class this particular incidence as being aggravated by the number of people killed – in this case six.

Now, I don’t think that the maximum sentence of 5 years is enough, but I’m prepared to accept that as that’s the state of the law at the present time, but when the judge doesn’t even go for the maximum sentence when there are clearly aggravating circumstances then I find that really very hard to accept.

It’s not as if the judge was one of the claret-soaked, geriatric, cartoonish bastards that give the law a bad name. He was the judge in the Rhys Jones trial for fuck’s sake. The 22 years that the Liverpool schoolboy’s killer got was seen as fair and just by all those close to the case, as well as the public at large.

Not so with the father of one of the victims:

“I think, from the night of the accident, when Mr Da Silva butchered our family, which I believe he did, it was not possible for us to get justice in any British court.


“It’s my opinion that we’ve sat through this week, what could be described as not much more than a circus, the only difference being the man in charge of a circus wears a top hat not a wig.”

Another case was heard today and sentence passed.

It was a theft case involving the embezzlement of £630 000.

The sentence?

5 and a half years…

3 years for causing the deaths of 6 people…5 and a half years for embezzling £630 000…

Is that justice?

Something’s very, very badly wrong here, and whilst it’s too late to rectify past mistakes we should be looking to make sentencing appear more fair and just to the ordinary members of the public who look to the law for protection and remedy.

If those qualities aren’t there, then respect for the law is lost and there’s really precious little of it left…

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2 Responses

  1. Actually, I rather think it is justice.

    The three years is for something that was, essentially, an accident – albeit one aggravated by dangerous and stupid behaviour. The five and a half is for a deliberate and meditated act of criminality. I think the difference is pretty clear.

  2. http://www.sentencing-guidelines.gov.uk/docs/causing_death_by_driving_definitive_guideline.pdf
    The above document states quite clearly that there is a maximum sentence for death by careless driving of 5 years – dependent on aggravating circumstances including the number of people killed.
    The judge stated that he could have given 5 years but he didn’t, explaining that it was one incident and it was one of the most serious cases of its kind.
    This seems bizarre to the point of surreal – if the driver had killed 6 people in more than one incident would he have got 5 years then? Surely ‘one of the most serious cases of its kind’ should have attracted the maximum sentence?

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