Sunday, 20 February 2011

BRITISH JUSTICE? - A JOKE THAT JUST ISN'T FUNNY

A BRICK IN THE FACE OF A BEAUTIFUL GIRL 
AND WHY WE SHOULD ALL WEEP FOR BRITISH JUSTICE

The extent of the damage done to Samantha Fraser's face


















This case, reported in the Mail today by Peter Hitchens highlights the sickening state of the miserable justice system of our country, where a slouching youth can smash the face of a beautiful girl with a brick and walk from court with nothing more than a £200 fine and a year to pay it.

He won’t even have a criminal record and we're not allowed to know his name.

His case was heard in a special 'youth court' where his victim was not present and where everyone behaved with great consideration in case he was upset.


Peter has written a long article about the case, some of which is reprinted here. His sentiments must surely be echoed by every decent citizen left in the UK. Even as a time served retired copper, this one made my blood boil to read the details.

Somehow the story needs to reverberate for years to come in the minds of the fat-bottomed, complacent people who are responsible for this, and who will do nothing about it, ever, in case somebody at the BBC calls them 'fascists'.

When Clare Fraser told Peter what had happened to her lovely daughter Samantha, and what had not happened to the boy who attacked her, he admits that he actually cried. I can understand why.

Not just because of the horrible injury to a good and admirable person; not just because of the eloquent fury of Clare's letter to Peter; not because of the squalor and mean-mindedness of the lout who, in a second of casual cruelty, smashed a hole in another person’s life as well as in her face. But because Peter had to admit to her that there was probably nothing to be done about it.

The injustice of our age is of a different kind. But it is no less smug and no less in need of being made to feel so ashamed of itself that it reforms its behaviour deeply and permanently. Something similar needs to be said here to those who for decades have withdrawn the police from the streets, neutered the courts, and coddled the lout in the hope that he will be nice back.

The people (of all political parties) who have fiddled the crime figures down, the people who have automatically halved every prison sentence, the people who even now are saying that it will be perfectly all right if fewer wrongdoers are sent to prison, the sort who say that critics such as me are indulging in exaggeration and 'moral panic'. Not to mention the dried-up dead-hearted prosecutors, with calculators instead of consciences, who think their purpose is economy rather than justice.

So far have we come that these events can happen in our country.

The scene is Widnes in the modern North of England, a district of neat, modest houses and sweeping new road systems, more Morrisons and Lidl than Waitrose, but bright and reasonably prosperous, not some lunar dead zone of boarded-up windows, dead fridges and old mattresses.

Ambitious: Before her ordeal, Samantha
had hopes of a modeling career
Samantha Fraser, a superb young athlete, Christianly brought up in a kind home by good parents, suffered as follows.

A youth, having nothing better to do one evening, hurled a brick at the car in which she was sitting. He just happened to be feeling that way, without warning. It could have been any car. It could have been your car, or mine. The brick came straight through the window at an impact speed of about 30mph, bringing a shower of glass fragments with it. It smashed Samantha’s nose into a thousand pieces.

It made an actual hole in her forehead.

She, having no idea what had taken place, numb with fright, unable to see and pouring blood, screamed repeatedly: ‘What’s happened?!’ ‘What’s happened?!’ Her friends in the car tried to tell her everything was all right, but as she says: 'I didn’t believe them. I couldn’t see. I was thinking that I would now be blind, that I would never be able to do athletics again.'

When her elder brother saw the wreckage of her face, he urged his mother, Clare, not to come to the hospital because the sight would distress her too much.

Samantha herself wasn’t allowed near a mirror for months after the attack last June.

Later, when she saw pictures of herself soon after the attack, she did not believe it was actually her. 'It didn’t look anything like me. It looked like something out of a violent film.'

Surgeons had to cut up through the roof of her mouth and slice the skin of her scalp from ear to ear to pull her poor face back into shape. She has metal plates in her cheeks and nose. They have done a marvellous job of rebuilding, and that Samantha herself is still a very good-looking young woman (though her mother talks wistfully of how irrecoverably perfect her nose used to be) and astonishingly free from bitterness.

Samantha explained flatly that her senses of taste and smell have been destroyed forever. 'Eating food now is just like eating ... nothing,' she says, with a quiet understatement that actually conveys rather powerfully what a loss this is.

'Sometimes we wish she would moan a bit,' says Clare, a funny, thoughtful fierce person who understandably thinks her daughter has a lot to complain about. Rather than moan, this remarkable 17-year-old has thought very carefully about what the event means, and how she should respond. As her vision slowly returns to normal, she is once again training as an athlete. She is not so sure about the (entirely justified) hopes she had once of a modelling career. She still hopes to study to become a nurse, as she always planned.

Disgustingly, her attacker – who was for a while at the same school as her – was able to intimidate her while he awaited trial, making foul gestures at her through classroom windows and once mocking her by miming the throwing of a brick. As long as she lives in the family home, she knows he is not far away.

She won’t go near the stretch of road where the attack happened. She doesn’t like it. Suddenly, in the only sign of real distress she gives in a long conversation, she blurts out: 'I don’t like it anywhere in this country!
'It’s horrible. Do I want to move away from here? Yes, I want to move to America.' In Texas or California, she believes, she can live her life free of such people.

Samantha’s parents were not told that they had 28 days to lodge an appeal against the trivial sentence imposed on the youth responsible, so they have no formal route to justice. All they can do is protest. The insulting compensation payments arrive, in little dribbles, and perhaps they may obtain more such compensation, but it does not actually compensate.

What they hunger and thirst for is justice. For a while they actually hoped to get it.

They unreservedly praise the police for trying to catch the culprit and succeeding.

The letter from the CPS which shows how little they cared about Samantha
But Clare was quickly suspicious of the Crown Prosecution Service, which seemed mainly anxious to avoid expense and trouble, and so reduced the charge from one attracting a heavy sentence to one involving a far lighter one. They also abandoned the very serious charge of witness intimidation, watering that down to the charge normally used when someone swears at a police officer. When Clare challenged them, she says, they patronised her.

Then there is the sheaf of letters from the CPS 'Witness Care Officer', one Linda Mullarkey. These letters, prompted by years of complaints that victims and witnesses were treated like dirt by the courts, seek to give the impression that the authorities really, really care. Alas, one of Ms Mullarkey’s missives shows the concern is just cut and pasted out of a book. 'On behalf of the prosecution team,' she says, 'I would like to thank you for your assistance in this case. 'Samantha’s evidence was crucial in bringing it to justice and his contribution is greatly appreciated.' We all make mistakes, but male Samanthas are rare in this country, if not entirely unknown, and anyone who had the slightest true concern about this particular crime would not have allowed such an error to remain in a finished letter. In this piece of sloppiness we see the gap between what we are told and what actually happens.

If all the recent politicians’ speeches about 'crackdowns', 'bobbies on the beat', 'tough sentences' and the rest were played end to end, they would last about a year. But in this wholly clear-cut case of wicked, inexcusable and life-changing violence on an ordinary suburban street, we see them for what they are. A slimy mass of conscious falsehood, accompanied by the patronising and insulting dismissal of real fear and pain by people who themselves live in comfortable safety.

I agree with Peter in wishing I could think of a way to make them cry.

Professionals behind the travesty 

The CPS Prosecutor

Clare Sedgmond was previously a solicitor at the Department for Work and Pensions. Last year she prosecuted a man who had threatened his ex-wife and her family in abusive calls and texts. He received only a 12-month community order after Ms Sedgmond told a magistrate: 'We hope to come to some amicable agreement.'
Defending her conduct in the case against Ms Fraser’s attacker, a CPS spokeswoman said: 'The defendant was charged with causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The defence offered a plea to GBH without the intent element. After reviewing the evidence, the prosecutor decided the plea was acceptable.'

The CPS Regional Chief
Paul Whittaker, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Merseyside, has a CBE for his work to reform the justice service – but he appears to have largely made his name by cutting costs. His CPS biography says he has been 'at the forefront of innovation in the service'. It adds: 'Merseyside was the first CPS area to develop the Early Guilty Plea scheme, which ... reduces expense to the public purse whilst also achieving swift justice.'

The Youth Court Magistrate
Vivienne Higgins, magistrate at Runcorn Youth Court, lives with her property developer husband in Widnes. She declined to comment, but in court she said she decided not to give a custodial sentence because the assailant was not a persistent offender, adding it was important to note he was 14 at the time of the crime.
She said: 'We have considered the principle of the Youth Justice System and lack of previous offences. We therefore are sentencing him to the recommended Referral Order for [12 months]. Compensation £200.' The Order is a contract 'to repair harm caused by the offence and address the causes of offending behaviour'.

The Defence Solicitor
Liam Ferris persuaded the CPS they would be unable to prove his client guilty of GBH with intent, and successfully challenged attempts to have the case heard at Crown Court instead of Youth Court. Mr Ferris, who has been a solicitor for 16 years and works in Widnes, has admitted he tries 'not to think about' whether his client is guilty. He recently defended a heroin dealer saying his client needed to 'deal' to pay off a drugs debt. He was unavailable for comment.

OUR COMMENT
Well done Peter for bringing this to public attention. Your sentiments must be echoed by every decent minded citizen left in this country. Sady, this is yet another nail in the coffin in the miserable joke that has become our British justice system.

S18 Offences Against The Person Act : Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously by any means whatsoever, wound or cause GBH to any other person with intent to do GBH to any person. (Life Imprisonment)

S20 Unlawfully and maliciously wound or inflict GBH upon any other person either with or without any weapon or instrument. (5 years Imprisonment)

Malice includes a recklessness as to whether any harmful consequences which are foreseen as likely will actually ensue or not.

If the intent to do GBH is absent, there is certainly a reckless element, so prima facie offence of S20 is committed. The penalties are there. The sentencing guidelines are a joke. This offence should have attracted a custodial sentence.

11 comments:

dickiebo said...

And these people can sleep at nights?

allcoppedout said...

Everything that can be said on the injustice of this probably has been. There are problems at the 'other emf' in which we are criminalizing too many minor matters of indiscretion and even people trying to stand up against this kind of horror.

Crime Analyst said...

Posted from Linked In ...

This is shocking. While I still a Transport cop I dealt with an incident were youths had thrown a fire extinguisher from one moving train into the path of another causing the drivers window to smash into the drivers face. One one occasion the driver was lucky as he was being tutored by an experienced driver, and secondly he was slowing to stop at a station. The youth was caught after I recovered the extinguisher... he didn't get much of a punishment at all. Does make you wonder if it is all worth it!!
Posted by Andrew Rudd

Crime Analyst said...

Posted from Linked In . . .

The worst thing that every happened to British justice was the introduction of the CPS. They are out of touch and are out for an easy ride at anyones expense. Justice doesn't matter to them it is just conviction rate, and cost.

Posted by Bob Healey

Crime Analyst said...

From the Police Debate Group on Linked In . . .

A shocking case - whilst I understand some of the explanations given from the lawyers, magistrates etc. who work within the rules of the CJS this sends the totally wrong message out to the public, and the victims family and friends must be distraught. The decision is not acceptable, but I am not surprised - I have read many academic assignments from students during the last 5-years who critique police investigations and I can see their frustration on many occasions when the Crown Prosecution Service go for the easy option of discontinuance or reducing to a lesser charge. In cases like this we should be pulling all of the stops out to ensure that justice is seen to be done.
Posted by Barrie Sheldon

Crime Analyst said...

From Linked In . .

There are multiple tragedies here. Samantha, of course. The British judicial (not justice) system. The administration of Justice. The lack of (or inadequate) parenting of the offender. The focus on costs rather than justice. Where are the ministers from the MOJ now? Where the senior CPS managers? Where the chairman of the Sentencing guidelines council? Where the head of plea bargains? Need I go on?
Posted by Benjamyn Damazer

Crime Analyst said...

Posted from the Former Police Officers in Business Group on Linked In . . .

Absolutely appalling. I hadn't seen the site before - and especially liked the article on ACPO.
Posted by Ashley Wilce

Crime Analyst said...

Posted from the Former Police Officers in business Group on Linked In . . .

Bob, Sorry I cannot agree. That is a very genral sweeping statement . Many of my friends are lawyer for the CPS and case workers too and I have a long history going back with many senior and junior people, Many of whom do a really good job are hard working professionals doing the right thing. They have many difficult calls to make and sometimes it's their clarity of judgement that often people can't see. Yes, they have to respond to the Government without doubt, and yes you do get the odd one that make a poor call but no different than any other Public Sector department.
I am glad they were brought in as the law is a complex thing and copper need to stick to being coppers.
Posted by Colin Grant

Crime Analyst said...

Posted from the Former Police fficers in business Group on Linked In . . .

Colin I support your point of view the CPS is an integral and necessary part of the system.
Its a hard pill to swallow but us from the front line (as was) have to accept that we have a justice system it may not be perfect but its the best we can do. I spend a lot of my time now lecturing and "training" both sides of the divide and it always is a surprise to me the depth of mistrust on both sides will there never be a day when the old bill and the briefs can ever have adult to adult communication as professionals.
Frankly to me its a cheap shot you either have a persuasive case or you don't if you do then any CPS will put it forward go back to the days of giving it a run not for me mate.
Posted by Bob Pointer

Crime Analyst said...

Posted from Former Police Officers in Business group on Linked In . . . .

Well,I guess being "across the Pond" and nota "copper" and part of the UK system, I may not understand what they have now in the CPS and what they had before this system. And, considering the fact that much of our Justice System comes from England, and as a police office in the past, I would at times disagree with our prosecutors just as they have in this case, but I don't think justice is always what any of us want, and not in this sad case.

That being said, to read the Code for this offense, S18 Offences Against The Person Act : Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously by any means whatsoever, wound or cause GBH to any other person with intent to do GBH to any person. (Life Imprisonment) and
S20 Unlawfully and maliciously wound or inflict GBH upon any other person either with or without any weapon or instrument. (5 years Imprisonment), the final judgement does not seem to fit the crime, especially since the attacker did not even get a criminal record.

I would recommend everyone read the actual interview in this case before making a decision as to Bob H and Ashley's comments and Colin and Bob P's responses. I have to agree, after reading the case details as given, and the possible charges and the final "decision" of the court, and comments from the prosecution and victim aid representative, this does not seem the real justice that any of us, USA or UK would call fair, just and in line with the crime, injury and damages inflicted and judgement ruled.

I know a lot of defense attorneys and a few prosecutors, and have seen many a trial, some giving justice in the ruling and sentence, others also missing the mark maybe. In this case, the final results seems to be a miscarriage of any real justice for the victim and a very light end sentence for the accused, who seems to have had no remorse.
Posted by Bob Chauncey, CPP (ret), CISM, CIT

Crime Analyst said...

Posted from the Former Police Officers in business group on Linked in . . .

Well,I guess being "across the Pond" and nota "copper" and part of the UK system, I may not understand what they have now in the CPS and what they had before this system. And, considering the fact that much of our Justice System comes from England, and as a police office in the past, I would at times disagree with our prosecutors just as they have in this case, but I don't think justice is always what any of us want, and not in this sad case.

That being said, to read the Code for this offense, S18 Offences Against The Person Act : Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously by any means whatsoever, wound or cause GBH to any other person with intent to do GBH to any person. (Life Imprisonment) and
S20 Unlawfully and maliciously wound or inflict GBH upon any other person either with or without any weapon or instrument. (5 years Imprisonment), the final judgement does not seem to fit the crime, especially since the attacker did not even get a criminal record.

I would recommend everyone read the actual interview in this case before making a decision as to Bob H and Ashley's comments and Colin and Bob P's responses. I have to agree, after reading the case details as given, and the possible charges and the final "decision" of the court, and comments from the prosecution and victim aid representative, this does not seem the real justice that any of us, USA or UK would call fair, just and in line with the crime, injury and damages inflicted and judgement ruled.

I know a lot of defense attorneys and a few prosecutors, and have seen many a trial, some giving justice in the ruling and sentence, others also missing the mark maybe. In this case, the final results seems to be a miscarriage of any real justice for the victim and a very light end sentence for the accused, who seems to have had no remorse.
Posted by Bob Chauncey, CPP (ret), CISM, CIT

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