Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 14/08/15

Justices Blind

Long-time readers will know that I used to do a lot of these stories at one time, when my Prisoner Complex™ - which was one of the more unsettling symptoms of my Depression - was in full spate.

I wound it down quite deliberately in order to protect myself somewhat, and also because tracking down and illustrating the criminal barminess of the judiciary could quite easily have turned into an unpaid full-time job and lead me to suffering a cataclysmic stroke caused by the anger - yes, genuine anger - engendered by the power-abusing spite and pettiness of the Wiggy-Piggies.

There are times, however, when comment must be made, if only to avoid my getting the feeling that such cases of egregious imbalance might otherwise be dismissed with a cynical shrug.

Besides which, in this particular instance, the cases illustrate between them how absolutely and totally fucked we are as a society. So, eyes down:

Case 1: In the town of Kidderminster, a 32-year-old woman - whose only means of financial support had been removed as a result of sanctions imposed by the Department for Walloping Proles as part of the infinitely-kickable Iain Duncan Smith's policy of self-righteous corrective anger towards those parts of the human-resource landscape deemed to be unproductive - was convicted of stealing a pack of Mars bars, price 75 pence.

That a full prosecution of the case should have been brought in the first instance is bad enough; unfortunately, Ms. Sewell found herself in court in front of one of the all-too-many magistrates in Englandandwales who seem to be rather fuller of their sense of importance than they are of basic humanity - or sense.

The beak in this case - one Maurice Lashford - was particularly dismissive of Ms. Sewell's predicament, telling her that, "We do not readily accept you go into a shop to steal just for being hungry.", which leads one to wonder what the hell reason Mr. Whiplash would readily accept. On the verge of dying of starvation, perhaps?

Lashford duly - and, no doubt, with a degree of self-satisfaction which was almost Duncansmithian in character - imposed:

Now, it's true that magistrates have been given no discretion in imposing this last item on those convicted before them; but some of them have at least had the sense of propriety to resign rather than have to hand them out in cases such as this one. Lash Larue, however, is clearly not of their upright number, and seems to be quite comfortable in imposing financial penalties totalling over four hundred times the actual cost of the theft knowing full well that the defendant has no means of paying it, and will therefore end up in prison before the year is out.

Case 2:A 25-year-old city banker, out on the lash (no, not the magistrate again) at a posh bar, gets into a fracas due to his own stupid behaviour, throws a glass at someone (causing a substantial and highly-visible injury) and wounding a bystander.

Brought before no less a venue than the Old Bailey itself, Edward Drew (for it was he) would, one would have thought, have been facing at least a few months in a rather less comfortable (if slightly less criminal) part of London like, say, Pentonville.

However, the shining reputation of English justice had its stout defender in Recorder (*) Jonathan Cohen, who - excoriating Drew's behaviour as being "a very serious incident" - made him face the full force of the law. This comprised, in toto:

And that's it. Financial penalties which Drew can doubtless pay off from petty cash, and a few days spent in the company of the lower orders, perhaps wearing an outfit in chic orange.

(A fundraiser to save Ms. Sewell from prison - started by the redoutable Stuart Campbell of Wings Over Scotland fame - has been an enormous success. Perhaps some of his wealthy co-workers would like to start one for Drew, just to make sure that he isn't reduced to nicking choccies to stay alive?).

No jail time, because Cohen said that that would cost Drew his job. How wonderful that the judiciary is so mindful of the catastrophic consequences of imprisonment on the employment prospects of young people in this unforgiving land today!

I am aware of the fact that the Englishandwelsh judiciary has the arms of an orang-utan, the memory of an elephant and the equanimity of a Rottie with sore balls (especially when it comes to people having the nerve to express their views online), so it would be wise for me to mince my oaths in reaction to these two cases set alongside each other by stating that - in my view - both magistrate Maurice Lashford and Mr. Oboe Cohen are uncultivated mints.

What these two cases - scarcely a week apart - demonstrate are characteristics of the systems of 'justice' which rule over us which were all too apparent four years ago and which continue unabated to the present day, namely:

(* Not a musical instrument, unless he actually does have someone come along to blow through him at regular intervals and make a thoroughly discordant noise whilst doing so).