I sometimes wonder – quite frequently actually, if our magistrates are living on the same planet as the rest of us.
By all accounts it appears they are not - certainly if they are presiding in Hinckley. Last week’s news that three Romanians stole £50,000 of roof lead from St Mary’s Church, were arrested within 24 hours, pleaded guilty and were then let off with 12 months’ community service makes no sense whatsoever - particularly, I am sure, to those who now have to foot the bill to make good the damage.
This is not even a smack on the wrist. It is an open invitation to every low life in the country to climb aboard the soaring metal price bonanza.
“Come on guys join in the fun. Let’s go on a ‘lead nicking’ spree or a ‘cut off a catalytic converter’ cruise. And while we’re about it we’ll siphon off some petrol from an unsuspecting mug on the way. Who cares if we get caught? We’ve got our ‘yooman’ rights to protect us. Anyway, if we do get nicked we just plead guilty and get time off for good behaviour. It Makes yer larf dunnit!”
The law is not always an ass but it certainly brays a lot!
There is definitely something wrong with a judicial system that allows such complete disregard for others’ property and encourages a two fingered salute at authority.
Magisterial sentences frequently appear to have been plucked out of thin air - varying considerably for identical offences.
Having spent a happy hour or so browsing through the “Magistrate’s Court Sentencing Guidelines” I am not surprised.
More than 200 pages of dos, don’ts, ifs, buts, musts and maybes covering more than 200 different offences, ranging from ABH to Zebra crossing contravention are enough to confuse anyone!
What does seem abundantly clear is that far too much is left to individual interpretation, providing opportunity for criminals to “play the system”.
I wonder how much this accounted for the variable convictions of the men running a cannabis farm in Castle Bytham as reported in the Mercury last week.
Two of them denied the charges of conspiracy to produce and supply cannabis and were sentenced to eight years in prison.
Seven admitted the same charges and received sentences ranging from three, three and a half, four and six years.
And another two received a slap on the wrist after admitting conspiracy to produce cannabis and the production of cannabis respectively.
Does admitting guilt really deserve such major concessions I have to ask? Should we really be doing deals with criminals? Because that what it amounts to.
Come on fellas let’s save the paperwork, cop a guilty plea and be rewarded with a lesser sentence. It really doesn’t make sense to me but then I’m just an old geezer who can’t understand most of what’s going on these days.
But it’s no good complaining - I really must lighten up and get out more. Where’s my wobbling stick? I think I’ll go and nick a few daffodils before someone else pinches them all!