Thursday, November 27, 2008

Soft Justice

Anthony Marland from Ashton under Lyne, Greater Manchester was finally jailed for four months recently after being caught driving while disqualified for the 54th time. People are quite understandably asking what the heck happened on the previous fifty-odd court appearances.

Well, it seems he got a community order which he broke and a suspended sentence but otherwise the magistrates presumably kept fining him and re-banning him.

I would launch into a rant ... but ... er (fidgets nervously) you see ...

It's like this. At the recent magistrate training we were working through a example where a young driver was caught driving while disqualified. For the fourth time. I was in a group of five students and most wanted to send him down for 3 months or so. I suggested something along the lines of :-

"Isn't that an over-reaction, given that the worst he's had so far is a fine. Let's give him a high community penalty - a last chance to sort himself out"

Well, I managed to talk them round and we kept our fictional scallywag out of clink.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Driving while disqualified is the moral equivalent of mooning the courthouse while smoking a joint. It shows total contempt for the court and the law and needs a punishment that would deter the vast majority and properly punish the odd one or two who think they can get away with it. Doing it multiple times is beyond belief.

Well, I know that now and I'm fortunate that I've been able to make my mistake in the classroom.

But you see I think even the old push-over soft-touch that I so recently was would have sent the guy down fifth-time. I don't know the full story obviously but as to why it took so long, my ghast is as flabbered as anybody's.

No comments: