Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.
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Friday, 22 August 2014
WE FORTUNATE FEW
It`s often said that we who sit in the lower courts see before us the stupid ones; those who need lessons in how to shoplift efficiently, fail to wear gloves when trying car door handles, swear once too often at police officers and think speed cameras are all empty boxes. However some are simply people who fail or cannot connect to society; who for myriad reasons are outcasts. One would be lacking in simple humanity if a certain degree of sympathy did not intrude into the sentencing process irrespective of Guidelines which newer colleagues can sometimes tend to consider as sacrosanct.
Recently we had before us a youth of nineteen of previous good character who had pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis with intent to supply. His demeanour in the dock spoke loudly. He was about 5ft 6inches and pitifully thin. Wearing a slightly grey white shirt he stood with his shoulders hunched looking at his feet. His replies to the L/A were so inaudible that we had to ask him twice to speak up. In his mitigation his advocate told us that although he was arrested with fourteen wraps he had not sold drugs: he had given quantities to “friends” in order to buy their companionship. His life history to date, he added, was such that it was remarkable that he was not now in a very much worse state of being. We retired. He received the pronouncement of twenty seven hours at an attendance centre with barely a flicker. We who are generally fortunate to have grown up and flourished in the rich soil of our friends, colleagues and families are from time to time reminded from our privileged positions that there are so many not so fortunate. For some it`s a dog`s life.