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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Thursday, 5 November 2015
WHEN IS "PLANNED" TRAVEL A GOOD ENOUGH REASON TO VARY A PERIOD OF CURFEW?
The brief report in this case mentions that the offender "had planned the trip to visit his parents, who live in Spain, in March, before he made his first court appearance". Planned.....in the context of the application this is an interesting word. He could have planned the trip in his mind years earlier but done nothing to bring the plan to fruition. In other words I would conclude that he had not purchased a ticket to Spain at the time of the sentencing. His lawyer using his linguistic ability when making the application said the celebration in Spain had been arranged for a long time. Arranged could be parsed similarly as planned above. Such cases often came before me and are frequent in every magistrates` court. I would have dismissed this application unless the ticket had been purchased prior to sentencing and if that had been the case it surely would have been mentioned to the sentencing bench which at that time might have allowed a gap in the curfew period to accommodate travel.
A logical conclusion is that the bench has been soft, perhaps misled by the advocate`s eloquence and brought the law into disrepute by making an allowance where there was no satisfactory reason so to do.
Some might argue this shows the advantages of local benches for local people dealing out local decisions. The same argument could be used in direct contradiction if another group of three J.P.s in the same courtroom follows my logic and rejects a similar application next month. You pays your money and takes your choice.