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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Monday, 6 March 2017


At the risk of correction by those who might claim to know better or indeed do know better than I an unusual court hearing caught my eye this morning.  Although the case took place in the crown court at its core there is a consideration for all sentencers.

“Flying a plane is not easy. I know because I have taken flying lessons myself. Flying an aeroplane is not an easy thing to do.”These were some of a recorder`s words in sentencing Wesley Tierney at Cambridge Crown Court last week after flying aeroplanes without holding a licence or having the correct training. I can identify with those few words of the sentencer having had a similar experience.  However later in the report he is quoted as remarking, "you have pleaded guilty means I am going to give you a suspended sentence.” 

An early plea of guilty indicates a sentence reduction of one third; at least that was a basic part of my training. It does not in my experience allow an immediate custodial sentence to be altered to a suspended sentence order. Perhaps the recorder had other unreported reasons.  It is almost certain that this offence is one where the sentencer must use his discretion and is not trapped within Sentencing Guidelines. Is this yet another case of a Recorder not being sufficiently aware of the processes available under the law and advice from senior judiciary?

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