Thursday, December 20, 2012

Just For Info

We never criticise another bench's sentence for the simple reason that they have heard the facts, had legal advice, and considered the guidelines, and we have not.

However, we would like to hear the reasoning behind this case.

To repeat, every case is different but the reasons can be interesting.


  1. Geoffrey Holloway20 December 2012 at 21:59

    Sadly I see this type of parent everyday when I pick up my sons. From the way he reacted there must be some history of bad behaviour by the son.
    When my son was four he was excluded for a day. The Head explained her reasons for doing this and then discussed with my wife and myself how we could improve his behaviour. Within a week she had extra funding for a teaching assistant to give him one to one tuition and we soon had in place strategies for school and home.
    Three years on and he no longer needs the extra help and I am still on first name terms with the Head. Schools have years of experience dealing with children, why don't more parents work with them

  2. Emm...

    "We never criticise another bench's sentence .... we would like to hear the reasoning behind this case."

    Is that not a bit like saying "I'm not racist but..."

    Which sentence in the daily mail headline upset you most?
    (1) A minor assault (no injury). Not apparently premeditated. That seems to come out as a band B fine, from your guidelines - which if I read it right is 1 weeks (relevant) wages. So £400 fine + £100 compensation + 9 month community order doesn't sound at all ridiculous, if it was a first offence etc.
    (2) Pleading guilty to 4 charges of fraud - 18 months suspended sentence. Or did you mix up the 'claim of 9000 cards and > £3MM value' with the offence he was actually being sentenced for?

    1. "Is that not a bit like saying "I'm not racist but..."

      Not really, as far as I can see.

      It's simply saying that criticising another Bench's sentencing without knowing the full facts can be folly. Which is why reasons are more interesting than sentences.

      Which is actually pretty much what BS suggested.

      As for your reading of the Guidelines, I hope you are not a JP. The real seriousness of the offence lies in the nature of the location and victim involved.

      That said, I think any Bench might struggle to get it up to a Cat 1 (custodial) offence in the basis of what we have been told.

  3. Is "excluding" a child really a punishment? Do they love school so much that giving them a day off really irks them? I suspect not.

    If there is no really punishment then behaviour will not improve. When I was at school the punishment menu comprised "lines", "detention" and "the cane". I got my first ten lines aged seven for talking in class, and by the time we were nine or ten the masters were handing out a hundred lines quite routinely, which generally ruined your evening.

    If someone had offered us a day off school we would have considered it a reward, not a punishment.

    1. Geoffrey Holloway21 December 2012 at 21:32

      When my son was excluded for a day it was not just for punishment but also so that the school could make preparations for his return. The Head was insistent that she did not want him to associate bad behaviour with getting a day off.

  4. Perhaps the reason is that he was only charged with s.39 common assault. Custody for that offence would be extremely unusual!

  5. Sadly there is so much anger and bad behaviour around. Certain people look for any excuse to pop off at someone - just ask the police, nurses etc. Society is losing respect for everything and until that's restored it ain't going to get any better unfortunately. This was a sustained assault on a public servant and in front of children. It should have been charged properly and sentenced accordingly. But l suspect the PSR was responsible for the sentence.

  6. Perhaps the offence was undercharged?

  7. Newchodge - but surely punching a teacher in front of her pupils is extremely unusual?

  8. Hard to comment properly on the basis of this report which - typically - lacks detail. For example - at the trial, had Stratford argued that he was defending his son from a possible assault by the teacher? If so, the court must have rejected this since it found him guilty. In relation to sentence - there is no mention of any other "carer" for this child so, was Stratford the sole carer? If so, might explain why he was not jailed? Just trying here to illustrate the point that too little is known.

    A considerable number of sentencing decisions ought to have published reasons. This another example. It is well within the ability of a lay bench to produce a clear statement of the key points considered in reaching a particular sentence.

    Another point is why Compensation £100 and Costs £400. Surely, the order should be Compensation, Fines (if any), Costs and so Compensation £400 and Costs £100 would have been preferable ?? Anyone know different?

    1. To get £125 (according to the Guidelines) you would have had to had sustained a black eye, so since we are told there were no injuries, £100 is about right.

      Costs obviously fixed at the level of a 1.5 or so day trial.

      Whether the amounts are just or not is another matter : but it's hard to fault the Bench on what we have been told.

    2. But seemingly little or nothing for "Temporary mental anxiety (including terror, shock, distress), not medically verified - Up to £1,000"? £100 compensation doesn't look right to me if £400 was available to pay costs.

    3. Without having seen and heard the victim, it really wouldn't be wise to comment on this. And you should also note that compensation is normally awarded once requested by the prosecutor : if none was requested for mental anxiety, none would have been forthcoming. (And I read nothing in the report that suggests the Court awarded anything other than was requested).

      But either way, one would need some evidence that went beyond "Wow, she must have been frightened".

      (Nor do I think an ability to pay court costs has anything to do with what level of compensation should be awarded).

    4. Compensation is always considered and does not depend upon a "request" by the prosecution.

      It must be remembered that we are reading an account in the Daily Mail, but having said that, it would appear that there are aggravating features present.

      I know I'm getting on, but I'm just trying even to envisage in my days at primary school a father arriving, directing foul language at, and then punching, a female head teacher.

    5. "Compensation is always considered and does not depend upon a "request" by the prosecution."
      I don't believe that I said that it did.

      But it would be a foolish Bench indeed that awarded compensation for mental anxiety without being asked.

      Not least because victims of all crimes might well then ask that Bench "Why her and not me?"

      We all of us aim for consistency. All crimes, especially those of violence, cause some form of anxiety for the victim; to single this one out seems a bit odd.

  9. The reader might like to have a crack at sentencing this case (on the basis of what we know) - go to page 213 of:

    Hands of bench seem quite well tied by these guidelines???

    1. It seems strange that their hands are tied in this case yet only a few miles up the road in Tottenham tied hands were losened following the riots - sentencing guidelines seemed to be a little more flexble then. You can't beat a bit of governmental outrage and the need to be tough on crime when it suits.


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