Thursday, January 26, 2012

De Minimis CPS Curat Quite A Bit

The other day we were presented with an allegation of criminal damage to....a garden gnome. I won't go into the details of the case, but the officer who attended took a lovely sharp A4 photo of a sad little gnome with a crumpled ear. Value: £15. Defendant pleads guilty and says sorry from the moment that he is collared.

It was the end of a long day, and I am sorry to confess that I found the opportunity too good to miss.

I adopted my most serious frown and my most portentous tone and said: "In this court we take a very serious view of wanton damage to garden ornaments." As I had hoped, a couple of lawyers developed grins. "You have damaged this sculpture (!) and you must pay for it. Our sentence is a conditional discharge, but you must pay £15 for the damage. As you are on sickness benefit, we will limit costs to £15". The defendant missed the irony, as I had expected, and shuffled off.

Yes, I was self indulgent, but what the hell is the justice system doing with nonsense like this going through a court? Yes, the def had a bit of petty previous over 15 years or so, but in a system where people are getting cautions for ABH and the like, where is the commonsense sergeant or CPS lawyer who can smell a pile of rubbish when it appears?

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