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“I’m not a monster anymore…”

… says convicted serial killer Paul Steven Haigh, representing himself in his appeal to have a minimum prison term applied to his sentence, sorry his life sentence, make that his six life sentences so he can have a chance of parole.

Over a period of nearly two hours on Monday, Haigh read a series of essays to the court about topics such as remorse, callousness and sympathy.

He described his six murders as “horrendous”, “abominable” and “repulsive”.

“What I am today [is] a far cry from the monster of yesteryear,” he told the court on Monday.

Haigh said he was not incorrigible and should not be denied his freedom.

I’m not one for writing off and denying even the hope of eventual freedom to even the worst criminals. I’m not saying let ’em out – not denying awful criminals the hope of eventual release is not the same as actually releasing them. They should still have to earn their release and satisfy everyone that they’re not a danger. That many have apparently pulled wool over the eyes of those who make the decisions doesn’t say the principle’s wrong, just that it’s not always being done all that well.

So it’s not for me to say whether Haigh is or isn’t incorrigible and should have a chance of (as opposed to a guarantee of) freedom one day, but is it for him either? I realise this is a bit Catch 22 but I’ve always felt that someone who really is completely overcome with remorse for their crimes would accept that their punishment by incarceration is appropriate. On the plus side he hasn’t killed anyone since he’s been inside… apart from just that one guy:

Haigh, who has spent more than 30 years in prison, was also convicted of killing sex offender Donald George Hatherley, whom he helped hang in a jail cell at Pentridge Prison in 1991.

He told the court on Monday he was assisting Hatherley to commit suicide.

And of course that’s also illegal anyway. Still, he hasn’t killed anyone for more than 20 years, which is nice. So should he have a minimum term and therefore a chance of parole? Like I said, I don’t have the answer but I think dim prospects of release are fairer than all hope removed. However, I think he probably should spend some more time in the prison library. In the biology section.

He told a story about a butterfly becoming a caterpillar and said: “Though I don’t claim to be a perfect butterfly yet, I am not a caterpillar either.”

A butterfly becoming a caterpillar would be an example of regression, surely? Though to be fair there are enough examples of journos fucking up the basics of the animal kingdom that he mightn’t be guilty of that at all.

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No good deed goes unpunished

“If the boy responsible doesn’t own up then the whole class, and I do mean the whole class, will stay behind after school.”

I have no idea if teachers can still do this but if not I’m guessing that those of us past out mid 30s can probably remember hearing it at least once, and unless we happened to be the boy – or for the sake of equality, the girl – responsible we probably thought that it was bloody unfair. We mightn’t have even seen the boy/girl/hermaphrodite/person of indeterminate gender responsible for doing whatever it was doing it whenever they did and be as much in the dark about it as the teacher, so why this great love of collective punishment? As an adult I’ve come to suspect that it’s because trying to shame a confession out of someone, or failing that to get others to point the finger, is just a hell of a lot easier than the alternative and that often there won’t even be an alternative. Does that justify collective punishment in classrooms? I’m not sure but I’ll leave that as a question for parents with school age children to ponder, assuming, as I said before, that it’s even allowed these days.

But I am sure that when it’s a situation between adults and the state collective punishment is highly undesirable.

“If the person responsible doesn’t own up then the whole neighbourhood, and I do mean the entire postcode, will be put under house arrest.”

We’d go crazy if they said that, wouldn’t we? Well, I hope we would but seeing as how if you changed ‘house arrest’ to ‘fingerprinted and DNA swabbed’ a lot of people would nod approvingly perhaps not. Certainly there’s not enough objection to collective punishment in this part of the world when it comes to motoring offences and car confiscation, which as I’ve mentioned here before frequently punish the innocent owner of a vehicle as well as the person who committed an offence while driving it. Whether it’s because more vehicles get loaned to untrustworthy dickheads in the Perth area or whether it’s because the WA media have just picked up on this earlier I don’t know, but most of the examples of excessive punishment of innocents, i.e. confiscating the car for a period of weeks, seem to be in West Oz, while here in the eastern states it usually seems to be a couple of days. But just in case anyone in this bottom right hand corner of the country thinks that’s the worst that can happen we’ve just had a good reminder from Victoria Police that they can impound a car for something the owner didn’t do for just as long as their west coast colleagues can.

And yes, they bloody well are prepared to do it.

A man caught speeding through streets in Melbourne’s busy inner east this morning told police he was running late for an exam.

Police said the 21-year-old man was speeding along Swan Street in Richmond, ran a red light at Lennox Street and went through a pedestrian crossing before attempting to avoid police near Docker Street around 9.30am.

The Altona Meadows man was picked up travelling more than 100km/h in a 40 zone.

[…]

His friend’s car will be impounded for 30 days and he will also need to pay $689 towing and storage costs.

I don’t want to give the impression that I excuse this kind of driving because I don’t. Many people in Melbourne will know Swan Street and anyone else can tell with a quick look at Google Maps that it’s not really a 100+ km/h (62+ mph in old money) road – it’s a tram route, there are often parked cars narrowing the road to just one lane each way (shared with the trams) and there are lots of shops, often with delivery vehicles coming and going (the Street View image shows this pretty clearly). Personally I’m not sure 40 km/h isn’t a tad on the low side and doubt it’s significantly safer than the old 50 limit it used to have, but it’s not somewhere I’d feel safe doing 100 even if it was the middle of the night and the road was empty. If he really was going that fast, and since the driver in one of the WA cases was eventually acquitted I’m going to stress ‘if’, then he’s a complete dickhead that I can’t raise much sympathy for. No, nobody got hurt and as far as the speeding bit goes it is, as is the norm with speeding, a victimless crime. It’s the driving like a tool part that puts people at risk and which, rather than speeding, The Age says he’s being charged with:

The man is expected to be charged on summons for driving in a manner dangerous, speed dangerous and evade police.

Ignoring the fact that the subbies must napping on job when let that sentence though, if what’s been reported is accurate I have no sympathy with the guy at all, and if I was on the jury and felt the evidence supported it I’d say guilty of driving like a dickhead, and possibly speed dangerous and evade police to boot. But I can sympathise with his mate who has lost the use of his car for a month no matter what happens now. Even if the driver pays the storage costs and then goes to court and proves that he wasn’t speeding it doesn’t help because the case won’t be heard until months after the owner gets his car back, so the result of the court case will be moot. Win, lose or mistrial the owner of the car, who, since lending your property to a tool isn’t a crime, will not himself be in court having not been charged with anything, gets punished anyway. And I have no idea if a successfully defended case would mean that the police are required to compensate the whoever ended up paying that $689 storage charge. I’d bloody hope so but I wouldn’t be shocked to discover that they weren’t.

Some people would say that’s too bad and just the risk you run when you lend your car to an idiot, but how is an individual supposed to know the person borrowing it is going to do something idiotic? People are neither mind readers nor fortune tellers. You might balk at giving your keys to a young or inexperienced driver or someone with a heap of points, but at the end of the day if you were to lend your car to me, a driver of twenty years with a clean licence, you’d still be trusting me to behave with it. If I betray that trust you’ve already been wronged, so why does the law feel the need to punish you even more by depriving you of your property that had been used in a way you weren’t aware of and did not consent to? Do a mate a favour and if he abuses your faith in him then law comes round and stamps on your face. Hardly justice, is it?

This is a terrible kind of collective punishment, far worse than knowingly punishing innocents because establishing the identity of the guilty is too difficult or impossible because the identity of the alleged offender is known from the outset and because even for them the presumption of innocence is reversed – supposedly unthinkable where the English legal system has been a significant influence, but all too common when it comes to traffic offences which are typically victimless crimes. And worst of all it’s a wrong that Victoria’s Liberal In Name Only government appears not to have the slightest interest in putting right.

Stretchy briefs

Normally I play Devil’s Advocate with the legal profession. I understand that the crime does not have a cookie cutter nature and that juries and judges, both of whom have access to more information than the rest of us reading newspaper reports, may make decisions we can’t easily understand or accept. I understand that the system is designed to allow guilty people every chance to slip through the cracks and that this is a necessary consequence of the highly desirable feature that few innocents, ideally none, are jailed by mistake. And I understand that an essential part of this is that prosecution cases must be more or less destruct tested, which in turn means defence counsels who are willing to say practically anything to help their client.

Practically anything, because I don’t think they do anyone a service by stretching credibility beyond a certain point. I have a ‘for instance’ here, but first some background:

Three of the children were seriously injured in the crash when Tanya Chilly lost control of the Mitsubishi Pajero and the car rolled.

‘Three of the children’? If you’re thinking that implies there were more than three children in the car you’d be right. In fact there were ten. And if you’re thinking that a Pajero is a Mitsi Shogun by another name and doesn’t have enough seats for driver plus ten you’d be right about that too. The kids were apparently sharing four seats between them, perhaps made easier by the fact that they ranged in age from 1 to 10 years old.

Chilly, a mother of seven, pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court today to three counts of dangerous driving causing serious injury, nine counts of failing to ensure a child was restrained in the car…

Oh yes, I nearly forgot to mention that she only put a seat belt on one of them.

…one count of driving unlicensed…

A possible reason for which will soon become clear.

…and one count of drink driving.

A nice little baker’s dozen of driving offences then.

Chilly, 35, of Epping, had a blood alcohol level of .233 – more than four times the legal limit – when she crashed in Rockbank about 5pm on August 5 last year.

It was her fourth drink driving conviction.

It’s not actually stated anywhere in the article but I’m guessing the other drink driving convictions might be the reason her licence was suspended at the time.

[Prosecutor Ray Gibson] said Chilly swerved to avoid potholes on the dirt road when the car flipped on to the driver’s side roof.

One child suffered a broken leg in the crash, another had internal chest injuries and a third had a broken arm.

Mr Gibson said Chilly had been drinking beer and sharing a one-litre bottle of Jim Beam with the father of her seven children in a paddock, where the man lived, before driving off to get some takeaway food.

The three other children in the car also belonged to Chilly’s partner. He had eight children with his now estranged-wife.

When later interviewed by police, Chilly said the children were “just all over the place in the car”.

She admitted putting the children’s lives at risk when driving back to the paddock and was sorry for what had happened.

Okay, but this post is not so much about Chilly and her actions as about what her lawyer said. So has everyone absorbed all that background, particularly the last bit about sitting in a paddock getting plastered? Good, then feast your minds on this:

Defence lawyer Jill Prior said Chilly’s decision to drive had been “the lesser of two evils”.

Remember what I said about stretching credibility? Jeez, that’s stretching it so far that when it’s let go the bugger’s going to snap back hard enough to take someone’s face off. And in case you’re wondering how Ms Prior works that out…

It was a decision “contrary to her motherly duties” but the children were hungry and complaining and she didn’t want to leave them with her partner and his brother who were both blind drunk.

“It’s not an easy scenario to digest by any stretch of the imagination,” Ms Prior said.

Chilly was terrified of leaving the children with the two drunk men, she said.

Which was followed by some stuff about her client being an alcoholic and having suffered through a 12 year long abusive relationship, but is now turning things around and has been sober for the last few months. I can almost hear the Ambush Predator’s knuckles cracking from here – sorry, Julia, I know this kind of thing presses your lawyer rage button – but even though this kind of thing is pretty well worn in courts all over the western world I’m not actually going to make anything of it. For all I know it could be the honest truth and in any case her job is to keep her client out of jail, and if any of us law abiding types are ever on trial for something we didn’t do we’d want our lawyers doing exactly the same thing. But the ‘lesser of two evils’ part? That raises a couple of questions I’d like to have seen put to Ms Prior.

Wouldn’t an even lesser evil have been to get the kids some food sorted out earlier on before everyone got pissed, and wouldn’t that have avoided having to pile 11 people into a car with seats for about half that, drunk or sober, in the first place?

I wouldn’t call it a police state, but…

… but things do seem to be tilted in their favour sometimes, as two stories this week about policing in different parts of Oz illustrate.

First, over in the west, yet another example of the law punishing the innocent and guilty alike when it comes to impounding cars for speeding, though in effect the innocent party receives the bulk of the punishment by being deprived of their property while the driver cops a fine and is at liberty to carry on driving their own car.

A Mercedes-Benz dealership employee has been left red-faced and on foot after having a work car impounded for 28 days for speeding.

The 26-year-old woman was allegedly caught doing 105km/h in a 50km/h zone in East Waikiki, Western Australia, driving a near new Mercedes-Benz C250 Avantgarde. […]

The woman reportedly had permission to drive the car, but not that quick. The driver has been summonsed for reckless driving.

Western Australia’s laws are particularly tough on hoons, with police able to impound vehicles for up to 28 days for speeding offences, even if the car isn’t owned by the driver.

Western Australia’s laws are not unique in the country as far as I know, and I’ve certainly seen similar things happen to so-called ‘hoon’ drivers in their mums’ cars here in Victoria on those Police, Film Crew, Dickhead Driver type TV shows that fill TV slots for no better reason than being dirt cheap to make. What seems to set WA apart is that states such as Victoria that happily confiscate cars despite them not belonging to the offender mostly do so for a couple of days, while over in the west the rozzers feel no guilt at all about adhering to the letter of a bad law and sitting on an innocent third party’s property for a whole month, despite them not even being present when the alleged offence occurs. They do this when the driver protests his innocence and announces their intention to fight the charge in court, which turns the notion of innocence until guilt is proven on its head and must be a bit embarrassing for the cops when the driver is then found not guilty.* They do it when it rapidly becomes clear that the driver didn’t have permission to be in the car in the first place. And it turns out that they do it when it’s a demo vehicle belonging to a dealership, and they do it even if it happens to be the dealership’s only demo vehicle for that model. Oh, and by the way, they’ve also had cars stolen while in police care recently.

In all these cases apart from the one stolen from the towing yard the person or body with legal title to the confiscated cars was not the driver and wasn’t even present when the alleged offence – and since at least one case has been successfully defended we really must say alleged offence – occurred, yet all have been punished by the confiscation of their property. And as the case that was successfully challenged makes apparent, if it turns out that the police got it wrong it’s all too late because the car will have been given back long before and there’s no way to retroactively un-confiscate it. Even if they go out and hire another car for you for a month you can’t drive two at a time anyway. There’s simply no getting round the fact that the law has punished innocents, and it doesn’t seem eager to fix that.

Police Minister Rob Johnson says the car dealer who had his Mini Cooper S impounded yesterday after a test driver was allegedly clocked at 170kmh was not let down by the law.

[…]

Mr Brandon said the legislation had punished his company for something they did not do.

”We feel a bit hard done by,” Mr Brandon said.

“Unfortunately we lent a car to someone and they behaved badly and now we have had it confiscated with no great loss to him (test driver).”

He lodged an appeal against the confiscation but it was rejected by police.

Mr Johnson said he sympathised with Mr Brandon but insisted the law had not let him down.

“I accept this is a very difficult situation and I sympathise with Darrin,” Mr Johnson said.

“Let’s not lose focus here. Mr Brandon hasn’t been let down by the law, he’s been let down by someone who chose to drive one of his cars in a dangerous and reckless way.”

Don’t see the police minister explaining how Mr Brandon or his company is responsible for someone else ‘who chose to drive one of his cars in a dangerous and reckless way’ but there you go. That was the attitude of WA’s Liberal run government and it’s police minister in 2010 and presumably still is since neither have changed and the election’s not due ’til next year.

As I mentioned, this is not unique to the sand grubbers and happens over here in the eastern states as well, and that’s another worry for victorians because it turns out that the police have another little advantage when it comes to walloping motorists. You know how police are supposed to follow certain rules when it comes to gathering evidence, like not beating the ‘truth’ out of suspects or manufacturing evidence? In most places one of those rules is that evidence gathered illegally isn’t admissible, and as far as I knew that’s the case here too. It’s not to make police work harder than it needs to be or to make it more difficult to lock up criminals, or rather it is but the intent is to make it less likely that innocent people are punished as a result of police cocking things up and arresting the wrong people – and if you don’t think that’s a valid concern can I suggest you re-read the first half of the post dealing with the punishment of innocent parties.

So imagine my surprise when it turned out this week that setting up a speed trap in an illegal location doesn’t invalidate the fines. Surprise? Sorry, I meant concern.

A speed camera operator will be slapped with a fine after parking illegally to catch speeding motorists in Belmont.

But despite doing the wrong thing, speeding fines will still be issued to anyone nabbed by the vehicle.

Ross Kroger snapped the snapper after coming across the vehicle in Roslyn Rd last week, parked so far out from the kerb it was blocking the bicycle lane.

[…]

The photographs were referred by the Geelong Advertiser to the Victoria Police traffic camera office for review.

The office found the operator had parked the car out from the kerb to avoid reflections, which can distort speed camera results, but admitted the car contravened the road rules and issued a $73 parking infringement notice to the operator.

Anyone caught by the camera doing less than 10km/h over the speed limit can expect to be fined more than twice that amount.

Fine, you might say. The operator’s getting a parking ticket and where he parked doesn’t change the fact that people who got tickets were speeding, so what’s your problem here, Angry? Well, leaving aside concerns with various handheld speed measuring devices and the ability of some to get speed readings from stationary objects (not least because I have no idea which one was being used and whether such concerns apply), my problem here is with the principle of police gathering evidence correctly and in a way which is unimpeachable. Not because I want criminals and bad drivers – and I mean the real dickheads, not merely people who are more than 2km/h over and can afford a fine – to get away with it but because we all should want to be sure that in their eagerness to get the right man the police aren’t sometimes getting the wrong one as well.

And this business with speeding fines from an illegally sited camera isn’t just thin end of the wedge-ism on my part – even before this we’d already seen a fatter part of the wedge when, as I blogged at the Orphanage in March, it turned out that thousands of search warrants in Victoria had been issued on improperly sworn affidavits and were therefore invalid. Didn’t stop them being executed and people arrested, charged and jailed as a result of some of them, and when it emerged that Victorian officers had been making a complete Horlicks of this for years what was the reaction of the state government? Well, much the same as with that speed camera really (my bold).

ROBERT CLARK, VICTORIAN ATTORNEY-GENERAL: We simply cannot afford to have cases being delayed, growing demands on the court system, and potentially serious offenders walking free from court simply because police or others have failed to comply with proper procedural formalities.

Translation: they dunnit, we knowit, so screwit. And with that attitude it requires a a lot of faith in the reliability of a service that’s admitted many of its officers couldn’t follow procedure in getting affidavits to keep innocent people from being arrested and and punished by accident. More faith than I have, to be perfectly honest.

Anything you say will be taken down, ripped up and shoved
down your scrawny little throat until you choke to death.

Funny, isn’t it? Plenty of people in the UK worry about arming the cops there. I live somewhere where we see routinely and openly armed police on the streets every day and the guns aren’t the part that worry me about policing. The worst they can do with those is… well, okay, the worst is actually shooting you dead but at least they still get in a colossal amount of shit for shooting innocent citizens. But what really worries me is that more than ever the activities of the police, and not just Victoria’s, need to be beyond reproach, and yet the rules that are supposed to hold them to account seem to be flexible. And I feel we should want to avoid moving goalposts in any area of policing if we also want to avoid the day when they don’t into a colossal amount of shit for shooting innocent citizens.

* Actually this is just me speculating. For all I know they don’t give a rip and it may be more accurate to say that they bloody well ought to be embarrassed.

Europe giveth and Europe taketh away

On the plus side of the ledger this time Europe, or to be precise the European Court of Human Rights, has givethed ith blething… sorry, its blessing on the extradition of Abu Hamza to the United States.

The judges gave a final ruling on six extradition cases in a verdict which effectively passed judgment on whether America’s treatment of terrorist suspects amounts to “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” in breach of the European human rights code.
They decided it would be lawful for five of the six to be jailed for the rest of their lives in a so-called ‘super-max’ prison.
The ruling stated that the five, including radical preacher Abu Hamza, would not be subject to “ill-treatment” at ADX Florence, a so-called ‘super-max’ prison. The court adjourned its decision on Haroon Rashid Aswat pending consideration of further complaints lodged by him.

So a win, or at least most of a win.

The ruling granted the men the right to appeal to the court’s Grand Chamber, meaning any extradition could be some time away.

A wi?

Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “very pleased” by the ruling.

Really, Dave? If I had your job I’d be fucking ashamed that it’s up to a bunch of judges in a foreign court at all as well as the fact that this result doesn’t even address the whole question of it not being up to the United Kingdom to make that decision internally anymore, so if you’re satisfied with the odd decision going Britain’s way I guess we can add ‘easily pleased’ to the increasing list of your faults.

And of course there’s the takething away part that I was coming to, though it’d be more accurate to say that this is giving something that really isn’t wanted.

In Britain, even the most minor convictions for student pranks or breaches of the peace can come back to haunt jobseekers years later if they apply for positions as teachers, policemen or other “sensitive” roles.
But migrants from EU countries applying for the same jobs will be given a clean bill of health, even if they have similar convictions, because other countries either wipe the slate clean or do not keep records of low-level offences.
The problem also applies to British workers trying to get jobs in other EU countries.
[…]
Britain’s rigorous Criminal Records Bureau regime means that even convictions classed as “spent” remain on file for life and can be thrown up during background checks by potential employers anywhere in the EU.
In stark contrast, countries such as Belgium and Germany routinely destroy after just three years records of convictions resulting in prison sentences of less than six months or fines of less than 500 euros.

However, in fairness to the Europeans it must be said that this problem is entirely self inflicted. Only in Britain are there Bottom Inspectors looking forward to the day they can create lifelong criminal files on people for farting without being in possession of Class II Intestinal Waste Gas Evacuation Certificate (Adult – Unsupervised, Home/Workplace) because just about every other possible thing has been covered by legislation and can already fuck you up on a CRB check for the increasing number of jobs that seem to demand one.

May not be real.
Yet.

Nick Pickles, director of the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: “The amount of information retained by the British police is hugely disproportionate compared to other European countries and this system will mean the serious flaws of the CRB system are exported to haunt British citizens wherever they may be in Europe.
“The huge amount of data held, often without any criminal conviction, has been a civil liberties concern for many years and yet the Home Office continue to fight to retain details of every minor misdemeanor indefinitely.”

Quite. I wonder if David Cameramong would say he was very pleased by this as well. More to the point, I wonder if the useless wanker will take his hand off it long enough to do anything about it.

Guilty ’til proven innocent (again)

Via email from Sadbutmadlad, quoted en bloc:

This is an email sent to all my contacts. I have your email address because we have been in touch at some point in the past, maybe brief, maybe dim and distant. My apologies if you have received this and no longer wish to keep in touch with me, just let me know and I’ll remove your address from my contact list.

So why have I written this email? Because Graham Mitchell, a fellow blogger and press photographer has been arrested under the European Arrest Warrant for a crime that he was acquitted of 20 years ago. He was not just found innocent on some technicality, he was found totally innocent of the crime because the victim identified other people as his attackers. However though he was free after spending 54 weeks in prison (in a story covered by the Daily Mail at the time) some 20 years later, the Portuguese authorities have found some reason (which even his lawyer can’t fathom out) to re-arrest him. Due to the Portuguese not filling out the EAW form properly he has been allowed bail, but only after he spent a short time in Wandsworth prison as a category A prisoner. He could be going to Portugal at any time, to spend weeks, possibly months in prison while waiting for his case to wend it way through the Portuguese legal system. All to be found not guilty again.

His story has been written about on http://www.annaraccoon.com where I urge you to go and read it. If you feel as strongly as I do, please pass on the link to all your contacts. Please tweet it and put it on your facebook wall as well.

The direct link to the story is http://www.annaraccoon.com/madeleine-mccann/portuguese-men-o-law/

If you’re wondering why Madeleine Mccann is in the URL above it is because it involves the same police who investigated her case so brilliantly – not! So you can see why Graham is very likely not to get a fair trail.

Do please go over to Anna Raccoon’s and read the whole thing. There’s also an update in which Anna notes that the warrant for Graham Mitchell’s arrest says that he’s wanted for murder despite the fact that the victim is alive and well, albeit paralysed from the waist down since the incident, and playing basketball. Oh, and also despite the fact that this not dead murder victim said that Mitchell was not his attacker at the original trial.

And remember that all this is possible because, thanks to the terms the UK government agreed to, any police force in the EU may issue an arrest warrant on their terms for anyone in the UK, even for things that are not even a crime under British laws, and they’re under no obligation to provide any prima facie evidence that the crime was committed, much less of the guilt of the subject of the warrant. So it shouldn’t be a surprise when they don’t. While its tempting to excoriate the previous government and its remnants on the Labour benches for this it should be borne in mind that the Cobbleition parties have not only shown approval of the EAW by failing to scrap it, they’ve gone so far as to extend the powers of other member nations’ police forces over people living in the UK by signing up to the European Investigation Order – another example of all parties in Westminster being as bad as each other.

With this in mind the obvious advice to anyone who’s ever had any run ins with any police force anywhere in the EU, even if they were subsequently found to be completely innocent of any wrongdoing, is to get out of Europe and stay out. A second option might be to begin creating a network of underground railroads so people accused of crimes they didn’t do can escape to somewhere freer. The way things are going in the EU that might turn out to be China.

Another downside of summary justice

I’ve blogged a few times on how Australian police forces have the power to impose summary justice on drivers at the side of the road in the form of impounding vehicles, and that my concern isn’t so much that I think it’s being abused as that it’s fundamentally a recipe for injustice due to its inflexibility. If vehicle is seen doing, or in practice is merely believed to have been doing,  X, Y or Z then it’s impounded for N days no matter what, even if the person whose car it is and who’s therefore being punished was not actually the driver. Hence we have the Perth doctor who lost the use of his Lambo for a month after police stopped and impounded it for speeding despite not even being in the car at the time, never mind driving it, and despite the driver later being found not guilty of the offence; we have the Mercedes dealership who lost one of their loan vehicles to Victoria police for a couple of days after they took it away from Lewis Hamilton for being a tyre smoking dickhead outside the Albert Park Grand Prix circuit two years ago, again without anyone representing the car’s owner being present let alone in control of it; and we have the Perth Mum whose car was impounded for a month after her son was caught driving it, yet again without her even being in the car let alone at the wheel.

This is sort of more of the same, but with a couple of important differences. First is that in this case Tom O’Sullivan, the person driving at the time the car was impounded, was the owner, which means that at least they weren’t punishing someone who wasn’t even there again. Sure, it’s still an over the top punishment to lose your car for all that time for “undue and excessive noise” (Seriously? Not even speeding, just “noise”? What’s wrong with a defect notice?) and there’s that thing missing from the process… oh, what’s it called again, now? It’s on the tip of my tongue…Kang Oh yes, a fucking trial. Anyhow, that’s by the by. The point is that in this case the person who was driving is the one on the receiving end, disproportionate or not.

But then there’s the second big difference, which is that in all likelihood Tom O’Sullivan will never see his car again because it was stolen from the impound yard. And to add insult to injury it took them a fortnight to tell him.

Police waited two weeks to tell the owner of an expensive high-performance car impounded under anti-hoon laws that his vehicle had been stolen from a towing yard.

Embarrassed police told PerthNow there had been a “communication breakdown” between themselves and AAAC, the private company it contracts to tow and store seized vehicles.

[…]

It was not until February 29 that Mr O’Sullivan received a call from East Cannington Police Station to say his car had been stolen from an impound yard at Kewdale on February 17.

How much communication is even needed here? Ring ring, hello officer, one of the cars we tow away and store for you has been stolen, please tell the owner … ring ring, I’ve very sorry sir, but there’s been a break in at the impound yard and your car was stolen. Two phone calls. Two! Okay, that’s a bare minimum but it’s hard to believe that it could take two bloody weeks to have broken the bad news to this poor guy.

“The keys to every car are in the impound shed are kept on the car…..they simply jumped the fence, walked in played with the electric gate and drove my clubby out the door.”

Or maybe not so hard to believe.

Police said it was the first time such an incident had occurred.

If the keys have been in the cars all this time that sounds like you’ve got luck to thank for that.

“This is a one off and very sophisticated operation possibly done by professional people,” Inspector Bill Munnee said.

Yes, jumping a fence, starting a car with its regular ignition key, opening the gate and driving away sounds like the level of sophistication that would have given even Danny Ocean a migraine.

Needless to say Tom O’Sullivan is less than ecstatic and wants compensation from WA Police. And fair enough – he’s insured but why should he have to eat the increased excess given it was in someone else’s care at the time? For that matter his insurance company could be forgiven for wondering why the police and/or the towing company shouldn’t pay all the costs if it’s true about leaving the keys with the vehicles.

But I think Tom O’Sullivan is missing a trick here. I think he should also be asking for the undue or excessive noise charge to be dropped and any fine he paid to be returned along with any compensation. Because I think it’s possible the police haven’t just lost his impounded vehicle, you see. They may also have lost their evidence that there was a reason to impound the car in the first place.

Let’s all just savour this one

Not much needed in the way of comment, really.

So now Cameramong and Cleggie need to sort out a replacement Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, which sounds like a matter of urgency since it seems like for the fourth or fifth winter in a row the UK is again covered with a thick layer of crisp, white global warming. I don’t suppose there’s much chance of the two being split, or better yet the Warble Gloaming bit of the ministry dumped with the work it does (yeah, I know) being pushed over to the Department for the Environment, Tesco and The Archers, but we can hope.

Don’t let the door hit you in the arse on your way out, Chris. And be safe driving home with all that snow on the roads.

Quote (and other things) of the Day

From, not surprisingly, The Daily Mash.

Ed Miliband cost Britain the best part of a billion pounds yesterday.

The Labour leader’s brave, popular stance against RBS bonuses led directly to the bank losing £900m of its value as investors reckoned that if Ed Miliband was calling the shots they may as well buy shares in a mangled badger.

Which is ironic given that’s pretty much what his old boss, the cyclops with the faecal Midas touch, did when he spunked away nearly £40 billion of taxpayers’ money on buying a company that had the thick end of two fucking trillion in liabilities.

And on a closely related subject, which I might have titled ‘Twat of the day’ if I was making a separate post of it, I see that Fred the Shred has been de-knighted, stripped of his honour for services to the banking industry nominally because of his disservice to the banking industry, but I suspect mainly because it’s politically expedient to give him a good kick in the balls despite the fact that he committed no actual crime. Or perhaps, given that he’s been the target of this kind of thing on and off since Harriet Harperson suggested three years ago that the ‘court of public opinion’ (which is entirely different from Harperson herself and other champagne socialists) had decided his pension arrangements were unacceptable despite being in a legal contract, it’d be more accurate to say that it’s still politically expedient to kick him in the balls. I can’t think of any other reason why, as the Tele points out, Goodwin has been singled out for being no worse than a big business fuck up while others, some of whom have committed real actual crimes, have been allowed to keep their gongs.

Lord Jeffrey Archer, disgraced peer and best-selling author, he spent time at her majesty’s pleasure for perjury in 2001, having lied about sleeping with a prostitute.

[…]

Ex-HBOS chairman Lord Stevenson was awarded a CBE in 1981, a knighthood in 1997 and was made a peer in 1999. Like Goodwin he played a significant role in his bank’s near-collapse in 2008 and apologised to the Treasury Select Committee for his over-reliance on wholesale funding markets.

[…]

Lord Taylor of Warwick, the son of Jamaican immigrants who rose from humble beginnings to become a barrister and a member of the Upper House, was exposed by the Daily Telegraph for swindling £11,000 in fraudulent MP expenses out of the taxpayer and subsequently imprisoned, yet retains his seat in the House of Lords.

Labour peers Lady Uddin and Lord Paul, and the crossbencher Lord Bhatia all received lengthy suspensions from the House of Lords after wrongly claiming thousands of pounds in expenses yet retain the right to re-ent

(EDITED TO ADD: Captain Ranty reminds me in the comments of the case of Lord Ahmed who killed someone in a car crash on the motorway shortly after sending text messages from the driving seat. As I recall there was no real evidence that texting brought about the crash and he was not actually charged with causing the death of the other man, but his lordship was convicted of dangerous driving and sentenced to several months. The Captain points out that he served only 12 days and that he too still has his title.)

To which, it could be argued, we should add the names Sir Howard Davies and Sir Callum McCarthy, chairman of the Financial Services Authority from 97-03 and 03-08 respectively, though perhaps not Jonathan Adair Turner, Baron Turner of Ecchinswell, the FSA chairman since May 2008, who’s getting some stick in various news website comments but really wasn’t there in time to have prevented anything. But we could certainly include the various Sirs, Dames, Honorables, Right Honourables and so on in parliament and on whatever committees approve these things who all so thoroughly applauded what ex-Sir Fred was doing that they put him up for and awarded him the fucking knighthood in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of ex-Sir Fred and in fact I’ve called him some unpleasant names and expressed hope that he fall down some stairs and land on his testicles, but if all this really is, as it’s being said, for bringing the honours system into disrepute surely the spotlight should rather be on those who give out honours to idiots, fuck ups, crooks and inconsequential slebs.

In fact never mind his bloody honour, such as it is these days, you don’t need to look far to find people saying he and other bankers should be arrested and jailed. For example, this comment at Huffpo

They should throw him in the tower of London for a good number of years as well.

… and this one at the Graun

Good. Now put him in jail.

… and this one commenting on the same article

He should be locked-up in prison.

And best of all, this one from a web forum.

in my opinion, taking away the knighthood means nothing. This bastard should have been tried in court and sentenced to jail.

he basically played around with other people’s money while paying himself a high salary and then when $hit hit the fan, asked for a 45 billion bailout. Im sorry, but if someone steals 10 dollars from another, he is called a criminal and can get a prison sentence. While this idiot stole billions, and people are arguing about some stupid title that means nothing.

Dump this idiot in prison…then we can discuss his knighthood.

Oh, and also one I spotted a few months back by Jon Snow, long serving journo and former law student.

Veteran Channel 4 newsborg Jon Snow blogs on the eeeevil bankers, and specifically asks why they haven’t been arrested, and by extension I imagine charged, tried, found guilty, purged, flayed, subjected to the Pear of Anguish and possibly also the Banana of Discomfort and the whole Fruit Salad of Much Inconvenience, and finally hung, drawn, quartered and buried in five limed graves each. But that may just be the impression I get.

Click for linky

The publication of the Vickers report into British banking reform sparks the question why the UK has so far failed to prosecute a single individual for his or her misdeeds during the financial meltdown of 2008.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that maybe no actual crime has been committed. Negligence, probably yes. Gross stupidity, almost indubitably. Financial irresponsibility and incompetence of such breathtaking degree that it’s comparable with what some governments spunk away every week, for sure. And some of that may be tortious, but is there evidence that an actual offence has been committed and is there enough of it to make a successful prosecution likely? Because if the answer to both is no, Jon, there’s your reason why.

Okay, he might not have finished his law degree but you’d hope that the course would have covered the tiny detail that people need to be at least suspected of having committed a crime before they can legally be arrested, and if not that he might have picked up the fact at some stage during a long career in journalism or even just by being a fucking adult. I’m reasonably sure I was aware that you couldn’t be arrested, Constable Savage style, for bullshit offences made up on the spot by the time I was in my late teens.*

All of this cockwaftery about arrests and prison stretches have the same thing in common – a complete absence of any mention of an actual crime Goodwin or any other banker (with the notable exception of Bernie Madhoff, whose fraud was genuine but actually had two fifths of fuck all to do with the financial crisis) is alleged to have committed. Y’know, something that’s a real offence that you can be arrested for and charged with, something with a statute somewhere to make the action a crime and give legal power to punish it, that kind of thing. Christ, only one even mentions those inconvenient formalities of courts and trials, but even then the fact of imprisonment seems to be treated as a priori and the writer even goes so far as to specifically accuse Fred Goodwin of theft. Yeah, and I suppose my bank steals the money I voluntarily deposit in it too, right? Or is he perhaps referring to the money given to RBS in the bailout? If so then it should be pointed out that as far as Goodwin and RBS were concerned the exchange of funds was again entirely voluntary, and of course shares, for whatever they ultimately turn out to be worth, were given in return. The only involuntary part, the only bit where money was forcefully taken from people, was the bit where money was taken from taxpayers so as to be thrown, by Gordon Clown and his Darling Alastair, at RBS and other banks. It’s more like stealing ten dollars before meeting someone who’s lost their own money on the horses and owes a lot more, and then giving him the ten dollars as well as stealing another twenty and going out to steal again the next day – the guy who owes all that money may be an idiot but he’s not the thief.

Let me repeat that vital point: whatever else that guy is, he is NOT a thief.

How the fuck can apparently reasoning adults not understand this? Do I really have to get medieval Reformation on their asses and quote Sir Thomas More again? Or shall I go with the misquoted version I used when fisking Jon Snow last year?

Arrest them.

Why?

They’re eeevil bankers who are greedy, stupid and negligent.

There’s no law against that.

So now you’d give the bankers the benefit of law?

Yes. What would you do?
Cut a great road through the
law to get after the bankers?

And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it  — do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

Why is it so difficult for some people to grasp that when you start demanding that people be thrown in gaol without worrying about whether they’ve broken a law then those doing the throwing and demanding are in as much trouble as the actual throwees?

‘Kinell!

* Actually the Constable Savage sketch might even be part of the reason I was aware of this.

Disposable double jeopardy

Having stuffed up the RSS readers of anyone unlucky enough to be on the feed when I altered all those posts I feel I owe some sensible comment as well as apologies. Unfortunately it’s late, it took me much longer than I expected, and I really need to get to bed so I’ll be brief. I’ve noticed that in the UK someone has finally been convicted for the murder of Stephen Lawrence, some 18 years after the fact and after having already once been found not guilty. I don’t wish to defend the two men who’ve just been convicted – for all I know they did do it, and the very conspicuously did not sue The Daily Mail when that paper came right out and accused them of the murder on the front page and challenged them to sue if it was wrong. This is one of those awkward situations where I think that someone who is probably, though not certainly, guilty has been convicted but I’m as uncomfortable as hell in the way it’s come about. In short an ancient legal protection was tossed away and then this was applied retrospectively in order to paper over the cracks of an inadequate investigation.

The law of double jeopardy meant no one could be tried twice for the same crime but that legal principle was abolished in 2005 following a series of high profile campaigns.
The Lawrence murder played a key part and Sir William Macpherson recommended the law be changed following his inquiry in to the case in 1999.
Until 2005 there was no chance of ever bringing Dobson back to court as a suspect in the murder because he was acquitted, along with Neil Acourt and Luke Knight, following a private prosecution brought by Stephen’s parents in 1996.
However, that situation changed with the 2003 Criminal Justice Act 2003, which abolished the double jeopardy rule for serious crimes and which came in to effect two years later.
Crucially, it was also retrospective meaning it did not matter whether an alleged offence had occurred before 2005.

Seriously, how can anyone be comfortable with the police getting another go when it’s believed the jury got it wrong the first time? How many people in the UK went apeshit over the EU’s practice of repeat referenda until it got the desired outcome? How many of those will now be nodding approval at the British criminal justice system doing more or less the same thing?

Let’s look at a more mundane parallel. Let’s say you’d been done for speeding and decided to fight the ticket in court, and you discovered that the device the police caught you on was supposed to be calibrated daily but in fact they’d only been doing it once a week. As a result you’re found not guilty and sent on your way. Now imagine that the law is changed so that the speed device was now allowed to be calibrated once a month and that speeding motorists who’d been acquitted by a court once could be dragged back in again, except this time they wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. Ridiculous? Why? The law allowing the criminal justice system a second bite for murderers sets the precedent, and it’s naive to think that eventually there won’t be calls for it to be extended to those acquitted of kidnap or rape or drug dealing… and if those then why not robbery, burglary, assault, fraud, possession and even motoring offences? The principle has now been established that nobody may be tried twice for the same offence unless someone thinks it’s quite important, and that importance may be established retroactively if need be.

And in case anyone thinks that I’m an unfeeling bastard who cares nothing for the death of Stephen Lawrence, or even that I’m a racist taking the side of the white guys, it’s not that at all. Like I said, I think they’re probably, though not certainly, guilty. But the steps taken to convict them of murder open up the possibility, slender though it might be at the moment, of anyone being tried again (and who knows, maybe again) if there’s enough belief that they’re guilty. Until now the police and Crown Prosecution Service have not had the luxury of being able to put defendants in the dock again and again until one jury gets the ‘right’ verdict, which is both to protect the innocent and discourage police and prosecutors from putting up with a sloppy investigation.

This will be a popular result and might even be a just one, but really it shouldn’t please anyone, not even those close to Stephen Lawrence and certainly not those who are already hoping to see more use of disposable double jeopardy. I’ll let Sir Thomas More have the final word and explain why.

“What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? … And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s, and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”

Seeing the light

Click for linky

Shoulder mounted laser? Wow, like the fucking Predator. We’ll show those little pond-life estate scum next time they get a bit fighty, eh lads? What they gonna do when we’ve each got a las… er… oh.

Expect laws restricting the purchase of welding goggles and mirrors to be around the corner, affecting only the law-abiding, non-rioting majority who won’t simply steal them when they want them.

/ facepalm

Justice is also a dish best served cold

Over at Max Farquar’s blog and one or two others is an horrific story of a very young child, a baby in fact, who has been brutally raped. As yet few details are known – even the baby’s gender isn’t certain and whether the poor kid is critical or has in fact died from the injuries is also up in the air. Other than that a really nasty assault with some terrible injuries has taken place and that the parents were arrested and then bailed far more is not known than is known.

Max, who I have a lot of time for as I agree with much of what he says, wrote this:

North Kent police have said that a 35-year-old man was subsequently arrested, on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and rape, along with a 33-year-old woman. They were both from the Gravesend area and were detained in a North Kent police station. However, they have now been released on bail.
Released on bail?
WTF! A one month old baby has been raped!
Who is the 35-year-old man, that is walking free after raping a one month old baby? Is he the father or is he the boyfriend of the 33-year-old woman that has also been released on bail? Do we presume she is the mother? Someone, somewhere out there must know who these loathsome, disgusting and unbelievable evil people excuses for human beings are!
It’s time to name and shame.

Here’s my problem.

With respect to Max, we don’t as yet know that anyone’s walking free after raping a baby and so no it’s not time to name and shame. It’s time to thoroughly investigate, identify the guilty party(s), build an absolutely watertight case with extra attention to detail given to all the human rights – yes, I know, but hear me out – of any initial suspects and the eventual accused. And there are two reasons – first is that we all know the police screw up from time to time and arrest the wrong people, and right this second we can’t honesty say that those arrested are guilty of anything. Suspected, yes, sure, but right now they haven’t even been charged and in law they are innocent ’til proven guilty, just the same as everyone else. This is not a triviality. This is not showing more concern for the human rights of the perpetrators, who I repeat are not as yet known to be the perpetrators, than it is for the victim. This is absolutely essential for law to work at all. As Bolt’s Sir Thomas More put it:

And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

The second reason is more prosaic. I’m appalled by this crime and I want to know that someone is punished for it. I want to hear that they got the bastard, that he was tried, convicted and locked away like an animal. And if he appeals I want to be confident that he’s got no hope at all and the Appeals Court will reject it in very short order because the police and CPS did a thorough job, cutting no corners and respecting the accused’s rights at every step of the process. I said they were important, and that’s why – it’s not just that some accused really are innocent but also that you don’t want it to become a get out of jail free card for the guilty ones later on.

Naming and shaming now, if the eventual accused is indeed the one who gets named, puts that all that at risk if the defence persuades the court that it’s prejudiced the jury and a fair trial is no longer possible. And before we start launching into defence barristers, see above – if you’d been charged and you were innocent you’d be wanting the barrister to do absolutely everything, play every angle at every stage, to get you out of there and back to your life, and if we want that for innocents accidentally put on trial or maliciously fitted up then it’s got to be done for the crims too. It’s not perfect but that way we know. If there’s no trial, no guilt can ever be proven, and I don’t trust British mobs to get it right when people have been known to attack the house of a paediatrician.

The disgust I feel over the idea that someone of technically the same species could do this to a tiny baby meant that I struggled to blog anything right away. There is no just punishment for this, none. There can’t be. We’re not a society that tortures people to death over extended periods anymore, and we’re the better for it, but even if we were I’m not even sure Leg-iron’s suggestion of hacking their legs off at the knee and standing them in salt is enough. Death certainly isn’t, and not just because it’d be sending him off to a hell I don’t believe in but because even if I’m wrong and there is one the bastard would get the opportunity of absolution before he got the rope or the needle or whatever. Spending the remainder of his miserable existence hearing the whispers, knowing from the beginning that the first beating – and worse – will come sooner or later, and then over the years learning from the less than gentle ministrations of fellow prisoners that the most frightening sight is an absence of screws and the worst sound is the small metallic click of a door that should remain shut being quietly unlocked, being moved for his safety and living in terror of the moment that who he is and what he’s in for will become known in the new prison, that might well be the closest thing a civilised society can do for a just punishment.

We should want as many waking moments of this creature’s remaining life as possible to be filled with nervous fear, and as many filled with terror and pain as other guests of Mrs Majesty’s prison system are able to supply. The best chance of all that happening is to name no names except to police officers. If folks on the blogosphere or Twitter or Facebook blab enough to screw up a trial, or even any chance of there being a trial, then they’d almost be accessories to the crime. Because the perpetrator of this evil will go free and those who named him will all have helped. Jeez, if he gets a new ID and life somewhere at taxpayers’ expense the blogs and twitterers and facebookers might as well have clubbed together and bought the bastard a ticket abroad and a clean docs.

Revenge is a dish best served cold. Quite often so is justice.

The attitude alone should be worth an extra couple of years – UPDATED

Norman Stanley Fletcher, you have pleaded guilty to the charges brought by this court, and it is now my duty to pass sentence. You are an habitual criminal who accepts arrest as an occupational hazard, presumably accepting imprisonment in the same casual manner. We therefore feel constrained to commit you to the maximum term allowed for these offences: you will go to prison for five years.

From the titles of Porridge

Of course that was from both fiction and another time. These days an habitual criminal can look forward to having to write a letter, and even though that’s likely to be a tortuous exercise with many products of the British educamakayshun system at least one burglar has treated it with the contempt it deserves and not even taken the trouble to disguise his equal contempt for his victims.

Now on one or two levels he’s actually doing everyone a favour. You can’t argue with the advice of a professional thieving little bastard as far as things like curtains and open windows go, and since we can expect his attitude towards this so called punishment – apparently described as the most rigorous form of non-custodial sentence for young criminals, which I guess means there’s no help with the spelling and punctuation – to be shared by many who do take the trouble to hide it and go away smirking to themselves this guy’s open display of contempt tells us what a pointless waste of fucking time it is for someone like him. It’s probably not intentional but in effect his twisted form of honesty is a kind of public service, so he probably deserves some kind of thank you.

I’d suggest a few years bed, board and possible buggery in HMP Slade.

UPDATE – Same with more serious crimes if the Ambush Predator’s latest post is any indication.

“Mr Hussini was punched by two of them, who then held him back while the defendant leant forward and stabbed him in the stomach.”

Yes, you heard that right – they held him while this little savage stabbed him in the stomach.Is that not attempted murder?

The boy handed himself in to police the following day and pleaded guilty in court to wounding with intent and possessing an offensive weapon.

Sentencing the youngster to a two-year detention and training order, Judge Hamilton said: “But for the fact that there was a surgeon living nearby, the man you stabbed would have died.”

A two-year detention and training order. For stabbing someone in the stomach…

This country is doomed.

This Private Frasier-itis I’ve come down with seems to be catching, but perhaps we’re being unfair. I suppose it’s not attempted murder if someone is only slightly stabbed. /sarc

Begrudged credit where due

Or perhaps not so much credit as lessening the disgrace. On Thursday I blogged about Mowgli the cat, who was caught on a pub’s CCTV being swung around by the tail apparently for no better reason than it amused the little prick who doing it. I also expressed a hope that said prick would be caught and convicted, and also that he’d die of face cancer that started with his eyes. In the interim the publicity made CCTV useful for a change and plenty of people identified the person responsible, probably giving his brother a bit of a shock because he drinks in the same pub.

The suspect’s brother told The Daily Telegraph that he only heard about the incident when he went for a drink in the Camden Arms late on Thursday.
The man, who lives in Margate, said after looking at the CCTV footage: “If it’s him, then he’s an idiot but I don’t know. I can’t get hold of him or my parents. I don’t know where he is.”

How dumb do you have to be? Seriously, to do this kind of thing outside your brother’s watering hole, under the eye of a CCTV camera (which is clear enough to show up on Google Streetview and must have been pretty obvious from the real street), and when you live nearby, how daft do you have to be?

So the police and RSPCA were able to release PRs to the effect that they knew the name of the person responsible and he’d make it a hell of a lot easier if he just showed up at the local nick. And restoring a little credit to himself that’s what he did.

Just hours after the 20 year-old was urged to hand himself in, Richards presented himself to Margate police station shortly after 9am on Friday.
He was accompanied by his solicitor after RSCPA inspectors and police officers failed to find him at his home address, just around the corner from where the incident occured.

That he’s shown the stones to hand himself in I’ll retract what I said about hoping he dies of face cancer. Instead I hope he’ll carry on the same way and take responsibility for his actions. According to The Daily Telegraph the maximum penalty for animal cruelty is six months and/or a £20,000 fine, though I doubt he’ll get anywhere near that. But as JuliaM said in the comments at the earlier post, some law enforcement agencies look at needless animal cruelty as a possible pointer to being a psycho so I’d also hope that in addition to any fine or jail (unlikely) the court asks for a neck up check up. If he’s likely to one day graduate to swinging children around by the head you wouldn’t want to blow the opportunity to find out now.

In any event it looks like something vaguely resembling justice will be done, and unfortunately that’s about the best possible outcome. Because even though the culprit has been identified, and even if he’s then convicted, and even learns his lesson and becomes a model citizen for the rest of his life, you can’t explain any of that to Mowgli.

I’m not one for retributive justice but…

I’ve argued against the death penalty here before and I’m sure I’ve said that I’m not even that fussed about prison as punishment. I like to think I’m a fairly practical kind of guy and the main thing I see society getting from prison is the lack of crimes committed by inmates while they’re locked up. If they see it as a punishment or if they can be rehabilitated while they’re in there, both with the aim of them not reoffending, then great. That’s a bonus we should be grab if it’s available but the main point for me is that someone who commits on average one crime per day at liberty will commit 365 fewer crimes if locked up for a year for just one of them – it’s really that simple. Rehabilitation and retribution should be part of sentencing but the main thing for me is that a crim locked up is a holiday from his activities for everyone else.

However, now and then there are times when my principles really are pushed to breaking point, and today is one such day. I have just seen a story online at The Telegraph about some unknown person who swung a cat around by its tail for no apparent reason. Certainly cats will scratch and bite if provoked or frightened so I can’t say for certain that the cat did nothing to hurt him, but I will say that it seems highly unlikely that catching a frightened or angry cat by the tail in the outdoors isn’t easy. They’re small, fast and agile, so when it’s vet time for ours we have make sure they’re inside and the doors and windows are closed before the cat baskets come out, which leads me to suspect that this was a probably a friendly cat who was enticed to come and say hello and had no idea that it was going to be cruelly tormented. There is video of it here for those who can stomach it – I needed a mental run up before I could watch it and won’t be watching agin nor posting it here. I really don’t recommend it unless you live in the Ramsgate area and think you might be able to help the police.

Needless to say the cat is now a bit fucked up.

Michelle Buchanan, who owns the cat, said her pet had been left mentally scarred by the incident.
“He’s not physically injured but he is mentally. Ever since the incident happened, when he eventually came home, he’s never gone back outside,” she said.

I don’t doubt it.

RSPCA Inspector Caroline Doe added: “This was a very violent, nasty attack on a cat.
“Anyone who witnessed this outside the pub must have been as shocked and appalled as we were.
“We are hoping that someone will recognise this man and come forward so we can investigate this fully.”

For reasons documented on other blogs, the Ambush Predator for instance, I’m pretty ambivalent toward the RSPCA since they’ve assumed the role of animal police, but in this instance I’m on their side. The local police in Ramsgate are also investigating, and I do hope they catch the bastard.

But I hope for more than that. As I said early on in this post there are times when my position on retributive justice is strained, and typically it’s the same kind of times most normal people look at something with the kind of shock and disgust I felt towards that fucking mutation in human form as he swung that cat around. Doesn’t matter whether its casual cruelty toward a child, such as Baby Peter, or toward an animal, such as Mowgli here – and there’s a stage where a young child has a lot in common with a cat or dog in terms of size, emotional development, trust and relative helplessness in the face of adult aggression, so anyone willing to torture a small animal is one to fucking watch because it seems a pretty small step from there to torturing a small person. They kind of thing prompts a pretty visceral response in all of us and so many people who read about this or see that video will naturally think that the cruelty shown towards Mowgli the cat deserves to be repaid in kind.

And so do I. I wouldn’t want the kind of thing this sack of shit deserves actually made available to the judicial system as a criminal sanction for the same reason I oppose capital punishment even when I agree that someone deserves death – if it can be done to the deserving it can be done to the undeserving too. But I’m not going to sit here and say that the punishment that this humanity deficient defective can expect to receive if caught and convicted will fit the crime because it won’t, and without the judicial system being turned into something that provides far more in the way of terror than justice it can’t.

So instead I’ll settle for hoping he gets caught and convicted as well as hoping against hope for some kind of karmic justice to provide a nasty, painful, debilitating and eventually terminal retribution. Face cancer starting with the eyes seems appropriate.