And so justice is served. Not.
Posted on December 8, 2009
Well it would seem that the wheels of justice don’t run as slowly as we’re sometimes led to believe. Because believe it or not, the man responsible for assaulting my daughter has already been tried, convicted and sentenced: indeed, he’s even served time for his random attack on her, an attack that only happened just a few weeks ago.
And by served time I don’t mean he’s now in the middle of his sentence. By served time I mean he’s actually served his time. That’s right, all of it.
All 7 days.
Now let’s compare and contrast my daughter’s testimony (testimony she didn’t get to give in court, because those who make the decisions about the need for witnesses etc decided that they had enough evidence without needing the actual victim to make an appearance) with what’s been reported in the local press.
Here’s the relevant bit from my earlier post about the assault:
“My daughter rang me and told me about the man who suddenly came from nowhere while she was busy working away in a public library: about the man who grabbed her by the throat, headbutted her, flung her on the floor, and chased after her once she’d managed to struggle free. She told me about how he’d chased her and tried to get behind the library counter where she’d run to for safety, and about how other library staff had had to restrain him. This man. This man she’s never met before. This man she doesn’t even know.”
And here’s what appeared today in the Eastern Daily Press:
“The court heard that on November 24 Smales was near the computers in the library at the Forum when “suddenly he lunged at Miss Elliot, grabbing her.”
Mr Brighouse said: “She initially thought it was someone coming to greet her, but as it got tighter it dawned on her that the person behind her was no friend. She has no idea why he did it. She doesn’t know him. She fell into the computer and hit her head against his.”
So, no mention of the chase across the library, or of his attempts to get behind the library counter where she’d run to for safety. And no mention of how bloody terrifying the whole episode must have been for her.
No. What we get instead is this pile of old shite in mitigation:
“James Burrows, mitigating, said: “It’s not the most vicious assault you would ever see; it’s not throwing punches, it’s simply grabbing hold of someone when it’s entirely inappropriate to do so.”
Well that’s okay then. Isn’t it?
Still, at least the press bothered to report it. I mean, at least a young female public sector worker being assaulted while going about her job was deemed newsworthy. ‘Cos that’s what’s important about this story isn’t it?
Actually, no, sadly it’s not. The most important aspect to this as far as my local meeja is concerned is the fact that the man involved had been caught naked from the waist down and pissed at Norwich train station a few days earlier, and the fact that he’s now been banned from drinking in public:
“A man who admitted being naked from the waist down at Norwich train station while being drunk and disorderly has been banned from drinking in any public place in the whole of the country.”
So instead of the headlines reading “Man gets paltry sentence for assaulting young woman” we get: “Man banned from drinking in public“ and “Norwich court gives man nationwide drinking ban”
Because a man assaulting a woman, that’s not really news is it? After all, it happens all the sodding time. But a man getting banned from drinking? well fuck me, that’s got to be big news. Big headline grabbing news in fact.
Well how about this for a headline:
My daughter had to find out about all this from me ffs!
That’s right. No one bothered to tell her when the case was being heard. No one bothered to tell her when her assailant was appearing in court for sentencing. No one bothered to tell her that he’d even been sentenced.
I read about it today in the paper. And then I rang her and informed her of the outcome.
Still, maybe she’ll get a nice official letter about it. One day.
But let’s not hold our breath eh?
Interesting, thanks for the background.
The CPS are at fault here – on the basis of the case produced in court (which is what my earlier Twitter comment was based on), the sentence is fair enough: he’s a shambling idiot who didn’t intend to hurt anyone, and that isn’t contested by the prosecution.
On the basis of your daughter’s statement, it’s obviously too light – he isn’t, in fact, a shambling idiot who didn’t intend to hurt anyone, he maliciously attacked and stalked her – but clearly the magistrates can’t sentence other than on the basis of the prosecution’s case.
Similarly for the press reporting – on the basis of “he shambled about a library and fell over while trying to grab one of the staff”, it isn’t a male violence against women story, and the local court reporter doesn’t know your daughter’s version of the story to say otherwise.
(if your daughter wants to pursue this further, the local rags might well be up for doing a follow-up story where “victim shocked as statement ignored in court” – a “CPS are fools and the courts let out crazy thugs with a slap on the wrists” story is always popular, and it’d be nice to have one that’s actually deserved)
Finally, the only people I know who’ve been notified by the courts that their assailant had been jailed were victims of GBH and rape – both in my experience of being the victim of less serious crime-against-the-person, and that of other people I know, there hasn’t been any notification process. Is there officially supposed to be? I agree it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have it.
I’m sorry. This is totally shit in all respects.
Oh Cath, I’m so sorry this had such a crappy outcome. Your daughter deserved better. 😦
What? The other night I rang the police to complain about a pissed homophobic arsehole in town who was being really offensive. All I wanted really was if someone was in the area, for them to come and warn him to shut up and go home before somebody smacked him in the mouth (no one was). Since then I have been rung back by a police officer, AND victim support, (who I assured I wasn’t really that traumatised). and had a letter. All for a crime no one’s going to solve now, let’s face it.
GMP are making an initiative to tackle homophobic crime which is very laudable, but this was also a hate crime. Which no one seems to realise or even give a flying fuck about.
@Polly, I’ve had that from the police and VS whenever things have gone wrong (including when an idiot friend left my front door open when drunkenly crashing in my living room and my bag & laptop got nicked, which somehow didn’t make me feel like I deserved a sympathetic ‘burglary victim’ letter) – but at best, there’s been notification that the scrote has been arrested, never a trial notice and much less anything on sentencing.
(BTW, Cath, the snow thing is painful – made me think that first my brain, then my laptop, were going horribly wrong…!)
I didn’t even turn it on john. I think it just automatically came on when December started ‘cos I’d put it on this time last year.
But don’t moan about it. It’s Xmas!!!! (nearly) 🙂
Oh, and on the notification thing.
After asking her a couple of weeks ago if she wanted a screen put up when she testified in court, the next thing my daughter heard was last week when the police rang her to tell her that the “good news” was that she wasn’t needed in court, and that the guy had already appeared and been remanded for sentencing.
But she wasn’t told when that was happening. And was understandably miffed to be told after the event that he’d already been to court.
So there has been some communication. But too little and too late.
Seven days? And your daughter didn’t even know until afterwards? Oh that’s mind bogglingly piss poor.
Never mind, I’m sure during those seven whole days he’ll have spent that time thinking about what he did, and will now be a totally reformed character… erm….
Sorry this is so shite. How’s your daughter taken it?
sorry to hear about this cath. that’s completely unacceptable.
it should be your daughter’s choice if she wanted to testify in court, surely? she should have been allowed to make that decision.
and that is just awful on the news reportage. i don’t understand how “man is drunk” is considered news over assault.
But looking on the bright side, it is unusual for anybody to be punished for violence against women (nobody has ever been punished for violence against me), so I hope you and your daughter can take some solace from that.
Oh ffs. 7 days is appalling, and that your daughter wasn’t even told is beyond appalling. Sympathies.
That’s shit. Hope your daughter is ok.