Posted on November 13, 2010
Derek Williams faced a lengthy prison term after admitting to downloading nearly 200 pornographic images of children, from level one to the more serious level four, onto his computer. The sentencing guidelines at the time recommended that a custodial sentence should be the starting point for any possession of child pornography, but in passing down a six-month prison sentence suspended for two years, Judge Rogers cited a letter that had recently gone out from the then Home Secretary, John Reid, instructing judges to “only jail dangerous and persistent offenders.”
This week Judge John Rogers has been in the news again. This time over the eight month jail sentence he’s given to a rape victim* for “falsely withdrawing” her original allegations against her perpetrator.
That’s right. The judge who jailed a rape victim last week is the very same judge who once let a child pornographer walk free because he was “bearing in mind” the home secretary’s advice to only jail dangerous and persistent offenders.
I’m assuming in the three years since that advice went out Judge Rogers has completely forgotten just how happy he’d been to take it to heart at the time.
Incidentally, earlier this year the same judge, Judge John Rogers QC, or Big John as he’s “affectionately known at the bar“, gave a suspended prison term to a man convicted of breaking his wife’s arm with a piece of exercise equipment:
“A 35-YEAR-old woman had her arm broken by her husband – when she already had her leg in plaster following an earlier injury.
David James Higgins, 41, had used an item of exercise equipment to strike wife Emma, the mother of his two teenage children, Mold Crown Court was told on Friday.
He hit her to the plastered leg two or three times and then -as she put her arms above her head to protect herself – he struck her to the arms about six times….
….Judge John Rogers QC told him: “I have to deal with you for assaulting your wife by striking her repeatedly to the arm with a piece of exercise equipment.
“The force of your blows caused a fracture to one of the forearm bones.”
The judge said that the offence was made much more serious because it was committed in the presence of their two teenage children.
“A prison sentence is therefore inevitable,” he said.
Judge Rogers added that there were, however, important pieces of mitigation.
He had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, when he knew that his wife had made a retraction statement.
It was clear that he did regret what he had done, he was a man of good character, and the judge said that he had to bear in mind that a period of custody would result in his sons and wife being separated from him.”
And just last month Judge Rogers gave another suspended sentence to a man whose assault on his wife left her with a fractured nose and a deformed jaw:
“Judge John Rogers QC told Powley: “You carried out an wholly unprovoked and unpleasant assault on your wife.
“It was not only frightening for her, but she suffered nasty facial injuries including a fracture to her nose.
“A prison sentence is inevitable if a husband or partner assaults his partner,” he said
But he had decided to suspend the sentence because it was an isolated incident.”
The question now has to be, why does Judge John Rogers think that a victim who was “”emotionally blackmailed” by her significantly older husband during the breakdown of their marriage” and who “told officers she had been persuaded by her husband and his family to drop the charges because he could face a long jail sentence if convicted of rape” has committed a more heinous crime than men who beat their wives? Why does Big John think that a rape victim is more deserving of a prison sentence than a man who breaks his wife’s arm, or a man who assaults his wife so badly she’s left with a deformed jaw?
And why did Big John think it was okay to let a child pornographer go free, but it was not okay to apply the same criteria, of only jailing those who are “dangerous and persistent offenders,” to a woman who was quite clearly not a dangerous offender but instead a victim, not just of rape but of intimidation and coercion as well?
As you’ve probably already heard, yesterday Judge John Rogers QC considered the grounds to appeal in this case “and considered that his decision last week was the correct one”
Well I beg to differ.
The appeal is now going to the Court of Appeal in London. Hopefully it will be heard soon.
*Should anyone wish to send letters of support, please direct them to the solicitors acting on her behalf who will ensure she receives them: Geraint Jones & Co, Bronwydd House, The Bank, Newtown, Powys, SY16 2AU.