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COMMENT: Recorder brings ‘swift justice’ into sharp focus
9:00am Monday 9th April 2012 in Editorial Comment
JUSTICE is a tricky concept. In our criminal system it involves the right punishment dished out at the right time.
Of course, what is just to one person may not be seen as fair to another.
But it is extremely unusual for a judge to hit out in such strong terms as those seen today from Recorder John Hardy at Oxford Crown Court.
To the lay person, judges wield a huge amount of power – with the choice between liberty and imprisonment at their fingertips.
The reality, however, is they are constrained by law, set in most part by Government, in the decisions they can make.
And sometimes this can fly in the face of what they see and hear in court themselves.
In the case of Daniel Hone, Recorder Hardy was clearly frustrated to the point of anger.
He felt the 21-year-old babysitter had been charged too lightly, hinting it was to get a quick or more likely conviction.
Undoubtedly the case he was highlighting was indicative of a wider issue within the system.
In this instance a 19-month-old baby girl was left with 28 separate injuries, including bite marks.
It was an attack the Recorder described as a “sustained and savage” assault.
But it was charged as actual bodily harm, which by its very definition means it did not cause “really serious” injury.
It also restricts a judge’s sentencing powers.
The fact the CPS has apologised so quickly indicates Recorder Hardy was spot-on in his remarks in this particular case.
It just leaves the question of how many more cases have not been highlighted in such a way.
If there is some good to come from this case, let’s hope it is an injection of common sense into the system.