Serial killer gets off lightly



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In message <[email protected]>, John O <[email protected]> writes
>
>"Richard Miller" <[email protected]> wrote in message
>news:[email protected]...
>>
>> Having said that, this guy has already killed twice, and unless something remarkable happens to
>> him during his six years in prison, there is every reason to believe he will kill again.
>>
>> Our laws relating to causing death on the roads are too lenient.
>
>Not really: as you may yourself have observed in the past, hard cases make bad law.

I have; and I thought about that; and I still concluded that overall our driving-death laws are
too lenient.

[Snip]

>
>Personally, I would agree with you on the point about sentence being too lenient - and would like
>to see judges having a longer sentence available. But you have to admit that it would be very
>rarely used. The outcry here is to do with the rarety of the event.

Making the longer sentence available, therefore, would *not* be a disproportionate reaction to
this case, but a necessary step to ensure that in these exceptional cases the Courts do have
adequate powers.

>
>I also wonder why the Prosecution could NOT have tried for a greater charge: given the
>perpetrator's past record, I would have thought manslaughter could have been attempted.
>

Perhaps there was a bit of unofficial plea bargaining going on.
--
Richard Miller
 
"bigbrian" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
> On Mon, 3 Feb 2003 11:19:00 -0000, "John O" <[email protected]> wrote:
>
> >And more recently, debate from the direction of senior judges as to
whether
> >we should not have, effectively, four degrees of homicide - because the current set up, with
> >mandatory life for murder was also too restrictive.
> >
> >Personally, I would agree with you on the point about sentence being too lenient - and would like
> >to see judges having a longer sentence
available.
> >But you have to admit that it would be very rarely used. The outcry here
is
> >to do with the rarety of the event.
> >
> >I also wonder why the Prosecution could NOT have tried for a greater
charge:
> >given the perpetrator's past record, I would have thought manslaughter
could
> >have been attempted.
> >
> Presumably to avoid the risk of an acquittal?
>
> Presumably in any DbDD case, there's nothing to stop a charge of manslaughter anyway? Just because
> there's a lesser charge available, doesn't oblige the police to use it - or does it?

That's what I was wondering.

However, if they COULD have gone for manslaughter, I think the blame here should be laid fairly and
squarely at the door of the prosecution.
>
> Brian
 
"Richard Miller" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
> In message <[email protected]>, John O <[email protected]> writes
> >
> >"Richard Miller" <[email protected]> wrote in message
> >news:[email protected]...
> >>
> >> Having said that, this guy has already killed twice, and unless something remarkable happens to
> >> him during his six years in prison, there is every reason to believe he will kill again.
> >>
> >> Our laws relating to causing death on the roads are too lenient.
> >
> >Not really: as you may yourself have observed in the past, hard cases
make
> >bad law.
>
> I have; and I thought about that; and I still concluded that overall our driving-death laws are
> too lenient.
>
> [Snip]
>
> >
> >Personally, I would agree with you on the point about sentence being too lenient - and would like
> >to see judges having a longer sentence
available.
> >But you have to admit that it would be very rarely used. The outcry here
is
> >to do with the rarety of the event.
>
> Making the longer sentence available, therefore, would *not* be a disproportionate reaction to
> this case, but a necessary step to ensure that in these exceptional cases the Courts do have
> adequate powers.

Ye-es. My thought here - which you seem to have confirmed - is that for such exceptional cases it
would still be possible to go after a manslaughter charge.

Therefore, a part, possibly a large part, of the blame here rests with the prosecuting authorities -
and not with the law or the courts.

>
> >
> >I also wonder why the Prosecution could NOT have tried for a greater
charge:
> >given the perpetrator's past record, I would have thought manslaughter
could
> >have been attempted.
> >
>
> Perhaps there was a bit of unofficial plea bargaining going on.
> --
> Richard Miller
 
On Mon, 3 Feb 2003 11:19:00 -0000, "John O" <[email protected]> wrote:

>> Our laws relating to causing death on the roads are too lenient.
>
>Not really: as you may yourself have observed in the past, hard cases make bad law.

I don't see that increasing the maximum available sentence follows from that observation. If a new
law was proposed, or if a mandatory minimum sentence introduced, then *that* would be bad law.

Whilst limiting the sentencing powers of magistrates is sensible, I do not feel that judges need to
have either maximum or minimum sentences imposed by law, but should instead have *guideline* min and
max which they can ignore in exceptional cases. Any sentence above the guideline maximum would have
to be clearly explained in terms of why the case was exceptional enough to warrant such a thing. Any
sentence above the guidelines would automatically allow an appeal against sentence.

Laws *have* to be clearly defined and therefore inflexible. As such, they are sometimes unjust for
particular circumstances. The justice is introduced by the sentencing, and so a judge should not
have his hands tied by either mandatory minimum or maximum sentences.

I also believe that a sentence of an unconditional discharge should not result in a criminal record
- effectively allowing a judge to declare that the law was inappropriate to the particular case and
"acquit" even when a crime has in fact technically been committed.

--
Cynic
 
On Mon, 03 Feb 2003 12:59:00 +0000, bigbrian <[email protected]> wrote:

>On Mon, 3 Feb 2003 11:19:00 -0000, "John O" <[email protected]> wrote:
>
>>And more recently, debate from the direction of senior judges as to whether we should not have,
>>effectively, four degrees of homicide - because the current set up, with mandatory life for murder
>>was also too restrictive.
>>
>>Personally, I would agree with you on the point about sentence being too lenient - and would like
>>to see judges having a longer sentence available. But you have to admit that it would be very
>>rarely used. The outcry here is to do with the rarety of the event.
>>
>>I also wonder why the Prosecution could NOT have tried for a greater charge: given the
>>perpetrator's past record, I would have thought manslaughter could have been attempted.
>>
>Presumably to avoid the risk of an acquittal?
>
>Presumably in any DbDD case, there's nothing to stop a charge of manslaughter anyway? Just because
>there's a lesser charge available, doesn't oblige the police to use it - or does it?

One question that I don't nkow that answer to is very pertinent here: I know that in the USA, the
prosecution can present a series of charges to a court for a single offence, and the jury then
decides on how far up the scale the offence was. For example, a driver running over a pedestrian
might be charged with manslaughter, CDBDD, or careless driving. The jury would look at the evidence
and bring a maximum of one guilty verdict.

Is this possible in the UK, or does this come under the 'double jeopardy' law about being tried more
than once for the same offence?

Alan
 
On Tue, 04 Feb 2003 13:37:40 +0000, Alan Collier
<[email protected]> wrote:

>One question that I don't nkow that answer to is very pertinent here: I know that in the USA, the
>prosecution can present a series of charges to a court for a single offence, and the jury then
>decides on how far up the scale the offence was. For example, a driver running over a pedestrian
>might be charged with manslaughter, CDBDD, or careless driving. The jury would look at the evidence
>and bring a maximum of one guilty verdict.
>
>Is this possible in the UK, or does this come under the 'double jeopardy' law about being tried
>more than once for the same offence?
>

Hi Alan

I was just thing exactly the same myself before I came to your post. Why not charge the man with
all the offences you mention (or all the pertinent ones), see how he pleads and progress from
that point?

However, against this, I did either view or read that the judge was only "allowed" to give a ten
year maximum sentense for the most serious offence: CDBBD. All other penalties for which he'd been
found guilty would have had to run concurrently, which I think is not good.

Regarding "allowed": whatever happened to case law and/or precedence (I might be using the incorrect
terms here)?

James

--
A credit limit is NOT a target.
 
In message <[email protected]>, John O <[email protected]> writes
>Ye-es. My thought here - which you seem to have confirmed - is that for such exceptional cases it
>would still be possible to go after a manslaughter charge.

Yes it would. However, the difficulty is this: a manslaughter charge would depend on the actual
driving in this instance being so awful as to justify it. The fact that he has killed someone else
previously would be entirely irrelevant in deciding whether manslaughter was a reasonable charge on
this occasion.

This is why I favour the availability of a life sentence for a second offence of causing death by
dangerous driving.

>
>Therefore, a part, possibly a large part, of the blame here rests with the prosecuting authorities
>- and not with the law or the courts.

Maybe. But maybe not for the reasons above.
--
Richard Miller
 
In message <[email protected]>, James Hodson
<[email protected]> writes
>
>However, against this, I did either view or read that the judge was only "allowed" to give a ten
>year maximum sentense for the most serious offence: CDBBD.

>Regarding "allowed": whatever happened to case law and/or precedence (I might be using the
>incorrect terms here)?
>
Case law is irrelevant (in this context), the judge can't give a higher sentence than 10 years
because that is the maximum sentence defined in law for this offence. Only Parliament can
change that.
--
Chris French, Leeds
 
On Tue, 4 Feb 2003 20:44:00 +0000, chris French <[email protected]> wrote:

>>Regarding "allowed": whatever happened to case law and/or precedence (I might be using the
>>incorrect terms here)?
>>
>Case law is irrelevant (in this context), the judge can't give a higher sentence than 10 years
>because that is the maximum sentence defined in law for this offence. Only Parliament can
>change that.

Hi Chris

You've certainly put it better than I did, although that's what I meant. So, it's about time that
parliament sat for longer hours and debated something worthwhile.

However, Chris, why do the sentences have to run concurrently rather than consequetively?

James

--
A credit limit is NOT a target.
 
In message <[email protected]>, James Hodson
<[email protected]> writes
>On Tue, 4 Feb 2003 20:44:00 +0000, chris French <[email protected]> wrote:
>
>>>Regarding "allowed": whatever happened to case law and/or precedence (I might be using the
>>>incorrect terms here)?
>>>
>>Case law is irrelevant (in this context), the judge can't give a higher sentence than 10 years
>>because that is the maximum sentence defined in law for this offence. Only Parliament can
>>change that.
>
>You've certainly put it better than I did, although that's what I meant. So, it's about time that
>parliament sat for longer hours and debated something worthwhile.
>
Indeed.

>However, Chris, why do the sentences have to run concurrently rather than consequetively?
>

AIUI they don't have to, but they do seem to tend to in general. As to why.....??
--
Chris French, Leeds
 
In article <[email protected]>, Richard Miller
<[email protected]> writes
>In message <[email protected]>, John O <[email protected]> writes
>>Ye-es. My thought here - which you seem to have confirmed - is that for such exceptional cases it
>>would still be possible to go after a manslaughter charge.
>
>Yes it would. However, the difficulty is this: a manslaughter charge would depend on the actual
>driving in this instance being so awful as to justify it. The fact that he has killed someone else
>previously would be entirely irrelevant in deciding whether manslaughter was a reasonable charge on
>this occasion.
>
Could you define "manslaughter" please? I thought it applied to causing death (*without* malice
aforethought) by recklessness. AIUI killing somebody by reckless use of a firearm would be
manslaughter: why not by reckless use of a motor vehicle?

>This is why I favour the availability of a life sentence for a second offence of causing death by
>dangerous driving.
>
>>
>>Therefore, a part, possibly a large part, of the blame here rests with the prosecuting authorities
>>- and not with the law or the courts.
>
>Maybe. But maybe not for the reasons above.

--
Mike
 
In message <[email protected]>, Mike <[email protected]> writes
>In article <[email protected]>, Richard Miller
><[email protected]> writes
>>In message <[email protected]>, John O <[email protected]> writes
>>>Ye-es. My thought here - which you seem to have confirmed - is that for such exceptional cases it
>>>would still be possible to go after a manslaughter charge.
>>
>>Yes it would. However, the difficulty is this: a manslaughter charge would depend on the actual
>>driving in this instance being so awful as to justify it. The fact that he has killed someone else
>>previously would be entirely irrelevant in deciding whether manslaughter was a reasonable charge
>>on this occasion.
>>
>Could you define "manslaughter" please? I thought it applied to causing death (*without* malice
>aforethought) by recklessness. AIUI killing somebody by reckless use of a firearm would be
>manslaughter: why not by reckless use of a motor vehicle?

It does. But because the charge of causing death by dangerous driving exists, it has to be
something at the very top end of dangerous driving for a manslaughter charge to apply, almost to
the extent that it was virtually inevitable that the driving in question would kill someone, rather
than just running the risk of doing so. That is very much a rough description, not any sort of term
of art, though.
--
Richard Miller
 
In article <[email protected]>, Richard Miller
<[email protected]> writes
>In message <[email protected]>, Mike <[email protected]> writes
>>Could you define "manslaughter" please? I thought it applied to causing death (*without* malice
>>aforethought) by recklessness. AIUI killing somebody by reckless use of a firearm would be
>>manslaughter: why not by reckless use of a motor vehicle?
>
>It does. But because the charge of causing death by dangerous driving exists, it has to be
>something at the very top end of dangerous driving for a manslaughter charge to apply, almost to
>the extent that it was virtually inevitable that the driving in question would kill someone, rather
>than just running the risk of doing so. That is very much a rough description, not any sort of term
>of art, though.

Thanks, that makes things a lot clearer for me.
--
Mike
 
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