Just a word

One of the more frustrating aspects of reading reports of proceedings at Swindon Crown Court in the Adver is the double act of Mr Field as judge and Mr Ross as defence lawyer and the incredibly lenient sentences that result. It’s a well known double act, widely commented on, though not in the pages of the Adver where comments are not allowed on their reports of court proceedings. I don’t usually bother to comment on these reports — it would get monotonous — but the comments from Mr Field reported today just beggar belief.

Judge Field quizzed prosecutors at Swindon Crown Court. “Why are these two charged with affray, which has a maximum sentence of three years rather than actual bodily harm which carries a maximum of five years?” he said.

With a comment like that you’d think he was about to hand down a stiff sentence, something close to the maximum he could perhaps? Err… no. Just 36 weeks… suspended, 200 hours unpaid community work and £250 compensation to the victim. That’s more like a single word than a sentence.

Now, I appreciate that the government’s sentencing guidelines don’t help, but with buffoonery like this it’s not surprising that the judiciary is held in such low regard.