Tuesday, April 23, 2024
HomeLaura PerrinsYou’re wrong, Sir John. It’s far too hard to get into prison

You’re wrong, Sir John. It’s far too hard to get into prison


FORMER Prime Minister Sir John Major is a very stupid man. No, I’m sorry, that is unchristian of me, he is a very misguided man. In a speech on Tuesday to the Prison Reform Trust at the Old Bailey, Sir John said: ‘Stern sentences for violent crimes are necessary, and the instinct to protect the public is laudable ‒ but we should beware that excessive zeal to be tough on crime does not lead us into unwise policy . . .

‘Many prisoners ‒ far too many, I believe ‒ are sentenced to short-term imprisonment when other sentences would be preferable. In some cases, care and medical attention are called for rather than prison. To be blunt ‒ my suspicion is that many short sentences are pointless and that a non-custodial sentence would be more effective and, perhaps, more fair.’

To be blunt, John Major is an idiot. Perhaps things have changed, but I doubt that they have, because from my memory of being at the criminal bar you had to work very hard indeed to get into prison.

I don’t believe petty criminals are sent to jail for a first offence unless the sentencing guidelines have changed dramatically. And remember that whenever someone does receive a custodial offence either for repeated criminality or for a serious offence which usually involves violence, the convicted offender will serve only half his sentence before being released from prison on licence.

Sir John made his speech at the Old Bailey, so let’s take a look at an offence that was handled there on the same day.

The Times reports: ‘A teenager who murdered a 14-year-old boy with a machete during “a senseless attack of extreme ferocity” has been detained for life with a minimum term of 19 years. Marques Walker, then 16, stabbed Jermaine Cools, 14, seven times during a “tussle” near West Croydon station, south London, on November 18, 2021. Jermaine, who “did not stand a chance”, died an hour later in hospital.’ 

Let’s examine Walker’s history, shall we? ‘Walker, of Bromley, southeast London, who was on bail at the time of the killing, pleaded guilty to murder, possession of a knife and causing grievous bodily harm at a hearing in January.’ Walker was on bail at the time of the murder. Of course he was. This is Britain!

Hang on, there is more: ‘It can be disclosed that Walker was caught three times with “zombie-style” knives and large blades.’ If Walker was caught three times with a zombie-style knife, you can only guess how many times he has been walking around the streets of London with it and not been caught.

Here are the details, thanks to the Times:

1.     Walker was cautioned in January 2020 after police found him with a ten-inch knife at school.

2.     In April 2021 he was charged with possession of a nine-inch hunting knife, criminal property and crack cocaine with intent to supply following a stop and search in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.

3.     In October 2021, Walker was caught with a 20-inch ‘Rambo knife’ tucked into his waistband when he was arrested on a bus in south London for breaching his bail conditions.

So first, Walker was caught with the ten-inch knife at school, a place of learning. This is what headteachers and teachers as well as fellow pupils have to endure. This would result in a prison sentence, surely? It’s not a ‘petty’ offence even to the fools of this world like Sir John Major. Nope, he received a caution, not even a community sentence let alone a suspended sentence.  

Following this there was the nine-inch hunting knife, criminal property and crack cocaine offence. Was Walker prosecuted for that? Nope. ‘Walker was not prosecuted because he was found to be a victim of modern slavery, the court was told.’ A victim of modern slavery. You just cannot make this stuff up!

Understandably, Walker probably correctly concluded that the English criminal justice system was something not to be taken seriously, so in October 2021, he was caught with a 20-inch ‘Rambo knife’ when he was arrested on a bus for breaching his bail conditions. A 20-inch blade. On a bus. And sure, why not?

For some reason Walker was not remanded in custody even though he had previous serious offences, and on that day in October when he was caught with the 20-inch Rambo knife on a bus he was in breach of bail conditions.

I assume Walker was charged with the 20-inch Rambo knife offence. This must mean that the courts thought he was still entitled to bail and not remanded in custody, even though he had already been in breach of bail conditions for a different offence. Do you see what I mean about it being difficult to get sent to jail in England? You wonder why the police even bother. 

You see, this decision not to remand Walker in custody for having a 20-inch Rambo knife on a bus and breaching bail conditions for a previous knife offence meant he was free to murder14-year-old Jermaine Cools a month later.

Sir John Major needs to spend some time in the criminal courts. Then he wouldn’t be found making stupid and dangerous statements like we send too many people to jail. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

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