Go directly to jail…
Research recently commissioned by the Ministry of Justice has highlighted some differences in the sentencing patterns between Magistrates and District Judges. They found that a custodial sentence was more likely to be given in a case heard by a District Judge(7%) than by magistrates (4%), although still in a minority of cases.
A couple of cases reported in the press yesterday seem to illustrate that reluctance.
Melvyn Reid was convicted in Scotland of driving with excess alcohol in his breath after he blew a mind blowing 179mg/100ml, the limit being 35. The court decided that because this was a first drink/drive conviction, imprisonment was not appropriate.
Kevin Bracken’s appalling driving record spans decades. His latest charge followed a chase by Police during which he chose to drive along the wrong side of a dual carriageway. The judge on this occasion considered a custodial sentence, but shied away from that course of action when enquiries with the prison indicated that they would not have the facilities to be able to cope with Bracken’s mental and physical disabilities. It is hard to believe that there is not a suitable prison. The judge made reference to his hands being tied and whilst acknowledging Bracken deserved to go to jail imposed a term of 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years
On both occasions the courts decided to leave the offenders with their liberty. Some would say it is a missed opportunity for the Ministry of Justice to get the message across to offender(s) that actions have consequences! But sometimes inconsistencies crop up, sometimes proportionality is not given the importance it should, and sometimes sentencing guidelines remains just that! Welcome to our justice system.
For further information contact Anton Balkitis or Lucy Wood on 0800 046 3066 or visit the website if you are looking for drink driving solicitors.