Magistrates and judges bias: what consequences for justice?

Magistrates courts are an intriguing place. I’ve spent many years thinking someone’s brother served a suspended 18-month sentence for possession of a firearm. Recently, I found out that he didn’t. He did get a sentence and a rather large fine, but not for what I thought.

Bias and conviction

He was living in a DSS bedsit all those years ago when he went off the rails. He found ways to pay for the drugs and raves. Robbing was the method. He was a good kid who descended into the usual pit of poverty and crime.

Although he was a scally, he tried to have a moral compass, however badly that was set. He’d steal car radios, maintaining it didn’t harm people as they had insurance. Of course the excuses don’t excuse. But however ridiculous they might be, he was misguided rather than bad.

One evening, a lad in the DSS bedsit asked him to go robbing. The brother didn’t want to, but after hours of nagging, he called his mate to help and several hours later he fell asleep in a bedroom full of car stereos.

Early in the morning, he police woke him up. It appears the car stereos were a foil for something else – a stolen police gun. He had stolen the gun. It was in a box in the back of a car that he’d broken into. He thought it was a camera case and it was only when making his escape that he opened the box and saw what he’d taken.

While he had hidden the gun in his room, the police were losing their shit trying to find it. Word got around that it had to be recovered by any means. So it appeared the car radio robbing spree was a set up to recover the gun.

They found the gun: they arrested and charged him. The charges related to the car stereos but there was no mention of the gun. He figured they’d not reported it stolen. Apparently the officer who had it stolen also claimed two antique samurai swords were missing. They weren’t. The brother thinks it was an insurance job. They didn’t charge him for the swords either.

He had also stolen some speakers from a local college, by removing glass slats and reaching through. The caretaker claimed that a good deal of money and other things were missing, but the brother hadn’t stolen them. Again, it looks like someone was taking advantage.

Next stop: magistrates

And so to court.

He received almost no legal advice or representation. The charges did not relate to what had happened but they’d advised him to plead guilty.

Before he and his friends’s hearing, another bunch of scallies were finishing their hearing. It didn’t end well.

The defendants in the previous case were not happy to be in court. They were spitting and swearing at the magistrates, then leaned over to grab the magistrate’s glass of water, took a swig and spat it at the magistrates.

Next up, the brother. It didn’t go well, as you might imagine.

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