Comment | The justice system, no justice for victims

This week the hyper-lenient sentence given to Lewis Gill hit the news. Lewis Gill’s almost entirely unprovoked attack on Andrew Young in Bournemouth last year was the result of the victim merely telling off Gill’s friend. Gill’s friend was riding his bicycle on the pavement and Gill lashed out and punched Young so hard he fell down, hitting his head. Young died the next day in hospital. The sentence given to Gill for this manslaughter? Four years. This is abhorrent. Gill was also serving a suspended sentence for robbery, for which he was given just six months more. I cannot be the only one who feels this is far too lenient, and that the justice system seems inconsistent.

In this particular case, the lack of a sense of justice was compounded by the fact that the attack is clearly recorded on CCTV, showing no provocation, which the judiciary in our country seem to feel needed no more than a couple of years in prison. The likelihood is that once he leaves prison, he will be looking for another victim within half of his sentence, as is standard for ‘good behaviour’ in prison.

Murder and manslaughter are two of the worst crimes a human can commit, and so why is there such inconsistency in our treatment of the crimes? Just last December a man named Eden Lomax was jailed for a minimum 10 years for a similar crime, with a single punch killing 43 year old Simon Mitchell. In this case the aggravating factors for Lomax’s sentence were two other assaults but surely Gill’s suspended sentence for robbery is equally as bad? How can our justice system possibly argue that Lomax deserves a much fairer sentence than Gill, and still sleep at night? The very fact that there are inconsistencies in our system flies in the face of the concept of justice, when our system is not just in how they sentence criminals.

Surely it is not too harsh to say that if one person takes a life they deserve to give up their own. This is not to open up the age old capital punishment debate, but they should be locked in prison for life. That way, they would lose their privileges permanently, leaving society a safer place for citizens. It would leave us all feeling more comfortable because at least the killer has been punished.

All too often we seem to be more and more lenient with violent criminals. The fact that standard prisoners are released on licence after half of their sentence is downright ridiculous. What is the point in giving them the sentence if they only serve half? I understand that the aim of releasing them on licence is to reintegrate them into society, but where violent criminals are concerned this is just unfair to the victims family and the innocent members of society they go on to reoffend against.  The reoffending figures are far too high to ignore (47.2 per cent of prison leavers reoffended one way or another within 12 months of leaving prison in 2010-2011 according to The Independent).  I understand that we have overcrowded prisons but this is no excuse for allowing violent criminals to remain in society, or to be allowed back into society after minor spells in prison. We need to change to make our justice system fairer to everyone.

Jake Hookem

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