Comments on Manchester riots from criminal lawyer representing a number of defendants
Oliver Gardner managing partner at criminal law practice Howards Solicitors.
Howards is representing a number of defendants from alleged offences regarding the riots in Manchester.
Oliver is available for interview and further comment – please use comments below (acknowledgement of use would be appreciated).
The affects on defendents not involved in the riots
“One of the most significant impacts of the riots on judicial discretion is an issue being completely overlooked: we are representing certain defendants that have not been involved in the riots, yet are suffering the consequences of the public mood.
One client in particular was arrested for an offence that is not even punishable by imprisonment on conviction, yet was refused bail by the police and so spent the night in custody. He was then subjected to a curfew when bailed by the magistrates the following day.
The decision to impose the curfew for such a minor matter was challenged on appeal in the crown court where the judge in upholding the lower courts decision commented “bad timing.”
Inconsistency in sentencing
“It is an entirely reasonable viewpoint considering the nature of the riots, and the criminal activities that took place, for it to be reflected in the sentencing, which will result in tougher sentences.
However, the desire to be seen to be especially tough, and the current speed with which the judicial system is processing these cases, is potentially very damaging to the system.
Those in the Law acknowledge that effective justice requires time to develop and change before getting it right. This does not change because of certain extreme circumstances.
The lack of time for adjustment, and for precedent to be set, means quite simply that in the short term there will be inconsistency in approach by the courts.
Sentences that reflect knee jerk reactions will damage the judicial process once we have had time to reflect. If we insist on the rule of law, we must demonstrate the rule of law in our courts.”
“The appeals process is likely to overturn many sentences. It may take several months and cost millions of pounds though before a standard approach is established. It will undermine the public’s perception of the system and those responsible for it. It is therefore time for cool heads and to adhere to sentencing guidelines.”
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