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Where is the justice?

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2003-09-12

Two youths who were responsible for vandalising nearly 400 Jewish graves in east London earlier this year finally got their punishment - six months community service and a 50 fine.

Yes, that's right. For causing tens of thousands of pounds of damage to Plashet Cemetery and emotional distress to the families of those buried, these two have got away with it. Worst of all the magistrate has sent a message suggesting that if you do wish to vandalise a grave, then you won't really get into too much trouble.

The two 16-year-olds, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were told by magistrate Jeanette Richardson to put the incident behind them.

She said: "It was a very irresponsible thing that you did. We all make mistakes in our lives and you have to live with this."

But what good is saying that. What is the punishment to meet the crime?

This was a bunch of louts intent on causing destruction and hurt to others. What message does this send out to other intent on doing similar actions? 

How would Ms Richardson feel if one of her family graves was destroyed? Would she feel comfortable giving out a punishment that seems to bear no relation to the severity of the crime? 

We need strong enforcers of the law who will not tolerate or accept any form of destruction to someone. What we don't need is people like Ms Richardson who merely give a slap on the risk and tell these criminals to just get on with their lives.

The actions of these two have impacted on the lives of others and the mere use of six months community service and a 50 fine is not strong enough.

Unless we show to people that any damage caused to any sacred ground will not be tolerated, then crimes of this type will continue.

Did Ms Richardson actually understand what the issue was, did she actually understand how many people were affected by this?  Sadly, it looks like she didn't as any decent person would realise that giving six months community service  for something as hideous as this is not the way to issue punishment.

If there is a school for brushing up on law for magistrates and actually understanding your responsibility as a magistrate to the victims of crime, then Ms Richardson should be sent to one.