02 October 2019 - 18:47
News ID: 447436
A
A judge at Oxford Crown Court has sparked controversy by refusing to jail three teenagers and a young adult on the grounds that they “wouldn’t cope in prison”.

RNA - The group of friends from Watlington, Oxfordshire, had caused serious injury to a 17 year old by dragging him out of his car and subjecting him to a savage beating.

The victim sustained extensive bruising, damage to his teeth and needed to be on crutches for a week.

In passing sentence, Judge Nigel Daly, at Oxford Crown Court, described the crime as a “group incident on a single young man who was totally unable to protect himself”.

Despite the gravity of the crime, Judge Daly accepted the submission of the lead defendant’s defence lawyer who said that: “It is fair to say he is absolutely terrified of going inside [prison]. His mother would have concerns about her son’s ability to cope in such an environment”.

Subsequently, the judge sentenced the lead defendant, and two accomplices, to 12-month prison terms suspended for a year. Another accomplice was given an eight months suspended prison sentence.

The most striking feature of the case is that the defendants were raised in solidly middle class families and lived in the wealthy Oxfordshire market town of Watlington.

The lenient sentences handed out by Judge Daly come after a string of such cases in recent years, where young white people, of privileged backgrounds, have been spared prison despite committing serious crimes.

The most notorious recent case involved Lavinia Woodward, an Oxford student who in 2017 stabbed her Cambridge University boyfriend in the leg with a bread knife.

Woodward, who was described by Judge Ian Pringle QC as an “extraordinarily able young lady” whose talents meant that a prison sentence would be “too severe”, escaped punishment despite being found in breach of bail conditions. 

The lenient treatment meted out to young white people of privileged backgrounds stands in stark contrast to the over-representation of ethnic minorities in the British criminal justice system.

In an investigative piece on September 08, 2017, The Independent revealed that black people in the UK are proportionally more likely to be in prison than those in the United States.

Relying on a review conducted for the Ministry of Justice, by Labour MP, David Lammy, The Independent reported what whilst black people account for just 3 percent of the British population they comprise 12 percent of the prison population. 

Tags: Oxford jail Court
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