DO certain court cases in this neck of the woods catch your eye?
They do mine, but perhaps that’s just because issues involving justice interest me.
In fact, I considered becoming a barrister while I was at school, but the careers teacher said my lack of a forked tongue and scales might be a handicap.
Anyway, take this last week or so. Two cases in particular struck me as notable.
One was that of a corrupt Swindon parking official called Lee Halliday, who had a fine old time over the course of several years.
He deprived the council of £41,462 by selling parking permits to his associates at steep discounts. Apparently all they had to do was head on down to the office and ask for good old Lee.
Halliday, evidently as crooked as the proverbial canine’s rear limb, also made £25,000 by simply nicking cash intended to refund permit holders. On 25 occasions he created non-existent customers and had the money transferred to his bank account.
Quite what this says about the council’s monitoring procedures is open to discussion. I’m not overly familiar with the day-to-day work of senior officials, but I would have thought at least one person’s job description included spotting 66 grand of our taxes going walkies over the course of several years.
After all, that 66 grand might have saved some vital service from cuts or closure.
That’s an issue to be addressed on another day, however.
Anyway, Halliday was sent to prison for two years.
The other Swindon court case which caught my eye involved a man called Sam Dewar.
This veritable prince among men, a personal trainer, used the family computer and his mobile phone to comb the foulest corners of the internet for child pornography.
The police recovered 142 images from the computer, showing children aged between five and 13. Of these, four were in the most serious category, as they showed child rape.
The phone had two films, also in the most serious category because of the offences they showed being committed against children. One was 13 minutes long and the other was 27 minutes long. Think about that for a while and pity the poor police officers who had to view them in their entirety while the case was prepared.
Unlike Lee Halliday, Sam Dewar skipped free from the court with a 24-month community order, an order to complete an internet sex offenders’ treatment programme and one or two other things which won’t inconvenience him unduly.
Let’s just consider these two outcomes, shall we?
A man who steals from a local authority goes to prison for two years.
A man who gloats over images showing the vile degradation of children, and who helps to support the industry which carries out that degradation, walks free.
And the point of these ramblings?
Well, it seems to me that if you want to know which institutions and people the Establishment regards as important, and which ones it regards as worthless, make a note of the offences it punishes most harshly.
It also seems to me that the scales of justice are about as accurate as the ones on a dishonest shopkeeper’s counter.