A thought experiment on criminal damage

Following the ongoing fallout from the trial of the Colston Four, and amid much confusion caused by the way in which the complicated issues have been presented by commentators and politicians, it may help to say a little more about criminal damage. I would like to take a hypothetical situation, wholly unrelated to the Colston…

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Do the verdicts in the trial of the Colston 4 signal something wrong with our jury system? 10 things you should know

1. What happened in this case? On 7 June 2020, in the course of a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol, a monument of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston was pulled down and thrown into the harbourside. Consequently, four of those involved, Milo Ponsford, Sage Willoughby, Rhian Graham and Jake Skuse were charged with criminal damage….

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Harper’s Law: A grim tale of political exploitation and incoherent lawmaking

“You’d want to see him put to death! You’d want it to be cruel and unusual, which is why it’s probably a good idea that fathers of murder victims don’t have legal rights in these situations – now we’re going back to school!” Toby Ziegler, The West Wing, Season 4 Episode 6   Four weeks after their…

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The Hillsborough judgment: what just happened?

Today, at the Crown Court at Manchester (sitting in a temporary “Nightingale Court” at the Lowry theatre in Salford), the trial of three men accused of offences arising out of the Hillsborough disaster was brought to an abrupt halt, when the judge ruled at the close of the prosecution case that the defendants had “no…

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How can a 5-year prison sentence ever reflect the intentional taking of a life?

Yesterday, at Swansea Crown Court, 70-year-old Anthony Williams was imprisoned for 5 years for the manslaughter of his wife, Ruth. He had on Monday this week been acquitted by a jury of murder, having admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility at an earlier stage of proceedings. The standard reporting clichés ring particularly hollow in…

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What happened in the case of Emily Jones?

Today, on the second day of the trial of Eltiona Skana, who was charged with the murder of seven-year-old Emily Jones, the prosecution at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court offered no evidence on the charge of murder, and accepted the Defendant’s guilty plea to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. There has been much…

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Can Magna Carta and “common law” give you immunity from Covid regulations?

In recent days, the news has carried reports of business owners who have been fined tens of thousands of pounds after defying the “Covid regulations” and refusing to close their business premises. Common to these cases is a belief expressed by the individuals that they were not bound by the snappily-titled Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions)…

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