I know that the nature of the courts means that there is not and ought not to be too much uniformity in sentences. Judges are supposed to use their discretion to weigh up the merits of cases and defendants before passing judgement and sentencing. Despite this I keep finding myself overwhelmed by a sense of unfairness where I read about good citizens who are paced in terrifying and unnatural circumstances by criminals being punished for their actions during those incidents. The latest example is Barry-Lee Hastings. He has been sentenced to 5 years in prison for killing a burglar he found in his wife’s house. He stabbed the man repeatedly – probably terrified out of his wits – and he later died.
It is wrong that he is so severely punished for his actions under duress. Every day in the papers one reads about predatory criminals who set out to steal, burgle, assault, rape, maim and sometimes kill – yet the legal system is lenient with them. Oldham rioters who threw petrol bombs at police and tried to burn to death old people in a Labour club received 2 years.