Monday, 21 December 2009

This man deserved brain damage.

Every single time there's a "controversial" case of someone attacking a burglar or a criminal, almost always when said intruder has been fleeing the scene, as now in the Munir Hussain jailing, or previously and most notoriously when it came to Tony Martin, either the government or the opposition review the law of "reasonable force" or promise they'll change it, only to later quietly drop it or decide not to because the law as it stands is perfectly adequate. Every single time the tabloids and the occasional broadsheet get on their high horses and complain bitterly, often invoking that an "Englishman's home is his castle", and that in said castle said Englishman should be allowed to rip the intruder's head off and spit down the hole and receive a medal for removing from the gene pool such a disgusting piece of human filth. Every single time said tabloid and broadsheet also quietly drop it.

I'm not sure though that any publication has gone so far in the past to say that either the deceased or injured person deserved the treatment they received. The Sun however thinks this is exactly what Walid Salem needed:

It was never better exposed than by the scandalous jailing of Munir Hussain for chasing and battering a burglar who had tied up and terrorised his family at knifepoint.

How many fathers brave enough, strong enough and angry enough would have held back?

Career criminal Walid Salem richly deserved his beating.

The Tories are proposing that only "grossly disproportionate" behaviour towards someone should result in their being prosecuted (as David Cameron suggested as long back as 2005, only for it to be quietly put at least on the back-burner). Isn't chasing a burglar who is fleeing and then adminstering a beating so severe that the person attacked suffers brain damage "grossly disproportionate"? Not according to the Sun. It was however according to a jury, who heard all the mitigating circumstances involving the case and how Salem had threatened to kill Hussain's family, yet still felt that the attack on Salem justified a conviction for grievous bodily harm with intent. This isn't just a case of a liberal namby-pamby politically correct judge deciding that Hussain's crime was serious enough to warrant a relatively light in the circumstances 30 months in prison, of which Hussain will probably only serve a third, but of a jury of members of the public, among them doubtless Sun readers, who felt that it warranted a conviction. True, they didn't decide on the sentence, but 30 months is hardly the harshest sentence which could have been passed. Salem also didn't "walk free" from court, as the Sun has it: he was given a two year suspended sentence for the very reason, as the judge pointed out, that he couldn't adequately plead as a result of his injuries. Otherwise he would received a substantial custodial sentence himself.

As Catherine Bennett asked on Sunday, what sort of society is it that praises vigilantes with cricket bats and iron bars? Ours, of course. The self-same newspaper (and indeed tabloid media as whole) that regards yobs that use violence on the slightest of whims as the scum of the earth turns to the other side when it's a beating that was, in the Sun's terms, deserved. The judge, about the only person who comes out of this with any credit, noted exactly what would happen after his verdict:

"It may be that some members of the public, or media commentators, will assert that Salem deserved what happened to him at the hands of you and the two others involved, and that you should not have been prosecuted and need not be punished."

And then, in lines which no newspaper or commentator has been able to adequately deflect, he explained exactly why they needed to be punished:

"However, if persons were permitted to … inflict their own instant and violent punishment on an apprehended offender rather than letting justice take its course, then the rule of law and our system of criminal justice, which are the hallmarks of a civilised society, would collapse."

Which is it seems what some would clearly like to happen.


David said...

I think you’re rather missing the point here. I can only presume you’ve never been burgled, or faced an intruder in your home. I have – it’s terrifying, it makes you respond strangely. In that moment, you might choose to chase someone who threatened your safety, and you might be so angry you end up attacking them.

Why should someone be punished for defending their home? The burglar made a choice to break the law – it’s not a game. They take responsibility for their actions and for the repercussions of them.

Why the sympathy for a criminal who paid no heed to the damage he may cause for the resident of that home? Is it a shame he’s got brain damage? Yes. Did he bring it on himself? Without a doubt.

I doubt you’d be so rational if put in a similar position.

septicisle said...

But he wasn't defending his home; he stopped defending his home the moment he and his tooled-up relatives chased after him and beat the living shit out of him. The law of reasonable force takes the circumstances of the case into consideration and the mitigation that you're not likely to act rationally straight away, and a jury still felt that he was guilty of grievous bodily harm with intent.

You don't get beaten until the point at which you receive brain damage for committing burglary, regardless of his responsibility for the crime. Did he bring it on himself? Yes. Did he deserve it? No.

Being A Part said...

I don't think that the sentence meted out to Mr Hussain can be criticised as that is the law.
As far as the burglar is concerned, he got what he deserved. Simply put, if he had not broken into the Hussain household, had not tied up and threatened the Hussain family he would not have had his head smashed in. The fact that Mr Hussain chased the burglar down the road in order to exact his revenge is why he received 30 mnonths. The upshot of this is that in chasing and catching the criminal he managed to prevent that individual from terrorising another family (I think I am correct in stating that he had been convicted on quite a few crimes previously).
I was burgled two years ago, and I still rage at the temerity of somebody breaking into my house to steal my belongings. What if my wife had been there?
Sorry, I am normally in agreement with what you write on this (excellent) blog but here I must disagree.