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:
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.