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Sentencing guidelines skewed against men

16 December 2013 103 views 2 Comments

Woman jailed for 6 years for plotting to have ex-husband killed.

Man receives life sentence for attempted rape, and served 17 years until his conviction was quashed.

These 2 articles appeared in the same edition of the Birmingham Mail on 13/12/13. There are a number of facets to each of the stories. The man always denied the offence, on grounds of mistaken identity, and the discovery of recent DNA evidence appears to support that defence. The woman had a string of extra-marital affairs, and she tried to hire a hit-man to kill her husband when he discovered her most recent affair.

However, what caught my eye was the disparity in sentences between the two. The woman was jailed for 6 years for attempting to kill. The man was jailed for life for attempting to rape. Has rape become more serious than murder? Neither is the difference in length of sentence a minor one – the woman can expect to serve half of her 6-year sentence. The man served 17 years of his life sentence and would have served even longer, had his conviction not been quashed.

The point here is that everything in the judicial process, including sentencing guidelines, appears to conspire against giving men fair and equal treatment in the criminal justice system, driven by a clamour over the last decade from influential people such as this article from Cherie Blair QC to keep women out of jail.

Sentencing guidelines are set by the Sentencing Council, whose members are appointed jointly by the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor, after which they are unaccountable for the Sentencing Guidelines they set, leaving them open to influence by the powerful and ubiquitous pro-women lobby, such as Cherie Blair. If sentencing guidelines treat rape as more serious than murder, this Sentencing Council has been successfully nobbled.

One final, and worrying point – to what extent has the rise in female criminality been led by the increasing lenience shown to convicted women? Any woman contemplating a crime will now know that she will be let off lightly; so why not take the chance? Kelly Cliff will have known, when she plotted to have her husband killed, that even if she was caught she was unlikely to serve much time, and she has been proved right.

Ray Barry

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