This is the official blog of ex-Sgt Ellie Bloggs. I was a real live police constable then sergeant for twelve years, on the real live front line of England. I'm now a real live non-police person. All the facts I recount are true, and are not secrets. If they don't want me blogging about it, they shouldn't do it. PS If you don't pay tax, you don't (or didn't) pay my salary.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Is Manslaughter the New Murder?

I think it is time that we, as a society, accept that people can no longer be expected to know right from wrong. Several landmark cases have shown that 21st Century Brits just can't grasp several basic concepts such as Pain, Death and Violence. It is therefore not fair to keep sending people to prison for stuff they didn't mean to do.

I would like to propose the following guidelines to juries to help them in cases where people stand wrongfully accused of murder:
  • If the offenders are under 18, just find them guilty of Manslaughter. No one under 18 ever means to kill anyone.
  • If the offence was done in a group, only one of them can be guilty. Therefore if you don't know which one, just acquit them all.
  • If the offenders were laughing and/or chanting at the time, this indicates a "disturbance of the mind". Ie Manslaughter.
  • If the offenders urinated on the dead person's body, this is irrelevant.
On occasion, we are still seeing injustices done, such as here where two kids of 14 and 17 have been found guilty of murder, when some others in the group only of manslaughter. Clearly the "murderers" were just excitable young rapscallions and this was a childish prank gone wrong. Or what about here, where all the offenders did was a few kicks and punches. How could they have expected their victim to have such weak flesh and bones that he died?

I raise these last two cases to show the inconsistency of today's verdicts in very similar cases. This is very easily rectified. Since Murder requires proof of the intent to kill or seriously injure, whereas Manslaughter can be committed by a much more minor "unlawful act", and since it is impossible to ever know what someone was intending, let's just do away with the offence of Murder altogether. Only some of those released from jail following their shortened Manslaughter sentence will go on to kill again.

The below were all killed by people previously convicted of manslaughter:

Some of their murderers were only convicted of Manslaughter the second time too.

'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in all good bookstores and online.


Anonymous Dave said...

Why do we bother at all. No matter how hard we try as police what is the point if we aren't going to be supported from the courts.

Someone needs to be told that it is the law abiding majority who are the important ones and it is there country so surely the courts and government should be obeying our wishes as we voted them in.

Maybe not for extreme views but sensible ones such as punishments to fit the crime. I was brought up to believe that crime was wrong, and I fully believed that if I killed someone I would be in prison for the rest of my life etc, there is no deterrent now just a holiday camp for a few months.

I'm bery tired after a long day at work so the above may not read that well but it makes sense to me.

25 April, 2008 22:58

Blogger Mosher said...

I'd like to add something to your post... but I can't. I revolts me in much the way that it seems to revolt you. It makes no sense unless your prime concern is for the poor, suffering bastard who "accidentally" killed someone. The little darlings.

25 April, 2008 23:25

Blogger Paradise Driver said...

The famous Judge Roy Bean, Pecos TX, once said:

"Hang the son-of-a-bitch. We'll give him a fair trial later."

25 April, 2008 23:35

Blogger For The People said...

I know what your saying. However, a friend told me this. We have to do our job and make the case. Don't worry about what haapens later it will make you sick. While I know that is not what you wanted to hear, sometimes it is all we can do. I ran myself crazy with this type of thing not too long ago. I supported a new DA. I was lucky that he won. Our DA is elected. Maybe you can try and boot the one you have. Otherwise, you are just screwed because most media won"t even consider reporting the real news! Good Luck.

26 April, 2008 02:28

Anonymous Inspector Gadget said...

I don't think I'll go in to work any more.

26 April, 2008 10:10

Blogger Mosher said...

Gadget - that scares me. And sometimes I just wonder if that's what the Powers That Be want. I mean, it certainly seems to me (a non-law enforcement person, Joe Public) that the government *wants* to create a disgusting, lawless state by making it as difficult as possible to prosecute the filth that you and yours spend all your time attempting to deal with (around all the paperwork).

But I can't blame you all for being so downhearted. Please, for my sake and my family's, don't give up. Despite how the w*nkers upstairs behave, the real people really appreciate everything you're trying to do.

26 April, 2008 11:36

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The manslaughter proliferation is down to the CPS - it's an easy target for them.

26 April, 2008 12:36

Anonymous Rural Tec said...

Actually, as one of the lead officers in R v Orme and Quantrill (quoted in the main article), manslaughter wasn't pursued by the CPS - they were squarely pursuing murder charges, as were we.

The problem lays with lawyers. Barristers, who flit between defence and prosecution with no moral compunctions in exploiting gullible jurors, particularly when the judges direct so heavily as to make a murder verdict virtually impossible.

Because, apparently, pushing unconcious people into a river does not necessarily show intent to kill.

You couldn't make it up.

26 April, 2008 15:16

Anonymous pzgirl said...

Sometimes it may seem like it's not worth it, but really it is. I get downheartened too, but I love what I do and am still naive enough to believe I can make a difference, even in the smallest way.

Our job is an important and valuable one, even if some members of public, MPS, and press try persuade us otherwise by devaluing it.

I still wouldn't do anything else.

26 April, 2008 15:36

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

one of my personal demons is a guy I was pursuing for domestic violence x5, he was on remand until CPS dropped it for 'hostile witness and public interest reasons' 2 weeks later he beat his lodger to death after telling his wife that he was going to kill him because he thought they were having an affair while he was remanded for my jobs. Ten years for manslaughter, found out he was released on good behaviour just before christmas.

26 April, 2008 16:08

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In many of these cases I think that the law, as is, was correctly applied. In the case of the Ernest Norton, it is difficult to make the connection between the act and the death and it is also difficult to tell who actually perpetrated the causal act. We used to see this in cases of child death, when the "parents" would blame each other. The law was changed so that they could both be found guilty.
In the case of Orme and Quantrill, it is unclear whether they had the mens rea for murder. Ditto the idiots who drowned someone while throwing sticks etc.
So the law is probably being correctly applied here. But, since when did manslaughter become such a trivial offence? The maximum sentence for manslaughter is life. This is where the system seems to be failing. The heinous nature of the Orme and Quantrill crime is such that one would have expected a heavier sentence. Perhaps the judge was influenced by their age.

26 April, 2008 17:11

Anonymous Beepy said...

That 3 strike rule for indictable offenses sounds good to me. Oh wait, no, sorry, that'd infringe the criminals' human rights. damn.

26 April, 2008 19:22

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

If you force someone into a pond and throw stones at them, preventing them from climbing out, surely any child will know that is likely to kill them? You can't just then turn around and say "Well I wasn't thinking therefore it's just manslaughter." But I do agree if we ARE going to accept these cases as manslaughter, they should be sentenced differently.

Let's face it a lot of these cases are totally different to the recent example where a man was punched once to the face and died. A normal person would not expect one punch to kill someone, whereas a normal person WOULD expect that hitting, kicking and throwing someone in a river might well kill them. The case of the punch to the head was rightly sentenced for a few years as manslaughter.

26 April, 2008 20:49

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mens rea in murder requires an intention to kill or GBH. Note that knowledge that a certain action will cause death or GBH is not enough. The pond and the canal deaths are in the grey area. At the very least I also would have hoped that manslaughter in such disgusting circumstances, as opposed to the punch and the victim hitting their head on the kerb, would have been met with something closer to the murder tariff. (A life sentence and 10 year tariff).

26 April, 2008 21:12

Anonymous US D/S said...

Perhaps youthful offenders shouldn't be charged with Sexual Assault or Rape either. After all, they can't control a bad case of raging harmones can they?

Clue me please. US papers making big deal about singer Amy Winehouse receiving Official Caution from UK police.

How about telling your brothers in blue across the pond just exactly what is an "Official Caution".

26 April, 2008 21:38

Anonymous si said...

Thanks! Cases like these have been winding me up for a while..

27 April, 2008 00:08

Anonymous xoggoth said...

We need a justice system based on the only question that matters, ie what risk is there that the perpetrator will do it again?

Even if the perpetrator is mentally ill and genuinely deserves some sympathy, that should only affect the treatment he gets, not the sentence. Protection of the public should come first.

27 April, 2008 09:45

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Manslaughter is so the new murder. Nobody seems to be held entirely responsible for their actions these days.

At Court, it is all too easy for the defence to offer a guilty plea to manslaughter against a contested trial for murder. It's dishonest plea bargaining by he back door and I hate it.

It is clearly now entirely possible now to kill somebody and serve effectivey a low single digit sentence. How did that happen? If any sentences should be deterrent on public policy grounds, then surely the sentences for killing should be. When you kill somebody, the sentence shouldn't be primarily about reforming you so that you don't kill any more, it should be about punishing you real hard and making an example.

Why not knock someone who protests your ASB to the ground and stamp on their head? If they die, its not like anything really bad is going to happen to you anyway. If they live you'll be lucky to serve 2 years as a big fish in the YOI. God help you if you overfill your bin or throw apple cores around though.

Sometimes the best justice is savage and vengeful.

27 April, 2008 10:52

Anonymous XTP said...

us d/s - basically it's a "Now go away and don't do it again" slap on the wrist. If you've had no convictions for "like" offences it's used as the lowest form of official sanction. Sort of!

27 April, 2008 11:46

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is prison for

1) Punishment
2) Rehabilitation
3) Protection of public
4) Deterrent

This is where the problem lies. Xoggoth obviously believes that it is mainly 3). In the really old days, it was mainly about 1) or should one say "retribution". The Americans seem to be going increasinly for 3) - with their three strikes laws.

At some point we ditched the idea of 1). Around the time we stopped hanging people. We have theoretically embraced 2) - rehabilitation, but havent really put the money in for this. But we have put in enough to reduce the punishment/deterrence - prison is cushier. We definitely arent involved in 3)protecting the public.

Some decisions need to be made on this issue. We pretend that we believe in 2), but dont put in the resources. The public want 1), 3) and 4). If the government built double the number of prison spaces, increased sentencing and then actually put some effort into 2), we probably would get 3) and 4). Deterrence only works if people think there is a chance of being caught and then doing time.

We should stop spending money on really insane things - like ID cards, local councils spying on parents about school catchment areas, ever more CCTV, PCSOs and spend it on useful stuff like more jails and more rehabilitation. The police shouldnt be given stupid targets like detections or customer service. They should be thieftakers and crimebusters.

Actually most importantly we should stop giving money to the undeserving poor to waste - bloody Gordon going on about reducing child poverty -doesnt he understand the negative incentives his spending gives to the underclass? (I do believe that we should reduce child poverty, but just throwing money at the problem wont make it better.)

27 April, 2008 12:33

Blogger Mosher said...

How can we be short of prison space? They'd be cheap as owt to build if we'd go for the chain gang / hard labour scheme. We've got 'n' million (whatever) people in jail who do nothing but sit on their arses all day.

Get them out there with some building equipment, teach them a trade (rehabilitation at work), and build more prisons. Cheap labour.

Or is that taking away their human rights or some other rubbish? Can't put a hard-working businessman/drugdealer to work with a trowel or a bandsaw?

27 April, 2008 14:53

Anonymous Anonymous said...

An eye for an eye
A tooth for a tooth

A life for a life...
unless they pay the (cash) price.

Sharia law!
Good stuff.

27 April, 2008 16:01

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So if you can pay the cash price you get off? So one law for the rich and another for the poor. (Yes, we already have that to some extent, but do we really want to legalise it?)
Hanging or loss of a limb is hardly something that can be put back if a court decision turns out to be wrong. And what about the possibility of redemption?
While I am in favour of delivering stronger punishment (and greater probability of same) in order to deter criminals, I happen to think that Sharia is barbaric. While the rise of the moronic liberals and "rights" has gone too far, losing limbs etc is going back too far the other way.

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