Comme CICA, comme ca...
The case could not really have been much worse, with the child being kidnapped, assaulted at least three times, then driven at speeds of over 100mph away from police before being thrown out of the car and left lying at the side of the road. Craig Sweeney admitted the offences and received a "life" sentence of 12 years. The judge originally explained his sentencing:
"Judge Griffiths Williams said that if Sweeney had pleaded not guilty and had been convicted the minimum sentence would have been 18 years. Because of his guilty plea he had by law to reduce that tariff by one third to 12 years. The judge said Sweeney would normally have been considered for parole after half his sentence had expired. Because he had been in custody since the day after the offence he considered Sweeney would be eligible for parole after five years 108 days."
This reads as an apology by the judge for the constraints of sentencing guidelines which forced him to announce the tariff. Let's be clear, Sweeney will still have to be declared as no longer dangerous before his release. But then again he was considered not to be dangerous when he was originally released in 2004 for a sex attack on a six-year-old girl... so at least we can be reassured the system works.
There were some valid comments made in my previous post on this subject, that CICA is a statutory body and can only award compensation according to strict guidelines. Others commented that the money should come from the offender (if he has any). At least we can presume the three-year-old wasn't drunk at the time of her abduction, or else her pay-out would be even less! Would any level of compensation be appropriate, or enough?
How many times must we read about violent sex attackers being released from prison to offend again? At what point do we say that anyone who rapes a child should never, ever be released, or the most severe of restrictions placed on their liberty? Rapists of older children are generally treated less severely than younger. At what age should their victim be before any risk of a repeat attack - even the smallest - is unacceptable? Nine? Six? Two?
Are judges speaking out about this kind of thing? Or are they part of the problem?
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.