Another day, another miscarriage of justice – here. Sophie O’Hara’s ‘punishment’ for stealing £50,000 is a jail sentence of eight months, and it’s been suggested she may be released in four. A few excerpts from the article:
Sophie O’Hara, 27, used her position in the science department at the University of East Anglia to sign fake student expenses slips which she then cashed into her own account. Over the course of 17 months O’Hara stole a total of £50,504 which she spent on trips to Egypt, Florida and Madrid as well as an afternoon tea at the Ritz with her mother…
Chris Youell, prosecuting, said O’Hara wasn’t a qualified accountant but was in a position of great trust and was authorised to sign for large sums of money. When university staff discovered O’Hara had been paying funds into her own account, Mr Youell said she admitted what she’d done. He added: ‘She was, however, somewhat surprised and upset as to how much money she had stolen.’
Chris Youell was prosecuting? Wow. He said Ms O’Hara was ‘somewhat surprised and upset’ at how much money she had stolen. You have to feel sorry for the unfortunate young lady, don’t you? Moving on:
Michael Clare, defending, said she suffered from a form of bipolar disorder but added: ‘She does not want to use her difficulties as an excuse.’
If she didn’t want to use her bipolar disorder as an excuse, why was it mentioned by her defence lawyer? Of course she wanted to use it as an excuse. I’m reminded of the 44yo woman who was recently convicted for sexually assaulting a 14yo boy. Her defence lawyer said she didn’t want to use the fact she had a history of alcohol abuse as an excuse. Ha. Moving on:
Jailing her at Norwich Crown Court today, Judge Anthony Bate said: ‘It went undiscovered for some considerable time. You appear to have spent the money on luxuries and foreign holidays and the like.’
The judge accepted O’Hara had ‘mental health issues’ but said they didn’t excuse her conduct and said he would be failing in his public duty if he did not jail her.
He’d be ‘failing in his public duty if he did not jail her.’ We keep hearing this narrative from judges – particularly male judges – when they incarcerate women. Let’s translate what he said into plain English, shall we?
‘I’m sorry I have to jail you. I wish I didn’t have to, because obviously ladies should never be incarcerated.’
Despite the fact Sophie O’Hara is a young woman – 27 – there’s no suggestion in the article that she’ll ever be required to repay so much as a penny of the £50,000 she stole, whatever her future earnings.