The legal profession has become ever more feminised over recent decades. The impact on the legal system has been utterly predictable, as shown in this case. A piece in the Times edition of 2 August by Jonathan Ames, Legal Editor:
Three men whose trial was delayed for more than two years were spared jail for a violent attack after a judge said that the legal system was “beyond the point of collapse”.
Judge Simon Carr gave suspended sentences to the men, who were convicted of leaving a former employee with serious injuries when they attacked him in the middle of the night over an unpaid debt.
He said that there had been “digraceful” delays in the case against Abul Azad, 49, a takeaway owner, and his friends Shahedul Bhuyia, 53, and Abul Hannan, 41.
Sitting at Truro crown court, Judge Carr said he was required to take into account how long the offenders had spent waiting for the trial to begin, despite it being what he described as a “straightforward case”.
Judge Carr’s comments were the latest volley of criticism from judges and other senior lawyers over fears that years of alleged under-investment in the criminal justice system could potentially allow suspects to go free.
Reacting to his comments, Simon Davis, president of the Law Society, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, said that “decades of cuts to this fundamental part of our country’s infrastructure mean the whole system is crumbling”.
The men were found guilty of grievous bodily harm last week after the court heard that they had attacked their former employee and left him with a broken jaw and other injuries. However, they were freed after Judge Carr said that despite the convictions meriting 15-month jail terms, the sentences would be suspended for two years. “There is a feature of this case I cannot ignore,” said the judge. “This case took two years and nine months to go before this court. That is a disgrace.”
Addressing the offenders, the judge said: “That is not in any way your fault.” Judge Carr then told the court: “It’s evidence of a system having gone beyond the point of collapse that a straightforward case takes so long to go before a court.
“You have had these allegations hanging over you for almost three years. I accept that this has had a very real effect upon you. It is that punishment which allows me to suspend what would have otherwise been an immediate custodial sentence.” The men must do 100 hours of community work, pay the victim £1,000 in compensation and £500 towards prosecution costs.
Judge Carr said there was no doubt that the victim owed them money and that police took no action.
“Therefore you sought community resolution,” the judge said. “I accept entirely that there is a well-established practice in the Bangladeshi community where people have meetings with those respected by the community to get to the bottom of disputes.”
Judge Carr added that while he agreed with the jury that the three men had no intention to physically harm the victim before they saw him, they did intend to bully him.
Speaking outside the court, the officer in charge of the case, Detective sergeant Mark Jenkin, said there were “delays in getting cases to the Crown Prosecution Service and delays in getting cases to court”.
The president of the Law Society said solicitors who specialise in criminal defence work on legal aid rates “have not had a pay rise in more than two decades — in fact some have had a cut”.
He added: “The future integrity of our justice system depends on the whole system working effectively — a poorly functioning criminal justice system will undoubtedly impact on the UK’s international reputation.”
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