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P.C. Harper - Sentence Appeal(s)

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P.C. Harper - Sentence Appeal(s)

Old 16th Dec 2020, 17:54
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P.C. Harper - Sentence Appeal(s)

I'll preface this with the statement that I would be more than happy with 99 year sentences for these yobs. However, given the nature of the case a charge of manslaughter was the only one that could be brought and, as sch the presiding judge was limited in his options.

Step up Sue Ellen Braverman, the Attorney General named for a character in the 1980's US wealth fantasy soap opera. Showing her lack of knowledge of the law she then argued for an increase of tariff. ( Something that this administration is soon to know a great dal about) How stupid and the woman be? Had it been left to her the charge would probably have been one of murder, which would have seen the three defendants walk free as the charge would have been impossible to make stick.

It really does make you wonder just how incompetent government ministers are. Maybe replace her with the fireplace salesman. Btw, is Francois back yet?
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 18:09
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I totally agree with you E.M. The woman is thick. But that doesn't necessarily put her in a minority, does it?
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 18:20
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This case has highlighted a potential issue with the law, in that the killing of a police officer by a criminal, whilst that police officer was carrying out his duty has been treated in exactly the same way as someone, of otherwise good character, who kills someone by a moment's lapse in concentration.

There seems to be a good case for reviewing the law, such that the killing of a police officer in circumstances like this attracts a significantly more punitive sentence than would normally apply for manslaughter.
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 18:29
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Originally Posted by Effluent Man View Post
Step up Sue Ellen Braverman, the Attorney General named for a character in the 1980's US wealth fantasy soap opera. Showing her lack of knowledge of the law she then argued for an increase of tariff. ( Something that this administration is soon to know a great dal about) How stupid and the woman be? Had it been left to her the charge would probably have been one of murder, which would have seen the three defendants walk free as the charge would have been impossible to make stick.
Suella Braverman is far from stupid. Unprincipled, cynical and ignorant, certainly, but her campaign was purely political, intended (successfully) to portray her as tough on crime (now where have we heard that before?) and on the side of the common man and aimed squarely at the right wing of the Tory party.

The fact that she is now a laughing stock (not just within the legal profession) won't bother her in the slightest, nor the fact that she is in all probability the worst ever Attorney General.

I feel desperately sorry for Andrew Harper's widow - it was cruel in the extreme to raise her hopes that the sentences would be increased but, hey, that's politics.
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 18:41
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Originally Posted by VP959 View Post
There seems to be a good case for reviewing the law, such that the killing of a police officer in circumstances like this attracts a significantly more punitive sentence than would normally apply for manslaughter.
The sentences handed down to the three found guilty of manslaughter did take into account the fact that they killed a police officer.
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 18:54
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
The sentences handed down to the three found guilty of manslaughter did take into account the fact that they killed a police officer.
But they were still lenient, in view of the nature of his death, and it's the relative leniency of their sentences that is causing the understandable upset with PC Harper's family. I still believe there is a case for treating deliberate actions that result in the death of a police officer, whilst carrying out his duty, more seriously than, say, someone that accidentally kills a person because of a moment's inattention. A police officer has no choice but to face risks like this, it's part and parcel of apprehending criminals, so the crime of killing a police officer on duty should be treated different by the law, specifically with regard to sentencing guidelines.
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 20:41
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In my opinion this was clearly murder. Manslaughter is killing without intent. Murder is with intent.
I suggest that this event started as something which could be excused as manslaughter as PC Harper became entangled with a rope and was dragged along by the perpetrators. At an early stage the perpetrators would have realised that and should have then stopped. They didn't and that failure, at a recognisable point in time, changed their actions from unintentional to intentional. They became intent on his death. That was the difference.
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 21:01
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Originally Posted by papajuliet View Post
In my opinion this was clearly murder. Manslaughter is killing without intent. Murder is with intent.
The three individuals were of course tried for murder. The jury found them not guilty.
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 21:29
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Impossible to prove that they knew he had become entangled in the rope. It's hard to believe that they wouldnt have stopped in those circumstances because they would have probably got a few months in jail.
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 08:47
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Suella Braverman is far from stupid. Unprincipled, cynical and ignorant, certainly, but her campaign was purely political, intended (successfully) to portray her as tough on crime (now where have we heard that before?) and on the side of the common man and aimed squarely at the right wing of the Tory party.
I beg to differ re the intelligence quota, but agree with the rest. She has been posted way above her capability, which at best was as a journeyman barrister specialising in planning law, and the QC honorific, bestowed upon her when she took up the AG role, is an insult to the office. She has demonstrated an impressive lack of respect for the role, including exceeding the terms of the AG remit (defending Dominic Cummings' trip to Barnard Castle being one high profile example), and then broadcasting her contempt for the legal profession when she jumped on Priti Patel's anti-lawyer rhetoric bandwagon. She is, without doubt, the least talented and least respected AG in modern history. Unfortunately, due to her limited intelligence, and one suspects a staggering lack of self awareness, cannot see that she is out of her depth. Rant over!
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 09:04
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Is it seriously thought that you don't know that someone is entangled in a rope at the rear of your vehicle as you're driving along ?
There can be only two alternative thoughts in the minds of the vehicle occupants. Either " Christ, he's caught in the rope, let's stop" or " he's still with us, let's kill the bastard".( choose your own words for the thoughts but you'll get the point )
The perpetrators over-riding thought was to escape.
I suppose I have to qualify my comments by saying that I was not in Court so did not hear the evidence but, on what I saw on TV and read, I would certainly have said murder.
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 09:22
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I think that you are way off. At night and possibly in a noisy vehicle, maybe with a radio or something on it would be highly unlikely that you would hear anything. You have probably hit the nail on the head that their primary aim was escape. It was an appalling piece of bad luck, albeit one where the liability should be with the defendants. This isn't very PC and I apologise if anyone is upset by it but these lads were Pikeys. I have dealt with them in the motor trade. They are not the brightest bunch, many still can't read or write.
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 09:48
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I suspect the problem with trying to convict for murder was just that it wasn't possible to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that they intended to kill PC Harper. Their actions were extremely reckless, and they clearly had no real regard for life (their stupid grins after getting caught and their lack of remorse demonstrated that), but that wasn't enough to prove intent.

The key issue here is really about the range of penalties available for manslaughter, IMHO. Manslaughter covers an extremely wide range of actions, from someone that makes a mistake that has tragic consequences, through to a bunch of reckless criminals who couldn't give a damn about killing a police officer who was just doing his duty. The maximum sentence for the most extreme and callous forms of manslaughter needs to be similar to that for murder, IMHO, so that judges have the ability to impose a sentence that better fits the crime.
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 11:14
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Originally Posted by VP959 View Post
The key issue here is really about the range of penalties available for manslaughter, IMHO. Manslaughter covers an extremely wide range of actions, from someone that makes a mistake that has tragic consequences, through to a bunch of reckless criminals who couldn't give a damn about killing a police officer who was just doing his duty. The maximum sentence for the most extreme and callous forms of manslaughter needs to be similar to that for murder, IMHO, so that judges have the ability to impose a sentence that better fits the crime.
No argument with any of that. But the tariff for a manslaughter conviction does already extend to life sentences, though those are rarely imposed.


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Old 17th Dec 2020, 11:37
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
No argument with any of that. But the tariff for a manslaughter conviction does already extend to life sentences, though those are rarely imposed.

The snag is that a "life" sentence doesn't mean life, or even close to it. If there was the option to impose a "whole life" sentence for extreme cases, then that might be more suitable for criminals like this.
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 14:13
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Originally Posted by VP959 View Post
The snag is that a "life" sentence doesn't mean life, or even close to it. If there was the option to impose a "whole life" sentence for extreme cases, then that might be more suitable for criminals like this.
I could see that having unintended consequences.

If a jury acquits a defendant of murder, how likely would they be to convict for manslaughter if they knew that would result in exactly the same sentence as for murder ?
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 14:36
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
I could see that having unintended consequences.

If a jury acquits a defendant of murder, how likely would they be to convict for manslaughter if they knew that would result in exactly the same sentence as for murder ?
That depends only on the evidence presented to them, surely? The jury only decide on guilt or innocence, not sentencing, and they are not normally even allowed to know if a defendant has prior convictions. Those alone can make a big difference to the sentence imposed. Sentencing has to remain the responsibility of the judiciary, but needs to have sufficient freedom such that a judge can impose a sentence that is appropriate to the severity of the crime.

The minimum term of the sentence was determined by the judge having to remain within the sentencing guidelines, which state that the starting point (for the oldest defendant) should be 24 years, with a reduction required both for the defendant's age and for the guilty plea, which is how Long ended up with a 16 year sentence. In practice he'll only serve a part of that sentence before being released on licence.
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 14:50
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Is it seriously thought that you don't know that someone is entangled in a rope at the rear of your vehicle as you're driving along ?
Put yourself in the mind of these idiots. You have been rumbled by Mr Plod; panic sets in. First thought is "How do we get out of this?" Jump in the car and give it some welly down the road. Culprit A, in his utter panic, is shouting at Culprit B "For Christ's sake, get your foot down". Culprit B is by now screaming at his mate "I am going as quick as I can". Given all that, plus the fact it was dark, what makes you think they were aware of even the rope being dragged behind them, let alone the prospect there may be a person involved with that rope and I would say they probably had no idea of what was going on behind the car. Of course, the word "probably" allows there to be an element of uncertainty, or doubt. "Doubt"? Here comes a not guilty verdict. Banged up for a number of years for manslaughter or skipping down the court steps having been found not guilty of murder? I can imagine which outcome was more acceptable to the family/colleagues etc of the unfortunate PC.
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 16:47
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Originally Posted by jez d View Post
I beg to differ re the intelligence quota, but agree with the rest. She has been posted way above her capability, which at best was as a journeyman barrister specialising in planning law, and the QC honorific, bestowed upon her when she took up the AG role, is an insult to the office. She has demonstrated an impressive lack of respect for the role, including exceeding the terms of the AG remit (defending Dominic Cummings' trip to Barnard Castle being one high profile example), and then broadcasting her contempt for the legal profession when she jumped on Priti Patel's anti-lawyer rhetoric bandwagon. She is, without doubt, the least talented and least respected AG in modern history. Unfortunately, due to her limited intelligence, and one suspects a staggering lack of self awareness, cannot see that she is out of her depth. Rant over!
Pretty accurate really and her appointment raised a few eyebrows at the time for reasons you suggest......it possibly helped that she would be the perfect foil for our beloved Home Sec, had matters gone according to plan as it were, until Covid arrived, oh, and she was heavily involved with the ERG..which comes in useful you might say.
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Old 18th Dec 2020, 12:44
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The maximum sentence for manslaughter is life imprisonment. These sentences were far short of that, so evidently both the judge and the Court of Appeal have decided that the offence was not worthy of such a high penalty. The law is then seen to value the life of any of those police officers who run towards danger to protect the public, to be worth no more and no less than the life of the man on the Clapham omnibus. That doesn't seem fair somehow, but that's the way it is. 😢
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