The justice system out of touch
There’s much talk at the moment about the collapse of law and order and the judicial system in Afghanistan. But with decisions as baffling and perverse as these, can we really assume we fare much better?
The purpose of prison is manifold. It is part punishment, part protection for the rest of us and part rehabilitation. And while that final element should be a key feature for many behind bars, it cannot possibly be expected to include virtually the entire prison population.
A prisoner such as the vile Colin Pitchfork is one such case. This sick pervert raped and killed two schoolgirls, both aged 15, in the 1980s.
The first victim was Lynda Mann who was raped and murdered in woodland in November 1983. Pitchfork admitted he had left his baby son asleep in his car during the attack and he did it because “she was there”.
Three years later, in August 1986, Dawn Ashworth’s body was found in a wooded area nearby. She had suffered a similar fate, but had also been beaten.
Pitchfork had a conviction for indecent exposure, so when police requested blood samples from local men, he got a workmate to supply the sample in his name.
But a woman told police, leading to his arrest and conviction ‑ the first to feature DNA evidence. He was sentenced to life in jail, with a minimum term of 30 years.
Having served 33 years, Pitchfork was released last week complete with a new identity and a location that cannot be disclosed as it may infringe his human rights.
Shame he didn’t give a jot for the “human rights” of his two terrified victims who suffered the most unimaginable horrors prior to being killed.
If life doesn’t mean life for a killer who raped and murdered two schoolgirls, when can it ever?
Pitchfork was 24 when he committed the first of his crimes, so was an adult fully aware of what he was doing. He is a repeat offender and tried all manner of deception to cover his perverted tracks. In interviews with the Parole Board, he showed no remorse, so it hardly can come as a surprise that his victims’ families feel such outrage.
The Ministry of Justice says he faces the most stringent restrictions ever imposed, including tagging, a night curfew and lie detector tests. But surely these were only imposed as they acknowledge the risk?
These crimes took place in Leicestershire and on the day Pitchfork tasted freedom, sentencing for a lesser crime was before a judge at Leicester Crown Court.
Former criminology student and Nazi sympathiser Ben John had downloaded bomb making instructions. He’d also raged in a letter about immigrants and gay people and was convicted of possessing information likely to be useful in a terror act.
This Right-wing obsessive could have been jailed ‑ but Judge Timothy Spencer spared him and told him to read works by authors such as Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, telling him: “Start with Pride And Prejudice and Dickens’s A Tale Of Two Cities. On January 4 you will tell me what you have read and I will test you on it.”
Ironically, it was Dickens who used the phrase, “the law is an ass” in Oliver Twist. While that might have been amusing, the decisions last week show a system out of touch with those it should protect.
Geronimo is dragged away by the veterinary team
Defra should be ashamed
This is the picture that shames Defra, the vets involved and even the local police force ‑ and has the potential to haunt the Government for years to come.
The fate of Geronimo, the alpaca deemed to have a form of bovine TB, is now sadly just a point of debate as his fate was sealed when he was culled by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs last week.
Due to the undoubted controversy surrounding the tests used on the animal, why it wasn’t allowed one final, independent test will forever be questioned.
Although the fashion in which it was dragged away by the veterinary team might be a pointer to their level of care.
It is also concerning the police showed no interest in an animal being treated in a way that seemed to cause some distress.
If abusing was a hate crime, presumably Avon and Somerset Police would have scrambled the helicopter to back up the dozens of coppers on the scene.
What is even more puzzling is as this is being written, Defra is still refusing to allow an independent vet to carry out a post mortem examination or have full access to the findings of its exam.
Why, do you suppose, might that be?
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab
We deserve better politicians
If the whole sorry saga of Afghanistan has taught us anything ‑ except for the blindingly obvious fact that it is always the nation to bury the dreams of empire, whether from the UK, Russia or the US ‑ it is that we are poorly served by a mostly lamentable bunch of politicians. On both sides of the water.
Here we have a Foreign Secretary who appears to have taken to the sun lounger just two weeks after a memo landed saying the hated and corrupt Afghan government could collapse in world record time.
He also seems to have made precious few, if any, calls to key counterparts in the Afghan and Pakistani administrations over the preceding six months.
There is also the troubling matter of a PM who wisely did not leave the country, but did attempt a holiday at a most inappropriate time.
Across the Atlantic, a dissembling, ageing, out of touch President has been found to have tried to bully the hopeless former Afghan leader into lying about the crisis.
Joe Biden has facilitated the worst American humiliation since Vietnam but ‑ possibly due to failing eyesight ‑ sees it as an “extraordinary success”.
Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala “Clueless” Harris was out of the picture at an LGBT event in Vietnam. If we only get the politicians we deserve, what have we done to get this shower?
Allow overseas lorry drivers to save our supplies
Shelves are still bare in supermarkets across the country and now pubs are running out of beer. But still the Government won’t move to allow firms to hire lorry drivers from overseas to fill the 100,000 current vacancies.
If part of Brexit was to regain control of our borders and permit us to allow in those with skills we need, why not get into gear and open the road to convoys of truckers?
Extinction Rebellion climate activists assemble in London
Climate change needs solutions not violence
The brazen desire for lawlessness that some of the Extinction Rebellion demonstrators so desperately crave emerged last week when the number of acts of violence increased.
Quite how smashing the windows of financial institutions or daubing paint on walls helps combat climate change is more than a tad puzzling.
Can someone get it into the dreadlocked heads of these ecowarriors that we GET there is an enormous problem that needs to be tackled.
So now let’s concentrate on solutions.
Do open windows really keep schools safe?
That Department for Education masterplan to keep our pupils safe from Covid as the schools re-open this month: Keep the windows open. Hardly fills you with confidence, does it.
Roast dinners are back
Roasts are back on the menu now we’re officially into autumn, and this rich, fruity Australian red goes well with meats such as beef and lamb. D’Arrys Original Shiraz Grenache is £12 at Asda.