Our Jails Aren’t Full Enough

A man who disrupted this year’s University Boat Race has been jailed for six months for causing a public nuisance.

Trenton Oldfield, 36, of Myrdle Street, east London, swam into the path of crews on 7 April interrupting the 158th race between Oxford and Cambridge.

Okay, so the man is a cretin. And he did endanger himself in the process of his protest and if he had killed himself, my level of sympathy could be measured in minus Kelvin values. But… Six months inside?

One of the recurring themes that causes discontent with our justice system is sentencing guidelines. Yes, the judge is perfectly correct in her assessment of this arsehole’s behaviour:

Judge Anne Molyneux said Oldfield had acted dangerously, disproportionately, had not shown what he was actually protesting against, and displayed prejudice in sabotaging the event which he regarded as elitist.

She said: “You did nothing to address inequality by giving yourself the right to spoil the enjoyment of others.

“In doing so, you acted without regard for equality and contrary to the meaning of it.

“You made your decision to sabotage the race based on the membership or perceived membership of its participants of a group to which you took exception.

“That is prejudice.”

If we are going to get into disproportionate, I would suggest we start with the sentence handed down. Prisons are for real criminals, not kidults who haven’t grown up yet. He did not cause any damage and did not endanger anyone other than himself (and if he did injure or kill himself; tough shit). Community service would have been more than adequate a punishment for the crime –  not that it should have been a crime in the first place as civil action would have more than sufficed to deal with it.

While we continue to have absurd sentencing decisions that clearly do not accurately reflect the severity of the offence, there will continue to be an underlying mistrust of our justice system. This case merely underlines it yet again.

12 comments for “Our Jails Aren’t Full Enough

  1. Pils
    October 19, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Wow have to agree strongly. So is it really is a public nuisance to swim across a river? Is it a dangerous, disproportionate act, displaying prejudice to sabotage (nice emotive language there) and act without regard for equality and contrary to the meaning of it? That’s a crime?

    Does the chap have less human rights to swim across a river than those rowing down a river? Or do the boat race rights trump that? Sorry about the Uman (sic, sic and sic again) Rites bit, but I think we shud be tol.

    Still think he is a dick, but by thunder don’t disrupt the favoured pursuits of the ruling class or else. Better by far to commit a crime against the plebs because it can’t be your fault.

    Grrr, grr, and again grr. No wonder I’m narked as my mum was mugged and the police didn’t even have time to investigate…

  2. john in cheshire
    October 19, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    I thought the prevailing ‘settled science’, a la Kenneth Clarke, was that prison doesn’t work. It is apparent from sentences such as this, and the poor woman on the train who had the temerity to rant against immingrants, that for some, prison does work. Although I suspect that the police and the other imbeciles who enforce the law of the land will achieve the exact opposite of what they intend. Every vindictive case will generate multiples of people who will be anti-them and all other law enforcement agents.

  3. James Strong
    October 19, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    This man is a fool.
    But he didn’t put anyone else at risk.
    Compare and contrast with the police who tasered a 61 year-old blind man.
    What sentence would be appropriate for them?

    Punish force and fraud severely, leave silly actions and ‘offensive’ comments, tweets and jokes outside the criminal law.

  4. Richard Carey
    October 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    These morons can’t get anything right. See this:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/oct/19/chris-halliwell-tried-evade-trial?newsfeed=true

    They can’t even convict a murderer who led them to the body, because they fucked up on the PACE rules and couldn’t help leaking information to the press.

    • October 20, 2012 at 7:54 am

      Christ! People who’ve watched ‘The Bill’ have a better grasp of PACE!

  5. John
    October 19, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Frankly they should have just rowed over the top of the dumb fucker. I bet he would have never done it again plus the taxpayer would have been saved the cost of trial and incarceration.

    Sometimes Darwin should be left to resolve things.

    • Furor Teutonicus
      October 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      No. Because then the boat Captain, or even the full crew would be charged with manslaughter.

  6. Brian, follower of Deornoth
    October 19, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Since you can get six months for tweeting things that are not politically correct, he can count himself fortunate. He should have checked first with the Central Committee about what particular causes are approved.

  7. Greg Tingey
    October 20, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Wear a labelled T-shirt?

  8. nisakiman.
    October 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Stupid, stupid, stupid. And let’s not forget that the jails are also crammed full of those dangerous criminals who have been caught growing / selling / smoking dope.

    Yes, we can all sleep easier in our beds knowing that these felons are off the street…

  9. fred
    October 21, 2012 at 10:22 am

    We have to keep prison space open for those that commit minor race, gender or homophobic crime otherwise we shall be over run by truth, common sense and justice.

  10. October 21, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    I’m half inclinded to think that jailing him is not a good use of resources. But you have to bear in mind that the left think that violating other people’s rights is OK so long as it’s in their favour. So Trenton’s stance is good. But that of Nick Griffith’s recent tweet of a gay couple’s address is not. Neither have hurt anyone nor damaged anything, but both are criminal acts.

    So the rights of all the people to watch the race is usurped by a protestor who is not punished for their actions. Is the right of the protestor to proclaim their free speach in destructive terms better than that of people who want to enjoy something. Free speech and protest is about putting out your point of view, not shoving it down the other side’s throat.

    So Trenton should be punished, but 6 months is too long. Making an example of someone in legal terms is a bit of a no no as it’s a prime target for an appeal. The law has to be fair and equitable, not picking on individuals just because.

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