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article imageCrime in the UK — Bomb threats, rape and murder

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By Alexander Baron     Jun 29, 2012 in Crime
Jokes about bombs and airports are unlikely be leave many judges laughing. Rape, manslaughter and murder are not laughing matters either.
The headline in Thursday's London Metro was Twitter user is 'a victim of Monty Python justice'. Paul Chambers is appealing his conviction for sending a Twitter message that didn't go down too well with magistrates at Doncaster.
“Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!”
Yes, we know Twitter talk is tweets, and tweets are for the birds, but jokes about bombs in or around airports often lead to heavy-handed treatment, and did even before September 11, 2001. It probably won't help Mr Murray's case that two of Britain's least funny so-called comedians turned up at the Court of Appeal with him: Al Murray and Stephen Fry.
Two men whose appeal has been successful are Rezgar Nouri and Mohammed Ibrahim, but one thing is for certain, Paul Chambers would not change places with them for all the tea in China. The two lowlifes were convicted at Preston Crown Court of raping a drunken woman in June last year. They were given indeterminate sentences with six year tariffs.
These have now been set aside and 12 year sentences substituted, considerably more than both Ched Evans and a certain police officer received for their crimes, but this was a gang rape; the third perpetrator has not been brought to book, and apparently has not even been identified.
At the G20 protests in London last year, two police officers were filmed assaulting members of the public. One was a less than fragrant thug named Smellie who slapped a woman half his size in the face with his gauntleted hand, then whacked her twice on the back of her leg as she retreated. Unsurprisingly, he was acquitted, although if it hadn't been for the video, he wouldn't even have been charged.
The other assault had far more serious consequences. PC Simon Harwood pushed a man he probably thought was a protester. Ian Tomlinson wasn't; he was also a very sick man, and died as a result of the fall. The police then did their best as usual to protect one of their own, including by recruiting a discredited pathologist to perform the post mortem, but it didn't work, and Harwood is now facing a manslaughter charge. Relatives of the dead man are said to have wept when the video was played in court.
Obviously, PC Harwood had no intent to kill, and he couldn't have known when he gave Mr Tomlinson that fatal shove that his victim was likely to suffer massive internal bleeding due to a pre-existing condition, but in English law, those who use violence against the innocent must take their victims as they find them. And in any case, higher standards are expected of police officers.
Finally, at Manchester Crown Court, the trial of Kiaran (Psycho) Stapleton for the murder of Anuj Bidve is well underway. This was one of the distinctly unseasonal stories that surfaced on Boxing Day last year. The Indian student studying at Manchester University was shot in the head by a laughing gunman. There is now no question about the identity of that gunman; it remains to be seen what Stapleton will say when he goes into the witness box, as surely he must. Unsurprisingly, the Crown has not accepted his manslaughter plea.
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