The trial of Hannah Bonser was touched on here last week
. Today, at Sheffield Crown Court, 26 year old Hannah Bonser
was given a life sentence for murder. She stabbed her 13 year old victim, Casey Kearney, in a Doncaster park on Valentine's Day. The two were complete strangers; Bonser had bought a kitchen knife, apparently intending to kill a former lover with it; instead, one of the voices in her head told her to kill Casey, and she did, with one thrust of the knife to the abdomen. The victim was able to phone for help, but died in hospital.
Bonser committed this terrible crime hoping to be sent back to a psychiatric hospital. She pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. This is a legal fiction that was introduced with the 1957 Homicide Act
. While most people would agree that what Bonser did was mad or insane in everyday parlance, she was not insane in the proper sense of the word. Her mental condition may be partly due to her overindulgence in drugs. It is well-known nowadays that people suffering from certain medical conditions can literally hear voices - auditory hallucinations - that sometimes tell them to do things, including murder. Bonser should have realised this, or at the very least ignored these voices. Would she have obeyed a stranger who told her to commit such a terrible crime? Obviously not. Whatever, the jury believed she was rational enough to understand what she was doing, as clearly she was, and convicted her. She was given a tariff of 22 years, which is not a day too long.
Just up the road at Leeds Crown Court, femme fatale Nooshin Nedjah
can think herself lucky that on July 6 she was given only an 11 year sentence, half Bonser's tariff, and with full remission and possibly parole she will be back on the streets well before that, though some might question if she should be. The 30 year old married her 36 year old husband Medi Sangachin only last year; they met in 2010. For some reason she became convinced he had married someone else, and like Bonser, stabbed her victim with a kitchen knife, in their apartment. The blade penetrated his heart just missing the coronary artery, which would surely have been fatal. Fortunately, she came to her senses in time, and dialled 999. Her husband owes his life to Dr Patrick McGoldrick, one of the country's leading surgeons.
The attack came as a complete surprise to the victim; it happened in the bedroom where he expected to do with his wife what husbands usually do with their wives in the bedroom. Nedjah claimed her husband had stabbed himself, then that she had stabbed him as they struggled, before finally admitting that she had stabbed him as they lay naked after she had told him to close his eyes as she had a surprise for him. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly she was cleared of attempted murder but convicted of wounding with intent. The (former?) couple are both Iranian immigrants. If she had committed this crime in Iran, Islamic justice would probably not have been so merciful.
Finally, a case that has caused much manufactured controversy in Florida. Marissa Alexander was given a 20 year sentence after discharging a firearm. She was prosecuted by the same state attorney who is handling the prosecution of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin. The propaganda that has been flooding the Internet since May is that she is the victim, and that all she did was fire a warning shot at her abusive husband - the adjective abusive is inserted to imply that maybe he deserved to have been hit rather than simply shot at.
Because Alexander is black, the usual suspects have been pumping out their nonsense about racial bias, even though her husband, Rico Gray, is also black. Obviously, it's a case of heads they win, tales (tails) they lose. But this case is of course not about race, nor about Florida's controversial stand your ground law. The marriage at its centre appears to have been stormy, on both sides; Angela Corey is not impressed with the Zimmerman/Martin comparison
- a case that has yet to come to trial, be it noted - and spoke out against the misleading coverage. For one thing, the shot she fired was not a warning shot.
In comparison with the sentence received by Nooshin Nedjah, 20 years is indeed excessive, but Marissa Alexander has only herself to blame; not only did she fire the gun but she turned down what in retrospect seems like an extremely attractive plea bargain. Her supporters should have studied the full facts of the case before expressing their outrage.