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Thread: A judge praised burglars for their ‘courage’ before letting him walk free

  1. #1
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    Jul 2009
    Ohio, USA

    A judge praised burglars for their ‘courage’ before letting him walk free

    A judge praised burglars for their ‘courage’ and claimed prison ‘very rarely does anybody any good’ as he allowed a serial intruder to walk free from court.

    Judge Peter Bowers said burglar Richard Rochford deserved to be jailed for two-and-a-half years but he decided to take an ‘extraordinary chance’ by not locking him up.

    Recognising the controversy he was causing, the judge added: ‘I might get pilloried for it.’

    Rochford, 26, burgled three homes in East Cleveland and tried to burgle another in the space of five days. He committed the crimes to feed a drug addiction that started when he was in prison for another offence, Teesside Crown Court was told.

    Passing sentence, Judge Bowers told him: ‘It takes a huge amount of courage as far as I can see for someone to burgle somebody’s house. I wouldn’t have the nerve.

    ‘Yet somehow, bolstered by drugs and desperation, you were prepared to do that.’ The judge added: ‘I think prison very rarely does anybody any good. It mostly leaves people the chance to change their own mind if they want to. I don’t think anybody would benefit from sending you to prison today. We’d all just feel a bit easier that a burglar had been taken off the streets.’

    Rochford could have been jailed for two-and-a-half years but instead he was given a suspended 12-month jail sentence, a two-year supervision order with drug rehabilitation, 200 hours’ unpaid work and a one-year driving ban. The offence was Rochford’s first burglary conviction, although he was cautioned for burgling a home at the age of ten. He has previously been jailed for three years for arson.

    Rochford went on a burglary spree in February. He took a laptop, satnav and money from the first home he raided and drove away the family’s Ford Focus car, which he damaged and abandoned.

    The following night he took jewellery, a handbag and electrical items from another home. His girlfriend Amy Kyme, 22, who acted as lookout and helped dispose of the stolen goods, was given a suspended prison sentence. Rochford walked into both unlocked homes while the owners slept.

    He admitted two burglaries and asked for another burglary and an attempted burglary to be taken into consideration. He also admitted aggravated vehicle taking.

    Graham Brown, defending, told the court the drug habit Rochford developed ‘scarred his life’ and ‘the system failed him’. He claimed the petty crook had changed his ways.

    Mr Brown said Rochford had had a ‘major wake-up call,’ and had ‘seen the light’. He confessed, co-operated with police and stopped using drugs, the court heard.

    Rochford ransacked the home of Mark Clayton, 47, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and Bosnia. Mr Clayton said the judge made a ‘grave misjudgment’.

    He added: ‘Picking dead bodies up after they’ve been blown up, to go into that takes courage. Walking into someone’s house on an opportunistic whim and basically devastating someone’s life by taking things that man has worked so hard for all his life, and taking it away without a thought, isn’t courage.’

    Mr Clayton said his son Mark, 16, was at first wrongly arrested on suspicion of the burglary, causing further upset for his family. Rochford stole a wallet containing £500 of life savings when he raided the home of retired shipyard worker John Hopper, 73, and wife Vera, 71.

    Daughter Sharon Hopper, 40, said: ‘I can’t believe what the judge said. What really took courage was my parents having to continue living in their house after he had invaded their privacy.

    Until the judge has had his own home burgled while he is lying asleep inside it, he cannot possibly know the fear and distress suffered by decent people like my parents.’

    Judge Bowers, 67, is a married father of three who has been a judge for more than 20 years.

    He has made contradictory comments about burglary sentencing in recent months. In May, he criticised sentencing guidelines that let first-time burglars escape with a ‘slap across the wrist’.

    But weeks later, he allowed a man with almost 80 crimes on his record to walk free for a burglary committed four days after his release from prison, telling the court: ‘I must be getting soft in my old age.’

    Judge Bowers then told David Wray, 39: ‘I am quite sure you are capable of a lot better. If you are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, you’ll be all right.’
    Last edited by zack991; 09-06-2012 at 02:39 PM.
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  2. #2
    Regular Member Fallschirmjäger's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
    Georgia, USA
    I think I made it to the end of the second paragraph before thinking, "that HAS to be in the UK." Color me so not surprised.

  3. #3
    Regular Member twoskinsonemanns's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    Someone get that crook the judges address...

    "I support the ban on assault weapons" - Donald Trump

    We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission - Ayn Rand

  4. #4
    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    Jan 2007
    North Chesterfield VA
    1 - What is so bad about feeling better knowing that one more burglar has been taken off the streets for some defined period of time?

    2 - No question that the judge is going soft. Soft in the head.

    Let us hope that the process in (f)GB exists for a review of the judge's competence to remain on the bench.

    stay safe.
    "He'll regret it to his dying day....if ever he lives that long."----The Quiet Man

    Because stupidity isn't a race, and everybody can win.

    "No matter how much contempt you have for the media in all this, you don't have enough"

  5. #5
    Regular Member
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    Granite State of Mind
    Quote Originally Posted by Fallschirmjäger View Post
    I think I made it to the end of the second paragraph before thinking, "that HAS to be in the UK." Color me so not surprised.
    I assumed it just by the title.

  6. #6
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    Dec 2010
    Ashland, KY
    I agree that those who are sent to prison for simple possession of drugs or for drug use is retarded. We need to treat these people that have done nothing to hurt anyone except themselves, not throw them in jail to get out and go right back to using.

    However, when someone is willing to commit such horrible, often violent acts to feed that addiction they need to be sent to prison and they need to stay there. I believe anyone that pleads guilty to violent crime, or a crime that involves destroying the sanctity of someone's home, or those that are found guilty by a jury of their peers and have had their chance at appeal, should be placed in prison to never return. All we have to do is look at the number of habitual offenders to realize placing someone in prison for a couple years and letting them out does no good.

    As for this judge, he is either mocking the system and allowing these people to go free to make a point of the weak justice system the UK has, or he has dementia. My grandfather has dementia and one day he is fine and happy, and others he acts like he could kill someone.
    Last edited by KYGlockster; 09-06-2012 at 11:26 PM.
    "I never in my life seen a Kentuckian without a gun..."-Andrew Jackson

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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    earth's crust
    at 3:17 ....

    thats how court works

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