|Stratford Magistrates' Court|
Duncan Campbell's report raises a few interesting points.
1. A 36 year old Lithuanian accountant was convicted of "racially aggravated offence." (The precise offence is not stated in the article). A fine of £2500 was imposed or 28 days in jail for failure to pay. "He is led back to the cells to look for his credit card." Very effective. Should this tactic be used more? In fact, it is only used in Magistrates' Courts exceptionally. The more usual practice is to impose a fine and time allowed for payment by instalments over a period of around 12 months. (All this despite the basic legal position being that fines are payable immediately). However, in some instances, a term of imprisonment may be fixed when a fine is imposed. The law is somewhat complex and is covered by a reading of the Magistrates Courts Act 1980 section 82 taken in conjunction with section 77. See also the Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines- at page 158.
2. An American with 54 tickets for Olympic events - valued at £4000. He is fined £1000 and has his mobile telephone forfeited. This kind of forfeiture is possible under the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 s.143 Again, we do not see it used too often.
3. Two Lithuanians pleaded guilty to 'shoplifting' - theft of bottles of aftershave. They were jailed for up to 16 weeks. This part of the Guardian's article lacks detail but asks - "And who knew you could spend £37.99 on a bottle of aftershave?" Quite possible these days though many brands are cheaper! Page 103a of the Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines deals with theft from shops. A custodial sentence is not reached - according to the guidelines - unless there is significant intimidation/threats or very high level of planning or significant related damage. As I say, the article is short on detail so it is not entirely clear why imprisonment was imposed in these cases.