Editorial: Sentence should fit the crime

By Linda Hall

I can't for the life of me work out our justice system.

On the one hand we have a man who secretly filmed a young girl as she changed her clothing next to the Tom Parker Fountain and walked in and out of shops on Emerson St in Napier with a camera hidden in his backpack, filming up females' skirts and dresses.

He was Richard John Snook and his sentence for this despicable crime was a paltry four months' home detention.

The maximum penalty for a crime like this is three years' jail.

The judge said the filming of the young girl meant Snook was not eligible for community detention, so does this mean it's not safe to have him in the community?

But wait, there's more - his home, where he gets to stay, is only a few hundred metres from a Hastings primary school. Unbelievable. Surely if he is not allowed to do community work he shouldn't be in the community. He might be confined to quarters but is he?

Then on the other hand we have James McAllister. Mr McAllister was called up for jury duty but told the judge he couldn't possibly do it as he was too busy running his engineering business.

The judge sentenced him to 10 days in jail for contempt of court.

I know jury service is important - without it we wouldn't have a justice system - but surely jailing someone for 10 days because they refused jury service is over the top. One report I read said the judge was "probably annoyed that the man had left his excuses until the last minute".

So is the secret to a "light" sentence: Don't annoy the judge?

Perhaps it's time we had a look at the guidelines governing sentences to ensure the punishment fits the crime.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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