Wednesday 21 April 2021

Sentencing Watch: Day 17

On Monday 26th April, I am to be sentenced for three counts of harassment. Here are a few salient facts. 

First, I pleaded guilty because there is no defence to a charge of harassment. The crime consists in having made the other person feel harassed. If they testify to that effect, then conviction is absolutely guaranteed. In any case, it is tried in a Magistrates' Court, where legal argumentation of any kind would only antagonise those who had applied to convict and imprison people as a hobby. Even hangmen expected to be paid. But magistrates love it so much that they do it for free. In the second quarter of 2020, they convicted in 84.1 per cent of cases. Plead guilty and hope for the best. There is no other option.

Secondly, I gave my solicitors a defence by reference to my accusers' credibility, or lack of it, but I was told that that would have been "bullying the witness". My repeated requests for a barrister were simply ignored, presumably because Legal Aid did not stretch to such things, which would be a story in itself. I have, however, been given a barrister for sentencing, since you are allowed one once you are legally guilty. By contrast, since at one hearing he did have to correct himself after having called my solicitor "M'learned friend", the Prosecution appears to have had counsel throughout, also at public expense.

Thirdly, I was only ever told about two of these charges, one from before my previous trial (to which it was crucial, meaning that an acquittal would have called my existing conviction gravely into question), and the other from before my previous sentence. Although I have had to enter a guilty plea to it for the reasons already stated, I have no idea what the third charge is beyond the fact that it is of harassment, even though it is enough to land me eight months inside and eight months on licence by triggering my suspended sentence.

None of this seems to strike practitioners in the field as remotely odd. This is just the way that things are. But fourthly, your funny bone must have been removed if you do not find it amusing that someone who had once thought that he was going to be Prime Minister was now older than two Prime Ministers of his adult lifetime, but had nothing better to do than to persecute me through the courts. Although at least he is a worthy opponent, unlike some half-educated washerwoman.

Of course, the dear old Crown Prosecution Service does have to take up your claim of harassment in the first place. But even Crown Court juries are now expressly instructed to "disregard" the concept of conviction beyond reasonable doubt. The Criminal Courts are the means whereby the State convicts and sentences those whom the State has charged. That's it. They serve no other purpose.

This post will appear daily until I have been sentenced.

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