Learco Chindamo

Learco Chindamo, the murderer of Philip Lawrence has been acquitted of robbery, along with his co-defendants Gregory Jananto and Saeed Akhtar.

The prosecution case was that the three of them surrounded 20-year-old David Sexton when he withdrew money from a cash machine. Prosecutor, Alison Morgan, told the court: “Mr Chindamo came towards Mr Sexton saying words to the effect of, ‘Do you know who I am?’ and ‘Do you remember about the headteacher in Maida Vale?’ The Crown say that this was quite plainly and deliberately a reference to his conviction designed to intimidate and threaten Mr Sexton.”

Sexton testified that Chindamo asked him “Do you know who I am? Do you know what I’ve done?” According to another prosecutor, Oliver Glasgow, when Sexton answered in the negative, Chindamo “asked for compensation for disrespecting him and his friends.” Sexton also testified that co-defendant, Gregory Jananto was armed with a large empty glass bottle which he waved around by the neck and that it was in response to this threat that he handed over money because he feared that if he turned his back he would be assaulted from behind.

Gregory Jananto

The defence claimed that Sexton had “disrespected” Chindamo by calling him a “killer” Chindamo’s testimony was that “a male who had withdrawn money” had shouted “Killer” at him. Chindamo claimed that he “lectured the male on why I was not proud of what I had done.” Jananto backed up this version of events, whilst admitting that he himself had been aggressive.  He also described David Sexton as “cocky.”

Now here the dispute takes a somewhat surreal turn because the defence lawyers further claimed that Mr Sexton then handed over £10 as a “peace offering” of his own free will.  This is preposterous.  The jury found the accused Not Guilty (as opposed to “innocent”) in accordance with the legal rule that a jury must acquit if they think that there is reasonable doubt.  But this does not mean that Sexton freely handed over the money by choice in the absence of substantial fear for his safety.

There are in fact several points that this case raises.

First of all, Chindamo claimed in the trial (and indeed claimed when he successfully applied for release on licence for the Philip Lawrence murder) that he regretted murdering an innocent and courageous man. Given that Chindamo is a killer – indeed a murderer – why should he take offence at being called one? Should he be “lecturing” the person (who made that truthful comment) on what he is or isn’t proud of?  Or should he be showing, by his demeanour, that he is not proud of what he did? Indeed, should he not accept such a truthful comment with the humility that is befitting the repentant murderer that Chindamo claims to be? Would not a genuinely reformed murderer have quietly walked away? The answer is, of course, yes: a genuinely reformed and repentant murderer would have quietly walked away.

Secondly, are we really to believe that David Sexton was bold enough to insult Chindamo in the first place and then became so frightened (without anyone trying to intimidate him) that he voluntarily handed over money that had not been demanded? I can picture a man being bold enough to truthfully call Chindamo a killer – or even a murderer – to his face. I can picture a man being so frightened of Chindamo as to hand over money to him without being threatened. But I cannot imagine these two characteristics in the same man at substantially the same time. And I don’t think anyone can – except perhaps a devious defence lawyer who can talk bullshit with a straight face.

Thirdly, why was Chindamo even associating with Jananto, given that they had both been members of the same criminal gang. Even if it was not a condition of his licence to refrain from such association (and it is amazing that it was not), surely he should have known better?

And finally, if money had been offered in the circumstances that Chindamo claims, would not a citizen who respects the law have refused to accept it? Of course he would. And every honest lawyer knows it.


91 Responses to Learco Chindamo – the Teflon murderer

  • Michael says:

    Incidentally, going back to the issue of whether we are ‘too soft’ on juvenile offenders. A statistic reached me today – we now breach more kids and force them into custody in ONE WEEK than we used to do in a whole year.

    The idea that we are somehow lilly-livered huggies when it comes to juveniles is absolutely false. That is not merely a ‘perception’ of mine – it is bang on fact. We imprison more young people than we ever did and we imprison them earlier and for less. There is one juvenile prison in the UK (Hindley) which locks ups ten times more children alone than the whole of Italy. It is the biggest child prison in Europe. THIS should be a source of shame not celebration. Since the early 90s, policy towards juvenile offenders in the UK has been extremely punitive.

    It is a falsehood to suggest otherwise.

    The result of this explosition in child custody? A reoffending rate of 80%. Contrary to what you may think, the reoffending rate is far worse in the harsher envrionments (like Hindley).

    I’m more interested in what works in terms of criminal justice – not how hard I can punish a kid and make them suffer.

    • dkessler says:

      Perhaps if there were fewer kids committing crimes, there’d be fewer kids banged up for crime. And don’t tell me that the offending rate is going down. I know how the figures can be massaged. I know about unreported crime (and that includes anonymous surveys). I know about the swaggering attitude and the “they can’t touch me” mentality. I’ve seen it, heard it and seen the consequences of it. In the past, when a child committed an offense the police could take him back to his parents and simply tell him what happened. Nowadays, the parents is the parent and you can’t tell her till she sobers up or the effects of the “brown” wear off. Of course it’s not something we should be proud of. But that doesn’t mean we should be unleashing the products of such dysfunctional families onto the streets.

      I’ve mentioned the chav downstairs I believe – no longer a child. But in his youth he was sentenced to such draconian punishments as abseiling, whitewater rafting and Go-Kart racing and other forms of “torture.” But he’s still a wife-beating, junkie low-life. Maybe it was because they deprived him of his God-given right to an African safari. I’m sure that would have worked.

      • Michael says:

        The offending rate for youth crime has certainly gone down since the nineteenth century. Books and books have been writtten about the endemic nature of juvenile offending in Victorian London.

        And crap parents have existed forever. George Eliot didn’t get the idea of the junkie mother in Silas Marner out of her imagination you know.

        And I don’t know of any sentence given to juveniles which involve the fun things you mention. There ARE charities that do that (Fairbridge, Princes Trust) but since that is with donated money, I’m not sure of your issue with it.

        • dkessler says:

          Let’s get back to murder. After the death penalty for murder was suspended in 1965 for what was supposed to be a five year trial period, the number of homicides in England and Wales increased from 296 in 1964 (the last full year with the death penalty) to 325 in 1965 itself, to 395 in 1969 when the trial period was abruptly ended and capital punishment abolished. (This was a slight reduction on 1967 and 1968, but still significantly higher than before that.) Thereafter, the homicide rate It carried on head and shouldering up for the next three decades.

          You can’t even say that it had been going up before that, because after the Homicide Act of 1957, the murder rate started to come down, year on year until the trial abolition of the death penalty, when it started going up again. Indeed the murder rate had been going down since the 1920s. But the abolition of the death penalty reversed that trend.

          The figures do now appear to be coming down. But the homicide rate is still more than double what it was when the death penalty was abolished.

          About those recreational activities. I have no problem with what charities do. I was simply pointing out that giving criminals treats doesn’t make them better human beings.

  • Michael says:

    Sorry, still don’t believe you. Sounds like nonsense to me (and a female child would not be registered on the electoral roll at all – only adults of voting age are registered so it would be two adult females and a male). Do you live in the North West? Because I am pretty damn sure that Thompson does – in a large town (but not, obviously Liverpool). I note you were born in London – if you still live in London, you are almost certainly talking bullshit. In any case, I wouldn’t be surprised if Thompson comes out of the woodwork soon – having his phone hacked may well be the final straw (what’s the point in anonymity if that anonymity means you can’t prosecute people for harassment?). I note that one of the people who applied to be a key player in the Leveson enquiry had court-protected anonymity (his lawyer says for exceptional reasons which should be obvious). Any bets that’s Thompson?

    ‘It would be interesting to ask other ten-year-olds what they think of this crime.’

    Yeah, why don’t we do that? In fact, given that juries are supposed to be one’s ‘peers’, why don’t we get them to make up juries that acquit/convict ten year olds? How about that? We’d have the little darlings burning miscreants at the stake. What’s that? They are too young to understand the law you say? Yet they are old enough to be found guilty of murder and given a life sentence? We are batshit with children in this country – a ten year old can’t consent to sex but can be found guilty of rape.

    I don’t even think those two kids should have EVER found themselves in a court (much less an adult crown court) on criminal charges. This is a very long way from saying they shouldn’t have faced consequences but in every single other European country (including Scotland now), they would never have been charged with a crime. Indeed, if they had been six months younger, they wouldn’t have been charged with a crime in this country.

    ‘There is a huge difference between a single spontaneous act that could have tragic consequences and a long, drawn-out succession of violent acts.’

    Hm. Chindamo’s was the former. Are you saying he is less evil than the two Bulger killers? (Speaking of evil is monumentally lazy in any case).

    If you had read the pathology report, you would know that it appears things actually only got violent at the end – a frenzied, horrific attack after a walk of two hours. The attack actually probably didn’t last more than 15/20 minutes (I believe they were even seen going up to the trainline with James and seen 30 minutes later in a video shop without him).

    • dkessler says:

      It wasn’t the child on the voting register. There were three adults listed for the house: the man, his partner (same approximate age) and an OLDER woman!

      (Where did you hear that he lives in the North West? Give your source.)

      I didn’t say that children don’t understand the law: you did. And as you well know the point I was making is that most ten-year-olds have a much more advanced sense of ETHICS than you give them credit for. You’re entire sense of understanding of juvenile crime is based on your underestimation of the capacity of children to comprehend ethical issues. Most children do. Eight to ten is the age when children urge their parents to stop smoking, want to become vegetarians (at least for a week) to avoid animal cruelty and urge their fathers to remember to put the plastic bottles in the recycling bin so as not to damage the environment. It is not an age of lost innocence but it IS an age of moral and ethical awareness.

      As for “a ten year old can’t consent to sex but can be found guilty of rape” – again you’re confusing apples with oranges. Rape is a crime of violence.

      15/20 minutes is a long time in terms of recognizing the wrong that they were doing. If they had just shoved him spontaneously in front of a train you might have had leeway to argue that it was a single thoughtless act. This was drawn out action in which they saw their victim suffer, but chose to continue.

      Chindamo carried a knife and belonged to a gang, twelve of whose members (including Chindamo) were assaulting a youth. The gang had also committed other violent crimes. I’m not going to get into the detailed comparison game, but the fact that he had a history of violent criminality puts him in the evil bracket. If you think that is terminologically lazy, so be it. Personally I think that claiming that violent criminality is an inherent facet of youth is intellectually lazy – as well as being squarely at odds with the facts.

  • Michael says:

    ‘It would be like me saying that Thompson and Venables would still have become child killers even if they hadn’t suffered abuse and neglect respectively in childhood.’

    They may well have done. We don’t know.

    Now you are going on about my character. You have now decided upon my character, Sarah’s character and Chindamo’s character. Perhaps you should go into that questionable field of criminology – profiling if you are such a seer.

    I think Thompson and Venables should have had second chance because they were CHILDREN. Not even at puberty when they committed their crime. We could argue for hours about ‘why’ but for me, their actions were more about being young than either born bad or made bad by circumstance. I can think of a wealth of things in my childhood where something awful may have happened if a prank or a misdeed had gone horribly wrong (my brother at age 9 once tried to push me in front of a car – and we were from a nice middle class Jewish family),

    And I have no problem with Denise Fergus saying what she likes. But as Sarah said upthread, if she insists on spouting rather unsavoury rants to the tabloid press, she should not feel outraged if people take issue with her. She has even been caught out in untruths (she claims unsubstantiated rumour as fact all the time). And demanding someone be sacked for giving a different opinion IS bullying. She is not giving a ‘public voice to [her] anguish’, she is demanding a platform that she has no right to demand. She has also given an ‘opinion’ that Venables is suffering from a personality disorder (despite having never met Venables, never been privvy to any medical/psychiatric reports and not having any qualification to suggest such a thing).

    You know being a victim does not automatically make someone a nice person – nor does it automatically make what they say of intrinsic value just because they are a victim.

    I still don’t believe you about Thompson. Having just read Sarah’s bit of investigative journalism upthread, I certainly thing your claim to KNOW he is straight and a father is suspect to say the least. Perhaps if you did see him, he happened to be with a female friend with a child rather than his own.

    • dkessler says:

      for me, their actions were more about being young than either born bad or made bad by circumstance.

      I can understand the view that relates their behaviour to the way they were treated. But to equate it to their age per se is absurd.

      I can think of a wealth of things in my childhood where something awful may have happened if a prank or a misdeed had gone horribly wrong (my brother at age 9 once tried to push me in front of a car – and we were from a nice middle class Jewish family),

      There is a huge difference between a single spontaneous act that could have tragic consequences and a long, drawn-out succession of violent acts. If they had pushed a kid in front of a car it would have been tragic and wrong, but not grotesquely evil. However, they kidnapped a child, subjected him to blows and physical abuse, heard his cries of pain and yet continued even in the face of their victim’s suffering. It is this continuation of their brutality in the face of feedback from their victim that makes their action evil. It would be interesting to ask other ten-year-olds what they think of this crime.

      On another occasion when I saw him (also on a bus) he got off the bus at the front and raced round to the passenger door to help the woman with the stroller off the bus. I did not follow them to the address where I had previously established that he lived, but it was one of two stops where he can get off to get there. (i.e. he can either get off one stop before and walk forward or the next stop and walk back.) She may have been a neighbour whom he knows. But I have also checked the voting register and three people are listed at that address. The other two are both female.

  • Michael says:

    ‘I didn’t know you were a psychologist and a prophetess as well as a lawyer.’

    Hmmm, have you read what you said earlier?

    ‘The fact that he reacted in the manner he described (i.e. taking him at his word) entitles others to draw inferences about his true state of mind regarding the murder of Philip Lawrence.’

    I used to cut Denise Fergus a lot of slack even though I didn’t agree with most of what she said and her words of vengeance were off-putting. However, I lost patience when she had the temerity to call for the sacking of a public official for the ‘crime’ of having a different opinion to her. She’s a bully. I despise this idea that victims are so sacrosanct that everything they utter is gospel and that people should be decimated just for disagreeing with them. Other parents of murdered children find a way through unbearable pain without being paid voices of ignorant outrage to the gutter press. On her PR agent, don’t know if anyone knows but he heads up an organisation called ‘Mercury Press’ in Liverpool. Amongst other things, it holds the copywright to the four images we have of Thompson and Venables (two school photos and two custody photos). Every time this crops up in the news, it means more money for Johnson as every single newspaper will use those images. He also presumably gets a cut of whatever Denise Fergus makes in her media rounds.

    And sorry, I think I was probably responsible for derailing the debate.

    • dkessler says:

      You’re comparing apples with oranges. Inferring a person’s actual state of mind from their words and actions is very different to deciding how people would have been had their lives been different. It would be like me saying that Thompson and Venables would still have become child killers even if they hadn’t suffered abuse and neglect respectively in childhood. We can say what people are not what they would have been – and that is as true of grieving mothers who give public voice to their anguish as to those who commit murder. The fact that you lose “patience” with those who speak harsh words (calling her “a bully”) , but are ready to give a second chance to those who shed blood, speaks volumes for your character.

      A press organization holding copyright over pictures is not a crime – nor is it even unethical. I’m not sure how they obtained copyright over the custody photos, but obtaining copyright over pictures taken by others usually involves paying money for it, so they are presumably now seeking to profit from their investment. I see nothing wrong with that. The photos wouldn’t be so valuable were it not for the continuing injunction on showing later pictures of the murderers.

  • Sarah says:

    One thing which is interesting to me though is the level of hatred levelled at kids (and I call 15 years old still a kid) who kill yet children are killed by adults who are supposed to be their carers all the time and the adults involved rarely receive the same level of opproprium. While the law states that youth is a mitigating factor in crime; it does appear that there are people who feel it is an aggravating one. They are hated MORE because they are young.

    We’ve regressed here. In the nineteenth century there was a murder practically exactly the same as the Bulger killing (google Bradley and Barrett 1861). Two year old child taken by two older children, walked for hours being seen by multiple adults who did not intervene and finally stripped and brutally battered to death. The response of the regressive Victorians? To convict of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility (that being youth) and to give them five years in a reformatory. The reformatory in question was Bradwell – a very progressive place where children were educated, given many leisure pursuits and enjoyed outings with family. The response of the press and the public – complete support for the sentence.

    (From all records by the way, Bradley and Barrett never had any more contact with the criminal justice system after their release).

    • dkessler says:

      I don’t agree that adults who murder children receive a lower level of opprobrium One has only to look at the public outrage towards those responsible for the murder of Baby Peter (and the undersentencing of the one who also raped that child) to see that the public ARE extremely hostile towards adults who commit crimes against children.

      What may be true is that the public are – at least used to be – surprised when they hear of children committing serious crimes.

      Regarding the Victorian reaction. You seem to forget that today we are more shocked generally by events in the news because of the immediacy of reporting, the incessant nature of it and the pictographic representation of it. Today we argue about actions in war that we took for granted in the past. One hears people arguing today about the ethics of the bombing of Dresden and even the Dam Busters raid. Few people questioned those things at the time, and the few who did were squarely in a minority.

      • Sarah says:

        Actually with regards to the Bradley/Barrett case, there was plenty of press hysteria when the event happened and initially something akin to a bit of a lynch mob. However, when the trial came and reports on the boys’ upbringing were revealed (I believe it was said they grew up in a culture of ‘utter neglect’ and violence), there was a more considered response from the majority. The outcome of the trial was national news – The Times reported on it (with considerable understanding for the two killers).

        And I think you are wrong about the level of hatred levelled at adults – v – children. I don’t even think the perpetrators in the Baby P affair have received as much vehement hatred and threats as the Bulger killers. One of them has even been released (Jason Owen) with little backlash – despite The Sun trying to whip up some by following him around and photographing him.

        As for Denise Fergus – may surprise you but it is perfectly legal not to like her. As I said, I have sympathy for her loss but absolutely none for her views which I see as ill-judged, ill-informed and actually – just wrong. By the way, I’m not alone in disliking her – plenty do. I find her a deeply unpleasant woman and nothing has convinced me that she would be otherwise even without the tragic event.

        When Venables was sentenced she did a televised interview (for Granada I think) in which she said that she knew for certain that Thompson had reoffended and that she had no doubt she would be hearing his voice in court in the future as she knows for a fact he will end up doing something serious. It sounded horribly like wishful thinking. She has also spouted false rumours as fact to the press before (like saying she knew for a fact Venables was in a relationship with two children – a ‘fact’ which was nothing of the kind). She has also claimed to have tracked Thompson down and spied on him (something I also think is untrue).

        • dkessler says:

          I have heard plenty of anger directed towards those involved in the Baby P murder. Even those involved indirectly, by negligence (like Sharon Shoesmith), came in for public opprobrium and contempt.. I think you are seeing what you want to see: playing up one and playing down the other.

          You are perfectly entitled to dislike Denise Fergus – or even to feel sympathetic towards Venables, Thompson and Chindamo. But the fact that you do tells us a lot about you. Given the trauma that Denise Fergus must have suffered when she learned not only of the death of her toddler but also the manner of his death, it may well have been influenced by things she heard and believed. As for what she would be like if her toddler hadn’t been murdered so viciously, I didn’t know you were a psychologist and a prophetess as well as a lawyer. You’re a real twentieth century renaissance woman, aren’t you?

          • Sarah says:

            Generally I don’t see ‘what I want to see’. I deal in facts. You, however, have shown yourself up repeatedly doing just that (your lack of knowledge about the criminal justice system, tariffs, the actual facts about the Chindamo case and case law regarding juveniles. You even claim to know absolutely facts about Thompson’s whereabouts).

            And I don’t feel ‘sympathetic’ towards those people. I feel they should be treated DIFFERENTLY because they are juveniles – that is not ‘sympathy’ – that is accepting that a juvenile should not be treated as an adult by the courts.

            I also note that you feel that Denise Fergus should be given some understanding – that the crime would have affected later actions and words yet you refuse to give the same consideration to juvenile offenders (ie you refuse to believe their background is mitigation for their actions). Perhaps the hypocrisy you accuse me of is closer to home. As for me acting as a psychologist, it is now the second time you have said you can tell a lot about me despite the fact that you are ascribing opinions that I haven’t even given (i.e sympathy for killers). You accuse me of being a ‘prophetess’ yet claim to have an inroad into the mind of Learco Chindamo during the recent case. You really should be careful of accusing others of offences you yourself are guilty of. There is a word for it – projection.

            I’m going to now sound very patronising I’m afraid. Writing popular trashy crime novels does not make you an expert in the law, human behaviour or psychology.

            • dkessler says:

              I’m flattered that you think my crime novels are popular. Presumably you have also read them: how else could you conclude that they are trashy. Read NO WAY OUT to see if I am really unable to comprehend the way in which a harsh background can create a criminal out of what would otherwise be a decent human being.

              I was aware of the facts (and claims and counter-claims) in the Chindamo case, but also saw through the absurdities of Chindamo’s defence. That was why i said in an earlier comment that the truth probably lies somewhere between the conflicting claims. I stand by my belief that Sexton did not hand over money freely and of his own volition in the absence of fear. That seems like plain old common sense to me. I also stand by the view that a right-thinking person with a healthy respect for law and order would not have accepted the money in such circumstances. This again seems a fairly elementary and reasonable conclusion and I am surprised that you would agree with me.

              Re Thompson’s whereabouts, I am not at liberty to say more than I said. I will only add that on one occasion we spoke briefly when he let me on a bus ahead of him. I’m sorry i can’t say more, but I don’t want to get into trouble with the law.

              I DO believe that their action was affected by their backgrounds, but there is a limit to how much allowance one can make for that considering the severity of their crime. Denise Fergus did not commit a crime. The worst you can accuse her of is using harsh words. Thompson and Venables murdered a toddler – not quite the same.

  • Michael says:

    Actually sorry, having a quick search – seems like it was Phil Roberts, not Phil Thomas who was the other detective on the case (the one who interviewed Thompson).

  • Michael says:

    ‘(e.g. they claimed that Thompson was living with a male lover – in fact he is living with a woman and has a young child).’

    As far as I know this is NOT true. Thompson IS gay. The rumour about him being a father is the false one. Indeed, his sexuality was a reason Denise Fergus tried to get him to remain locked up – she got some psychologist (who had never met him) to claim that his sexual confusion may cause him to kill again. And the media has known where Thompson was for years (News International even hacked his phone and surprise, surprise – it was The Sun that broke the story of him living with a man). For goodness sake, this is a guy who took to designing wedding dresses while incarcerated. Now I’m not suggesting all guys who design frocks are gay but this is also a guy who Jon Venables made fun of in his police interviews as being effeminate – ‘like a girl’ and whose girlishness was apparently a reason for being him being bullied.

    Sarah is probably referring to Albert Kirby’s many interviews to the media in which he absolutely pinned down Thompson as the most evil (another cop – Phil Thomas also said absolutely Thompson was the instigator).
    Albert Kirby has now publically admitted he was probably wrong about this and it was probably an injustice to Thompson.

    “The general perception (from his background and the police interviews) was that Thompson was the major aggressor. But I think now, when you look at the work done with Venables over the years, that was an injustice to Thompson.”


    As for Venables being a self-harmer, the Parole Board aren’t remotely interested in harm prospective parolees might do to themselves. The thing they have to consider is: if I release this person, do they constitute an immediate risk of danger to the public? And he had a history of self harm as a young child (quite serious in fact). You have no idea what he was like as an 18 year old. Thompson was sexually abused – Venables was not which might put Thompson in a higher risk category.

    • dkessler says:

      I have been holding back on mentioning this, but Robert Thompson lives in my area. He is not gay.

      For some one who disparaged reliance on press reportage of notorious cases, you seem remarkably reliant on it yourself for your sources of information.

      • Sarah says:

        I think we’re moving away from a general discussion about Chindamo and how he fits into the juvenile justice debate and into areas which aren’t very helpful. I thought the Bulger case had been brought up to show how it could be argued juvenile justice had become excessively punitive – and all from a case which isn’t representative of the common garden juvenile offender (there is no way the murder of James Bulger can be shown up as an example of anything but a freak crime which, though by no means unique is extremely unusual).

        I couldn’t give a fig what sexuality Robert Thompson is and I can’t be alone in hoping that we never hear from him again. I find the fact that Denise Fergus appears to ‘want’ him to reoffend (ie more victims) to be disordered and, frankly sick.

        I do think he is probably gay and that is not because he likes making dresses, collecting dolls and was called a girl by Jon Venables in his police interviews. The Sun broke the story (as has been said, we now know a private detective working for NI was hacking his phone for several years) and the interesting thing when I read the report is how it says something that we never knew before. That a requirement of the license was that Thompson/Venables were honest if they formed close relationships.


        What happened with Venables last year confirmed that this, indeed was one of the requirements showing that the story had at least some merit:

        ‘the court heard he had experienced difficulties in forming relationships with women because it was a condition of his licence that he had to disclose his true identity to anyone with whom he was in a close relationship.’


        Then there was the report into Jon Venables’ new offending by Omand. He talks in a general way about the case and the difficulties faced by both young men. He mentions that most reports in the press were rubbish but that one report in 2006 had some truth in it which made the Home Office concerned that there had been breaches in security somewhere.

        See Page 27 on the pdf link:


        ‘Following press speculation in 2006 that appeared to come from some unauthorised source with access to at least some information on the case, an experienced retried Cabinet Office security official carried out a review of security procedures, including in the Ministry, and in the police and probation service’.

        The report about Robert Thompson’s sexuality was printed in 2006.

        • dkessler says:

          Yes, we DO appear to have moved off topic. That is not entirely my fault. I note that your comment is hopelessly jumbled as to how it covers the different issues you are trying to address: discussing Thompson’s sexuality near the beginning, then veering off to discuss Venables’ problems before returning to an orphaned single line sentence about Thompson’s sexuality at the end. But I will try to address these issues, again not necessarily in the same order.

          I agree that the Bulger murder was unusual but not unique – like the attempt of a 12-year-old girl to strangle a five-year-old boy a few years later. Whilst the killers suffered abuse and neglect respectively in their homes prior to the murders, I disagree that their sentences were lenient. But I think we have exhausted that line of debate and we will have to agree to differ.

          You say, you don’t “give a fig” what sexuality Thompson is and neither do I – I mentioned it only to show that I share your (and Michael’s) skepticism regarding the press. But it appears that your lack of interest is vitiated by a modicum of curiosity and your skepticism tempered by a large dose of credulity. For you then go on to assert (notwithstanding your not giving “a fig” about the subject) that you DO believe that he is gay. Moreover your stated reasoning is because – drum roll please – the Sun reported it! You bolster this by alluding to the fact that they were hacking phones. But this does not make them any more infallible in this case than they were regarding the Hillsborough disaster.

          I also read that one of the conditions of release was that they must disclose their past to any persons with whom they form long-term relationships. I actually read that at the time of their release or soon after. But I also read another press report later (I cannot remember the source) that they were told NOT to disclose their past, so that if the relationship broke up acrimoniously it would not put them in any danger or necessitate the creation of a new identity. One more example of the contradictions in the press and the difficulty in gleaning any useful information from the press.

          Finally, I take considerable exception to your wholly unsupported (and potentially libelous) characterization of the attitude of Denise Fergus. You evidently find it easier to empathize with vicious murderers than with a mother whose three-year-old child was brutally tortured and murdered. Your attitude speaks volumes for your character and it is your attitude that is disordered, and quite frankly sick!

          • Sarah says:

            Actually I only went to look up the reports AFTER I was led to it by Michael – I didn’t know who reported it first. I merely said that it is interesting that it was reported by the very organisation who were bugging Thompson’s phone. And I backed up my story with two other links that cannot be explained away so easily – what was said in court by Venables’ solicitor regarding the license conditions (we now know what The Sun said in the report about the conditions concerning close relationships is true) AND something gleaned from the Omand report about a media report in 2006 which was true enough to spark a security alert. It doesn’t take Cracker to work it out.

            There is nothing that I have said that is libellous. I think some of her comments are abhorrent and I fundamentally disagree with much of what she says. That doesn’t mean I have no sympathy for her loss. If she persists in going to the tabloids and getting paid for interviews (the presence of a PR man in her entourage – Chris Johnson further alienates me) then I’m afraid, she should expect some criticism of views that some find repulsive. Just because she has suffered a devastating loss, it does not make her an expert on criminal justice.

            • dkessler says:

              You sought to blur the distinction between her belief that the killers are likely to re-offend and an alleged desire that they re-offend. Moreover the tone of your characterization of her attitude (or rather the attitude that you imputed to her) was unsympathetic. Whereas the tone of what you wrote about juvenile killers was sympathetic.

              She has every right – and reason – to put her views on criminal justice to the tabloids. As for not being an expert on criminal justice: she is able to cover one angle that the people who deal with offenders don’t usually get – the impact of crime on the victim.

  • Michael says:

    ‘Are you saying that upon completion of the tariff there is a legal presumption that they are safe to release – even if the original crime was murder?’

    No, I’m not saying that but unless there was significant cause to believe that Venables was a risk (the Parole Board are supposed to release unless there is a real risk to ‘life and limb’) then I fail to see how one can have been released and the other not. Are you privvy to some information on Venables when he was 18 that the rest of us are not?

    • dkessler says:

      What I suggested was that it was strange that they both seemed to have been reformed and rehabilitated by the time of their release. This would suggest either that they were each already rehabilitated before their release and it was just a case of waiting for their tariff was completed, or by some remarkable coincidence they achieved rehabilitation at the same time, despite the major differences between them.

      • Michael says:

        What were the differences? No doubt we are talking about two different personalities but how does this affect the sentence? Why is it strange that they both seemed to be ready for release? (I’m not sure about your use of ‘reformed’ by the way – after all – they were only ten when they committed the crime – we are not talking about hardened adult recidivists).

        8 years is an awfully long time when you are locked up at 10. The change from 10 to 15 even would have been enormous.

        So come on – you talk of ‘major differences’. What were these? What do you know about them that the world doesn’t? Given these were probably the two must studied children in history, I maintain that there was nothing which indicated a significant risk in either one of them. IIRC, both parole board reports on the boys suggested no propensity for violence at all. Indeed, even after Jon Venables’ recent offending, you could argue that remains the case.

      • Sarah says:

        The rehabilitiative part of the sentence (at least the majority of it) is supposed to be served outside prison. That is the part served on license. Unless an offender is dangerous or a serious risk to the public then the guidelines are they should be released under supervision at tariff end. There is nothing to say that Thompson and Venables had to be at the same point psychologically or whatever. They just have to NOT be dangerous and able to be managed safely in the community. Looking at the facts, it seems Venables’ forays into indecent images didn’t start until around 2008 – a full seven years after being released – I think it utterly risible that any such behaviour could have been predicted by the parole board. It should also be noted that Jon Venables has not been violent (apart from it seems one incident in which it appears he was the victim initially) – I’d say given the circumstances of the index offence, the Parole Board got it as right as they could have done.

        Moreover, again, I would stress, the concerns were generally for THOMPSON, not Venables which goes to show that even those involved in the case were guilty of misjudging things (the police had some sympathy for the ten year old Venables but absolutely none for Thompson).

        Rehabilitation is NOT some fixed point in time that is reached – it is an ongoing process which continues throughout the offender’s life – particularly if they are serving a life sentence.

        • dkessler says:

          We don’t know when Venables started re-offending. 2008 is merely the earliest date that has been established. As for the parole board getting it right – I take the fact that he re-offended as proof that they got it wrong.

          BTW, how do you KNOW that the police had sympathy for Venebles? Did you see their reports? You spoke to them? Or you got it from the press? You yourseld have noted how unreliable the press have been in this case. (e.g. they claimed that Thompson was living with a male lover – in fact he is living with a woman and has a young child).

  • Sarah says:

    I can answer the question about tariffs. No, you don’t have to release people at tariff end but in this case I don’t see how it could have been done any other way. There was nothing (if I recall correctly) to suggest that Venables was going to be a specific risk (indeed, I believe it was Thompson the popular press was concerned about – it was Thompson that Denise Fergus and Ralph Bulger focused their attention on when trying to stop his release). Of course the only reason Thompson was REALLY the subject of attention was because he didn’t live incognito in his secure unit (Venables did) so there were plenty of ex-fellow inmates ready to take tabloid cash for tales (tales which as it turned out, were mostly fabricated).

    A life sentence is a life sentence whether you serve it in or out of prison. The minimum term is the suggested time given over to the retributive part of the sentence. There are two other parts – public protection and rehabilitation. If the first of those two isn’t satisfied, the prisoner is not released but at the minimum term end, the retributive part of the sentence IS over. Given the amount of time (and copy) spent painting Jon Venables as the weaker, easily led party (by the police as much as anything who insisted all the time Thompson was the big evil), keeping him in prison would have looked bizzare – particularly as there were no reports indicating a specific risk to the public. If anything, this case shows how not everything is always as it seems and just because a person doesn’t act they way we expect (Thompson never cried), the simplistic assumptions we automatically make are not always the right ones.

    • dkessler says:

      Thanks for that clarification. I don’t think any of us knows whether or not there were grounds to be concerned about either of them specifically. My position was that it seems unlikely that two such different people would appear to be rehabilitated at the same time. (I concede that they might have been rehabilitated even before that, in which case you could even argue that the tariffs were too long.)

      On the question of how it would have looked, i find it surprising that you (and Michael) place any importance in this. You both argue that the picture painted by the press in unreliable. And you both argue, correctly, that sentencing policy and practice (at both the political and legal levels) should not be shaped by any sort of pandering to public opinion – beyond perhaps the general policy that public confidence in the system needs to be maintained.

      However, given that Venables did re-offend (and we now know this) and given that his offense fell broadly within the category of offenses that would be troublesome relative to his previous record, one has to wonder whether the parole board was truly on-the-ball, as it were. of course you can come back with the old cliche about hindsight being 100%, but these people are supposed to be experts. And if there is no legal presumption in favour of the person serving a life-sentence, then it is surely better for them to err on the side of incarceration than premature freedom.

  • Michael says:

    I asked you what you would view as a punishment, not for some anecdote about ONE offender you know (an anecdote that doesn’t, if you don’t mind me saying; have a ring of complete truth in it). All I see from your story is someone who has been consistently failed (probably not only since 12 but most likely before that). Usually, troubled and troublesome kids become troublesome adults but from your example, it appears that punitive measures have not worked in this instance. Moreover, empathy (generally the thing which makes us victim-conscious) is not something that is fully developed until our teens (often abuse and neglect in childhood can hamper this more – it is associated with the frontal cortex – this is now more or less a medically accepted fact).

    As Oscar Wilde said, the truth is rarely pure and never simple.

    So what is your answer? How would you punish? Compulsory child labour? Stocks for 10 year olds? 100 lashes?

    This despite the fact that it has been shown that children learn more by carrot than stick? Sounds like you are more into punishment than actually cutting crime.

    • dkessler says:

      What I would view as punishment for murder committed by a 15 year old gang member in circumstances similar to the Philip Lawrence murder? 20-25 years. Not only would it deter the murder but it would send out a powerful message to other teenage gang members to think twice.

      As for 10-year-old murderers like those who murdered James Bulger? I accept what you say about the impaired capacity for empathy, but this sounds like a reason to keep them locked up for longer as a preventative rather than punitive measure. It is interesting that Thompson and Venables were deemed safe to release at almost exactly the same time. Given that their two cases were very different, it is surprising that they were both deemed “cured” at the same time – almost as if their respective releases were automatic rather than the result of careful and due consideration.

      I agree that parents are responsible but the remedy to this is to hold parents criminal responsible for crimes by children below 10 and jointly and severally liable for children between 10 and 13? And this should apply to willfully absent parents as well as the parent with custody. The court could then set the penalty as if for an adult but then apportion it between the parents. Thus, in the case of the Bulger killers, the killers themselves would have got an eight year tariff and the parents could each have served eleven years.

      regarding your disbelief in the case I describe, I will address it separately in reply to your other comment.

      • Michael says:

        There would have probably been intense legal issues releasing one Bulger killer and not the other. What looks evident now is that one was likely ready for independent living and one was not. But there would have been clear problems putting one into the prison estate while releasing the other – it would have been clearly impossible and morally dubious. I think the main problem with Venables is that he is a bit stupid – unlike Thompson who it seems, is relatively intelligent.

        • dkessler says:

          Why would it have been difficult to release one and not the other – morally or legally? They were not entitled to release as of right when they completed their tariffs, only when they were deemed safe for release. Whilst it is true that no one can predict the future with certainty, each case is supposed to be be assessed separately. Was it the same board that assessed both? If not, there would have been no reason for the team assessing one to even KNOW what decision was being made in the case of the other.

          • Michael says:

            Because you would be lengthening the punitive part of the sentence for one and not the other. At the time of release, Venables had done nothing while in custody which showed he was at signficant risk of offending. He may have shown himself to be less likely to succeed in various ways than Thompson (including probably in terms of employment) but this wouldn’t be a reason to keep him in. In any case, most commentary on this is highly speculative with very little substance.

            As far as I know, they were assessed by different parole board members.

            • dkessler says:

              “Because you would be lengthening the punitive part of the sentence for one and not the other.”

              I didn’t say they should have received different tariffs. I said that at the time the tariff ended they were supposed to be assessed independently. I expressed surprise that both of them were deemed to be fit for release as soon as soon as they completed their tariffs. it is certainly not axiomatic in logic that anyone who has completed his tariff is ready for release. Are you saying that upon completion of the tariff there is a legal presumption that they are safe to release – even if the original crime was murder? If so, then that is another area in which the law is defective and failing the law-abiding majority.

  • Sarah says:

    You seem to know lots of things ‘for a fact’. Problem is, it still amounts to the ‘what I reckon’ style of debate rather than actuality. You’ve been given upthread an indication of how many young people are in custody merely for breaching orders (these include tags) and yet you still persist in saying that tagging is ‘a joke’. Breach a tag you are immediately arrested and taken into police custody and up in court the next day. That isn’t ‘knowing for a fact’ – that is the knowledge of someone who works in the system.

    • dkessler says:

      I shared a flat with some one on who was on a six month tagging order. This was a “punitive” order – i.e. he had been found guilty and this was his sentence. (He had been given a choice of this or community service!) He had persuaded the magistrates that he had a late night job that required him to be out late three nights a week. This wasn’t in fact true, but they accepted it without bothering to check. He then proceeded to breach his tagging order almost every day. They phoned up with the connection box and came round, but he was never there when they came.

      Eventually, they arrested him and bailed him that same day but a court date was set (weeks later) for his breaches. In court he took advantage of the ambiguity over which days he was supposed to be home early (e.g. does 1 a.m. Monday mean the morning between Sunday and Monday or between Monday and Tuesday) to argue that it wasn’t clear – and that the breach days were the days he was supposed to be working. Now if they had all the days that he had been out late listed before them, they would have asked a question on the lines of: “if you thought you were allowed out on wednesday night, then you must have thought you were NOT allowed out late on Thursday night – so why did you stay out late on Thursday night too?” However, only the dates when he was alleged to be in breach, were listed before them, not the intervening dates.

      So the court accepted his bogus arguments and amended the order to avoid further ambiguity (it had by then almost run its course). Even then, they didn’t bother to check out his claim that he had a job requiring him to work late. He was still found to be in breach for a few days – remember he breached it almost every night and he was only allowed out late on three nights per week. However, their Worships decided to let him off with a warning.

      So no, it is NOT true to say “Breach a tag you are immediately arrested and taken into police custody and up in court the next day.” That may be how it is SUPPOSED to work, but that is not how it happens in practice. Your brash but erroneous claim about what happens in such cases leads me to be equally skeptical about your other claims about how young offenders are treated. If one not particularly bright young man could make monkeys of the police, the magistrates and the system, I have no doubt that others do to. The figure for those who ended up in custody for breaching orders tells us nothing about how many others got away with it. You may be an expert on how the system is INTENDED to work, but you seem to have no idea of the REALITY. Presumably you don’t stay with the young criminals after you’ve got them safely out of the courtroom and unleashed upon society.

      • Michael says:

        Seems your story has more to do with useless judicial bodies (ie magistrates) than the realities of the justice system. Usually (as far as I know although the I am not a lawyer) proof of job would be required in such a scenario – including a letter from an employer. Sorry, still finding this hard to believe. And from what I see of Sarah’s posts, she is a legal representative not a judge so has not responsibility for ‘unleashing’ offenders upon society (please correct me if I am wrong Sarah).

        • dkessler says:

          The fact that you are finding what I told you hard to believe merely serves to reinforce my own conviction that you are unaware of the huge gulf between how the system is made to look on paper with massages data and the reality on the streets. I know for a fact that what I told you is true. Whether I can convince you or not is irrelevant. I am now reassured more than ever that you are out of touch with reality on the ground. The only explanatory detail I can add is that at one point before this, the young man in question DID have such a job (he quit some time before that because he was jealous of the fact that some one else with more experience was getting higher pay for the same job) and he may have had some documentation relating to when he had the job that he used to mislead the court.

          Regarding Sarah, I also understood her to be a legal representative – one of those who persuades judge’s to release what Rumpole referred to as “the little darlings” onto the street. She may not be the decision-maker, but she appears to be part of the process. Defence lawyers are there to serve their clients not society – and I’m sure she does that exceedingly well.

          • Michael says:

            I think it is rather patronising to assume I am ‘out of touch’. You don’t have any idea what I do for a living. I would reiterate – your one case does not give any indication of the workings of the criminal justice system and certainly not for juveniles.

            Incidentally, you mention you think Chindamo should have got 20-25 years. Have you seen the latest case where a man who brutally (and with significant premeditation) murdered his fiancee got a 22 year tariff? This is for an adult.

            I maintain that you have fallen into a trap of accepting a media bogeyman (in this case Chindamo). Fact is, his tariff was within guidelines and according to those guidelines, not leniant. I think the idea that we would give a 15 year old a 25 year term (disallowing for potential for change) to be completely draconian. I also think all those who think that it is perfectly acceptable to incarcerate a teenager until they are 40 for such a crime – if their behaviour in prison does not merit it, should have to pay for it themselves.

            • dkessler says:

              Your occupation or vocation is irrelevant to the issue. I didn’t assume that you were out of touch – I inferred it when you questioned my veracity regarding a real case that I know about from personal experience. Your reluctance to accept my word about something that I know about firsthand, suggested that you are guilty of the sin that you seek to attribute to me: believing in a position that you want to believe in and defending it at all costs.

              My opinion of what Chindamo got was based on my sentencing policy, not the government’s You did, after all, ask for MY opinion. In fact you were quite forceful in demanding it. Now I have given it to you, you don’t like it. The man who murdered his fiance should have got a whole life tariff.

              I have no problem with paying (together with like-minded fellow taxpayers) for the incarceration of murderers for the periods I think appropriate. But by the same token, those who are in favour of giving them shorter tariffs should perhaps pay for the murders committed by others in similar circumstances. But this begs the question of what form that “payment” should take. Maybe we should set up special designated areas where released violent criminals – and those who favour shorter tariffs – can live together and enjoy each others company. It’s all-too-easy for a judge who lives in Belgravia to turn a violent criminal onto the streets of Pekham.

  • Michael says:

    If you are going to add deterrance to the purpose of sentence for a juvenile, you need (in my opinion) a damn good analysis that shows it works. The primary purpose of a custodial sentence for a teenager should be rehabilitation. I can’t for the life of me think of any adolescent who would have the reasoning power to properly register a deterrant response to a long sentence for murder.

    Most teens who carry knives do not expect to use them to kill believe it or not.

    The sentence given to Chindamo was perfectly legitimate.

    • dkessler says:

      I have HEARD juvenile offenders (children and young persons) saying “What can they do? They can’t punish us!” or words to that effect. It is the myth that young offenders do NOT take account of lenient sentencing and the “you’ve got half-a-dozen-more -chances” approach to juvenile sentencing, that we have this problem of violent youth crime. The idea that young offenders – or even young violent offenders – lack reasoning power, is a fallacy that has led to do-gooders coming perilously close to stripping the law-abiding public (including young victims) of the protection of the law. Young offenders have very good reasoning powers. They have worked out – correctly – that crime DOES pay.

      • Michael says:

        It’s actually a fallacy that we are easy on young offenders. In fact we are harsher on them than we ever were – the use of custody soared after the Bulger case (with little discernable effect) – the rate of imprisonment has declined slightly over the past two years but it is still triple what it was before the Bulger killing. Moreover, the type of institution they enter is harsher at a younger age (before Bulger no 15 year old kid was put into a YOI, they usually went into local authority secure homes; now most of them end up in a YOI – Feltham for example, takes them as young as 15).

        This despite the fact that the Bulger killing itself was not indicative of youth offending (an extremely unusual crime by two pre-pubescent children).

        Moreover, as has been relayed to you upthread, minimum terms for juvenile murderers have INCREASED, not decreased.

        If you have HEARD juvenile offenders say that, then they are wrong as almost all indictable offences will see them with a conviction (perhaps not custody) but referral orders or ISSPs. Once that happens, they are embroiled in the criminal justice system and subject to the terms of the order. Believe it or not, 25% of juveniles in custody are in prison for breaching orders.

        • dkessler says:

          Referral and supervision orders are a joke – not punishment.

          As for YOIs, the Bulger killers spent eight years at a strict boarding school – just like Princes William and Harry.

          • Sarah says:

            I think Michael was referring to the effect the killing had on criminal justice policy – not the killers themselves. And you are absolutely wrong that a secure children’s home is like Eton – you are displaying a woefully informed tabloid-sensibility. They are not like YOIs but they are places where children as young as ten are locked up (every door they enter has to be opened for them and then locked behind them; they are locked into their rooms at night and those rooms look more like cells). Violence at these centres is not uncommon and bullying of more vulnerable inmates can be horrible.

            Moreover, the education young people receive at this units is nothing like Eton. Most inmates have learning difficulties or have had a chaotic relationship with education and have a great deal of catching up to do. The school year is 50 weeks (yes, they only get two weeks off at Christmas) and the curriculum offered is small. (Focussing on basic literacy, numeracy and more practical things like woodwork and bricklaying).

            But notwithstanding this, I agree with the above poster that the Bulger killing was a watershed and the reaction to it was to make policy towards young offenders far more punitive. It is an example which underlines the notion that hard cases make bad law.

            As for referral orders being a joke; you are aware that they have a 30% reoffending rate compared to around 75% for custody aren’t you? Again, all you are showing is opinion with very little knowledge to back it up.

            • dkessler says:

              I wasn’t comparing the standard to Eton. Presumably they are educated at their own level. But they are still schools (secondary modern) with discipline rather than punishment. If there is violence and bullying then all that means is that they have somewhat LESS discipline than Eton. The remedy is to improve discipline.

              Custodial sentences are usually given to those who have already re-offended once, so comparing it to referral orders is not a comparison of like with like. In any case, I distrust government statistics as they tend to be massaged to justify cost-cutting – except when the government wants to transfer money to the private sector as a quid pro quo for consultancies a few years down the line. (But that’s another story.)

          • Michael says:

            What would be a ‘punishment’? You only get a referral order if it is a first or second offence and the young person pleads guilty. Supervision orders can vary from lower levels right up to hard supervision involving tag and attending a YOT three times a week. I’m thinking you are not really terribly ‘up’ on juvenile justice at all.

            As for secure units being like a ‘strict boarding school’, many young people prefer juvenile prisons to the regimes of local authority secure units – mainly because at places like Hindley, a young person isn’t forced into education so much and doesn’t have every single movement monitored. Like adults in prison, they can just vegetate in their cells. YOIs/juvenile prisons also have their drug problems (drugs are unheard of in child secure units).

            The reoffending rates from the type of institution also vary greatly – far greater success from secure units.

            • dkessler says:

              I have shared lodgings with a a recidivist offender (since the age of 12). I know for a fact that tagging is a joke. He breached it constantly with absolutely no consequences. He has had both non-custodial and short custodial sentences and continues to use drugs, abuse his pregnant girlfriend and re-offend. What are the figures for drugs in YOIs/Juvenile prisons v. child secure units. How were they compiled?

  • Sarah says:

    As an after-note, look at the case of Joshua Davies (recent murder case). 16 year old who murdered his ex-girlfriend with a significant degree of premeditation and planning (aggravating factors), serious violence (he smashed her skull to pieces – another aggravating factor). Victim was someone who held the perpetrator in a position of trust (yet another aggravating factor). His tariff was set at 14 years.

    I think you’ve got yourself into a position on this one that you can’t back down from – even though on issues of fact about law you are wrong on almost every single point.

    • dkessler says:

      You may be right about the guidelines not having increased. But that just proves my point that we ARE treating criminals too lightly. I guess you think that 14 years for such a crime is “fair” because it looks after the poor murderer’s “welfare.

      • Sarah says:

        The law is not meant to be ‘fair’ as much as realistic in determining what is a reasonable amount of time an offender should serve as the ‘retributive’ part of their sentence. Of course, Joshua Davies did not get ’14 years’. He is sentenced to life and will serve that sentence until he dies, no matter when he leaves custody.

        I didn’t write the 1933 Children’s Act or its follow up in 1969 (the Children and Young Persons Act). I don’t dispute the need to exert some punitive response to serious crimes committed by juveniles but I concur with the basic aspects of the Act – that the state has a responsibility to the welfare of the young people it incarcerates (in fact it has a responsibilty to ALL people it incarcerates but there are particular rules governing juveniles – including allowing for the prospect of meaningful change).

        • dkessler says:

          The law should be FAIR. It’s failure in that regard is a betrayal of society in general and crime victims in particular. The problem with placing the “welfare” of juvenile offenders is that it effectively means that juvenile sentences can provide for individual deterrence, but not collective deterrence. This would be fine if all or most criminals were caught. But in practice the clear-up rate for crime is so low that the inability to take collective deterrence into account when sentencing juveniles means that there is a gaping hole in actual deterrence.

          • Michael says:

            I think this is a bit of a redundant argument in this case. The one thing we know from almost all criminological studies is that there is no point sentencing for deterrence in crimes like murder because murder is almost always an irrational, spontaneous act.

            The spectre of the pathological, predatory and psychotic serial killer is the anomoly, not the norm. It is very clear that Chinidamo isn’t remotely in that category.

            • dkessler says:

              Most murders are, as you say irrational spontaneous acts. Indeed Arthur Koestler argued in Reflections on Hanging (written 1855, published 1956) that 95% of murders were committed in the course of drunken rages, heated arguments or “fits of passion,” (his phrase – quoted from memory). This was to some extent recognized by the Homicide Act 1957, which limited the death penalty to six categories (not including pre-meditation per se, which was presumably considered too subjective for juries.

              However, certain types of murder are clearly affected by deterrence, notably murders with pre-meditation and murders committed in the course of a crime in which a weapon is carried on the person of the murderer. Such murders do lend themselves to collective deterrence and this should be indicated in the sentencing – for juveniles as well as adults.

  • Sarah says:

    No, the lack of family connections in Italy was a significant reason in the judgment which allowed Chindamo to stay. I would reiterate again – he was an adolescent when he committed the crime – brought up in this country and with nothing to tie him to Italy. Returning him to Italy after a long incarceration, unable to speak the language with no prospect of a life and with cultural and family ties only in England is unacceptable in any sane person’s mind. The fact that you (from what I can see) are emotionally stunted to the degree that you are unable to separate the criminal from the crime does not make your position right.

    Actually I wasn’t thinking about forgiveness, I was talking about the rationale that says those who commit crimes (even serious ones) as a juvenile should be treated differently to those who commit them as an adult. That has nothing to do with forgiveness (whatever religious version – I am a happy atheist btw), but simply acting in a civilised manner. The state does not deal in forgiveness, the state does, however, have a responsibility to act with a degree of sense and detatchment. As for ‘lighter’ sentence; the sentence shouldn’t be ‘lighter’ but PROPORTIONATE when it comes to the age of the offender (something you don’t seem to understand).

    15 years to a 15 year old is significantly different to giving 15 years to someone in their 40s. It is a whole other lifetime.

    We have an English law which underlines this fact (English, not European) – the 1933 Children’s Act. This was further reiterated when Michael Howard’s decision to extend the tariff to the Bulger killers was declared unlawful by the law lords. He didn’t break European law by doing this – he broke English law – a law which existed before any European human rights legislation. And that effectively set in stone the concept in law as well as morality that when it comes to juvenile offenders, the state has a responsibility to their welfare as well as their punishment. Part of the welfare is the realisation that their sentences should NOT mirror ones dished out to an adult.

    Moreover, the potential for change in that time is huge for a juvenile, much lower for an adult. The sentencing structure should reflect this.

    • dkessler says:

      The lack of family tiers to Italy was only relevant in contra-distinction to the existence of ties in the UK. If he had had no family ties in either country, then Article 8 wouldn’t apply. But in any case the issue is academic because the reference to the Human Rights Act and Article 8 was obiter to the principal reasoning that applied the European Citizenship Directive.

      I have no problem with treating crimes by a 15 year old proportionately, but if anything, it is sentences for violent adult criminals that are too lenient, not sentences for violent juvenile defenders too severe. Age 15 is not the same as age 10, and most 15-year-olds have a pretty well-developed moral code – at least if they have been brought up properly by their parents. To suggest or imply otherwise is to insult millions of 15-year-olds the world over.

      Chindamo’s tariff was 12 years (not 14 or 15) which was in no way too severe. The murder he committed was not a spontaneous reaction to provocation. He was a gang member and an instigator of violence (backed up by another eleven gang members) against some one smaller and weaker than himself. When he found himself facing restraint by some one closer in size and strength to himself – to stop him continuing with his act of thuggery against the weak – he did exactly what a typical yellow-bellied, lily-livered coward would do: he used a knife. Whilst his youth may be mitigating factor, there was a plethora of aggravating factors: gang assault, use of knife, looking for trouble, deliberately targeting the weak, etc.

      Furthermore, the reason he served beyond his tariff was because he was not deemed safe to release before that.

      I never said that the leniency in sentencing had anything to do with European law. You are engaging in an excursion into irrelevancy. But the Children and Young Person’s Act of 1933 does not dictate that a gang leader who assaults a boy with a 12-strong gang and uses a knife (that he was carrying with him) to murder a man – and a brave and decent man at that – should get off with a 12 year tariff.

      It is worthy of note that the guidelines have changed, so that a 15-year-old who murders in similar circumstances would now get a 20-year tariff. This does not go against the principle that the state has a duty to young people’s welfare. Rather it recognizes that young people are more likely to be the victims of violence than the instigators and they too are entitled to the protection of the law. It also recognizes that the best way to protect the welfare of young people is not to give them the impression that they will be treated to lightly if they commit serious crimes of violence, but rather to make it clear to them that seriously wrongful actions have seriously severe consequences – for the perpetrator of the crime as well as the victim.

      • Sarah says:

        Actually the guidelines do not say that. I work within the field of criminal law and most juvenile gang members who kill get around a 12-15 year tariff. There would have to be SIGNIFICANT aggravating factors to merit a 20 year tariff (even for an adult). Point me to a similar case where a 15 year old has got a tariff of 20 years for a similar killing. I am almost certain you cannot.

        And the law makes no distinction between whether a victim was ‘brave and decent’ or cowardly and criminal.

        Your comment:

        ‘the Children and Young Person’s Act of 1933 does not dictate that a gang leader who assaults a boy with a 12-strong gang and uses a knife (that he was carrying with him) to murder a man – and a brave and decent man at that – should get off with a 12 year tarif’f’

        Is actually a straw man. Indeed, Chindamo probably got a longer sentence than he would have received 30 years ago. The Act merely makes it necessary for the state NOT put punishment of juvenile offenders above their welfare. Their welfare MUST be the priority. You look at Christopher Craig who murdered a police officer in 1952 when he was 16 – he received a tariff of just 10 years. Sentences for juveniles have got longer if anything – not shorter. But in no way can I recall (and I have worked on several cases) where a juvenile gang member of 15 years received a 20 year tariff for murder.

        Sorry, but all you are doing is showing up a rather knee-jerk (and ignorant) attitude to the law.

        For sentencing guidelines:


        As you can see, the starting point for murder for an offender under 18 is 12 years. Aggravating factors would get a couple more added on, mitigating factors a couple less. 12 years is the starting point for a ‘straight forward’ murder if you like. In Chindamo’s case, there wouldn’t be much added on for the aggravating factors (perhaps a couple of years) – mitigating factors would also offset that (poor family background, unintended victim, perhaps arguably non-intent to kill but merely cause serious harm). In other words, you are full of absolute S+*t. Today, Chindamo would get EXACTLY the same tariff.

        • dkessler says:

          I based my statement on a report (on BBC Radio 4 – not the Daily Mail) to the effect that a similar crime in comparable circumstances today would attract a 20 year tariff. It may be that the this was a misinterpretation by the commentator, but the issue here is what constitute aggravating factors. The murderer went looking for trouble, was in a 12-strong gang that assaulted a boy immediately prior to the murder and was carrying deadly weapon that he used to commit the murder. Those are all significant aggravating factors. Your challenge to cite a similar case in recent times where the murderer got a 20 year tariff is irrelevant because there was nothing typical or average about the Philip Lawrence murder.

          My reference to the victim being brave and decent was not part of my main argument concerning aggravating factors. However, I would note that the list of stated aggravating (and mitigating) factors is never intended to be exhaustive and others can be added as long as they are reasonable and do not conflict with the law. I would further note that taking into account characteristics of the victim cannot be fundamentally precluded by law, because according to the guidelines for sentencing under 18-year-olds who commit murder (http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/sentencing_-_mandatory_life_sentences_in_murder_cases/#a08) – one of the aggravating factors is “b) the victim was vulnerable because of age or disability.” (I am not saying this is applicable; I offer it only to show the victim’s characteristics may be taken into consideration in sentencing.)

          Perhaps more significant however, is “f) the victim was providing a public service or performing a public duty.” I think most honest judges would recognize that protecting a youth from a 12-strong gang of thugs is a public service. One could possibly also include “a) a significant degree of planning or premeditation.” No doubt you will argue that this means that the murder itself must be pre-meditated in order to qualify. However that is not what the language states. The word “planning” could reasonably be construed to include carrying a knife on a “just in case” basis. Even if that broader interpretation were precluded, the non-exhaustive nature of the list means that judge’s could still consider additional factors as aggravating if such is reasonable – and I think it is reasonable to consider a knife to be an aggravating factor. Furthermore, Chindamo initially claimed that it was a case of mistaken identity. That discredited claim too could be construed as an aggravating factor.

          So for aggravating factors we have: murder in the course of gang violence, using a knife carried by the murderer to the scene, murder of a person performing a public service, falsely claiming mistaken identity. Now let’s look at your “mitigating factors.” “Poor family background, unintended victim, perhaps arguably non-intent to kill but merely cause serious harm.”

          “Poor family background” is not a mitigating factor. It has even less validity than the courage and virtue of the victim. Are you seriously suggesting that a rich person who commits murder should be treated more severely than a poor one? You said before that you are an atheist, but are you also – by any chance – a SOCIALIST? (I would say “God help us,” but I am an atheist too.) The victim was not “unintended”. Chindamo produced a knife and stabbed him. As for “non-intent to cause serious harm,” I think you’re going off on a flight of fancy there. An experienced gang member would know the likely effect of stabbing a person in the chest with a knife.

          The only mitigating factors appear to be lack of pre-meditation for the actual murder and the age of the offender. As to the former, it is to some extent diminished by the preparatory act of carrying the knife. As to the latter, as he already benefits from the starting point for an Under-18 offender, and as he was only three years under the maximum age for such benefit, this would only carry a marginal amount of weight in the eyes of any fair-minded judge.

          Regarding Chistopher Craig, was 10 years the tariff set by Lord Goddard? That would be quite surprising given how tough (and unfair) he was to Bentley. However, Craig did have to live with the fact that his actions (together with a spot of judicial bias) got his friend hanged. That presumably is punishment in extremum.

          Finally, regarding your intemperate conclusion: “you are full of absolute S+*t.” I have tried to keep this argument polite despite the fact that we both feel very strongly about our respective positions. I am surprised that some one who works in the field of law should resort to such intemperate language over what is, at the end of the day, a difference of ideas. Even if I erred on a matter of knowledge a more parliamentary response would be: “the honourable member has his facts wrong.” However, as we are already arguing like Ron and Hermione, might I be cheeky enough to ask you which side of the law you work?

          • Sarah says:

            Are there ‘sides’ to the law? I was always under the impression that the law is the law.

            ‘there was nothing typical or average about the Philip Lawrence murder.’

            There rarely is anything ‘typical’ about any murder. But in this case, you had a 15 year old youth in a gang who murdered a non-partisan innocent person. That isn’t actually THAT unusual where urban homocides are concerned. Chindamo isn’t uniquely evil in that regard. I maintain that he would be given exactly the same minimum term today. The only incident I can think of where a juvenile has received a 20 year tariff for murder is a relatively recent case where a young person took money to take out a hit on a woman but this involved premeditation, killing for money, conspiracy and gun crime (he shot her at point blank range when she opened the door).

            And yes, that was the term handed to Chiristopher Craig – it was wholly consistent with other tariffs handed to juveniles at the time. Wretchedly unfair given what happened to his co-defendent but an indicator of how separately the law has always dealt with juveniles convicted of serious crime.

            I am not a socialist by the way. I regard socialism as inherently authoritarian. I guess you could call me an enlightened capitalist with strong liberal leanings.

            • dkessler says:

              I was being facetious with my “which side of the law” question? I meant defence or prosecution?

              I suppose I must grudgingly concede that Chindamo isn’t uniquely evil – although the fact that he has company in that regard is hardly reassuring.

              I didn’t mean to offend you with my socialist jibe. I too am a liberal capitalist. But I disagree with you over poverty being a mitigating circumstance.

  • Michael says:

    ‘Like handing over money to people they have just insulted?’

    Yes. And then smashing up a kebab shop.

  • Michael says:

    As for past performance being an indicator of future performance; are you aware of how many paroled murderers go on to kill again?

    I’m guessing not with your comment that ‘past performance is an indication of future behaviour’ (btw, there’s a reason that any financial investment you make has a disclaimer saying that past performance is NOT an indication of future performance).

    I’ll tell you. Despite the paranoia from the Daily Mail citing 30 killings by former killers in the past 10 years, the risk of a murderer killing again after release is very low. In fact, murderers have the lowest reconviction rate (for any crime including non-violent ones) of any offending group.

    Chindamo was a juvenile when he killed. (15 in fact). Are you making the same mistakes you made at 15 given your belief that ‘past performance’ is a good indicator of future behaviour?

    • dkessler says:

      The re-offending rate of criminals in general is too high for my taste. The fact that murderers score better than other criminals doesn’t mean the situation is satisfactory.

      Fifteen is more than old enough to know that murder is wrong. And I do not consider murder to be a “mistake.” It is this watering down of how we view the crime (and how we punish the criminals) that encourages others to commit similar crimes.

      • Sarah says:

        Chindamo has served half his life in prison (over 14 years). His sentence wasn’t remotely leniant (he even served over his recommended tariff). He will be on license for life and subject to recall merely on the word of a probation officer – as we can see, he is still inside despite the fact he has committed no crime. It’s a nonsense to suggest he hasn’t been ‘punished’. And the murder rate is the lowest it has been for 30 years so I am not sure how that tallies with your impression that people are ‘watering down’ crime as, contrary to what you appear to think, people don’t seem to be being ‘encouraged’ in murder at all.

        Or perhaps you are talking about the fact he is allowed to stay in the country (you probably erroneously think it has something to do with the Human Rights Act also).

        • dkessler says:

          He still has much of his life left, depending on how he behaves. In contrast, who knows how many years Philip Lawrence was deprived of when Chindamo murdered him. 14 years for murdering a fellow human being is extremely lenient. The tariff is the minimum set by the court for deterrence. After that the prisoner is eligible for release on license when the parole board deems it safe. He is inside now because the parole board now has to review his case in the light of the recent events, which are not as clear cut as you seem to imagine.

          The murder rate is hard to calculate, because unsolved “murders” might be deemed to be manslaughter if and when they come before the courts. Therefore, Home Office stats deal with “homicide” rather than murder. The homicide rate for 2010 was 619, the lowest since 1997 when adjustments are made for cases initially classified as homicide and then eliminated.

          Aside from that, when I referred to watering down crime i meant not merely sentencing but also the characterization of it. Calling what Chindamo did a “mistake” is a crime against the English language.

          I am aware of the grounds on which Chindamo was allowed to stay in the UK. But the criminal-friendlly judges added an obiter dictum at the end of their ruling in which they stated that even in the absence of the EU Citizenship Directive they would have been obliged to allow him to stay under the Human Rights Act right to a “family life” because the adult Chindamo wanted to live with his mummy.

          • Sarah says:

            Actually that wasn’t the reason. The reason was because he had no family ties in Italy and could not even speak the langauge.

            Juveniles are treated more leniantly by the courts (which I think is how it SHOULD be). The average tariff for murder (for adults) is 15 years so Chindamo was treated HARSHLY by normal standards if anything. You may feel the sentencing for all is awry but then you should whinge about it for all instead of just this case. Chindamo doesn’t seem to me to be any more ‘evil’ than any other young person involved in gangs who has killed.

            Recent events are clear actually. If you knew anything about recall procedures, you would know that Chindamo cannot be released until the Parole Board have examined his case whether or not he is a risk – it is a lot of red tape more than anything which is likely keeping him in prison. But given he remains in prison, I don’t know what your issue is – it seems the system works fine. He is serving a life sentence – whether inside or out.

            ‘Mistake’ may be an unfortunate choice of word but what the poster was referring to was the requirement under law that youth is taken as a mitigating factor in crime. This is right and civilised. Indeed, Mr Lawrence’s widow is of this view herself and is currently looking to reward juvenile offenders in the prison estate who have shown significant change. Perhaps she is simply a better human being than you are.

            • dkessler says:

              The “family life” aspect of the Human Rights Act wasn’t the reason at all – as you yourself pointed out earlier. However to the extent that the obiter dictum was an indicator of the judge’s thoughts, lack of family ties in Italy per se would not have been a valid reason under Article 8. It was the presence of a family in the UK (i.e. his mummy) that was the “valid” reason not the absence of similar ties in Italy.

              15 years is a very lenient penalty for murder. I DO criticize sentencing policy in general and not just this case. Youth may be a mitigating factor, but we should be careful about a policy that effectively gives young offenders a prior assurance that they will get a lighter sentence because of their youth.

              If you judge people by the Christian virtue of forgiveness then the widow of Philip Lawrence is certainly a better person than I.

  • Michael says:

    ‘The alternative interpretation is that Sexton started off rude and aggressive, then became calm, composed and conciliatory (to the point of actually handing over money in the absence of any fear) ‘

    Perfectly possible. He was absolutely bladdered. Extremely drunk people can act bizarrely and in a contradictory manner. Ask any officer who has pulled over a drunk driver. He had drunk at least 11 pints before the encounter.

    ‘Prejudice means to pre-judge. I certainly don’t do that’

    Total nonsense. You have COMPLETELY prejudged in this case. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Sexton was afraid – indeed, there is evidence to the reverse (his aggression can clearly be seen on CCTV). You have decided that you KNOW what was going on in both his mind and Chindamo’s.

    • dkessler says:

      “Extremely drunk people can act bizarrely and in a contradictory manner.”

      Like handing over money to people they have just insulted?

  • Michael says:

    If Sexton didn’t hand over money freely, then he was robbed. He wasn’t robbed. That is a fact.

    As for your point about behaviour, do you expect paroled prisoners to live a life that you yourself aren’t prepared to live (one of unimpeachable virtue, temperance and abstinence?)

    Chindamo was drunk – he shouldn’t have been. He was out after curfew – he shouldn’t have been. He was associating with people who he should have stayed away from. That is the reason he is still in custody rather than being released – his case now has to return to the Parole Board.

    The confrontation essentially amounted to two pissed people getting having a bit of row because one (extremely drunk) taunted the other (who was moderately drunk). You aren’t really much of an identity on human behaviour if you think that Chindamo in that situation would always bite his tongue and walk away (particularly given, as was revealed at the trial – Chindamo had been subjected to provocation by others since release – which did not provoke a response in him).

    I will repeat that your prejudice and loathing against this character is what is really informing your opinion. (‘Grievously wrong FFS!’ – what complete hysteria – it was a drunken spat!)

    • dkessler says:

      It is NOT a proven fact that Sexton handed over the money freely. Freely implies in the absence of fear – and I have no doubt that when he handed over the money he was afraid. The alternative interpretation is that Sexton started off rude and aggressive, then became calm, composed and conciliatory (to the point of actually handing over money in the absence of any fear) and then reverted to being aggressive and confrontational at the kebab shop. I don’t buy that because it makes no sense. As they say in Formula One racing: you can zig but not zag.

      I didn’t say that I expect more of paroled prisoners than I expect of myself. I said that one can expect more of them than of other people who do not have blood on their hands. I hold myself to a high standard, but make allowances for others unless they have committed a serious crime in the past, in which case – yes – they can and should be held to a higher standard.

      I don’t know what Chindamo would do. I was writing about what he should do.

      I do hold my hand up to having a general loathing for murderers, but one can hardly call it prejudice. Prejudice means to pre-judge. I certainly don’t do that. But I am a firm believer in the fact that past performance is an indication of future behaviour.

    • dkessler says:

      “You aren’t really much of an identity on human behaviour if you think that Chindamo in that situation would always bite his tongue and walk away (particularly given, as was revealed at the trial – Chindamo had been subjected to provocation by others since release – which did not provoke a response in him).”

      Interesting then that on the one occasion when he did respond it just happened to be with a drunken man who just happened to have withdrawn money from a cash machine and who was thus in a perfect position to hand over money to Mr Chindamo as a “peace offering” once Mr Chindamo’s lecture on morality had temporarily made the drunken man in question see the error of his ways.

  • Michael says:

    ‘There is no such verdict in English law as “Innocent.”’

    This is correct. Because innocence is PRESUMED (are you getting it now)? The innocence of Chindamo and his co-defendants does not have to be delivered by verdict because it is only guilt which needs to be proved. His innocence is assumed by law.

    ‘Are you saying that Sexton really DID hand over £10 of his own volition, as a “peace offering” and not because he was afraid?’

    It doesn’t matter to me what I ‘believe’. The fact is there was no robbery.

    And the fact that Sexton had to be searched out doesn’t remotely conflict with my idea of him as a chancer. His initial response to the event was not the actions of someone who felt he had been the victim of a crime (no calls to the police; etc). And I don’t also IMPLY he was a violent troublemaker – Sexton was CAUTIONED for a violent incident of criminal damage at a kebab shop that very night. A kebab shop which he allegedly smashed up.

    You obviously also missed the bit (seen on CCTV) where Sexton shakes Chindamo’s hand after the initial alleged confrontation.

    • dkessler says:

      “It doesn’t matter to me what I ‘believe’. ”

      I don’t have a problem with that. I wrote the article to express my thoughts and left it open to comment from anyone who felt they had something to say.

      “You obviously also missed the bit (seen on CCTV) where Sexton shakes Chindamo’s hand after the initial alleged confrontation.”

      It’s called saving face. As you said yourself, he initially didn’t even report the matter to the police.

      • Sarah says:

        He didn’t report the matter because there was no crime. That is now an established legal fact.

        Sorry, no offence but I’m in total agreement with the other poster. If you’d bothered to take a look at the evidence, you would see that there was absolutely no case to answer. Indeed, had this involved someone other than Chindamo, I’m sure there would have been no prosecution at all.

        • dkessler says:

          That the accused did not commit the crime for which they were charged has been established in law. That this was Sexton’s motive for not reporting it has not been established.

          The case went beyond the “no case to answer” phase and was put to the jury. You say that if the case had involved some one other than Chindamo there would have been “no prosecution at all.” But if it had involved some one other than Chindamo the events themselves might not have occurred.

          I haven’t disregarded the evidence, but I have looked beyond it at the question of whether some one would really hand over £10 freely and of his own volition as a “peace offering” and concluded that it would not happen. I have also concluded that a man who believes in law and order would not accept money under such circumstances – a drink in a pub yes, but not money in the street to buy a drink .

          • Michael says:

            This may shock you, but people get drunk and lairy all the time (even paroled prisoners). Which appears to have been the case here – particularly with Sexton (who had drunk 11 pints before the encounter). His account has been rightly completely discredited.

            You clearly despise Chindamo – that is fair enough. But your judgment is clearly clouded in this case.

            • dkessler says:

              Again you seem to be under the misapprehension that I am endorsing sexton’s account. I am not. I am however rejecting the alternative account – i.e that Sexton handed over money freely and of his own volition (an issue into which you refuse to be drawn). I suspect that the truth lies somewhere between the defence and prosecution versions of events.

              I’m also not shocked by the behaviour of paroled prisoners. All I’m saying is that what might be considered “normal” or “not too bad” from your average Tom, Dick or Harry, becomes unacceptable and grievously wrong when done by some one who has the blood of the innocent on his hands. It is for this reason that I stand by my conclusion that even Chindamo’s own account of his behaviour reflects badly on him and calls into question his claim that he is genuinely remorseful for his past misconduct.

  • Michael says:

    And I am of the view that Sexton is a chancer. Remember, this is a guy who couldn’t even be bothered to report the incident to the police – they had to publically appeal for him to come forward.

    Your opinion, I’m afraid, seems wholly shaped by your negative feelings towards Chindamo and are not remotely based in fact.

    The jury was bang on right with this one. It was a case which should never have seen the inside of a courtroom in my opinion.

    And having read the changes to your article, I see you seem to be somewhat confused as to the intricacies of common law. You say:

    ‘ The jury found the accused Not Guilty (as opposed to “innocent”) in accordance with the legal rule that a jury must acquit if they think that there is reasonable doubt.’

    Firstly, innocence does not have to be ‘found’ or ‘proved’. Innocence is presumed. There wasn’t just ‘reasonable doubt’ in this case – the Crown did not have a case at all. Hence the jury deliberations taking a very short time.

    You assume guilt – that assumption in my opinion is wholly down to your own prejudicial feelings in this case.

    • dkessler says:

      The fact that they had to appeal for him to come forward, calls into question your view that he is a chancer. Are you saying that Sexton really DID hand over £10 of his own volition, as a “peace offering” and not because he was afraid? (Remember this is some one whom you are ALSO implying was a violent troublemaker.)

      Innocence is a moral concept. There is no such verdict in English law as “Innocent.” The jury found the accused “Not Guilty.” In law, Learco Chindamo (and his fellow accused) are Not Guilty of the offence for which they were charged.

  • Sarah says:

    Hmmm. Think if you look at David Sexton’s antics that evening, you’ll find him a less credible witness. The jury got it right in my opinion. He was extremely drunk and had been abusive to other people (unconnected) later in the evening (Sexton was, in fact arrested for an incident at a kebab shop which got trashed). In fact, I believe he didn’t even report the ‘robbery’ to the police – they sought him out. Apparently the only thing that the jury could hear being said on the CCTV was ‘he’s a killer’ (being said by Sexton).

    But interesting that you decide that Chindamo must be guilty even though you clearly don’t know half the details.

    In any case, he’s NOT guilty. That is now a fact. And claiming he is could be construed as libel.

    • dkessler says:

      You evidently did not read my article carefully. My conclusions were (1) that if Chindamo was genuinely remorseful about his earlier conduct, it is unlikely that he would have acted the way he claims to have acted in this case; (2) that it is extremely unlikely that Sexton handed over money of his own volition in the absence of extreme fear (whether Chindamo set out to cause this fear is irrelevant to my argument); (3) that it was unwise of Chindamo to associate with Jananto and wrong of the authorities to allow such association; and (4) that accepting money under the circumstances he claims was incompatible with a healthy respect for law and order.

      I note that you yourself appear to be saying that Sexton was first rude and aggressive, then apologetic and conciliatory (of his own free will) and then reverted back to being drunk and aggressive regarding the later incidents.

      • Michael says:

        Sorry but I think that expecting people to react a certain way to taunting is a bit ridiculous. Besides, whether or not he was remorseful about the murder was not the issue here – it is whether he was guilty of the robbery – which he was not. He was rightly found not guilty – the prosecution case was actually extremely weak if you look at the facts.

        As for associating with former criminal peers, I’m guessing that is why Chindamo is still in custody – because he is in violation of several licence conditions (I believe these are associating with Jananto, not adhering to a curfew and being intoxicated).

        Remorse is a very personal thing – people experience it differently. While I can’t for sure say Chindamo feels remorse, you can’t really say he doesn’t based on a superficial glance at this new case. It’s akin to suggesting a parent doesn’t feel grief for a dead child because s/he isn’t acting in the correct manner. Frankly, it’s childish.

        • dkessler says:

          Obviously different people react to taunting in different ways. But the way in which they react tells one about the person. Regarding what is “the issue here” – that surely depends on what you mean by “here”. If you mean the trial, I agree that the issue to be considered was not one of remorse for previous actions. However it is an issue for the purpose of my discussion of the subject and it is a legitimate issue for public discussion.

          The analogy with a bereaved parent is misleading. My point about Chindamo was that a person with his past should be extra careful about how he reacts to what he thinks of as taunting or provocation. The fact that he reacted in the manner he described (i.e. taking him at his word) entitles others to draw inferences about his true state of mind regarding the murder of Philip Lawrence. We may differ on what those inferences are, but I stand by my conclusions.

          • Michael says:

            This is what you said:

            ‘But what is even more incredible is that the jury bought this preposterous story.’

            It is not merely Chindamo’s remorse (or lack of) that you were questionning; you were disputing the findings of a jury – a jury which heard ALL the evidence – much of which you seem to have conveniently disregarded, along with the fact that the prosecution case was so weak, this case collapsed three times before reaching verdict.

            (Openly stating a jury decision is wrong is an extremely unwise thing to do legally btw).

            Like it or not, Chindamo is innocent of this crime. I wonder whether you would be so quick to leap to judgment in Sexton’s own case – a violent incident of criminal damage.

            • dkessler says:

              You have a point. I’ve changed the article to clarify my thoughts. But I stand by the view that Sexton did not freely choose to hand over the money. His fears were real and were the cause of him handing over the money. Whether Chindamo and the others caused his fear, whether they did so willfully and whether they were aware that his fear was the cause of his handing over the money at the moment when they accepted it, are other matters.

  • I have long given up any hope on British so-called “Justice”.

    I would be interested to know how far the judge’s summing-up influenced the jury’s decision.