A teenage girl has been jailed for life for killing a Fife grandmother during a row over £5 and a borrowed cigarette. ... Mrs Gray, 63, died as a result of a head injury after she was knocked to the ground and repeatedly stamped on.
A man convicted over the death of a Matalan store manager in east London was on police bail at the time of the killing. ... Maina, of Canning Town, was bailed after Rizwan Darbar, 17, was stabbed in West Ham during a mobile phone robbery. He was later convicted of the 17-year-old's murder and jailed for life.
DOZENS of college pupils were involved in violent clashes with police yesterday afternoon (November 3), forcing the closure of Orpington High Street. ... The trouble flared at around 5.25pm when more than 40 Orpington College students waited for a bus outside Boots in the high street.... Around 15 of them boarded a route 51 before the driver shut his doors and a patrolling PCSO told the remaining teenagers they would have to wait for the next bus.
So we have a 16-year-old girl who lends and old lady a cigarette and stamps her to death when she goes to collect what she is owed. And we have a man who murders a 17-year-old while robbing him of his phone, and while on bail for that offence acts as look-out in a robbery where the store manager is stabbed in the neck and dies. And he wasn't idle in between the two killings, either:
In the ensuing 15 months Maina was involved in Mr Simpson's killing, was caught with a knife, cannabis, crack cocaine and heroin, before finally being charged in January last year with the 17-year-old's murder.
And we have a group of college students who think it is OK to riot (including hospitalising the PCSO who spoke to them and involving police from three areas, a dog unit and the TSG) because a bus was full and they were told they would have to wait for another one.
In each case, no doubt, there will be the usual pleas in mitigation, citing poor backgrounds, boredom, the newest excuse of "toxic upbringing" and probably racism, too. And the courts will listen to all this, and the sentences will be ameliorated to, if not quite a slap on the wrist, then something that most people will regard as utterly inadequate.
Nicolle Earley (the girl who killed the old lady) was given a life sentence for murder. As one who still doesn't support the death penalty, that seems about right to me. But wait - the 'life sentence' is really 14 years. That means she gets out and is a free woman at the age of 32. In what way that is an adequate punishment for murder escapes me.
Anthony Maina was given a life sentence for the murder of the 17-year-old - again, 14 years . He won't serve a sentence for the manslaughter of the store manager, as he is already on a life sentence.
Several youths were arrested following the disturbances in Orpington. Who knows what chilling punishments await them?
Two things occur to me here: one is that there is now a large section of society that has no respect for human life or the law, and the other is that we don't seem to have any concept of punishing people in line with the seriousness of their offending.
I wonder if we had listened to John Major in 1993, and spent less time trying to understand people who commit crimes like this, and more effort in bringing home to them the consequences of their actions, things might be a little different? I might suggest:
- If you murder someone, you go to jail for life, and you will never get out, regardless of your home circumstances, mental state or prior history;
- If you deliberately injure someone, you will be taken out of circulation in very unpleasant circumstances and kept there for a time commensurate with your offence;
- If you riot, damage property and frighten ordinary people half to death, then those ordinary people can take you out of circulation for as long as is necessary.
 Yes, I know these are 'minimum' tariffs, but does anyone seriously believe that they will be kept in after this time, or even released early if the jails are crowded enough?