Citizen Nades' comment on'Court Sentencing' strikes a chord with Desi's...
From sun2.surf.com today:
A sentencing guide?
Posted on 3 July 2012 - 09:22pm Last updated on 3 July 2012 - 09:29pm
MORE than three decades ago, I sat in the public gallery at the magistrate’s court as a pregnant woman was brought in to the dock with her hands cuffed behind her back. The interpreter read the charge to her and asked: Mengaku salah atau tidak?
“She pleads guilty, your honour,” the interpreter said and asked her if she had anything to say in mitigation. “Saya ambil susu itu untuk anak saya.” (I took the milk for my child.) For shoplifting a tin of powdered milk and some other items, she was sent to the slammer for six months.
Two days later, before another magistrate, a 22-year-old man pleaded guilty to committing criminal breach of trust of RM20,000 belonging to his employer. After pleading guilty, his counsel stood up and mitigated, playing up his client’s good values and how his client ended up in wrong company and was forced to steal from his employer. He was bound over on a good behaviour bond.
In the month that followed, my then colleague Au Foong Yee, who was covering the PJ courts reported about a man who caused injury to a victim while committing robbery. He was bound over but the minor report did not escape the eyes of Justice N. H. Chan who was a sitting High Court judge. He called up the case for review and imposed a custodial sentence.
In the years that followed, I continued to read about the rich and famous getting away with slaps on their wrists but yet could do nothing, especially cases involving white collar crimes. These two incidents, though, left me pondering over what I perceived as unfair and unequal sentences. On more than one occasion, I had used the pregnant woman’s sentence in this column. Very much later, in the university library in England, I came across a publication called Sentencing Guidelines.
The foreword was compelling reading. Sentencing, it says, is a complex and difficult exercise. It can never be a rigid, mechanistic or scientific process. Consistency of approach by sentencers is essential to maintain public confidence. But perfect consistency in outcome is impossible to achieve because of the infinite variety of circumstances with which, even in relation to one kind of offence, the courts are presented.
“In choosing a fair and just sentence in a particular case, judges and magistrates, within the parameters established by Parliament, must have regard to the gravity of the offence, its impact on the victim, the circumstances of the offender and the wider public interest. In relation to all these matters they must exercise judgment and discretion,” wrote Lord Justice Rose, vice-president, Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) and the deputy chairman, Sentencing Guidelines Council.
That was seven years ago and sentencing is still a fascination and court reports are closely followed. Last week, there was cause to have reason to be happy because a seldom-heard-of custodial sentence was imposed by the Court of Appeal for a white collar crime.
****Even the Securities Commission called it a landmark decision as a former Fountain View Development Bhd company director, Datuk Chin Chan Leong, was sent to prison to serve a 12-month jail sentence for a share manipulation offence in Bursa Malaysia committed between 2003 and 2004.
Chin, who pleaded guilty to shares manipulation two years ago, was initially given a one-day jail sentence and RM1.3 million fine for the offence. A three-member Appeals Court panel enhanced (Chin’s) custodial sentence to 12 months’ jail after ruling that the one-day jail imposed by the sessions court did not reflect the seriousness of the offence.
We are often reminded that laws are sets of moral codes which have been put on paper for ease of enforcement. Hence, those who commit crimes against fellow citizens, must be appropriately punished. So, can we expect a set of guidelines for magistrates and judges to use?
R. Nadeswaran is editor (special and investigative reporting) at theSun and can be reached at: email@example.com
DESIDERATA: Recently I also wrote on the same case involving th Fountain View Development case (marked **** above, BOLDED THUS) in which I comparede the jail sentence with similar cases which saw the protagonists go free WITHOUT A JAIL SENTENCE, only paying a fine of a few million bucks. To businessmen who had milked tens of millions, paying a fine of RM6million is laughing all the way back from the bank to his penthouse.
From Business section of NST, this stock offender rings a bell...
of TWO SIMILAR CASES, BUTT:~~~
I will elaborate on the "BUTT"s after doing some homework OK! I'm working very heART for my ER -- hey,, buy me endless rounds of TehTari' K! -- as I plan to compare the sentences handed down. I'm sure the three cases beg the question: Are court judges beyond "buying over" for a sweetheart deal?