Monday, October 18, 2010

Campaigning against Apathy - The Manchester Bullying

I mentioned this on twitter/facebook a few days back as a gross miscarriage of British justice but now it seems that a National Autistic Society in the UK is beginning a campaign - and I want to encourage as many readers as possible (in all countries), to sign up and voice their opinions.

Last week, it was reported that the three boys who tortured a boy with aspergers - and this is serious torture which will leave him emotionally scarred forever - got off with 80 hours of community service.

A link to the UK Daily Mail article is below - I urge you to read it because it describes the abuse and the ruling in detail;

Evil teenagers who 'tortured' autistic boy, 17, for three days free to roam streets after judge fails to lock them up

The sentence was a 3 month curfew and 80 hours’ unpaid community work.

What happened to the autistic boy was tantamount to rape and I believe that it would leave a similar level of emotional scarring.

"Now he has nightmares and he does not trust people. He is scared of everything really and now this lot are free to walk the streets."
- The boy's Grandmother

The crimes have been admitted to and the bullies took video footage of the "event". All the proof is there and yet, the sentence reflects an unbelievable degree of apathy on the part of judge Jonathan Geake who said he had taken into account the attackers’ ages, remorse and the fact they had pleaded guilty.

What about the victim who has to move to a different area and try to rebuild his life? Why is it that the judge seems to care more for the feelings of the attackers than the victims? Why is this tolerated? Would it be different if the boy wasn't autistic?

Please take a few minutes to fill in the campaign form and add to the petition for a stronger sentence.

Thanks to ClaireLouise for making me aware of the campaign.


Andrew Hickey said...

That sounds horrific... but your source is the Daily Mail, a 'newspaper' which is well-known in the UK for being full of complete fabrications (google "Daily Mail lies" and you'll soon see what I mean). However, assuming for the moment it's true...

In Britain recently we've started moving away from custodial sentencing and towards community-based sentencing, partly because we now have a more liberal government and partly because we've run out of money and don't have any prison space, so the first thing to note is that this *isn't* a case of being prejudiced against the victim for having Asperger's.

Reading between the lines , what this looks like to me (and I live in Manchester, have Asperger's, and know how these things tend to work around here) is a plea bargain. Almost certainly these people were originally charged with grievous bodily harm (which would get a prison sentence) and were persuaded to plead guilty to assault and actual bodily harm (I'm assuming those were the charges), in order to save the victim the stress of a trial.

The reason this has been publicised is that there's very likely to be a *VERY* close by-election in a neighbouring constituency very soon, and the Labour Party (who run Manchester, and whose Hazel Blears is quoted there) want to paint the Liberal Democrats (the junior partner in the current government, and the main challenger in that seat) as 'soft on crime'.

It's entirely reasonable to disagree with the way we deal with crimes of this nature, but it doesn't seem like this has been dealt with especially differently from many other cases of its nature, and singling out this one gang of thugs when plenty more go ignored doesn't seem to me to be a sensible way to go about things...

Silk said...

I always wonder if judges who prescribe lenient sentences for bullying were ones who grew up doing the bullying, or the ones who watched while others bullied and blamed the victims for the their predicaments. It is absolutely appalling that people get locked up for stealing expensive property, but those who torture humans get a slap on the wrist. It is a screwed up sense of priorities to be sure. It is exactly like rape, and now I wonder if the rapists are going free also. Criminals who get away with this kind of behavior nearly always escalate to worse later. This is exactly the kind of situation I fear for my own children, who are nearly incapable of defending themselves or avoiding a trap such as this.

Spreading autism awareness said...

This is absolutely disgusting. What kind of judge hands out such light sentences to cruel thugs who tormented an innocent person with special needs. This poor victim will live with the pain of this event forever. The judge, the parents and the perpetrators should be held accountable.