No deterrent when scales of justice aren’t balanced
THERE are some things that just strike you as being wrong, things that cause you to shake your head and wonder if other people see what you see. It was an emotion I felt twice last week.
The first time was on reading that a man who had assaulted two security guards outside a Surfers Paradise nightclub was fined a paltry $1000 with no conviction being recorded. The assailant is a rugby union player who last year represented NSW in the Sevens competition.
If a conviction had been recorded, he probably would not have been able to play overseas. If he hadn't been a rising rugby star, would a conviction have been recorded? You'd hope that this was not a consideration in determining the sentence. A $1000 fine for assault. How is that a deterrent to anyone who might fancy taking a swing at someone who happens to have annoyed them?
A few days later, another man fronted the courts charged with occasioning bodily harm and assault for punching a man at a Biggera Waters tavern. He hit him with such force that he knocked out a tooth. He then continued to punch the man while he was on the ground and wielded a pool cue. The prosecutor described the assault as "unprovoked, unexpected and gratuitous". The magistrate, in sentencing him said: "Be very scared if you don't do something serious about your personal responsibility to what has happened."
She then sentenced him to 18 months jail but granted immediate parole, meaning he walked out of the court a free man. Once more, it is difficult to see how he suffered any penalty for his actions. If I was the one now missing a tooth and facing significant dental work, I'd feel that the system had let me down.
The Government spends large amounts of money on campaigns that tell us, or more specifically men, that one punch can kill. It does this because of the number of families who have lost sons to unprovoked, vicious behaviour that has seen them killed with a single blow.
You might wonder what is the point in doing so if, when an assailant is arrested, charged and found guilty, the justice system sternly shakes a finger at him, then sets him free.
If the social cost of turning the other cheek needs to be counted, then look no further than Melbourne. The police force there has adopted a soft approach to violence by gangs of African youths. The result has been home invasions, riots, car jackings, assaults and the terrorising of neighbourhoods.
People have to know with absolute certainty that they will be held responsible for their actions and that if they break the law, there will be a price to pay. If this is not the case, then there are those who will happily ignore the rule of law and viciously assault whoever they please.
It's called the law of the jungle.
I arranged to meet a mate in a pub on the weekend and while I waited, I was forced to endure a bout of cage fighting being screened on a television monitor. It wasn't fighting. It was animalistic, two men attacking each other like mad dogs. Around me, young men yelled and cheered their approval.
If they seek to emulate their cage fighting heroes out on the street, they need to know that they will be treated harshly.