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No position to judge

16 February 2010

Criminal trials have been big news in the last few weeks; allegations of murder or attempted murder have been tried in that most vexed area of human tragedy, the participation in the death of a loved one in extreme circumstances: mothers and children at their wits end and wishing life’s end. How on earth can we judge? The other fraught area of homicide is the killing of an abusive partner – the years of violence and terror that culminate in a moment of anguished violence: was it self-defence or provocation, or plain old murder? And then, on top of that, we have the dreadful Doncaster case where the dark pit of human kind has been reopened and we just hang our heads in shame and disbelief.

Much disapprobation has been heaped on many in all of these circumstances. The trial judge who has passed the sentence on one mother of a minimum term of nine years is in trouble. The trial judge who passed the minimum term of five years on the Doncaster boys is in trouble – mainly beca...

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