When the justice system fails
|Injustice - it's pretty annoying|
Some would call this a perfect storm. Ask me what I think about something and there’s a high chance you’ll get a fairly black or white reply.
In fact, it’s very seldom indeed that you’ll find me without a lot to say.
Well, will wonders never cease? Earlier this week I was, mildly, flabbergasted.
Some background: In 2009, a former Tasmanian politician had a sexual relationship with and took naked photographs of a 12-year-old girl.
Yep – that’s disgusting. But it didn’t end there. The politician also had hundreds of images of children as young as eight-years-old on his personal computer.
In many people’s eyes, this seems to be an open and shut case. They guy is clearly perverted and should be removed from society to ensure the safety of local children.
Keep in mind that none of the above facts are ‘in dispute’. Rather they are 100% factually correct.
However, common sense, it seems, gave way on this occasion. The judge handed down a 10 month suspended prison sentence to the politician.
In other words, as long as he ‘behaved well’ for the next two years, he was a free man.
What the hell?
The judge’s ruling was based on the fact that the accused was undergoing treatment for Parkinson’s disease. In reporting on the trial, The Australian newspaper wrote:
The dominant factor" in Martin’s sentencing was that the former MP had been suffering hyper-sexuality caused by medication for Parkinson's disease. The judge concluded there was a "direct causal link" between this dopamine agonist medication and Martin's offences.
In other words, his medication made him do it.
That’s a pretty big call. Medication for Parkinson’s disease made this man so sexually aggressive that, in the judge’s opinion, it excused him taking advantage of a 12-year-old girl and possessing child pornography.
I’m sorry, but that is messed up.
What kind of precedent does this set for future legal cases? Essentially it opens the door for anyone to have some prescription drugs and ‘go nuts’, committing child molestation or pornography crimes, confident in the potential for them to walk free at the end, avoiding the arms of the law.
I have a lot of friends, and many of them are lawyers. They’re all very intelligent folk who usually work long hours and think very carefully about what they do each day.
But I’d have to look myself in the mirror very carefully if I was a defending lawyer for the accused in the above example.
Surely this is an example of legal defences over-stepping their mark?
Or, am I being too opinionated? Should I be more open-minded? Did this man really have absolute zero control over what he was doing, and zero realisation that having sexual relations with a 12-year-old and possessing child porn was wrong?
I could be wrong, but I seriously hope I’m not.
What this man did was WAY wrong. And him walking free does not sit well with me.
In fact - that gives me another idea for this week's column!