High profile cases at magistrates` courts usually make some sort of news; at a local level in the printed, electronic or T.V. media if not in national news outlets. And these cases are usually presided over by a single District Judge and not a bench of three local J.P.s. This is no accident. It`s as if court managers have no confidence that we can provide high quality justice for those “personalities” whose drink, drugs or driving habits are somehow different from those self same drink, drugs or driving habits of the common man [or woman].
Truly a victim of his own success Paul Gascoigne a footballer in the mould of that late great drunk Georgie Best was bailed to appear for sentencing on Thursday this week having previously pleaded guilty to his umpteenth charge of drink driving at Newcastle Magistrates` Court in front of District Judge Stephan Earl. There is no need here to list the previous criminal history of Gascoigne except to say it is substantial and is much related to his substance abuse. Instead of keeping to an arranged appointment to be interviewed by local probation officers he breached his bail by voluntarily admitting himself [not for the first time] to a private clinic for addicts. The good judge said that the defendant Gascoigne did not deserve to be treated differently from anyone else facing punishment for the same offence and then promptly treated him differently. Instead of having a warrant issued for his arrest and having him brought to Newcastle ASAP he instructed the probation service local to the clinic to interview him for a pre sentence report; an action that Newcastle probation officers were unable to do because the offender had absconded.
In my opinion justice was not served. When high profile individuals are given preferential treatment and preferential treatment was what Gascoigne received notwithstanding denials, further evidence of declining standards in public officialdom is revealed. One well known commentator remarking on the recent decision that the three former M.P.s accused of theft must face trial at Crown Court and not in Parliament was that the public wouldn`t stand for any other decision. It should not require fear of public comment to ensure that everyone in this country is equal before the law.
ADDENDUM 11th Dec 2010
So this former football idol for whom many have genuine pity is to be allowed to escape immediate custody having been given an eight week sentence suspended for twelve months. Just what has this alcoholic have to do before he gets his just deserts and does his time? Mercifully he has yet to kill some innocent person whilst driving a car with enough alcohol in his breath to start a fire if somebody lights a match. It is absolutely scandalous that he was virtually allowed to set his own terms to appear in court in the first place. Money, reputation from a golden beginning and public persona are the only conceivable reasons why this man is allowed to continue on his descent to an early grave without paying the price.His current attempt at rehab is just the latest of many. It is only a matter of time, namely within twelve months, that he will again be facing imprisonment his court appearance next week, notwithstanding, when he faces another drink driving charge of being more than four times over the limit in February. That incident took place prior to the one for which he has just been sentenced. Methinks the CPS in North Yorkshire and Newcastle in such high profile prosecutions could have got their act together and prosecuted chronologically. And if that were not enough he is on bail for alleged cocaine possession. If he`s racing George Best to the bottom I`m with Georgie. He loved his women and as far as I know never assaulted them.