Several years earlier, 2005 to be precise, young Charlie Booker was found to be in possession of a butter knife with ‘no handle, sharp edges, or points, and his prosecution for carrying an offensive weapon was upheld. During the case the judges observed “that the law by its terms did not confine itself to sharp or dangerous blades.”
“I would accept that a sharp or pointed blade was the paradigm case – however the words of the statute are unqualified and refer to any article that has a blade.”
The case of Booker v DPP 169J.P. 368.DC is now proudly quoted by the Crown Prosecution Service as one of the leading cases as to what comprises an offensive weapon.
Some surprise in legal circles then, that an object with no less than five sharp or pointed blades, should be considered harmless.
The essential difference between the two cases would appear to be that Charlie Booker, being a fine upstanding Man of Kent, didn’t have the wit to claim that his butter knife formed part of his religion.
Mr Khan, however, instructed his barrister to tell the court that the object above was a ’sacred implement’ that he had put under the front seat of his car intending to ‘flagellate’ himself as some future date – in the event he had used his spare flagellator, as you do, and had forgotten the one under the car seat. The jury, drawn from the catchment area of Southwark Crown Court, thought this was perfectly reasonable, and decided that unlike the deadly butter knife, the flagellator was not an offensive weapon.
I was reminded of the Neumann case. The Neumann’s chose to sit beside their dying daughter and rather than get medical attention for her, they sat and prayed. The couple were sentenced to spend one month in jail each year for six years. Prosecutors said the couple had recklessly killed the youngest of their four children by ignoring clear symptoms of severe illness as she became too weak to speak, eat, drink or walk. They said the couple had a legal duty to take their daughter to a doctor but had instead relied totally on prayer for healing.
Jay Kronenwetter, Mr Neumann’s lawyer, was asked in a BBC interview if he thought his client had got off lightly.
“My client sees spiritual treatment as the proper medicine and I suspect the people who want harsher punishment see Western medicine as the proper medicine, I guess therein lies the difference,” he told the BBC World Service. “My clients just happen to have a belief that is very outside of our social norm.”
On the other hand, the Fallows of Chester were sentenced to substantial jail sentences for failing to get medical help for their child. The Judge said:
“Those who are blessed with children, and there are many who do not have that advantage but who would wish to, have to understand that together with children come the very highest responsibilities of an adult. It is the first duty of a parent to protect and to get proper assistance for a helpless child in distress. Where parents put their heads in the sand and simply hope that it will all go away, where they do not want to face up to the proper facts, then it is really serious.”
The difference being that they did not claim religion as their motivating factor.
Old Holborn has asked for suggestions as to what ‘we can do’ to effect change in the UK. He wants to get ‘organised’. A laudable aim.
I suggest that our first move is to get ourselves organised as a religion. There are huge advantages. We won’t pay VAT, we can have charitable status, if we need to take time off work to march or demonstrate, ‘they’ won’t be able to fire us for doing so. There will be no problem as to whom or from which country we can accept donations. We can march round with banners saying ‘off with their heads’ without getting arrested for hate crimes. We can sit down in the middle of the road and claim to be saying our essential prayers to the Great Blogger in the Sky. We can apply for Lottery funding to set up a conference centre, free wi-fi naturally, to feed and house any bloggers that aren’t supported by advertising. We can demand an equal slot on the BBCs ‘prayer for today’ – please shoot Lord Mandelson? We could probably get away with hanging various politicians if we claimed they were religious sacrifices.
In fact it appears that we could do more or less whatever we wish, so long as we do it in the name of the Great Blogger. Who’s going to be first down the cyber mountain with the Apple tablet containing the Ten Blogging Commandments?
Your suggestions please.