In the year of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the wheels of Justice appear to be not so much turning slowly as spinning uncontrollably in reverse.
On the one hand we have demands for pardons for offences that were seen as heinous 50 years ago, whilst on the other we have a race to see who can jail the most nonagenarian of the nonagenarians – based on allegations of offences that used to be dealt with by a swift kick in the shins 50 years ago.
We have a bumper crop of entrants this week for the title of ‘The Man who put the Old into Old Lag’.
Today, 91 year old Marcus Marcussen will be sentenced after being found guilty of ‘a string of sexual offences’ at Birmingham Crown Court. These ‘sexual offences’, committed 58 years ago, include striking a boy with a whale bone, and ‘sadistically’ turning the showers from hot to cold alternately. He also ‘forced’ boys to swim naked in the swimming pool.
The first victim came to the attention of police following psychiatric support after a mental breakdown – subsequent publicity led to a string of former pupils remembering the ‘horrors’ of their schooldays.
During her opening address, Miss Buckingham asked jurors to bear in mind that society was “very different” in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, with little chance of complaints by children being taken seriously.
Quite so – any young boy reporting to their parent that a teacher had hit them over the head with a whalebone, would have immediately been asked ‘what had you done’? These days we see that as victim blaming and the correct response would be ‘I’ll kill the bastard for laying a finger on my son’ followed by a visit to the personal injury lawyer.
Mr Marcussen is likely to be receiving his 100th birthday card from the Queen in Wandsworth Scrubs Geriatric Wing; I’m told that his likely sentence will be 10 years – assuming that a victim support group doesn’t complain that this is overly lenient and demand a minimum of 20 years.
He will possibly not hang onto his ‘oldest lag’ claim to fame for long; lagging behind him comes 95 year old Jack Mount. Jack is being hauled before the Beak for the fifth time in respect of historic sex offences.
Four times, over the past years, the prosecution has failed to prove him guilty of a string of lurid allegations made by former pupils at a school for maladjusted children in Shropshire. As a result of further trawling by abuse lawyers he is, this month, being tried again. When Moor Larkin looked at this case back last year he thought that Jack might be safely dead by now – but no, he is still kicking obstinately, and currently in Birmingham Crown Court answering charges in respect of offences alleged to have occurred 60 years ago.
Back in June last year, 94 year old Frederick Smith was sentenced to 12 months. The ‘94-year-old pervert‘ stood in the dock using a Zimmer frame to become the oldest paedophile to be jailed in Britain for offences the jury accepted occurred 40 years ago. Three months later he fell out of his prison bed – and died.
Judge David Goodin told Smith, of Haverhill, Suffolk, as he sent him down: “As frail as you are, bent over your Zimmer frame, justice cries out that you be sent to prison for your crimes. You need help with stairs, bathing and dressing but otherwise your memory is not bad and you can communicate clearly,” he added.
How is it going to work when neither the ‘victim’ nor the ‘predator’ can remember what happened, when, how, or if they gave consent? The victim because of the ‘dreadful trauma’ of a famous hand on their bum, and the predator because he’s 94 and no longer remembers being 34 anyway?
The Care Act 2014 has had to take account of this phenomena, and in April 2015, will for the first time introduce a statutory framework for the delivery of social care in prisons. On 31 March 2014 there were 102 people in prison aged 80 and over. Five people in prison were 90 or older.
Juliet Lyon, the Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “Caring for wheelchair-bound, doubly incontinent, often demented people is beyond what we can reasonably expect of prison staff.”
Death shall not release them – it cannot be long before we are digging up corpses buried 50 years ago and demanding that they stand trial.
There is absolutely no suggestion whatsoever that another nonagenarian, Shadrack Smith, has ever even thought of offending in any way against a child, nor has anyone ever suggested that he did so – but in case anyone is thinking that it is an outrageous suggestion to dig up the dead, I am including his unhappy tale.
Shadrack was buried in a traditional Romany ceremony a bare ten days ago. Rest in peace Shadrack? Not a bit of it. Local community leaders are demanding that the family dig him up again. His crime?
Non-believer! Not that Shadrack had no belief, he was a committed Roman Catholic; like British Rail snow – he simply had the wrong kind of belief. He was buried in his own plot, bought and paid for by his family years ago, in ‘an award winning multi-faith and non-denominational cemetery providing a number of interment and memorial options in a peaceful, serene, picturesque environment’. What could go wrong?
Shadrack didn’t peg it quickly enough – by the time he came to claim his hole in the ground, aged 89, the council had already buried a Muslim in the adjoining plot. The Muslim family are now demanding that Shadrack be disinterred – for as Muslims they do not wish to be buried next to ‘unbelievers’ aka the ‘wrong kind of believers’.
The council are now trying to persuade Shadrack’s family to sell them another plot that they had bought for future family members so that they can plant a hedge between our anonymous Muslim and poor Shadrack, barely cold.
You really don’t want to get to be 90 in today’s society – though if you make it to a theoretical 150, you may catch a pardon as society goes through another metamorphosis…