• Sarah Whitehead and Rachael Shariar-Namini: Is the law an ass?

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    Above left is Miss Sarah Whitehead who was sentenced to six years for her role in a series of attacks, including vandalism, threats and hoax bombs at Winchester Crown Court today. Her group, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty also spread false paedophilia smears against their victims and sent them used tampons, claiming the blood was HIV-positive. Miss Whitehead and five fellow activists admitted targeting people working for 40 companies linked to Cambridge-based testing firm Huntingdon Life Sciences.

    Miss Whitehead of Whitehead, of Littlehampton, West Sussex, admitted conspiracy to blackmail firms and suppliers linked to HLS, carried out up to five criminal damage attacks per night, on evenings off from her normal job as a hospital nurse.

    Above right is Rachael Shariar-Namini of Victoria Avenue, Rothwell, Leeds who was sentenced to twelve years at Leeds Crown Court for her part in a robbery at the NatWest Bank in Hunslet, Leeds in March this year. £371,691 in cash was waiting to be collected by a security guard when the thieves intervened and helped themselves to it. Miss Shariar-Namini provided detailed plans of the bank’s layout to assist her boyfriend William Wormald and his accomplice Darren Ashcroft in carrying out the raid. Miss Shariar-Namini’s inside knowledge came about as she had worked as Chief Cashier at the branch before she was promoted to the post of manager at another branch.

    British Gazette comment: The British Gazette does not condone the actions of either woman but does condemn the blatant disparity in the sentences each woman received. Miss Whitehead has previous criminal convictions and led what can only be described as a campaign of terror against decent law abiding citizens who had the temerity to work for companies who were suppliers to Huntingdon Life Sciences. Miss Shariar-Namini’s has no previous criminal convictions but her crime however involved a “breach of trust” as she aided and abetted a robbery from her employer.

    These two cases lay bare the contrasting attitudes of the judiciary. In the case of Miss Whitehead, there is an apparent unwillingness to fully confront the animal rights issue. This is best illustrated in the establishment’s continuing refusal to bestow a knighthood of Professor Colin Blakemore. Miss Shariar-Namini however committed the very serious crime (to the judicial mind) of “breach of trust.” This is because judges are lawyers and to a lawyer, a “breach of trust” is one of the most serious of crimes.

    In our article, “Reform of the Justice System” we suggest bringing back the Courts of Assize to run alongside the Crown Court system. We suggest that the Courts of Assize should have juries and moreover the juries should not only adjudicate upon the guilt or innocence of the accused but also upon conviction, the sentence. The Crown Courts, we suggest should be based on a modified “Diplock court” and a judge should sit without a jury but with two assistants (Recorders?). The advantage of this system would be that most criminals wary of the attitude of the British public would opt for the Crown Court and save the taxpayer a lot of money. It would have been interesting had our system been in place what sort of sentence a jury would have passed on each woman.

    It is also interesting to speculate if a far right, “anti-gay rights” extremist group had conducted a similar campaign of terror and hate against such as The Pink Paper. The British Gazette very much doubts that such persons would have received the degree of leniency shown to Miss Whitehead.

    • But would that not conflict with the sentiment of the last sentence? On the one hand you seem to favour a longer sentence for Whitehead and suggest that Jurors would also support this attirude;on the other you let the lawyers make all of the decisions…? Or am I missing something?

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