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The words in my title come from a very famous case in British legal history, where Derek Bentley and Chris Craig were jointly charged with murder, although only Craig had fired the shot which killed a policeman. Bentley was described as having ‘mentally aided the murder’, and so he was jointly guilty with Craig. Craig was only sixteen, so Bentley was hanged, and Craig served ten years.

Read a feature piece in the Sunday Times (£,) by this mother whose son was part of a group involved in a fight with four others. Her son was part of the group, and as one of his confederates had held a concealed knife, stabbing one of his rivals with it, her beloved son was duly found guilty by virtue of ‘Joint Enterprise’; the definition of which is if your presence, knowledge or actions leads to a serious crime such as murder you too could be charged with murder.

This woman writes of her heartache at the mandatory sentence of 19 years, at the cold mechanics of a legal system which does not comprehend that mistakes occur, that her son never knew of the presence of a concealed knife; and on, and on, and so forth!

Sorry, lady, your son was twenty years old, well-educated and in full command of his faculties. He knew his mates, knew what was likely to happen in any brawl, and if he had not rushed to his mate’s side, would not be in prison today.


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11 thoughts on “Let him have it!

  1. With Henry and Fergurson approaching the scene armed with knives.

    If that quote from the LES is true then he is absolutely guilty of joint enterprise.

  2. Joint Enterprise’; the definition of which is if your presence, knowledge or actions leads to a serious crime such as murder you too could be charged with murder.

    That’s also the definition of a vote for SF. SF and the IRA are a joint enterprise.

  3. Now if the same principle applied to those who knew of, and willingly condoned the acts of child abuse that we have been reading so much about lately, should they not also be accused of, and indicted on similar charges as the accused?

    Do their actions not amount to knowingly aiding and abetting a criminal act , equally as much as in the case quoted in the post.

    Should this criteria of guilt also apply to our established churches, where the hierarchy seemed to be well aware of the abuse carried out by their officials, and did a minimum to halt it, as well as to the evolving revelations of abuse among our celebrity , middle and upper classes, and the organisations that provide a cover-up for their activities, the BBC and the various NHS entities, among others spring to mind.

    Does a few dead or ageing celebs being thrown to the wolves really satisfy the need for real justice?

    It seems the idea that ‘the system must be protected at all costs’, is in effect, and as revelations of the lengths people are prepared to go to, actually doing far more damage to those ‘systems’ by way of destroying the communal trust that those systems need to survive as effective entities.

    So far we have had the law, the media , the medical profession, the judiciary, and, of course our beloved politicians, all involved in various cover-ups, of one kind or another, now it seems, all gathered together in covering up the penultimate and very real crime of child abuse.

    It makes me wonder if all those past lengthy inquiries into hacking, fiddling expenses and negligence and indolence, etc. have in effect been but practice for the ‘big one’, – the revelation and inquiry into the seemingly common crime of child abuse.

  4. EP,

    Yes, perhaps a misunderstanding of Human Rights law and its application in the courtroom should also be considered as ‘an accessory to the crime’.

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