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.