I picked up a Daily Express on the train yesterday fully expecting it to give me some ammunition for a bile filled rant about thier homophobia, racism or just plain sillyness - but no - I come to praise the Express not to bury it, because when I turned to Judy Finnigan's column on the school boy who's been sent down for throwing a fire extinguisher it was surprisingly sensible.
Judy focuses on the fact that eighteen year old Edward Woolard was persuaded to hand himself in to the police by his mother, who escorted him to the police station. It took real guts for the pair of them to do this and I doubt the praise from the judge made either of them feel any better about that decision when the heavy handed sentence of 32 months was handed down.
Here's some of what Judy said next;
AS I watched Tania Garwood push through the scrum of waiting press photographers, clasping the hand of her teenage son as she led him into court, I saw a determined and courageous mother convinced she was doing the right thing for her boy.Well done the Express for printing this.
I doubt she thinks that now... Poor Tania. For what I am sure she thought would be a short, sharp slap for her son – maybe a few weeks in prison, or a community service order – has turned into a nightmare for both Edward and her. She broke down and sobbed inconsolably when Justice Geoffrey Rivlin QC delivered his harsh sentence.
I’m not surprised at her shock. Because she may well have just ruined her son’s future. Young offenders institutions are bleak, tough places, full of young men in mental torment who will make Edward’s life hell...
And yes of course the judge was right to punish him. But this punishment is far too harsh. It does not fit the crime.
And while Tania Garwood now probably deeply regrets taking her son to the police station mothers everywhere must be shuddering with horror, vowing that if their child does something reprehensible, stupid and illegal they will remain silent.
So while the judge has punished Edward he has also punished Tania, whose courage he praised in court.
And by making such an extreme example of Edward (whose sentence, I am certain, will not prevent any other young protester from momentarily losing his head) Justice Rivlin has probably ensured that other mothers who want to “do the right thing” when their kids have done wrong will certainly pause before handing them over to what they fondly believe is a fair justice system resulting in a fair, appropriate punishment.
I think she has made a strong point worth considering here. By making an example of this young man many will take from it the lesson, not that they should not break the law, but that the law is unjust and it is not in their interests to cooperate with it, even when they think they should.