My day in court

A friend of mine had a really rotten thing happen to him. Then he got depressed. Then he got drunk, then he got into his car.

There was an accident, but no-one got hurt. He cooperated with the police, he is very sorry for what he has done. He has NEVER done this before – he will never do it again.

I have chosen to stand by my friend. I have known him since I was 14 (a considerable time), and I know this behaviour is out of character. I wrote him a character reference, and I stood by him in court. All bloody day.

My friend had hired a barrister, who tried to get the charge dismissed under “Section 32” of the law – section 32 deals with mental incapacity. My friend (by any reading of the law) was mentally incapacitated (by depression and by alcohol) when he got behind the wheel that day. So in my opinion, and in the opinion of the barrister, the charges should have been dismissed. But it seemed that the barrister and the judge had “history”, so we were not fairly treated, and a conviction was recorded despite an almost spotless driving record of over 20 years, and excellent character references, as well as positive steps to get treatment and other help.

So basically, my friend got a light penalty, a small fine, and a blot on his copybook because of a personality conflict. I don’t mean to say that he should get off without consequences, nobody is claiming that what he did was OK. But in that courtroom, I saw violent offenders get off with community service, people carrying knives (repeat offence) get community service, other drink drivers get lower suspensions and no fine at all, and my friend has a criminal conviction.

And I have a sore bum from sitting in that freezing court all bloody day.


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