Paltry sentence for loss of lives

PUBLISHED: 11:08 10 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:28 05 July 2010

WHAT value is life? Not much more than tuppence considering the little respect and reverence many have for a human life.

An innocent father-of-two was kicked and beaten to death in Norwich when he tried to break up a fight and a 17-year-old threatening suicide from the roof of a tall building was goaded to jump to his death by onlookers who snapped his body on their mobile phone cameras.

WHAT value is life? Not much more than tuppence considering the little respect and reverence many have for a human life.

An innocent father-of-two was kicked and beaten to death in Norwich when he tried to break up a fight and a 17-year-old threatening suicide from the roof of a tall building was goaded to jump to his death by onlookers who snapped his body on their mobile phone cameras.

People, like a nearly new sofa, fridge or coat, are right up there at the top of the list in our throwaway society.

But is it any wonder when senior judges impose silly sentences on killers?

This week footballer Luke McCormick - young, wealthy and, if he's like most footballers, with an over-inflated opinion of himself and his invincibility - was jailed for just seven years this week for killing two small boys.

He was double the drink-drive limit when he got into his Land Rover, drove “like an idiot”, according to witnesses, and fell asleep at the wheel on the way home from a team-mate's wedding.

He ploughed into a car killing 10-year-old Arron Peak and his brother Ben, eight, and seriously injured their father. The boys were heading for a day out at Silverstone.

Arron and Ben were their parents' only children. Gone and lost forever because of one man's selfish reckless stupidity.

A “mistake' some might say. But downing a skinfull, getting behind the wheel of a powerful machine exhausted and drunk then driving at 90mph is hardly a slight misjudgement.

A police officer said McCormick had nearly collided with other cars before the crash. He was “shocked at the speed and the alcohol,” he said.

Every action has a consequence - and McCormick's was devastating, depriving parents of their children. He turned a family into a broken bereaved couple who will be “scarred forever.”

Parents existing from day to day in an empty home, reminded of dreams of what might have been, living with unimaginable loss, in pure and utter sadness and pain at the gorgeous boys they have lost.

Trite as it may be, they face a life sentence.

But McCormick will be eligible for parole in just three-and-a-half years.

He's 25. Even if he serves his full sentence, he will be 32 when he's released. Time enough to start again, settle down and have children, a career and a full life.

Seven short years for snuffing out two boys and all the potential and life they had ahead. His punishment - a mild interruption to his life.

Seven years is just over half the 13-year sentence handed on the same day to a grandmother who smuggled £1m of drugs in her mobility scooter.

The judge could have imposed the maximum sentence of 14 years on McCormick. Instead he chose the bottom end of the scale, something, I'm sure, will cause the Peaks even more sleepless nights

In July, the Sentencing Guidelines Council said that drivers who cause death crashes involving a variety of aggravating factors - I'd say twice the drink drive limit and driving at over 90 miles qualified as “aggravating”, wouldn't you? - should attract a sentence close to the maximum of 14 years.

The guidelines were designed to give judges and magistrates a “clear message” that driving offences that result in death are serious offences and should receive appropriate sentences.

Why would this judge consider the deaths of two boys as suitable for a sentence for the less serious of dangerous death cases? But he doesn't have to justify his decision.

The paltry sentence came even after McCormick refused to enter a plea at his last court appearance forcing the Peaks to have to attend court this week and go through it all again.

Yet another sentence that goes nowhere near reflecting the crime. Hardly a deterrent nor a sign that life deserves more value and respect.

WE'VE had Desperate Housewives; watch out soon for Desperate Political Wives.

A TV series about political wives is crying out to be made with enough fodder from the party conference season to fill episodes.

Are our political leaders so ineffectual and dull that their wives appear fascinating in comparison?

Do they need their wives - like little boys need their mummies - to get them out of trouble and hide behind?

Admittedly, I am quite taken with Samantha Cameron's sassiness and Sarah Brown comes across as splendid best friend material.

To think of it, I'm far more taken with the wives than I could ever be by either husband.

Perhaps the couples are in the wrong jobs.

COME back kid Peter Mandleson's sudden disappearance for medical attention is all very fishy.

His dash into hospital came just after it was claimed he “dripped pure poison” about his new ally and colleague Gordon Brown to Shadow Chancellor George Osborne in a Greek taverna.

Perhaps “kidney stones” is political speak for surgery to remove his second face to avoid future accusations of double-dealing.

LOVELY Victoria Beckham has got looking absurd down to a fine art.

For a woman who spends so much time thinking about “fashun” you'd think she'd get her looks right.

But there she was, in the shopping mall at a teddy party with her three boys, dressed absurdly in a mini dress with her pin-thin legs balanced on the most spindly towering heels. Heels that looked like ballpoint pens. In a mall, on a “Mummy day?”

But what I can't get is, that as a mother of small boys, how she can dare to leave the house with a three-year-old in those heels? Don't her children run off and hide like every other, zig-zag round the rails or run riot forcing her to run after them? She could barely teeter let alone run in those shoes.

Or perhaps it's the bodyguards that do all the tough stuff parenting.

JAMIE Oliver has offended Rotherham by daring to suggest they need help with their cuisine.

They might not be the “numpties” they think he thinks they are but he has a point.

He finds a single mother on benefits who has never used her eight-ring hob, chucking takeaway kebabs at her children in front of the TV and another who eats 10 packets of crisps for her dinner and has no idea what boiling water looks like.

When a study revealed this week that the obesity crisis in Britain is far worse than believed and 10pc more people are overweight or obese than previously thought, with far more people at serious risk of health problems like diabetes and heart disease, Oliver's attention is timely.

I don't believe people don't know how to cook or what to cook. People are just too lazy to bother to cook.

Cooking takes time and effort, planning and organisation and so many people just can't be bothered when there's a kebab shop down the road.

Poor Jamie will find, you can lead a Rotherham woman to a sushi bar but you can't make her eat. You can lead her to her eight-ring cooker but you can't make her cook.

MY story of the week this week was the couple who spent three months clearing their streets of litter to recycle to collect air miles for their honeymoon flight.

The inventive lovebirds put 60,000 bits of rubbish through a Tesco recycling machine for club card points, turning them into 36,000 British Airways air miles.

Ann and John Till flew back from the US business class, laughing that the litterlouts of their hometown of Petersfield had paid for the pleasure. And their streets were clean.

TALKING of weddings, why do wedding dresses no longer have sleeves?

Almost every bride on every wedding page of every newspaper look like they've been the victim of the great sleeve thief, an evil wrecker who rampages through wedding dress shops hacking off sleeves of every beautiful gown.

All that is left when he flees is a low-cut strapless bodice and a skirt, the only outfit apparently available to brides of all shapes and sizes today.

Whatever the weather, brides are bare from her bust upward, all shoulders and arms.

Some look beautiful. Sadly most look like dogs' dinners with bingo wings and weight lifters arms crying out for a well-cut sleeve.

It's the fashion, so I'm told. So were Juliet caps in the seventies but they did nothing for anyone either and every bride lived to regret it.

Poor vicars and registrars spend their working lives looking deep into the full gamut of cleavages.

BY the first week of October the C word was on the attack.

Catalogues of useless C-word gifts weigh down postal workers, the TV ads have started and, at the end of September, supermarkets had already organised their rows of C-word stuffing mixes, pickles and mincemeat.

It always feels vulgar to start thinking about that season, but this year even more so.

People are struggling to pay for the basics, the global economy is teetering on the brink and the commercial fest is still launching itself with its usual aplomb.

It feels obscene. We need a season of austerity and thrift rather than ostentatious gifts.

Who knows, the message might get through and this could be the year when we focus on what really matters in our lives, cut the waste, concentrate on need and give those we love what money can't buy.

If only life could be that simple…

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