Saturday, March 12

Manslaughter?

Eighteen months and eight months are derisory sentences for this crime:

Two teenage bullies who pushed a boy who could not swim off a Dorset bridge to his death in the river below were detained for eight months and 18 months today.


Reading the various accounts, this is the sequence of events that emerges:

The two unnamed boys decide to chuck David in the river, for a laugh. As soon as David realises what they're up to, he tells them he can't swim. He clings on to the railings of the bridge as they continue to try and throw him in. Another boy tells them to stop it. They ignore him and continue. Pretty soon, everyone is shouting at them to stop. The boys ignore them and continue.

One of the boys grabbed his legs, pulled him up and pushed him over, which twisted his body in such a way that if he had maintained a hold on the rail it would have broken his arm.


What about this qualifies it as manslaughter and not murder? They weren't really trying to hurt him? He told them he couldn't swim. They didn't believe him, they say. The one who has pled guilty said:

If I had known he couldn't swim I wouldn't have done this and ruined someone's life.


And, after all, how could they possibly have known that David couldn't swim? After all, when David told them he couldn't swim, he was, apparently, insufficiently believable. That's hardly their fault, is it?

Trial judge Mr Justice McKinnon said: "It was the height of thoughtlessness and irresponsibility to throw him in ..."


Yeah, that's what they're guilty of: thoughtlessness and irresponsibility. It's almost as bad as forgetting to feed the goldfish.

"... having made no inquiry as to whether he could swim and for all you knew he may have been at risk of real harm and drowning if it turned out, as it did, he couldn’t swim."


Why does it matter whether they asked him if he could swim, since he told them anyway? What is the judge on about?

What about this crime is not murder?
 

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