Monday, March 19

Actions have consequences

First case from Kashmir.

The police charges are preventing many young men in Indian-administered Kashmir from proceeding with their education or finding work.

"My career is ruined. I cannot seek admission in any college. I cannot get a passport, and worse, I cannot get a government job," said one young man, arrested for throwing stones at police, who did not want to be named.

Then some cases from London.

The Army career of a serving soldier is in ruins after he was locked up for eight months today for buying a stolen guitar during the August disturbances and then trying to sell it on.

Liam Bretherton, 20, was in Manchester city centre at the height of the widespread civil disorder when he paid £20 to a unknown man in the street for the instrument, which had just been looted from a nearby music store Two days later Bretherton, a member of the 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, went into a music shop in his home town of Leigh, Greater Manchester, and offered them the rare left-handed Les Gibson guitar, valued at nearly £2,000.

The shop owner became suspicious, locked the doors and called the police when he confirmed with the other store that it had been taken during a large-scale raid on its premises on August 9. Manchester Crown Court heard Bretherton then appeared "agitated" and "the colour drained from his face" as he said: "I'm in the Army."

He was arrested and went on to plead guilty to handling stolen goods. His counsel pleaded for a suspended sentence today as any jail term would lead to him being kicked out of the Army, but Judge Anthony Gee QC said he would be "failing in my duty" to impose anything but immediate custody. The judge said: "You have to face the consequences of what you did and what you did amounts to a very serious offence

Another one

She cited the case of a 17-year-old boy "from a very respectable family, who had never been anywhere near the police before", who was sentenced to 18 months custody by West London youth court after handing himself in to police. The boy in the case, an A-level student who hoped to go to university, had become involved in the looting in Ealing, west London. He entered a cafe, taking two bottles of wine which he passed on to friends; someone then handed him a T-shirt, which he also gave away.

The next day, his parents had marched him to the police station, taking the clothes he had been wearing at the time to show the police. He made a "full and frank" confession, and expressed regret for his actions, said Crichton. "Even the police said how remorseful he was." In court, the defendant produced excellent references from his school and his parents and older brother spoke on his behalf. The boy also addressed the judge directly and pleaded not to go to prison. He admitted that at the time of the offence he had got carried away, and thought what he was doing was funny, rather than criminal.

Crichton said: "He just didn't think about his actions, didn't think about the consequences – but that's what young men are like. It's called growing up."

Sad but yes, you do have to suffer the consequences. These are not children, they are adults, they can vote, they can go into the army, they can get married, they can have benefits, they can make money, they can make mistakes and yes, their actions have consequences. And yes, after this mistake and the consequence, they will grow up. That’s how you learn, you make mistakes, you suffer the consequences and then you grow up.

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