Judge defends probation sentence

A JUDGE at the Old Bailey took the rare step of recalling his court yesterday to defend his decision not to send to prison a schizophrenic mugger who killed an old man.

Relatives of the victim, William Hoarsley, 83, who was killed while he was feeding pigeons, were outraged yesterday when Judge Henry Pownall QC apologised to Paul Gordon, 26, for bringing him back to court again, three days after sentencing him to three years' probation for manslaughter.

Gordon, who had been released from hospital under the care in the community programme, committed the crime after stopping taking drugs that controlled his mental illness.

The police said they would be asking the Crown Prosecution Service to recommend to the Attorney General that he use his powers to review the case.

The case had been heard originally by Judge Brian Smedley, but he was not available last Friday to pass sentence, so it was added to the list of Judge Pownall, who already had 17 cases to deal with in the day. Normally when a case returns to court for sentencing, a prosecution counsel will briefly outline the facts of the earlier proceedings. In the absence of a prosecution counsel, Judge Pownall heard a resume instead from the defence counsel.

Yesterday, he pointed out that he had passed sentence after reading all the papers in the case files. He said media coverage of the case had been misleading.

He outlined again the facts of the case. Mr Hoarsley had withdrawn pounds 50 from a post office near his home in New Cross, south-east London, and had then been attacked while feeding pigeons, 'perhaps by a push, perhaps a bit more'. Gordon had run off with the money, and had been recognised by witnesses as he escaped.

The attack had not been of sufficient force in normal circumstances to kill a man, but Mr Hoarsley had been frail, with a heart condition, and had died from a heart attack within four minutes after falling backwards over a wall and knocking his head. The pathologist had said the death was a result of the attack, but there had been no intention to kill by Gordon.

'He could have collapsed at any time,' the judge said.

He said he had been aware when passing sentence that Gordon had previous convictions, a street robbery 11 years ago and a theft nine years ago. Gordon had been suffering from schizophrenia, and had responded well to treatment, but had re-offended when not taking medication. 'On medication, there had been no offences. Off medication he had been really very ill.'

He had spent nine months in custody before the sentence, and doctors and probation officers who had monitored him were convinced he had shown '100 per cent remorse'.

Doctors had advised that the correct sentence was probation rather than compulsory detention under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act.

He will spend the first part of his probation order as an in-patient, then be released into the community if he responds to treatment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Property Inspection Inventory Clerk

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a fast growing in...

Recruitment Genius: PSV/PCV & HGV Mechanics

£29000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: PSV/PCV Mechanics & HGV mechani...

Recruitment Genius: Reprographics Operator

£12500 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest independent Reprogr...

Recruitment Genius: Web Design Apprentice

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a well established websit...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee