Letter: Woodward verdict

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The Independent Online
Sir: After verdict, one of the prosecution spokesmen in the Woodward case queried whether justice had been done to the baby, Matthew. In this country too, the belief seems to be growing that the function of the criminal courts is to do justice between the offender and the victim, who (or whose family) has some sort of right sufficiently to enjoy the offender's suffering through punishment.

Kenny's Outlines of the Criminal Law, the standard student textbook of my youth, taught that the criminal law was to offer society the protection of the state from socially disruptive behaviour. The purpose was not to satisfy the lust for revenge but to protect the public, and to reform and to deter.

Of course, if there is no such thing as society ...

Are we now beginning to say that she was right after all?


Lostwithiel, Cornwall