Letter:Paras' penalty makes sense

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The Independent Online
From Mr Roger Lake, JP Sir: In the understandable furore over the sentences on the four thugs in the Parachute Regiment, has too little attention been paid to the Compensation Orders? Compensation is now regarded as a penalty in its own right, and takes precedence over fines and costs. Since the criminals are to remain in employment, the victim will actually get the £13,000 compensation ordered. Had they been imprisoned, how much would he have received from the Government through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board? Much less, I think.

Community service may seem a soft option to those not in full-time work. But these soldiers are working. Community service is intended to be, and is, not merely something useful done for the benefit of the community, but also a punitive curtailment of liberty: think of 200 hours as every Saturday, from 9.00 till 5.30, from now till the end of July. Add to that the compensation that must be paid, amounting to almost half the cost of a new car; paid, that is, by each of the offenders.

I suggest the attitudes needing review are not those of the judge, but those of the Parachute Regiment's officers, and of the Government minister responsible for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. I believe the criminals ought to be in prison, butas things stand, there are good reasons for the sentence imposed.

Yours faithfully, Roger Lake York 9 February

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