Incarceration by the state is just around the corner….

November 16, 2012 38 Comments
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…or fines, or being sued, or being generally punished for being at a crossroads where a minor mistake can have horrible consequences.

(Disclaimer: It’s Friday night and I’ve had a few scoops. I take no responsibility for ramblings, spelling errors or general nonsense. You have been warned)

Sometimes a belief that you have always had in the back of your mind can be can be suddenly confirmed in a larger than life way when you least expect it.

I have always (since I was old enough to understand) had the belief that we are only a few steps away from having our freedom removed by the government, a power that is too big to resist.

Sure, you may worry about something like getting mugged, but at least you can take sensible precautions to minimise the risk to an acceptable level. Anything from don’t walk home through the park to becoming a karate grand master.

A mugging could easily have fatal consequences if you have a lapse in judgement or even if you find yourself in circumstances that really are beyond your control, but at least you have a fighting chance.

What happens when you make a mistake that brings down the government and it’s law enforcers on you like a tonne of bricks?

When I was twenty two years old I read a story. I won’t attempt to look for a link if there is one right now so just believe me or don’t. It was about a successful businessman who was driving in his car when a child ran out in front of him. He had no chance to stop and he killed the kid outright.

It was an accident and it was not his fault. He didn’t even get arrested (this was 14 years ago) because the police could see that he was not to blame.

The kids parents sued his insurance company for compensation but it turned out that his car did not have an MOT so the insurance company refused to pay out. His car turned out to be a month out of MOT and he had simply forgotten to get it done. The car was in good mechanical condition, he was worth a few quid and didn’t drive bangers.

That should have been the end of it but because the parents found out he had money they went for a civil suite and completely cleaned him out.

Everything he had ever worked for all his life went to somebody else who hadn’t earned it because of an accident that wasn’t he fault. He lost his entire livelihood, not because of the death of a child but because of a lapsed MOT.

When somebody goes for a civil suite against a wealthy person, all they do is hire a private dick to find out his net worth, fairly easily done, and then sue for just short of that amount. The figure bears no relevance to the loss, just the worth of the target.

There was another story at the same time about a guy in law school who was accused of date rape and was arrested and tried. He was not guilty but the trial itself ruined his chances of continuing the career he was aiming for.

It was these two stories that made me become wary of the state and start to treat the law and it’s enforcers with trepidation rather than respect.

JuliaM will tell you stories like the last one, of men falsely accused of rape. And it was Julia’s blog where I first read this story.

A railway guard found guilty of manslaughter following the death of a teenage girl who fell under a train was jailed for five years today.
Five years. I’ll get into the ins and outs of the story in a moment, but just take a minute to think. Could you do five years in prison?
I could not do prison. That’s why I don’t commit any imprisonable offences. If I was in prison I would be somebodys bitch within a matter of days, never mind years.  I could not do five years. Even if they released me within two, I would be a gibbering idiot with an incontinent arse.
But he’s a criminal and deserves to be a gibbering idiot with a rotton ring! No. He’s the guy who was at the crossroads where a mistake (even that’s debatable) meets horrible consequences.
He was also the guy at the crossroads where another persons stupidity causes the mistake. He doesn’t have much luck with crossroads, this chap.

Christopher McGee, 45, took a ‘terrible risk’ by giving the signal for the driver to depart as Georgia Varley, 16, was leaning against the carriage, a judge said.

The sixth-form college student, who was drunk on a night out in Liverpool with friends, fell between the train and the platform at the city’s James Street station in October last year as a result of McGee’s ‘appalling disregard for her safety’, a court heard.

The guard signaled the train to set off while a pissed up teenager was putting herself in mortal danger.
Georgia, who was leaning against the train when the railway guard gave the signal for it to leave, was seen to stagger and fall into the gap as it moved away from the platform.

McGee was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence following a two week trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

Jailing McGee for five years today, Mr Justice Holroyde said: ‘You did not intend to kill or even injure her, but you displayed an appalling disregard for her safety and she paid for your criminal negligence with her life.’

There was definately gross negligence involved here. There was also an appalling disregard for safety.
None of this was on the train guard though, it was all on the teenage girl and her parents.
Have a a read of the article. This girl had put herself in a situation where she was incapable of taking care of her own safety. She did this to herself and she did it with a big bloody train, something that is taken for granted and does a lot of good, but also must be respected for the fact that if messed with it can do a lot of harm.
Think about the story above with the businessman and his MOT. The insurance company refused to pay out because legally his car should not have been on the road.
Well legally this girl should not have been pissed up hugging a train. She was sixteen.
She was sixteen, dressed up for a night out, too drunk to be able to look after herself and she was doing all this with the blessing of her mother.

Georgia, from Moreton, Wirral, had gone into Liverpool for a night out with her friends when the incident happened on October 22 last year.

A blood analysis following her death showed she had 236mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in her system – the legal driving limit is 80mg.

She also had 0.083mg of the drug mephedrone, or Mcat, in her system at the time of her death.

______
‘We have listened as our daughter was portrayed as being a drunken liability when, in all honesty, she did no more than what many teenagers do of a weekend – she went out to celebrate her friend’s birthday.

She was sixteen. She wasn’t nicking booze from the liquer cabinet, she wasn’t supping a bottle of white lightening on the park, she went to another town, on the piss, in the pubs, with her parents blessing.
She was sixteen
Mr Justice Holroyde told the defendant today: ‘Much has been made on your behalf during this trial of how intoxicated Georgia was, but that did not relieve you of the duty of care which you owed to her.

Giving evidence, McGee had told the jury he thought Georgia was moving away from the train when he gave the signal to depart.

He also said he did not know how drunk she had been.

Think very carefully about that. You have a duty of care to those around you, regardless of the danger they put themselves in and regardless of weather you are aware of that or not.
If you fail in that duty of care, the state can incarcerate you at their will.
We live in a society where we are not held to blame for our own actions. Beware the day when you are held accountable for someone elses.
I couldn’t do prison. Could you?

38 Responses to Incarceration by the state is just around the corner….

  1. john in cheshire
    November 16, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Bucko, I had the same thoughts about this incident, when it was reported on Granada News. It was a tragic accident, but to imprison the train guard is a travesty. And the parents being allowed to vent their spleen, in the aftermath of the trial was unforgivable. More like islamic punishment than considered justice in a civilised country. Harsh and merciless.

    • November 16, 2012 at 11:21 pm

      John – Agreed. It’s more like vengeance than justice. Someone is dead and someone must pay. Sometimes there is no culprit. Sometimes the only person at fault is the one who is tragically dead.

      That doesn’t help the grieving family in a world with no responsibility and access to mainstream media.

  2. November 16, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    I’m surprised by the red/green arrows on the Mail story. I would have thought that the red arrows would be for anyone who said it was partly or wholly the girl’s fault. In fact the red arrows are for anyone who calls for a tougher sentence for the guard.

    • November 16, 2012 at 11:27 pm

      True. The same happened when the DM campaigned for an internet porn filter. Sometimes the drones have the ability to surprise. I’m not holding my hopes for a general awakening though.

      • November 17, 2012 at 7:24 am

        I think it’s because this story is one of the few that has the ability to wake people from their slumber and make them say ‘Hey! Hang on a minute here..!’

  3. Andrew
    November 16, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Liverpool, drunkenness, death, definitely the fault of the man in uniform and not the pisshead.

    Wasn’t there a big fuss about something similar recently?

    :twisted:

    • November 16, 2012 at 11:28 pm

      Really? I’ve been off the grid for a while. What do you mean?

      • Andrew
        November 17, 2012 at 12:51 am

        Hillsborough.

        • November 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm

          Oh yeah, of course

  4. Tom
    November 17, 2012 at 2:21 am

    Most of us have been in this unfortunate girl’s position and many of us owe our lives to the kindness of strangers. But we have no right to expect, still less demand, that kindness or to blame others when their error triggers the consequences of our own dangerous choices. If this is a good judgement, then we have bad law in need of reform, as this poor guy does not deserve five years in gaol for at worst an oversight. Particularly when people are facing lighter punishments for deliberate, serious crimes.

    You are right to finger the parents, but the story reflects badly on Britain in another way. I was working in Moscow when there was a newspaper story about Tony Blair’s son being found dead drunk in the gutter in London. My colleagues were horrified that his friends had left him there. No-one in Russia (as I have cause to be grateful for) would leave a friend alone when incapable of taking care of themselves. Where were this girl’s so-called friends? Why did no-one see her safely home?

    • November 17, 2012 at 7:26 am

      Her friends were on the train, and were almost certainly in the same (if not worse) state…

      • November 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm

        And no doubt, the same age

    • November 17, 2012 at 2:01 pm

      Yes, I’ll admit to having put myself in a helpless state in younger days. I’ll also admit that it was my fault, and fortunately I’ve had decent friends.

  5. November 17, 2012 at 7:25 am

    “I could not do prison. That’s why I don’t commit any imprisonable offences. “

    Well, soon they’ll make the offences you do commit imprisonable ones… :twisted:

    • November 17, 2012 at 2:03 pm

      Of course they will. Pity the don’t make violent attacks, muggings and burglaries imprisonable offences

  6. Greg Tingey
    November 17, 2012 at 8:45 am

    I do hoppe that the Guards’ Union will help to try to get an appeal against both sentence & conviction?

    THAT is what unions are supposed to be for.

    This stinks.

    • David A. Evans
      November 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      Agreed Greg.

      At the very worst the guard made an error of judgement. I haven’t seen the video obviously but as I recall, the signal is a buzzer the guard sounds, if the girl left the train and after the doors shut, turned around, the buzzer may have been sounded before she leant on the train. From then it’s a tragedy waiting to happen.

      DaveE.

    • November 17, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      Agreed. This needs to be appealed with everything available

  7. Jack Savage
    November 17, 2012 at 10:32 am

    The beauty of the totalitarian state is that the plethora or rules, regulations and laws means that everybody is guilty of something at any given time.
    This provides a very simple method of social control. If you cause trouble we can perfectly legitimately come for you in the middle of the night and put a bag over your head.
    We are getting there.
    I think the USA are already there. Even 5 Star Generals have to watch their back, it would seem.

    • November 17, 2012 at 2:05 pm

      Yes, the US are very good at it, and we’re always just a few steps behind them

  8. November 17, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Slightly o/t so far as imprisonment on a whim is concerned, but does anyone remember the Sally Clark case, where a mother of two infant children was convicted of their murder on the basis of expert evidence from a statistician? Her eventual release when the flaws were finally accepted did not save her from an untimely death caused by alcoholism and depression arising from the wrongful conviction. Just as disturbing as the present case.

    • David A. Evans
      November 17, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      Yes I remember that one.

      As I recall, there were 2 SIDS cases in her family, the epidemiologist, (not strictly speaking statistician,) said that the chances of 2 cases were so remote, it had to be murder.

      DaveE.

      • November 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm

        That was it?

        • David A. Evans
          November 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm

          Yep, a paediatric epidemiologist no less. the evidence was discredited.
          Independents disputed it right from the start but it took time for their evidence to be accepted.

          Stupid CIs & RRs in his study as per usual in epidemiology.

          DaveE.

        • David A. Evans
          November 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm

          Edit not working.

          Anyway, I was working from memory and apparently it was a plain old paediatrician who thought he knew statistics.

          Obviously, (in his mind,) if one is 1 in 8600 then two is 1 in 8600^2.

          I know I don’t have to explain the flaw in that logic.

          DaveE.

          • November 17, 2012 at 4:28 pm

            Bloody hell. That’s quite scary isn’t it

            • David A. Evans
              November 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm

              You’re such a master if understatement.

              If the dodgy statistics wasn’t enough, he also categorically ruled out any possibility of genetic preponderance. Simply said it never happened that way.

              DaveE.

              • Michael
                November 17, 2012 at 6:57 pm

                The case was rot from start to finish. “Meadows Law” as it became termed was based on “research” that I would not have accepted from a Sixth Former much less a Post-Graduate. The fact that all the evidence used for his “research” conveniently disappeared before any peer review was possible should have had alarm bells ringing immediately.

    • November 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm

      I don’t remember that one but I’ll be taking a look. Yes, when the state fucks up they let you off without so much as a by your leave and you’re left to live with the horrible trauma

  9. Andrew Duffin
    November 18, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I’m sorry but this won’t do.

    The guy could see the girl, he could see the state she was in, it was easily predictable that she would fall, and quite possible – even likely – that she’d go under the train.

    Yet still, knowing all that, he gave the start signal.

    This was not an accident, and bears no resemblance to the expired-MOT situation you describe above. He was utterly reckless beyond any excusable justification.

    He’s lucky, frankly, that he only got five years.

    • November 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      Have to say, I agree. The training and rules requirements for rail operations are strict because of this very point – the train operator has a statutory as well as common law duty of care. That the girl was pissed out of her brains is not relevant to that duty of care. The “right away” should not have been given until it was absolutely clear that no one was in danger of being caught up by the train – drunk or otherwise.

      • November 18, 2012 at 12:19 pm

        “”the train operator has a statutory as well as common law duty of care””

        The fact that she was pissed out of her brain should be very relevant to that duty of care. Your duty of care is to not put others in danger, but it is not to ensure they don’t do it to themselves which would be very difficult.

        Where was her parents duty of care? Why was a sixteen year old girl out on the piss and taking drugs in another town with her parents blessing (not for the drugs maybe).

        The girl has a duty of care to herself, she failed. Her parents have a duty of care to her. They failed.

        The person who has the least responsibility to care for this girl is in prison.

        That’s not right

    • November 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      Well he said he thought the girl was moving off and he had no idea how drunk she was.
      It’s unlikely he gave the start signal with the knowledge that the girls death was the probable result, as you describe above.

      At most it was a terrible accident with terrible consequences. He did not deserve prison, his family did not deserve to suffer.

      A girl is dead and her family are suffering but that is mostly a situation of their own making. To ruin another family is not justice, it’s just revenge.

      • November 18, 2012 at 12:18 pm

        One of the potential outcomes of working on the railway is that a mistake can see you being prosecuted for making an error of judgement. It’s one of the risks we take.

        How drunk the girl was is neither here nor there. He gave the “right away” when he shouldn’t have. He should have delayed the train until after the girl had either moved away of her own accord or been moved away – that’s what the BTP are there for.

        • November 18, 2012 at 12:24 pm

          “”One of the potential outcomes of working on the railway is that a mistake can see you being prosecuted for making an error of judgement. It’s one of the risks we take.””

          One of my points in the story was that we all face that possibility throughout our daily lives. And the consequences can be life changing.

          I wasn’t aware that it was part of this guys job description though.

          • November 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm

            It isn’t part of the job description, it just comes with the territory of doing a safety critical job.

            • Lord T
              November 18, 2012 at 6:42 pm

              and now every train with a chav within 200yards will be held up whilst safety barriers are put up to ensure that this never happens again. If I worked in his role I would insist on it.

              • November 18, 2012 at 6:45 pm

                No need. Common sense applies here. If the chav is a danger to himself or others, delay the train until the BTP have removed the problem.

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