A man who disrupted this year’s University Boat Race has been jailed for six months for causing a public nuisance.
Trenton Oldfield, 36, of Myrdle Street, east London, swam into the path of crews on 7 April interrupting the 158th race between Oxford and Cambridge.
Okay, so the man is a cretin. And he did endanger himself in the process of his protest and if he had killed himself, my level of sympathy could be measured in minus Kelvin values. But… Six months inside?
One of the recurring themes that causes discontent with our justice system is sentencing guidelines. Yes, the judge is perfectly correct in her assessment of this arsehole’s behaviour:
Judge Anne Molyneux said Oldfield had acted dangerously, disproportionately, had not shown what he was actually protesting against, and displayed prejudice in sabotaging the event which he regarded as elitist.
She said: “You did nothing to address inequality by giving yourself the right to spoil the enjoyment of others.
“In doing so, you acted without regard for equality and contrary to the meaning of it.
“You made your decision to sabotage the race based on the membership or perceived membership of its participants of a group to which you took exception.
“That is prejudice.”
If we are going to get into disproportionate, I would suggest we start with the sentence handed down. Prisons are for real criminals, not kidults who haven’t grown up yet. He did not cause any damage and did not endanger anyone other than himself (and if he did injure or kill himself; tough shit). Community service would have been more than adequate a punishment for the crime – not that it should have been a crime in the first place as civil action would have more than sufficed to deal with it.
While we continue to have absurd sentencing decisions that clearly do not accurately reflect the severity of the offence, there will continue to be an underlying mistrust of our justice system. This case merely underlines it yet again.