What does a man need to do to go to jail?
Tweeting can lead to longer sentences than GBH
In February 2020, Uzair Bhatti and Mohammed Aseeb Ali were out celebrating a friend’s birthday in Blackburn when, in an unprovoked attack, they set upon 20-year-old Mitchell Gibbons. The two men beat their victim so badly that Gibbons was left in intensive care for weeks, fighting for his life. He had to have part of his skull removed and has ‘life-changing injuries’.
Guess how many years Bhatti and Ali will have to serve in jail for this appalling crime? Fifteen? Ten, maybe? Surely not less than that.
Answer: None. Not a single day. The judge ruled that going to prison might cost them their jobs and that he was satisfied neither was a threat to society. For putting a random stranger in intensive care and almost killing him, they will only have to carry out some unpaid work.
If you find such a sentence bizarre, then rest assured that it is not at all unusual, because in Britain it’s routine for very violent or repeat offenders to escape prison, a fact which many people seem blissfully unaware of. While we argue about imperial measurements or whether childhood cartoon characters are getting ‘cancelled’, the one thing we should be truly nostalgic for — effective prison sentences that protect us from violence — is forgotten about.
In my own small way I try to contribute to this debate with the most depressing thread on Twitter, where I chronicle all the violent criminals who are spared jail, and all the horrific crimes that wouldn’t have happened had the perpetrator been put away earlier.
It includes a man who killed his wife, was let out after a few years, then strangled his girlfriend, was released after a shortish sentence, before killing a third woman, hitting her with a claw hammer and throttling her with a dressing gown cord. I presume they won’t let him out again, although knowing the British justice system, who knows.