Read these and weep

Allan Howe Herald Sun

THEY let us down, our judiciary. When they aren't falsely nominating their innocent dads as drivers for speeding fines (that was Carmen Randazzo), or threatening perfect strangers with their dogs faeces (that was Raffaele Barberio), or scratching others' cars with keys (Barberio again), they are often going easy on the guilty.

There is a trend I have identified before that I believe is undermining our justice system.

Soft sentences are being appealed against by manipulative and evil men, and too often they are shown further leniency. Curiously, it is often women magistrates and judges who are to blame.

It's time that all our court sentences were monitored and the performance of magistrates and judges measured.

It will help identify those magistrates and judges whose decisions are most successfully appealed against, and it will allow us to counsel those whose patterns of sentencing indicate a problem understanding community expectations. It might also reveal that women are more likely to go soft on crime, even unforgivable sex crimes carried out by appalling men deserving many years in jail.

I've written this before and been heavily criticised for it; but the evidence is there - and mounting.

The Hall of Fame for Light Sentencing is a crowded place, disproportionately populated by the few women who have worked their way into Victoria's exclusive old boys' legal network.

In a single edition of the Herald Sun recently there were three reports that were clear examples of what most Victorians would consider inadequate sentences - all decided by women.

Indian accounting student Kanan Kharbanda was attacked by a gang at Sunshine train station and blinded in one eye. Prosecutors sought to have one of the thugs, Majang Ngor, who pleaded guilty to the unprovoked assault, jailed for a reasonable four years. Keep in mind Kharbanda's injury is forever.

But Judge Susan Cohen sentenced Ngor to eight months in jail - wholly suspended, of course - and 40 hours' community service.

There. That'll teach him!

Judge Cohen said she couldn't lock the vicious Ngor up because the Neanderthals dealt with in the court system before him had received nine-month supervision orders, yet had been more culpable. That's called reflecting current sentencing practices - and it's gnawing away at the time criminals serve.

This is not justice, said Kharbanda, it's window dressing. No reasonable person could disagree.

Judge Sue Pullen was inducted in to the Hall of Fame in the same edition of the Herald Sun. Sort of.

Judge Pullen was deciding a case in which Olga Ignatova had scalded her four-year-old daughter with boiling water for soiling her bed. The judge dismissed the defence's argument that the offending was at the lower end of the scale and agreed with the prosecution that it was a breach of trust. All good so far.

Ignatova was found guilty of recklessly causing serious injury. You can get 15 years' jail for that. Judge Pullen gave the criminal a nine-month minimum sentence, which she agreed was light, but took into account the woman's depression and that she was no longer able to look after her daughter. Sentencing sob stories; we've heard them all.

But Ignatova rightly was no longer living with her child because she had seriously assaulted the girl.

Magistrate Kate Hawkins was also in that Herald Sun, dealing with budding clown Matthew Lever who, with two mates, soaked 17-year-old apprentice mechanic Daniel Bridgborn with solvent and set him alight for a laugh.

Bridgborn, at work for just his third day, spent time in The Alfred hospital's burns unit, where synthetic skin was used to try to repair the damage.

We should have got the last laugh, but Ms Hawkins fined Lever just $5000, plus $1000 in legal costs.

But it is the forgiveness women judges are prepared to show grubby weirdos such as Garry Broughton that is hardest to understand.

The loathsome Broughton, a married father of two from Carrum Downs, pestered and stalked two women employees who rejected his advances.

The mortgage broker boss wasn't settling for that. He set up a camera to film his targets in the toilet; one of the women found the device, and police located videos on Broughton's laptop.

The women suffered various problems, including a feeling of having been raped. Both had to leave their jobs.

Broughton pleaded guilty to stalking, photographing a person's intimate body parts, and installing a surveillance device. He could have served 10 years just for a single stalking charge.

When first convicted, Broughton was sentenced to nine months' jail with five suspended. That's soft.

Boldly, he appealed against the sentence. Now, this can end in tears if the prosecution also appeals; a judge unimpressed by the first penalty might strike for a higher one.

Broughton went before Judge Wendy Wilmoth. She thundered that Broughton's behaviour warranted prison, but that the one-time Rotary president had lived an exemplary life (what?) and had suffered depression - being a pervert gets you down, I suppose - and imposed a 12-month jail term, wholly suspended. Broughton walked free!

Sound familiar? When depraved Ross Andrew Sargent came before magistrate Sarah Dawes in 2007, he was in deep trouble, having also set up a spy camera in the women's toilet of an office he owned. Police found 1300 pictures of women and children on his computer and 50 videos of girls aged from six to 16.

Ms Dawes said this was all very serious and demanded a substantial term of imprisonment. There may be some who believe 14 months, with a minimum of eight behind bars, is substantial.

Sargent certainly thought it was too much, and he, too, chanced an appeal.

He appeared in the County Court before Judge Felicity Hampel, who described Sargent's acts as predatory and a gross violation of the girls he filmed - then slashed his sentence to two months.

We once retrained our entire police force - Operation Beacon, it was called - after a rash of sometimes needless police shootings. Now we need an Operation Beacon for Victoria's judiciary to help familiarise them once more with the justice you want.



Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre

The Judiciary believe that they have total immunity from any publicity, prosecution or liability in any form whatsoever.

We can expect the Legal Cartel to rush to brown nose mode and make all sorts of noises "in support of the judiciary's ability to exercise judicial discretion.

I would like to tell Alan Howie that there are many other stories about abuses of power by the judiciary who end up with nick names like "the worst of the worst" who operate as corrupt Sargent at Arms of the Legal Cartel ordering payments for friends against foes, former present or future, business, friends or political in nature.