Learco Chindamo

A few things occur to me as I read about the furore concerning the decision not to deport the killer of Philip Lawrence

1) He’s still serving a life sentence. That is the punishment determined by the court when he was convicted in 1996. He is eligible for parole next year, but that is no guarantee of release. Even if he is released then or later on, he will be under license for some time.

2) He was 15 when he committed his crime. That doesn’t diminish the seriousness of it, but in my view we should treat young offenders as being likely to be less capable of adult decision-making than, ummm, adults. However, it seems that in the UK we reserve a special kind of hatred for women or children who kill.

3) As eloquent and outspoken as Mrs Lawrence is, that is not a reason to let her decide the punishment. If her husband had not been a nice middle-class headmaster, but say, an asian shopkeeper, would we have a Mrs Patel on the from pages of the tabloids? Doubt it, somehow

4) It wasn’t the Human Rights Act, it was the fact that by law EU citizens have freedom of movement, combined with the rules that say you can’t deport an EU citizen if they’ve lived there for more than 10 years (which he’d done at about the time of conviction)

5) Hang on, Dave is leading on this one, right? One of the real complaints is that 12 years was too short a minimum sentence. So who was in government when Chindamo was convicted in 1996? Which party had a whole 17 years of power before then to set sentencing guidelines which would have stopped such a thing happening at all? Here’s a clue – Dave is a member of it, and was working for them for part of that time…

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