However, a couple of anecdotes from my cases today:-
First, a youth we were sentencing for carrying a bladed article in a public place, specifically a kitchen knife with a 7" blade.
As some of you may know, one of the advantages (or not) in the Youth Court is that the Chairman of the Bench can interact directly with the defendant. We have the greatest latitude in our range of allowable questions and comments and boy do I take advantage
Anyway, it was clear to us that the lad in front of us was aware that carrying a knife like that was a No-No but he just as clearly wasn't sure why. Something he'd need to understand if he was to accept the reason behind his sentence.
I asked him why he carried a knife and after some initial skirmishing, he came out with the expected reason which, roughly translated from his street patois, meant that it was thought of as little more than a fashion accessory as all the chaps carried one.
I asked him if he could see a possible danger in that and he clearly couldn't.
I then asked him to say what he thought I might do if somebody in the street really pissed me off (yes, you're allowed to say things like that if it gets a point across).
He looked at me and said something to the effect of:- "You'd really go off on one" At this point I'd remind those of you reading this that I have been UNfavourably compared to Brian Blessed on steroids when I'm sat up there
"Yes, I probably would" I said. "Would you like to be the cause of me 'going off on one'?" I asked him, which elicited an embarrassed little laugh as he considered the possibility.
"Do you know what I like to carry around as a fashion accessory?" I asked the lad, and after a moment's thought he shook his head.
" A loaded UZI 9mm machine gun" I said.
My colleagues assure me that the dawn of understanding was truly there A member of the Youth Offending Team later said that it had been most effective... and could she please see my big gun. Hmmm...
In another case, the defendant, a young woman with seven children, no partner and living on benefits, and pleading guilty to shop theft for the umpteenth time, became quite irate when there was a delay owing to the fact that a probation officer was not immediately available:-
"As a tax payer, I expect better" she said.
BTW, does anybody still bother to read this stuff?