Opinions are fine Paul and I wouldn't dream of saying otherwise
What I would say is that some of you have met me and hopefully are reassured that, in my Court, nobody gets a free ride
There is no right for any defendant to avoid disqualification owing to exceptional hardship. It is totally at the discretion of the examining Bench and is extremely difficult to obtain such a result.
Without giving too much away, exceptional hardship is usually accepted if it would be imposed upon another, innocent individual, for example, somebody who requires regular and difficult trips to hospital and the defendant is their only (realistic) means of getting there. Even then, the defendant's word, even under oath or affirmation, counts for very little and documentary evidence is required, which, in itself, would be sujbect to careful scrutiny by the examining Bench.
I suppose what I'm trying to say is that media journalism is, of necessity, sensationalist and they never tell the whole story. Please, take it from me that Magistrates up and down the country, are not quite as naive as the media would have you believe