The Burnley/Bacup/Nelson zone, so close to the beautiful Pennine moors, seems like a wee microcosm of modern England, with its cast of smackheads, paedophiles, thieves and unruly
(if not downright murderous) gangs, all mixed in with the unique issues
that pertain to such a vibrant part of the multicultural UK, and presided over by a bunch of visionary social engineers
Mixed in with said ne'e'r-do-wells are a lot of ordinary hardworking types, heavily taxed to pay for the social workers, youth workers, solicitors and drug outreach workers of which the former have such need. They only tend to be seen in the comments boxes of the local press, raising metaphorical eyebrows as yet another serious crime is given yet another non-custodial punishment.
I was visting the Burnley Citizen site to find out, in the light of the recent reports on 'grooming', what sentences had been handed down to the gang
who kidnapped, beat up, and dumped a fourteen year old schoolboy - for the crime of talking to their (female) cousin at school.Suspended sentences
. Not surprisingly the boy's father is extremely unchuffed.
The court heard that the gang of five set upon the boy because he had been seen talking to one of their cousins. He was hit with a crook lock during the assault and a footprint was left on his face by one of his attackers. After the violence he was left to walk home alone.
But the father of the victim, who has asked not be named, said the sentences, handed out by Judge Andrew Woolman last week, were 'unduly lenient and disappointing'. He said: "I really feel that a golden opportunity has now been lost to send a strong message to the community. I am particularly saddened that it has taken a great deal of effort from my young son, standing up to these people and willing to go to court where others may not have. And all this effort has amounted to nothing. The original attack and in particular the subsequent sentence has been devastating to him. His grades at schools have slipped and he is nervous in unfamiliar places and never allowed to go out unaccompanied"
The father has contacted Lancashire's Crown Prosecution offices in Burnley, urging lawyers to launch an appeal against the sentences. He has paid tribute to the police and prosecutors in bringing the case to court - but feels 'appalled' at the outcome. A Lancashire CPS spokesman said: "We are reviewing the issues which he has raised in his letter."
Where was I ? Ah, yes - the comments. Another of the stories in the Citizen featured a couple of guys
who, baseball-batted, hooded and balaclava'd, kicked down a front door to "have a word with" the occupants. Mr Balaclava, Lee Rainford, got sent down (two months - what's that in real money - 3 weeks ?) and Mr Hoodie, Shaun Rushton, got a community order, which he failed to turn up for.
Judge Beverley Lunt told him "you have thrown a chance in the judge's face and I will not stand for that
" - before giving him 12 weeks suspended and more community service.
So far, so normal. It was the comments that struck me."I KNEW who would have presided over this case before I even opened the link."
"Well what a surprise finding out who the judge was"
"Judge Beverley Lunt - a name that must warm the hearts of all the local thugs and criminals"
She seemed to have quite a fan base. Time for a quick Google
. Wow."How did I know when I read the headline that this judge would be Judge Beverley Lunt?""when i first saw the headlines "troubled youth spared jail" how come my first instincts was to say "It has got to be Beverly Lunt" and sure as glass is glass it was! What is wrong with this woman?"
"I guessed the name of the Judge before I read the report."When ever a case like this comes up in court and Judge Beverley Lunt is in the chair she gives out outlandishly lenient sentences.
Joseph McDonald had a long record even though he was only 17 and Judge Beverley Lunt said structured assistance from the Probation Service could be just what he needed. Burnley Crown Court heard how the defendant had stole victim Syed Kazmi's money bag and punched him."So, Beverley,you've been duped yet again.""Beverely Lunt is THE worst judge that this county has had the misfortune to ever meet""As soon as I read the headline I knew who the Judge would be"
The judge warned the defendant: "People who attack taxi drivers in this town must expect a custodial sentence. The courts are going to protect taxi drivers. They are serving the public during unsociable hours."
But she then spared him jail, saying support could help "make a man out of him".
"Lunt has struck again"
"I saw the headline and thought to myself, I'd put my house on this Judge being let em go LUNT. If only I was a betting man"
"I am now awaiting the approval for a petition that I have set up demanding the resignation of Judge Beverley Lunt on the Downing Street website"
"Criminals of Burnley -TAKE YOUR CHANCE WITH BEVERLEY LUNT - YOU HAVE JUST ABOUT EVERY CHANCE OF GETTING AWAY WITH IT.""Here's some more on the judge who appears convinced prisons are so overcrowded that she shouldn't send anybody there...
A soldier suffered a fractured skull after he was attacked by a gang in Burnley whilst on leave from the army. Scott Condron, 20, who serves with the Royal Signals Regiment, was punched in the face by drunken Luke Thompson before the gang repeatedly kicked him. Signaller Condron suffered a fracture to his temple as well as cuts and vomited repeatedly after he was taken to hospital, Burnley Crown Court heard.
But a judge decided not to jail Thompson, 18, who pleaded guilty to inflicting grevious bodily harm, for the appalling attack' saying it was time for him to turn his life around.
Judge Beverley Lunt said anybody involved in street fighting with kicking should expect prison and added it was appalling Mr Condron was home for rest and relaxation and was the victim of such an assault. But she said he was working and the authorities prevailed upon judges to impose an alternative if a sentence of 12 months or less could be passed. Judge Lunt said Thompson had had too much to drink and added the number of drink fuelled offences by otherwise responsible young men was becoming frightening. She added it was now the time to turn his life around.
1 ARMED MUGGING – WALK FREE ONE of a gang of three hooded and masked knifemen who took a mobile phone off a terrified teenager has kept his freedom. Burnley Crown Court heard how Shumel Mahmood (16) was said to be the "main player" in the incident in which all three attackers were armed with multi-tool weapons. Mahmood, of Gordon Street, Burnley, admitted robbery in March. He was given 200 hours of community punishment with £100 costs and £100 compensation.
2 MUGGING & SERIOUS ASSAULT - A CUSTODIAL!!!!! A TEENAGER has been sentenced to five years in jail for a vicious mugging which left a Brierfield man scarred and needing surgery. Baron Paul Newton (19) pleaded guilty at Burnley Crown Court to the July robbery in which he taunted and punched a man in the face as he walked home from a night out in Burnley
And yet a soldier gets beaten to the point where he may lose his career and the criminals WALK!!!!
3. ATTEMPTED MURDER _ WALK FREE A DISTRAUGHT middle-aged mum who knifed her ex-partner after he found a new woman, has walked free from court. Depressed Joan Harris (46) had hidden in victim Harold Bleasdale's garden, armed with a 4in. weapon, before pouncing on him from behind as he walked home with his new girlfriend in the early hours, Burnley Crown Court heard.
So, attempted murder = walk free
4. PUB GLASSING _ WALK FREE A DRUNKEN teenager who glassed a man, leaving him "scarred for life", has kept his freedom - even though a judge slammed him as a menace. Burnley Crown Court heard how Mark Steer (19), of Woone Lane, Clitheroe, immediately rang his victim to apologise. When the police answered, he owned up. Judge Beverly Lunt told Steer he worked hard all week, but then went out, got drunk and was out of control. She went on: "That has to stop and one way is to make sure you don't have the money to do it." Steer admitted wounding in January and had been committed to sentence by Hyndburn magistrates. He was given 52 weeks in custody, suspended for two years, with 12 months' supervision.
6. FRAUD – WALK FREE DVD pirate was so successful he installed CCTV in his garage "store" to deter shoplifters. Hugh Hamer, 59, had 7,500 Hollywood bootlegs with a value of £100,000, on sale for £5 a copy. Trading standards said his garage was like a high street store, selling DVDs, CDs and computer games. The divorced dad-of two, who lives with his mum in Billington, Lancs, also admitted selling ****. Burnley judge Beverly Lunt said: "You have done a wicked thing. Continue and you will go to prison." He was given a 12-month suspended sentence and ordered to do 250 hours' community work.
7. PUB GLASSING – WALK FREE Kirsty Ryan (22) hit one victim with a glass and then sank her teeth into the landlord as he tried to break up fighting between her and another girl at the New Black Bull pub in Padiham. Burnley Crown Court heard how Ryan had descended into a downward spiral of drink and drugs after her three-year-old daughter was mowed down and killed by a disqualified driver in September last year. This offence was committed just a month after she received a conditional discharge for throwing a vase at her mother's partner. The defendant's barrister told the court how Ryan had struggled to cope with not only her loss, but also the high-profile court case following the accident and the ensuing publicity.
Despite personal tradegy it is somehow OK to go around glassing people and not get locked up…
8. ARSONIST WALKS FREE A woman set fire to her flat after a vodka binge with her partner still sleeping inside, a court was told. Deborah Ryan set fire to curtains on the flat on Albyn Street East, Preston last December. Preston Crown Court prosecutor Paul Cummings said she and her partner George Crompton had been drinking during the day. Eventually she asked him to leave, he refused and fell asleep only to be woken by smoke. Ryan was heard to say: "Let the place burn", Mr Cummings added. Mr Crompton was able to douse the flames and damage was confined to curtains and a window costing about £250 to repair, the court heard. Ryan, 43, pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless arson. Her barrister, Miss Nadine Hope said immediately after the fire she accepted what she had done, in drink, when police arrived at the scene. In her state at the time, she had wanted to harm herself but recklessly started the fire, not intentionally. She had been allowed to stay in the property and was now repaying the costs for the damage to the Housing Association who own it. Miss Hope said her client was successfully fighting an alcohol problem. She also had mental health difficulties. Jude Beverly Lunt told Ryan she could have put her own life, that of her partner and neighbours at risk. She had come close to receiving an immediate prison sentence but the judge told her she had decided to suspend the 12 month term for two years."
But it's this one that takes the biscuit.
On Friday at Burnley Crown Court Judge Beverley Lunt gave Jason Davies a last chance to kick his habit after he admitted twice raiding Nelson fire station on one occasion threatening a firefighter with a screwdriver and violent behaviour.Davies, of Dover Street, Nelson, who had almost 150 previous convictions, also asked for 45 offences carried out to fund his addiction to be considered.
Judge Lunt gave him a suspended jail sentence, 12 months supervision and a nine month drug rehabilitation requirement.
Magistrates had earlier warned Davies who also faced charges of supplying amphetamine he faced jail when they sent the case to crown court.The crown court was told Davies was on bail from a prison term at the time of the fire station break-in, which happened on April 14.
So he was a violent smackhead, with 140+ previous convictions, out on bail when he committed more crime - and Beverley Lunt thought a 150th last chance might just turn him round.
That was Friday morning. Friday afternoon
A Nelson man returned from a shopping trip to find a body in his living room.Jacob Sadiq today spoke of his horror at finding drug addict burglar Jason Davies, 33, slumped on the settee of his home in Fir Street, Nelson, following a suspected drug overdose.
Mr Sadiq, 30, returned from a two-hour trip to Nelson town centre to find Davies lying in his living room surrounded by drug paraphernalia.
Just hours earlier, Davies had walked from court after Judge Beverley Lunt gave the career criminal a last chance to kick his addiction.
Mr Sadiq was questioned by detectives but quickly cleared of any involvement in Davies' death.
He said: "I was totally shocked. I was in total disbelief. I thought he was just lying there so I called the police ". I just closed the door straight away. It turned my stomach. I felt sick. He had been foaming at the mouth and the sofas were moved all over the place. He had had a good rummage around."