Thursday, November 18, 2010

Appeal Court deliver the correct sentence in case of Gail Cochrane sentenced to 5 years in prison for firearms charge, 240 hours of community service

Dear All

It is not enough that justice is done it must be seen to be done.

The case of Gail Cochrane, a grandmother who was jailed for five years for keeping her father's Second World War pistol under her mattress was a miscarriage of justice in how she received such a severe sentence.

She wasn’t a threat to society.

Gail Cochrane found herself in hot water when she kept her father’s Browning 7.65mm self-loading pistol for sentimental reasons.

This is an offence under the Firearms Act 1968, she shouldn’t have done it.

Now, justice has been done as appeal judges overturned her sentence and ordered her to perform 240 hours of community service.

Sometimes reason is needed legal matters.

Police discovered the weapon under the mattress of her bed on June 17, 2009 when looking for her son on an outstanding arrest warrant.

The pistol hadn’t been maintained and was in poor condition but was found to be still in working order.

The appeal judges considered whether or not "exceptional circumstances" relating to the offence or to the offender existed.

They opined that the sentencing judge did not appear to have fully considered Ms Cochrane's role in the care of her grandchildren.

And that the sentencing judge didn’t fully take account of her evidence that she was unaware that she needed a licence for the pistol.

Although ignorance of the law isn’t a defence, it can be used to mitigate and explain the circumstances and mindset of the accused.

No one knows every single law.

In his written opinion Lord Reed said:

"As I have explained, the purpose of the minimum sentence required by section 51A is to send out a deterrent message. If however, taking into account all the circumstances relating to a particular offence or a particular offender, such a term of imprisonment appears arbitrary and disproportionate, that case is an exception to the norm."

Well said Lord Reed, he is quite correct in his conclusion.

The appeal judges' decision to support the appeal was not unanimous, one of the three dissented.

Perhaps the one that did should examine whether or not they are suitable to be a judge, cases are executed in Court under law but justice sometimes needs to be tempered with mercy.

5 years in prison for a 53 year old grandmother because she didn’t understand the law is ridiculous.

The Appeal Court delivered the correct sentence.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University


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Punishment for a victimless crime cannot be morally justified in any way.

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