A mother who joined a revenge attack on a man responsible for a vile campaign of internet abuse against her disabled daughter has been spared prison.I should be cheering, right?
Sylvia Hooper, 52, was described as a ‘decent and law-abiding’ woman…Funny. Looking at the facts of the case, I find it hard to match that description to the woman's actions:
She faced a jail sentence after identifying Christopher Berwick and confronting him outside his home in Chatham, Kent.Whatever happened to ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’..?
But a judge – who labelled the messages ‘disgraceful and shameful’ – took pity on Mrs Hooper after hearing they were part of a long-term campaign.
Particularly words that someone has to make a conscious decision to hear?
Mrs Hooper realised the culprit was Berwick, who lived nearby, and joined her son Robert and his friend Soloman Taylor outside his home.Maybe it’s me, but is this not assault, kidnapping and torture (or the modern definition of it, at least)?
Mr Hooper, 19, punched the bully after his mother said ‘hit him’ and Berwick was then taken back to the family home by car.
He was forced to crawl inside and make a ‘grovelling apology’ to his victim while on all fours. At one point he was hit on the chin with a rolled up newspaper.
Mrs Hooper’s solicitor Catharine Donnelly said the comments were ‘beyond the pale’ and told the court ‘none of us would be here today’ without his actions.Well, maybe. But certainly, none of you would have been there without the Hooper’s retaliatory actions, either.
And they go much, much further than a few mean and spiteful comments on a website that no-one is forcing anyone to read…
Speaking about Mrs Hooper, she said: ‘She is a decent woman who has devoted herself to her daughter. She has led a decent and law-abiding life.Hey, judge, if you are going to make that distinction, why not make it for all these people too?
‘It is clear she is a woman who will never trouble these courts again. She was an encourager, rather than a hitter.’
All three admitted assault but denied false imprisonment and the judge ruled that not guilty verdicts should be entered.Now, this is indeed the sort of vigilante justice that people can expect when the police fail to do their job, or when the police are just not recognised by a significant minority as representatives of law and order.
Judge Richard Polden said it ‘troubled him’ that Mrs Hooper had said, ‘hit him’, but accepted that Mr Hooper was acting out of a ‘protective instinct’ to his sister.
He said: ‘I sentence you on the basis that Mr Berwick sent messages that were wholly disgraceful and shameful but then tried to put the blame on his girlfriend.’
Mrs Hooper was given a conditional discharge. The two men were given community orders which included voluntary work.
And yes, the vile comments he made - said out loud in the pub or street, for instance – could well have been what the Americans term ‘fightin’ words’ and earned him a richly-deserved smack in the mouth.
But they weren’t. They were in the form of comments on the web that no-one has no choice but to read. Facebook and the like are open forums, and if you decide not to avail yourself of the inbuilt protections designed into the system and allow comments from just anybody, then you’ll just have to deal with these sort of people.
Deal with them by deleting, banning, blocking or reporting to the police, as the situation warrants. Not by arranging your own mob justice.
Or we are all surely doomed.
"or when the police are just not recognised by a significant minority as representatives of law and order. "
Thing is it is not just a significant minority, rather more and more the majority.
Does anyone still teach their kids that 'the policeman is your friend'? as our parents almost all did?
And the policey men only have themselves to blame.
They demanded Stab vests, kungfu batons and combat boots. These days even the WPC's look like Israeli paratroopers.
They forgot that clothes and manners maketh the man. Act and dress like an armed militia and you can expect to be treated as such.
It was the public's respect and the air of authority that kept coppers safe (most of the time) not kevlar.
If you walk around in a bullet proof vest then you are telling everyone that the man in the uniform is scared. The Old time Copper in his serge showed that the Law was scared of no man.
Another important factor is that this is Chatham, home of the Chatham pocket. Chatham is a prime example of a super chav town, they're all over the UK but on entering some you realize that the people are really very different.
These people are kidults.
How do I know if someone is okay to kidnap and beat or not? It was easy to know once, it was no-one.
Our legal system isn't very rational across the board. Whilst most of us think looters should get what comes, some of the sentences were loony and have made a lot of work for lawyers and the appeal court. This hardly gives us much rational cause for respect. Authority generally has gone 'none democratic' - but though SBC makes good points, it's all chicken and egg stuff. The cops say they are merely responding to changed circumstances.
Those gawps who get violent over Facebook and the like perhaps suggest the cops have it right.
I hope it's not the same proponents of beating the fuck out of the "English rioters" that now eschew "vigilante" action.
What a difference a fortnight makes.
I dunno. In my day and I ain't that old, if I'd been mouthing off an adult at 14 and received a smack in the mouth for my trouble, reporting the incident to the police telling them for example "I was sat on the guys fence and he told me to "Get down", then I said to him "Fuck off you fat cunt, you can't tell me what to do", he then came over and just smacked me in the mouth".
Police would have said "Serves you right" and if my dad had got to hear of it, I'd have got another for good measure.
But after nearly 2 generations of "Nobody touches my little Johnnie", "He's only a minor" and kids telling adults in general not just teachers and such to "Fuck off, you can't touch me as I'll have the law on yer". We have a situation where young uns think they can do and say what the hell they like, with no come backs.
Unfortunately life in the real world isn't like that, and reaching the age of 18 hits them like a train crash.
I had always believed that my reactions and responses were my responsibility.
That's only effective if all your friends and acquaintances do likewise. Otherwise you end up with a situation where the gobshite still bad mouths you, but behind your back.
It doesn't solve the root cause does it?
"Thing is it is not just a significant minority, rather more and more the majority. "
Indeed. Something that's often dismissed as 'of no consequence' on police blogs. A very short-sighted and dangerous attitude to take.
"Another important factor is that this is Chatham, home of the Chatham pocket."
Only been once or twice. It can't be worse than Gravesend, surely?
"How do I know if someone is okay to kidnap and beat or not? It was easy to know once, it was no-one."
" hope it's not the same proponents of beating the fuck out of the "English rioters" that now eschew "vigilante" action."
There's a big, big difference between violence committed to someone in the act of wrongdoing,in order to stop it, and violence committed to someone long after the wrongdoing.
"Unfortunately life in the real world isn't like that, and reaching the age of 18 hits them like a train crash."
Is this is a youngster? Curiously, the article doesn't say.
@ SBC - You echo points I've been making for a long long while. It goes against everything I was brought up to believe when I see British cops parading the High Street looking like Batman!
Its largely this that has cause me to lose any respect for the institution... that and the fact they all talk funny.
As for the other matter... I'm torn and can't decide if what these folks did was right or wrong. However, I do think its right that its taken to court and their actions tested. I'm inclined to trust the Judge and Jury's judgement.
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