Judge Bemoans Sentencing Guidelines After Being Forced To Free Carving Fork Criminal
Thur 17th May 2012 , Yellow Advertiser
A JUDGE has bemoaned government-issued sentencing guidelines after being forced to go easy on a man who threatened two women and their children with a carving fork.
Richard Harvey, 45, from Wickford Drive, Harold Hill, making threats to kill in a hearing at Basildon Crown Court last Friday.
He is set to be freed after presiding judge Miss Recorder Hudson was forced to give him a sentence so short that he had already served it while awaiting his court hearing.
The Recorder complained in open court that she wished she could hand down a harsher sentence but was 'constrained' by government recommendations.
The court heard that Harvey had banged on the windows and kicked the doors of two female neighbours after becoming convinced that they had instigated a social services investigation into his home life.
Brandishing a 25cm carving fork, he told one neighbour, “I'm going to break your door down and kill your children. When you come back from school tomorrow, I'm going to cut you up.”
The court heard that he later pointed the implement at another neighbour's face and told her, “I'll murder you. I'll murder your son.”
Police were called and Harvey was arrested.
Prosecutors revealed that Harvey had nine previous convictions for offences including battery, harassment, common assault and breach of a restraining order.
But defence barrister Mr Wood claimed: “There is a very genuine contrition and an apology to these ladies.”
Mrs Recorder Hudson responded: “I don't see it in his face.”
She described Harvey's actions as 'extremely appalling'.
Mr Wood claimed Harvey had been 'extraordinarily drunk' when he committed the offences. He said the bulk of Harvey's prior convictions were after 2008 and stemmed from a 'very destructive relationship with a young lady'.
He continued: “It is enormously regrettable to him that having started a new relationship and with a new child, six months old, he has, because of the alcohol, found himself back before court.”
He said that two or three weeks before the incident, Harvey had been visited by the police and informed that social services would launch a probe into his home life.
Mr Wood said the allegations - not repeated in open court - were 'wholly unfounded'.
Recorder Hudson, growing impatient, replied: “It might have been unfounded at the time but his reaction makes it entirely appropriate.”
Mr Wood continued: “He accepts entirely that the two ladies were not those responsible for this referral.”
Recorder Hudson interrupted: “It doesn't matter if they were. This behaviour is entirely unacceptable.”
Passing a sentence of four months’ imprisonment - which Harvey had already served on remand – Recorder Hudson said she wished she could have imposed a harsher penalty.
She said: “Your actions on the 9th of March were absolutely deplorable. When I look at the facts of this case, I am appalled.
“For you to threaten an adult is one thing. For you to threaten the adult that you were going to harm their child is another. I cannot think of a more serious offence in this category.
“You have had the opportunity of a new start, a new partner, a new child - and still you act in this way. It really is unbelievable to me.
“There is no excuse whatsoever for your behaviour. I would in other circumstances have been quite happy to impose the maximum possible sentence for this offence.”
She told Harvey she was 'constrained' because he had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and the offences had been too close together to impose consecutive sentences.
Harvey had pleaded guilty to two section four offences and one count of possessing an offensive weapon.
Recorder Hudson handed him three concurrent sentences of four months, telling him: “I think it is less than you, in fact, deserve.”
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