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Reprimanded: Judge who offered to pay victim surcharge for teenage defendant convicted of stabbing her abuser through the heart

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Judicial Conduct Investigations Office said his actions amounted to misconduct

A judge hailed for his humanity in offering to pay a young defendant’s victim surcharge has been reprimanded by the authorities.

Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC hit headlines last spring over comments he made when sentencing a 15-year-old defendant in a grievous bodily harm case.

The female defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted telling a 56-year-old man: “I’m going to kill you”, before stabbing him through the heart in front of his two young children. She then handed herself into a Bradford police station, saying: “I’ve killed someone.”

The victim, who ended up in intensive care, had previously been found guilty of abusing his assailant when she was eight-years-old. He was given a community sentence.

It was left to Hall to sentence the defendant, 14-years-old at the time of the attack, at Bradford Crown Court. He told her: “it would be a disgrace to send a survivor like you to prison.” Instead, he handed the girl a two-year Youth Rehabilitation Order with supervision.

Hall also made the unusual move of not imposing a mandatory victim surcharge. According to the Sentencing Council: “when a court passes a sentence it must also order that the relevant surcharge is paid.” Given the defendant’s age and sentence, the surcharge would have been £15. However, in this case the judge told her:

If anyone tries to force you [to pay the victim surcharge], I will pay it myself.

Though the Bradford judge and former head of Bank House Chambers was praised for his actions by some, today the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) has made a finding of misconduct against him. The JCIO’s statement in full reads:

His Honour Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC has been subject to a conduct investigation into complaints following a comment he made during sentencing. He stated that he would pay the victim surcharge himself if the defendant were forced to pay. The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice considered this failed to demonstrate impartiality, and that his comment amounted to misconduct. They have issued HHJ Durham Hall QC with formal advice.

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21 Comments

Anonymous

Brilliant judge. Pathetic decision

(50)(2)

Anonymous

How many times? Poor child. The judge saw this correctly. Why is he now ‘disciplined’? Am saddened

(12)(0)

Anonymous

Not impressed with this.

He is a Judge and made a decision that was not offensive to the community nor risked public confidence in the justice system.

They should have not interfered.

(33)(3)

Pantman

He should have just ‘forgot’ to impose the victim surcharge and said nothing.

(15)(0)

Anonymous

Sorry – what is an “assailment”?

(2)(13)

Anonymous

It’s a misspelling, that’s what it is.

Do you feel like a big man now?

(33)(3)

Anonymous

Sorry Katie. You can go back to sprinting through Temple now.

(6)(18)

Anonymous

At least she isn’t chained to the photocopier.

Five copies, double sided and stapled in the top left. Be a good boy.

(22)(7)

Ramookey

Excellent judge – what is the regulatory system coming to?

(7)(1)

BaronAnon

The right decision, albeit unpalatable.

“It is not merely of some importance but is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done… [n]othing is to be done which creates even a suspicion that there has been an improper interference with the course of justice.” – Hewart CJ

(7)(8)

Anonymous

I’d love some formal advice.

(2)(0)

Professor Plum

A non custodial sentence for attempted murder. Surely this needs to be appealed?

(2)(5)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(1)

Asmodeus

Amazingly ambiguous headline

(4)(0)

Concerned Citizen

This judge should be praised for adhering to the spirit of justice. God bless him.The comittee should be investigating those who fail to protect the children. I applaud him and can only pray there were more people like him in the judicial system that would protect the victims instead of being useless retarded bystanders.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Given we are a Christian country, I would prefer that we did what Jesus said should happen to people who harm children.

That they should have a mill stone tied around their neck and thrown off a cliff.

Jesus was somewhat forgiving, but not when it came to people who harm children.

A certain other prophet on the other hand married a six year old and consummated the marriage when she was nine…

(4)(8)

Anonymous

Where did Jesus say that exactly?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Via Christian Stack Exchange:
From Luke 17:1-3, NIV:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves.”

One common interpretation of this passage is that the “little ones” refers to children. However, that is not obvious in the context, and there are many other possibilities, including sinners, doubters, everyone, and so on. Indeed, its meaning may also hinge on what “to stumble” means here: whether it is to doubt their faith, to tempt to sin, or something else.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

*Christianity Stack Exchange

a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Praise Jesus, pray be for his sins.

(0)(1)

Pongo

Why not make a t-shirt that states on the front something like:

“Experience Durham-Hall and you’ll have a ball”

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.