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Thursday, June 10, 2010 

How can anyone guarantee he won't head for the nearest playground?

The Sun is predictably outraged that Roy Whiting has had his minimum term for the murder of Sarah Payne reduced from the ridiculous 50-year sentence the then home secretary David Blunkett imposed under powers which were repealed under the Criminal Justice Act of 2003 to a more realistic 40 years. The judge, it must be said, recommended that life in this case should mean life, although he set a minimum term of 28 years, later increased by Blunkett.

It was always a ludicrous anomaly that it should be a politician, far more widely open to outside influence than a judge, who should decide just how long the term should be in cases of life imprisonment, especially considering the judge is always the one who heard all the available evidence and was best placed to decide on those terms. It is mainly multiple murderers who receive the relatively rare sentence of a "whole life tariff", although there have been a couple of exceptions. In any case, even 40 years is a longer term than that which was first recommended after the conviction of the Moors murderers, as well as far in excess of the minimum terms given to serial killers Peter Sutcliffe and Dennis Nielsen, who received initial sentences of 30 and 25 years respectively.

Whiting, if he lives that long, will be 81 before he can apply for parole, something which he'll hardly be guaranteed to get. Nonetheless, the Sun is still horrified at even the possibility, and of course speculates at what his very first movement should he be released will be:

Yes, he will be 81 before he can be considered for release. But how can anyone guarantee he won't head for the nearest playground?

Yes, we really are into Brass Eye territory here. "Can we be sure pervert mechanics haven't built him one of these? Of course we can't. Which is why your children could very soon be splatted by a roboplegic wrongcock." If we really must play along, presuming that he was released at the age of 81, he'd be under the very highest level of what are currently Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements.

Then there's the presumably unintended double meaning of this sentence:

Sara's message is simple: Perverts like Whiting cannot change. Children are only safe while they are inside.

Well, exactly. Another article in the paper openly states that the country is "riddled with paedophiles"; the only way to keep your children safe then is to not allow them to leave the house. Certainly you should never let them near a playground on their own: you never know when a 81-year-old former lifer might be prowling around.

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