That being said, in September last year, a judge made some pretty controversial and somewhat bizarre comments whilst sentencing 26 year old burglar Richard Rochford. Now, not many would call a drug addicted, serial burglar ‘courageous’, but Judge Peter Bowers voiced this opinion to the criminal before him. He said that stealing from houses ‘took a huge amount of courage’, and then set him free. The judge also said that he believed prison did ‘little good’ for criminals, and in this case he would ‘take a chance’ on the burglar.
The judge was reprimanded for his comments. He was investigated by the judicial watchdog and (to some extent) scolded for his comments by Mr Cameron himself. The Prime Minister had something to say about this Teesside Crown Court judge’s comments and spoke to ITV Daybreak about it. He said: “Judges sometimes say things that you have to read the full context and the rest of it. But I’m very clear; burglary is not bravery, burglary is cowardice, burglary is a hateful crime.’
How a judge can see burglary as anything but a hate crime, I cannot fathom. And if this is in fact a self-justified opinion of his, why voice it to the criminal you are sentencing? Surely this only encourages the criminal and others to commit this act of ‘bravery’ again, if a legal figure has praised you for your courage in ransacking peoples’ homes. It can be said that this is a very serious blunder of someone in his high legal position. Regardless of whether his comments were taken out of context or not, someone of his standing should go nowhere near the question of justifying burglary, or if prison does criminals any good.
I hope for most of us it is not lack of nerve that stops us from burgling peoples’ property, but the knowledge that it is morally wrong and against the law. This clumsy judge had some explaining to do after this case.