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Star comment: Just think of victim’s poor family

By Express & | Opinions | Published:

We make no apologies for returning to the issue of Britain’s ailing criminal justice system.

Left: Vijay Masih, jailed for six years for manslaughter. Right: Robert Bavington, who was attacked and killed.

Robert Bavington had been attempting to act as peacemaker when he was killed by a single punch from Vijay Masih in a senseless act of violence.

Masih was portrayed in court as a family man who had acted in self-defence when he administered the fatal blow that led to the death of Mr Bavington.

But lo and behold the defendant’s antecedence, revealed after the jury had delivered its verdict, shone a very different light on his character.

It turns out Masih had a conviction for battery 12 years ago, as well as one for kidnapping and assault, for which he had been jailed for three-and-a-half years in 2008.

The ‘family man’ is in fact a violent thug who is well acquainted with the ins and outs of the criminal justice system.

It raises the question as to why we prevent juries from being party to such information before verdicts are returned. The courts would argue that declaring previous convictions at an earlier stage of a trial could prejudice the jury.

But what about the rights of victims and their families? You can imagine the outcry if Masih had walked free from court only for the jury to then find out about his criminal past.

Masih was jailed for six years for his crime, meaning he could well be back out on the streets in three years’ time.

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This is yet another despicable footnote on the state of a criminal justice system that appears to be weighted in favour of those who break the law.

Where is the deterrent in handing out such pathetically lenient sentences?

Fights are now so commonplace in our town and city centres that they are often not reported to the police unless there are serious or tragic consequences. Law abiding citizens deserve better protection from such thuggery.

It is little wonder that so many people are frustrated at seeing the courts administer a slap on the wrist for what are often horrifying crimes.

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Spare a thought for Mr Bavington’s family. They had to sit through Masih’s trial listening to him deny manslaughter, only to then see him receive a pitiful sentence.

Given his record, who is to say he won’t commit further acts of violence in future?

It adds further strength to the argument that repeat offenders should be given stiffer sentences.

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