Express & Star comment: Judges have blood on their hands over knife attackers
We make no apology for returning to the subject of our broken criminal justice system.
But yet again the measly approach to knife crime by our courts has raised its ugly head in our newspaper today.
It centres on a teenager who armed himself with a Rambo-style knife in a McDonald's restaurant in the Black Country two years ago.
He accused another teenager of 'making eye contact' before pulling out the knife and stabbing his victim twice.
The 17-year-old, who of course can not be named for legal reasons, was convicted of wounding and admitted having an offensive weapon, and was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in a Young Offenders Institute.
While this could have easily been a murder case, the fact the victim was not killed meant the knife attacker was jailed for a less serious offence.
While many right-minded people would shake their heads in despair at such a pitiful sentencing being handed out, that is the nature of the criminal justice system in this country in the 21st century.
However, this tale has a nasty sting.
Three Appeal Court judges have decided to reduce the offender's sentence by a year.
One of the reasons given is he has 'very strong family support'.
One has to question how such 'strong family support' led to him arming himself with a large knife and stabbing a teenage victim in a McDonald's restaurant.
Lord Justice Irwin said that when the offender is released he will have to demonstrate he has grown up because no court in the future will give him another chance.
What a depressing indictment of the out-of-touch judiciary in this country.
It seems far more likely the teenager is laughing at the leniency of the courts than learning his lesson.
The number of knife attacks in the Black Country in recent years would shame a 1980s New York suburb.
Anyone not using the full force of the law to deter future attackers has blood on their hands.
It is almost criminal that knife attackers and those who arm themselves with knives for whatever self-justifying, pathetic reason are let off with such ludicrously, impotent sentences by the courts.
The correlation between such leniency and the rising tide of knife crime is for all to see.
It must be stopped and it must be stopped now.
Yesterday, West Midlands Police launched Operation Spectre, its latest initiative aimed at tackling knife crime.
It will see officers work in schools to educate students and undercover operations at shops suspected of selling knives to children.
But the force needs the backing of the courts.
If the judiciary and criminal justice system continue to fail to imposing stricter sentences for knife attacks then all the best efforts of our police officers, who have to confront the knife attackers, will go in vain.
These people carrying knives should face mandatory five-year prison sentences, while anyone using a knife should get an automatic 10-year sentence.
But this has to come from the judiciary.
If it does not, young men will continue to carry knifes and many more people will lose their lives.