Nigel Thornton: Crime doesn’t pay... neither do criminals

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton -
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton -
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I had to laugh – although it’s no laughing matter – when a judge gave a woman 75 years to pay off a £900 court charge.

Lorraine McCracken (40), from Lincoln Road, Peterborough has been ordered to pay it off at the rate of £1 a month – which will make her 115 by the time the slate is wiped clean. I think even the Chilcot report will have been published by then.

McCracken was in court for beating up her partner – she has previous convictions for similar attacks on the same man and as Cilla might have said ‘Surprise, Surprise she has a drink problem’.

The Recorder Ian Glen QC didn’t want to impose the £900 fee, but was told he had to, so went for the instalment option, presumably because he didn’t think McCracken would or could pay.

Some might point out McCracken has obviously been able to find money to buy booze.

Perhaps her friendly off-licence might let her pay for that bottle of gin in instalments. Perhaps not.

I might be being presumptuous but I think it was the judge’s way of saying “er, I don’t think these charges are a good idea’’.

The government brought in new fixed charges earlier this year (they vary depending on pleas and nature of offence) but give judges no discretion ie a homeless man with no income will still be ordered to cough up.

The theory is fine – make crooks pay for the trouble they put the rest of us to – but the practice is unworkable. Crime doesn’t pay, and like it or not, in most cases, neither do criminals.

It’s bad law and it can be a surprise to no-one that judges don’t like bad law.

School’s out

The Voyager is going through a tough time, and despite the protestations from the Comberton Academy Trust which runs the school, pupils are not getting a standard of education they are entitled to. The trust has so far failed to sort out the school’s problems but remains bullish that it can. I might be more convinced if the trust talked directly to the media instead of issuing responses via the PR agency it employs. Call me old fashioned, but wouldn’t that money be better spent on books or teachers?

Lighting up

One of Peterborough’s favourite sons Louis Smith will have the honour of turning on the city’s Christmas lights this year. Hopefully, he’ll bring his lady friend the lovely Lucy Mecklenburgh along. Then we could have two turn-ons for the price of one.

Skype hype

The reaction of national newspapers to the news that police in Peterborough are to trial a new scheme where crime victims could talk to police via Skype was hysterical and misinformed.

Firstly, it’s a pilot scheme, secondly, it’s for non-emergencies, thirdly, it’s not compulsory, fourthly some people might prefer it and fifthly its the year 2015 not 1915. Get a grip, chaps.

Dark days

If I lived in Orton Southgate where the lights have gone out – and could be out until December – I’d be seriously unimpressed with the city council’s response. A car crash has knocked out a feeder pillar and, says the council, the equipment is so specialist it will take several weeks to sort out (perhaps the council could ask Louis Smith to turn these lights on as well).

How specialist can it be? Presumably there are many other similar pieces of equipment powering lights across the city.

Also when the gear was bought did nobody check what might happen if they stopped working for any reason?

Just let’s hope there’s no accidents or crimes committed on these darks streets while the council and the rest of us are waiting to see the light.

Cllr Gavin Elsey, who represents the area, commented: “It is a concern, but it is what is.’’

What it is, is not good enough.

Diary Of A Bad Dad

It was payback time. Yes, after many years of cowering in my house with the lights off, the telly turned down low, munching from that box of sweets I found by the door I actually enjoyed a Halloween.

After years of being a prisoner in my own home on All Hallows’ Eve I broke free and terrorised my neighbours armed only with a toddler dressed like a witch and a parental soppy grin by way of apology for disturbing their viewing of Emmerdale.

Toddler T was beside herself with excitement –and it wasn’t just at the prospect of extorting sweets from unsuspecting residents. With or without Halloween she loves everything to do with witches. She even has an imaginary witchfriend called Witchy Woo who I have to ring every night before TT will even contemplate going to sleep. My only disappointment was that my neighbours had the Maltesers ready. I was quite looking forward to putting their cars up on bricks.