Monday, January 24

Men invent new excuses to kill women and judges fall in love with them | Catherine Bennett

TOAlthough it takes some ingenuity to kill a woman and face no punishment, the justice system continues to ensure that, for the right murder, in the right circumstances, the punishment, given the right judge, could still be a fraction. than it could be. suppose.

Earlier this year, for example, the five-year period for a man who blamed the strangulation of his wife, Ruth Williams, for the difficulties of the confinement, confirmed that being married to his victim can be actively increased, perhaps contrarily. to intuition, judicial compassion. Judge Paul Thomas thought that Anthony Williams’ mental state must have been seriously affected, although a psychiatrist contradicted him. The court of appeal refused to increase the penalty.

A shorter or sporadic relationship with the victim also offers hope. In May, Warren Coulton appeared before Judge Simon Picken for the murder of Claire Wright. She had been suffocated in an episode of slavery during which her reluctance was recorded. Coulton, who did not seek medical help, left his body for hotel staff to discover. He is six years old.

Even more mercifully, you might think, Sam Pybus was sentenced last week to four years and eight months for killing his intermittent sexual partner, Sophie Moss. She was 33 years old, a mother of five and six year old boys. In a statement from the victim, his brother james He said: “We can never get rid of the belief that whatever the nature of their relationship, and her role in it, she was a victim, taken advantage of and exploited, and was put to a totally avoidable and infinitely tragic end. “His impact on the judge is presumably reflected in his sentence.

Pybus, who was married, had driven to see Moss after drinking 24 bottles of beer, strangled her when they had sex, and after finding her dead, waited in her car for 15 minutes before driving to a police station. Paramedics, when they were finally called in, were unable to resuscitate her. Pybus claimed that the suffocation had been consensual and that he did not recall killing Moss; the Crown Prosecution Service found that there was insufficient evidence to show that he intended to kill her. A conviction for involuntary manslaughter still carries a possible life sentence.

What remains puzzling, even given the great judicial tradition of sympathy for men who hurt or kill their female partners, is how Judge Paul Watson established a four-year sentence. One could easily conclude that unprovable claims about women’s sexual behavior can still counter, at least in the average judicial mind, male guilt for extreme violence, callousness, and recklessness.

The sentence of four years is less, has been pointed out, which Moss’s killer could have received for causing death by dangerous driving. It is shorter than the recent tax on men for accidentally killing other men in pub fights. Indeed, if the government follows through on its flashy plan to treat pet kidnapping as a particularly damaging property crime, which already has a seven-year maximum period, the sentence could be dramatically less than what a thief receives for taking someone’s cockapoo.

Harriet Harman has asked the attorney general to consider whether the sentence was unduly lenient. The sentence does not reflect, he wrote, the gravity of Moss’s murder and the “cynical transfer of responsibility for himself to her” by the criminal, while also sending “the message that killing your girlfriend during sex is a minor issue “. The attorney general has confirmed that the sentence will be reviewed.

The fact that this is necessary as soon after politicians from all parties tried to stop it, through changes to the new Domestic Abuse Law, increasing defendants’ recourse to claims of “rough sex”, suggests that the celebration of this victory may have been premature.

In fact, although Pybus killed Moss before the act went into effect, it is not clear that it would have made any difference, as it has been established that a person cannot consent to his death or serious harm. Nor can the desire for murder charges in such cases make this happen if the prosecution cannot prove intent. Also unaffected by the Domestic Abuse Act, Pybus’s short sentence constitutes, as Harman puts it, an actively damaging and trivializing statement about male violence against women. If it is not augmented, perhaps, more than the government’s reformulation of the existing law, it should be understood as the official response to the admirable activist group’s demands for justice. We cannot consent to this.

Still, nothing, according to the Pybus judge, seems likely to diminish the popularity of “rough sex” as the latest euphemism by which a case of male violence can be described as more than part of a relentless gender pattern. Women can sometimes agree to engage in the coercive and risky sex that is now described in mainstream porn – they are the only ones who seem to die in it. In his important new book, Feminism for womenJulie Bindel argues that men now disguise old-fashioned sexual assault as “sex positive” experimentation. It saves them, he says, “the cognitive dissonance of seemingly believing that ‘consent matters’ as they proceed on the grounds that ‘no’ means ‘convince me.’

Pybus’s short sentence, which took into account expressions of “genuine” remorse and an early guilty plea, could be seen as a different expression of the misogyny that has encouraged defendants to make allusions to “rough” sex, such as potentially lethal to women. . Certainly, it also contributes to a culture deeply insensitive to sacrifice of women by male partners. Although less, it turns out, than its rare opposite. Justice for women draws attention to Emma-Jayne Magson recent minimum sentence of 17 years for the murder of her abusive boyfriend, who, like the women before him, was deprived of medical care. Judge Jeremy Baker lamented his lack of remorse.

Many of us feel the same, curiously, about judicial behavior over the years. Do any of the judges feel any pity for the way their colleagues have allowed male violence against women? Until last week? It is not too late to ask for it to be taken into account.

Catherine Bennett is a columnist for Observer

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