UK & World News

  • 4 December 2012, 16:50

'Burglary Takes Courage' Judge Reprimanded

A judge who said burglary took courage has been given a formal reprimand.

Judge Peter Bowers told an offender who raided three homes in five days: "It takes a huge amount of courage, as far as I can see, for somebody to burgle somebody's house. I wouldn't have the nerve."

He admitted he might be "pilloried" when he spared the burglar jail at Teesside Crown Court in September.

The case caused an outcry, with Prime Minister David Cameron commenting that burglars were not brave, but "cowards" and their crimes were "hateful".

Following an investigation, the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice upheld complaints about the judge's comments and issued him with a reprimand after his remarks "damaged public confidence in the judicial process", the Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC) said.

They believed the use of the word courage was a "serious error of judgement" and "offensive" to those who have been victims of a burglary, according to a letter from the OJC to one of the complainants, radio presenter Nick Ferrari.

The Evening Gazette newspaper reported that when Judge Bowers handed 26-year-old Richard Rochford, from Redcar, a suspended 12-month term, he said: "I'm going to take a chance on you."

After acknowledging the trauma burglary victims face, the judge explained he would not jail Rochford, who had quit drugs since the February break-ins.

He was given a two-year supervision order with drug rehabilitation and 200 hours' unpaid work, with a one-year driving ban.

Following the decision to reprimand the judge, the OJC replied: "Whilst His Honour Judge (HHJ) Bowers regrets his use of the word 'courage' the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice believe that this was a serious error of judgement and offensive to those who have been victims of a burglary.

"They also believe that HHJ Bowers' conduct has been damaging to the respect of the judicial process. For this reason, HHJ Bowers has been issued with a formal reprimand."

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