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The Miscarriage of Justice and The Impact of The Death Sentence for Murder

  • Category(s): Death Penalty Essays
  • Created on : 25 November 2015
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  • Author: Richard Michael Lamb


We are engaged in an internal submerged struggle in England & Wales. The trend to murder has not dried up, yet it is unclear in its criminal extent. Capital Punishment has disappeared from the face of English & Welsh justice for 45 years. Those in power will not re-enact the Final Penalty. The silent majority in the Country probably support Restoration yet there is no overt debate. How will this be resolved? By outspokenness and sincerity. I am not alone and the opportunity will come to end this suppression of the muffled cry of justice and hear the voice of liberty, clearly, once more in our hearts.

1. The Start

I take the trenchant view this Death Penalty crystallises the clarity of the murder case, not only for the Crown and its witnesses, including the police force concerned, but also for the Defendants. Believe it or not no one dare make a mistake! In serious cases like the Guildford Four trial, the result would have been execution for all four accused certainly under my proposed regime for Capital Punishment. With the Death Sentence for murder the Court Room conduct and attitude of these accused would have radically altered. Gerry Conlon chose to delay showing his hand and not truly reveal his case until he got to the Appeal Court. If the threat of the gallows was beckoning he would have been obliged to put forward his defence at his trial whether he was lying or truthful. He would not play around with his own life. Thus the Crown would have to disprove his case and the whole trial would be more meaningful with the Death Penalty at stake. The trial Judge of the Guildford Four case: the Hon. Mr Justice John Donaldson said he would have sentenced the Four convicted of murder to death if he had the power at the end of the trial.

2. The Merits of the Death Sentence

I am afraid these comments by the Hon. Mr Justice Donaldson, as he then was, should be taken very seriously even now. You cannot and should not make light of murder, most foul, as Denning LJ called it in the 1950’s when he still favoured the Death Sentence. The Guildford Four were sentenced to life terms I believe in 1975 some seven years after abolition of the Death Penalty in 1968 under Harold Wilson the Labour Prime Minister. I verily say these Guildford Four bombers in fact gave no second chance, fair trial or representation by solicitors and Counsel to the many dead whom they murdered in the two Public Houses: the Horse and Groom in Guildford and the Kings Arms in Woolwich by bombs detonated. Their bombs caused mayhem and wanton killing with no lawful justification. I happened to be told the first serving policeman on the Horse and Groom bombing scene suffered post traumatic stress later in his life. Is it surprising? No, he was the witness to this terrible atrocity in Guildford. You simply cannot have criminal justice that lets these Four walk away into the Court Cells, then the Prison and finally after several years detention in to fresh air and freedom. These Four accused cannot be retried, but I say they were fairly tried and convicted in 1975 very close to the murders in time.

The trial Judge would have been fully entitled and duty bound to impose Death Sentences. I entirely agree with the Hon. Mr Justice Donaldson’s appraisal of his sentencing powers. His words are a warning to let such bombers go alive, even into custody, is a terrible weakness and a sign of simple self-deception by our anti-Death Sentence campaigners the world over. This false thinking will cost lives in our jurisdiction and overseas: Indeed we have probably paid the price in innocent lives already of our refusal to treat murder as murder and impose the penalty of hanging in the gallows since 1968. Yes hanging is appalling, but the hangman hangs the convicted and premeditated “taker” of good and vulnerable lives. We shy away from this hangman and the Judge who passes the death sentence, but they are our “friends” and no enemy to truth and justice. It is the convicted murderer who has waged war on our peaceable citizenry of whatever age and sex. I am afraid his place is in the gallows because of the dreadful enormity of his crime and the Guildford Four were murderers of that class of extreme severity.

3. Conclusion

So what am I left with? I have the distinct impression the reason the establishment oppose the death Sentence is the supposed lack of confidence within that establishment for the machinery of justice, the police and the consequences politically of a return to hanging for murder and associated crimes. Thus the matter is left in such a way. How dare this establishment cast doubt on our Juries, our Judges, Counsel and the Director with our much admired police! The fact is there is some shady thinking here. No one actually and seriously subscribes to these doubts about our current police and the machinery of justice which is of the highest calibre. That is all a sham. It is the political results of the restoration of hanging for murder which frighten our political leaders and media controllers, when the rest of Europe has banned this Final Penalty in the ECHR, now in our law. We would be the odd one out in reverting to the Death Penalty they fear. No, I would say we would be exercising our national independence and, yes, that is leadership to Europe and the World. Our leaders are afraid of leadership if truth be told.

The Hon. Mr Justice Donaldson did not lack authority. I read his words at the end of the Guildford Four trial in 1975 and I react with approval and gratitude. That highly rated Judge gives me hope that I will secure the return of the Death Penalty as does Senior Crown Counsel in the Guildford Four trial also reassure me, who must have supported those extremely strong words of that presiding Judge in the sentencing stage of that case. He was then Sir Michael Havers QC the Counsel.

4. Ruth Ellis

She went to the gallows for the admitted facts of her capital murder in 1955. The Guildford Four accused would never have admitted their guilt. Was it because they were innocent? No, said the Jury in 1975 as did the Ruth Ellis Jury on very different facts twenty years before. We must all grow up and face reality. Severely culpable murder cannot go unpunished by the Death Sentence or we end up reducing murder gradually to freedom in the passage of time. Of course hanging is not treatment, but it does properly befit the murderer’s criminal conduct if the Judge so decides. Anything less will be regarded by those minded to murder as a let off and the green light to take innocent persons’ lives wantonly. May we have the strength of character to oppose and stand up to such insolence and impudent individuals.