THE NEWSDESK: The public needs answers over New Year attack charge
I THINK the images of Chris Collins, the Newport man who lost an eye thanks to an unprovoked and vicious attack, tell his story better than a thousand words.
Mr Collins, 54, and his family have been through hell since the New Year attack which shattered his life.
He has undergone operations to rebuild his cheek bone and to remove his damaged eye - facing the most difficult decision to sign the consent form for that second operation, knowing his life would be changed forever.
He is bravely determined to rebuild his life - to learn how to pursue his sport, archery, left-handed, and get back to work.
He and his family deserve credit for that determination and strength of character.
But they also deserve proper answers as to why a more serious charge was not pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service against his attacker Jay Lloyd.
The judge in the case, Thomas Crowther, called the charge of wounding “unbelievable” and asked why the Crown Prosecution Service had not thought it necessary to appoint a jury to decide whether Lloyd, 18, had intended to cause really serious harm.
Given the fact Mr Collins was walking away at the time of the attack, the severity of the punch, the fact he was outnumbered, and was left in agony in the road.
The court heard Lloyd was remorseful after the incident, but that should not influence the sort of charge to be brought against him. The matter of intent relates solely to what happened before and during the attack.
Judge Crowther added: “You accepted you had a very hard punch – it seems to be a matter of pride to you. You are a danger to the public and people who you may chance upon.
“The harm was serious. As to culpability, you were a member of a gang and the victim was outnumbered. You used your fist on a man who was walking away and unable to defend himself. There is no one to blame in this case but you.”
The judge also told the sentencing hearing at Newport Crown Court: “I make no criticism of the police because I know they charge what the CPS authorise them to. But it seems to me this is a case in which not only the victim, but also the wider public, may well think my options are inadequate as a result of that vital charging decision.”
He requested a written explanation from the CPS.
He's right - having read the comments left on the story on our website, the wider public clearly has serious concerns about this case.
In this country, we are governed and policed by consensus. And the courts operate within that same consensus.
Should the punishment seem inadequate for the crime, we should question how this has come about.
And the report to the court should be made public. If there were inadequacies in the decision-making process, we need to see them.
We need to ensure that victims such as Mr Collins do not feel as he has "kicked in the guts" by the system.
This case also reinforces for me the importance of the principle of open justice in Britain.
Our courts are public - anyone can sit in them - and newspapers act as members of the public when we report on cases.
To those who question why we cover them, read the details of this case.
We are there to report proceedings, so that principle of open justice is upheld. And when justice looks like it is failing us, we are there to ask why.
SAM WARBURTON'S smile in the Millennium Stadium interview after Friday's emphatic win against the French said it all.
The question on all our lips: Did he think Alain Rolland was not going to award his try, given their somewhat interesting history?
Cue cheeky smile, and Sam's reassurances that he and Rolland had "worked well together" since THAT World Cup red card.
And later, he told reporters the difference between Friday and the miserable showing against Ireland was simple. "Mindset," he said.
It showed clearly on the pitch - in the scrum, the tackling, Jamie Roberts' steamroller running, and our defensive line - and it fed through to the fans in the stands.
The atmosphere in the stadium was electric.
And now we take on the old enemy. Train, believe, win. Repeat.
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