Comment: Justice too important to be reduced to a popularity poll

Keith Hurdle’s drunken, spittle-flecked racist tirade at a female Japanese Tube passenger was a repugnant spectacle – but he did not deserve to go to jail for it.

If our justice system allowed Raymond Clark, the bus driver convicted of killing 18-year-old Jan Henney with his careless driving, to walk free from court but incarcerated Hurdle for a vile but ultimately moronic outburst, it is perversely unbalanced.

Hurdle’s real crime was that his rant on the Bakerloo Line was filmed by another passenger, uploaded to YouTube and then went viral on social media after being picked up by celebrities such as comedian Ricky Gervais.

That is in no way to trivialise Hurdle’s idiotic racism. The footage of him drunkenly haranguing Kuniko Ingram rightly caused revulsion in the thousands who viewed it online.

In the clip, the 52-year-old from Carpenders Park loudly informs the carriage his uncle died at the River Kwai and then holds Mrs Ingram personally responsible for Japanese war crimes in the Second World War, including the torture of the aforementioned relative.

During his slurred diatribe, Hurdle describes the Japanese as a “vicious bunch of f****** c***s” and a “nasty people” before ordering Mrs Ingram in turns to get out of the country and off the train.

An aggravating aspect to this already repellent exhibition of bigoted rhetoric was the simple fact a larger man was bullying a smaller woman without provocation.

In court, Hurdle was visibly embarrassed when the video was replayed and blamed the episode on the booze he had drunk while watching England’s world cup qualifier in the run-up to the incident. However, magistrate Jane Hepburn told Hurdle his actions were of “an extremely unpleasant nature” and jailed him for 12 weeks.

Conversely, in the case of Raymond Clark, he did not set out to cause anyone harm. It was one poor decision to drive into the wrong side of the road to get around a parked car that led to his crime.

In his trial, the pensioner from Croxley Green appeared a tragic figure, whose momentary lapse of judgement had cut short a young woman's life and has no doubt burdened the rest of his days with unimaginable guilt.

The judge in Clark’s case saw fit to suspend his 24-week jail sentence. After the trial Jan’s father, Dave Henney, expressed his anger at the sentence saying Clark had “got off lightly” while his family were left “serving a life sentence”.

The fact that the crime which resulted in the end of a life was dealt with more leniently should offend anyone’s sense of justice.

My fear is that the reason behind these otherwise inexplicably disproportionate outcomes is that in Hurdle’s case, the magistrates sought to make an example of him on account of his notoriety.

If courts are allowing themselves to be influenced by social media opinion and celebrity, it is a pernicious development.

A dispassionate and balanced justice system is the foundation of a free society.

One of the words the ancient Athenians used to describe their fledgling democratic system was “isonomia” or “equal law”.

Their judicial system, which treated citizens according to their actions and not their status or wealth, was a radical institution that marked the city state out from other more primitive and tyrannical forms of government.

As such, the impartiality of our own judicial system is something that should be cherished and guarded.

In a fair society, criminals should be judged by their crimes and the impact on the victims – not by the number of “hits” the video of their crime receives.

Comments (9)

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1:37pm Fri 20 Dec 13

TRT says...

I'm quite sure it wasn't judged by the number of hits on You Tube...

Disparity? Clark got 24 weeks, Hurdle got 12. Clark has to live for the rest of his life with the knowledge that his misjudged actions ended the life of a young woman, Hurdle will probably forget about the distress and fear he caused his victim the next time he downs a pint. Has Clark lost his job? I don't know. Is Hurdle barred from public transport or places that serve alcohol? Did he lose his job? I don't know that, either.

Personally, I think there are bigger fish to fry than this in terms of injustice - that is if you even perceive an injustice has been done here; I don't think it has.
I'm quite sure it wasn't judged by the number of hits on You Tube... Disparity? Clark got 24 weeks, Hurdle got 12. Clark has to live for the rest of his life with the knowledge that his misjudged actions ended the life of a young woman, Hurdle will probably forget about the distress and fear he caused his victim the next time he downs a pint. Has Clark lost his job? I don't know. Is Hurdle barred from public transport or places that serve alcohol? Did he lose his job? I don't know that, either. Personally, I think there are bigger fish to fry than this in terms of injustice - that is if you even perceive an injustice has been done here; I don't think it has. TRT

3:05pm Fri 20 Dec 13

G_Whiz says...

Bang em both up - simple.

We know how lame our system is. No matter how much we moan, all criminals get off lighter than most of us would like! Always.
Bang em both up - simple. We know how lame our system is. No matter how much we moan, all criminals get off lighter than most of us would like! Always. G_Whiz

3:06pm Fri 20 Dec 13

garston tony says...

This is comparing chalk with cheese and therefore a pointless article.

Also every case is different and if found guilty the individuality of the circumstances is taken into account.

The bus driver made a mistake, he certainly never set out i'm sure to kill a child and no matter how painful that is to the family is sentence reflects that.

The racist remarks however were intentional comments made by someone who has previous history of this type of thing by all accounts and his sentence reflects that too.

I'm actually quite disgusted that the reporter is claiming his crime was to have been caught on video. No, his crime was the racist rant the tape was the prompt that brought the victim forward and the evidence that helped this idiot get what he deserved.
This is comparing chalk with cheese and therefore a pointless article. Also every case is different and if found guilty the individuality of the circumstances is taken into account. The bus driver made a mistake, he certainly never set out i'm sure to kill a child and no matter how painful that is to the family is sentence reflects that. The racist remarks however were intentional comments made by someone who has previous history of this type of thing by all accounts and his sentence reflects that too. I'm actually quite disgusted that the reporter is claiming his crime was to have been caught on video. No, his crime was the racist rant the tape was the prompt that brought the victim forward and the evidence that helped this idiot get what he deserved. garston tony

8:18pm Fri 20 Dec 13

LSC says...

On the whole I agree GarstonTony, but it is worth noting that from what I understand (and I might be wrong), no complaint about the racist rant was made at the time. It was only after the video went viral that the victim came forward. There could be any number of reasons for that, but it is interesting.
I can see that she might have thought reporting it was futile, her word against his after the other passengers had melted away, but that probably helps explain why crime figures are allegedly down. People don't report crimes like that; what's the point?
This country doesn't have less crime. We are just getting used to it.
On the whole I agree GarstonTony, but it is worth noting that from what I understand (and I might be wrong), no complaint about the racist rant was made at the time. It was only after the video went viral that the victim came forward. There could be any number of reasons for that, but it is interesting. I can see that she might have thought reporting it was futile, her word against his after the other passengers had melted away, but that probably helps explain why crime figures are allegedly down. People don't report crimes like that; what's the point? This country doesn't have less crime. We are just getting used to it. LSC

10:29am Sat 21 Dec 13

John Dowdle says...

My understanding from reading previous accounts is that the man on the train threatened to strike one or more other passengers with a bottle of spirits he had with him. So, not only was acting in a racist, insulting and abusive manner but he acted in a threatening manner, threatening actual bodily violence - and for a sustained period of time. It may well be that he could not remember the event when later questioned about it and he may have expressed remorse subsequently but - and this is where we have to speculate on the actual evidence presented at the court - if he had a history of similar behaviour, gradually getting worse over time and if it appeared that his apparent remorse was not genuine, this may explain the apparent severity of his sentence. It sets a precedent both for him and for everyone else that it is unacceptable to behave in a similar manner when using public transport - and this is no bad thing at a time when people generally are being encouraged to leave their cars at home and to use public transport instead.
The bus driver - by contrast - acted extremely hastily and thoughtlessly.
He will - as pointed out above - have to live with the consequences of his momentary thoughtlessness for the rest of his life. The death of the young woman involved in the accident was absolutely tragic and an appalling waste of human potential for which we all all the losers.
Her family have been given the life sentence - not the bus driver.
Ultimately, one has to consider mens rea or the mindset at the time of the incident. In the case of the train traveller he deliberately intended to do what he did - whether in a drunken state or not - but the bus driver never intended the outcome he now has to live with for the rest of his life.
My understanding from reading previous accounts is that the man on the train threatened to strike one or more other passengers with a bottle of spirits he had with him. So, not only was acting in a racist, insulting and abusive manner but he acted in a threatening manner, threatening actual bodily violence - and for a sustained period of time. It may well be that he could not remember the event when later questioned about it and he may have expressed remorse subsequently but - and this is where we have to speculate on the actual evidence presented at the court - if he had a history of similar behaviour, gradually getting worse over time and if it appeared that his apparent remorse was not genuine, this may explain the apparent severity of his sentence. It sets a precedent both for him and for everyone else that it is unacceptable to behave in a similar manner when using public transport - and this is no bad thing at a time when people generally are being encouraged to leave their cars at home and to use public transport instead. The bus driver - by contrast - acted extremely hastily and thoughtlessly. He will - as pointed out above - have to live with the consequences of his momentary thoughtlessness for the rest of his life. The death of the young woman involved in the accident was absolutely tragic and an appalling waste of human potential for which we all all the losers. Her family have been given the life sentence - not the bus driver. Ultimately, one has to consider mens rea or the mindset at the time of the incident. In the case of the train traveller he deliberately intended to do what he did - whether in a drunken state or not - but the bus driver never intended the outcome he now has to live with for the rest of his life. John Dowdle

10:20pm Sat 21 Dec 13

Paul Barbara says...

I agree with Garston Tony (for a change!) and John Dowdle.
If, as seems highly probable, Hurdle's bottle of spirits had been opened, he was also breaking Transport regulations, as well, of course, by breaking them by his profanity and threatening behaviour.
I don't know if has been banned from public transport, or had any other penalty re his behaviour from the Underground authorities, but a ban for some time, with the exception of going to and from work, or to a scheduled hospital appointment or similar, would seem to me to be a good way of changing his behaviour.
I believe he deserved to be jailed.
I agree with Garston Tony (for a change!) and John Dowdle. If, as seems highly probable, Hurdle's bottle of spirits had been opened, he was also breaking Transport regulations, as well, of course, by breaking them by his profanity and threatening behaviour. I don't know if has been banned from public transport, or had any other penalty re his behaviour from the Underground authorities, but a ban for some time, with the exception of going to and from work, or to a scheduled hospital appointment or similar, would seem to me to be a good way of changing his behaviour. I believe he deserved to be jailed. Paul Barbara

2:36pm Sun 29 Dec 13

Cuetip says...

This abuse of minorities by bullies must never be the norm and far too many condone it by either passively or actively encouraging it and well done to the gentleman who had the courage to intervene - a very rare act today. Far too often they seem to get away and congratulations to the magistrates.
This abuse of minorities by bullies must never be the norm and far too many condone it by either passively or actively encouraging it and well done to the gentleman who had the courage to intervene - a very rare act today. Far too often they seem to get away and congratulations to the magistrates. Cuetip

2:37pm Fri 3 Jan 14

Bubbybluebell says...

This Hurdle "man" - and I use the term "man" rather loosley - is nothing but a vile, foul mouthed, menacing bully and a racist. He has abused me - racially - calling me an Irish "c**t" and any other foul name he could think of - Just because i have Irish relatives. The only reason he appeared visibly embarrassed, is because he got caught, and everyone saw how he behaves when he's drunk... although he is also like that when he is sober.
What gives him the right to abuse and harrass people on a train, who are going about their business? i believe he should have got longer... he was told he would get 6 months - so i think he got off lightly....
I personally would like to shake the hand of the chap that took the video of him - if it hadn't been for him - this "man" would probably STILL be on tubes, getting drunk, and picking on innocent people who have nothing to do with him, and certainly have nothing to do with the uncle/cousins that he reckons they murdered in WW2 - this I can assure you is NOT the truth, and as for him being ex Para?? Dont make me laugh! 2 tours of Northern Ireland?? .... LIES.
This man purposely sets out to intimidate, bully, harrass and be-little ANYONE who he doesnt like the look of, in particular females, as they are least likely to fight back...
This Hurdle "man" - and I use the term "man" rather loosley - is nothing but a vile, foul mouthed, menacing bully and a racist. He has abused me - racially - calling me an Irish "c**t" and any other foul name he could think of - Just because i have Irish relatives. The only reason he appeared visibly embarrassed, is because he got caught, and everyone saw how he behaves when he's drunk... although he is also like that when he is sober. What gives him the right to abuse and harrass people on a train, who are going about their business? i believe he should have got longer... he was told he would get 6 months - so i think he got off lightly.... I personally would like to shake the hand of the chap that took the video of him - if it hadn't been for him - this "man" would probably STILL be on tubes, getting drunk, and picking on innocent people who have nothing to do with him, and certainly have nothing to do with the uncle/cousins that he reckons they murdered in WW2 - this I can assure you is NOT the truth, and as for him being ex Para?? Dont make me laugh! 2 tours of Northern Ireland?? .... LIES. This man purposely sets out to intimidate, bully, harrass and be-little ANYONE who he doesnt like the look of, in particular females, as they are least likely to fight back... Bubbybluebell

10:03am Sun 12 Jan 14

evergreenfc says...

RAYMOND CLARK SENTENCE
It didn’t take long for the do-gooders to spring to the defence of Raymond Clark after he killed our daughter. Perhaps if they had attended the Court Hearings they would know the truth of the case.
Raymond Clark stood in the dock under oath and stated on 3 occasions that “It is no more dangerous driving past a mandatory keep left sign on the wrong side of the road than it was driving on the correct side. They are both the same”. That is how he drove his bus on that fateful day with no thought or duty of care to any pedestrian that could have been crossing at that moment in time. The car following him stated that he did not slow down or brake at all, and failed to sound his horn.
He admitted in the dock to doing the same manoeuvre on 5 previous occasion. He did not make a moment of “poor judgement”, he broke the law on 6 occasions and his luck ran out on that day, and unfortunately so did our daughter’s. Apart from a few crocodile tears for the jury during his evidence, he showed little or no remorse. Thankfully his is banned from driving for 2 years and the people of Watford are safe from him making another “error of judgement.”
The comment of the judge that he had received a “Merciful verdict from the Jury” is further evidence of the enormity of his crime. He is an arrogant man who was lucky enough to be home with his family this Christmas. Something we will never have again.
People should avail themselves of the facts before putting pen to paper.

Dave Henney
RAYMOND CLARK SENTENCE It didn’t take long for the do-gooders to spring to the defence of Raymond Clark after he killed our daughter. Perhaps if they had attended the Court Hearings they would know the truth of the case. Raymond Clark stood in the dock under oath and stated on 3 occasions that “It is no more dangerous driving past a mandatory keep left sign on the wrong side of the road than it was driving on the correct side. They are both the same”. That is how he drove his bus on that fateful day with no thought or duty of care to any pedestrian that could have been crossing at that moment in time. The car following him stated that he did not slow down or brake at all, and failed to sound his horn. He admitted in the dock to doing the same manoeuvre on 5 previous occasion. He did not make a moment of “poor judgement”, he broke the law on 6 occasions and his luck ran out on that day, and unfortunately so did our daughter’s. Apart from a few crocodile tears for the jury during his evidence, he showed little or no remorse. Thankfully his is banned from driving for 2 years and the people of Watford are safe from him making another “error of judgement.” The comment of the judge that he had received a “Merciful verdict from the Jury” is further evidence of the enormity of his crime. He is an arrogant man who was lucky enough to be home with his family this Christmas. Something we will never have again. People should avail themselves of the facts before putting pen to paper. Dave Henney evergreenfc

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