Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Case #1 bench orders criminal to keep proceeds of crime

UK blogger Magistrate Bystander has provided in comments some information on ways in which the UK magistrate industry is superior to our own, thus highlighting the stupidity and weaknesses of our own system.

However the acid test is whether a magistrate produces judgements which punish wrongdoers, reflect community expectations, and protect law abiding citizens.

Would one of Bystanders colleagues have pronounced the following judgement?:

A chequebook was stolen from a parked car.
The thief subsequently used the chequebook, forging a signature to match the name of the real owner of the chequebook.
Each cheque was passed at a small corner shop, or other business operated by a husband & wife team, mostly within a 200km radius. Most of the victim businesses could not afford the $300 or thereabouts which the cheque was written for.

At the inevitable prosecution only the use of 33 of the stolen cheques was mentioned.

One of the Thirty-Three stolen/forged cheques was for $200 and presented to a pub in town. Mine Host has no idea which pub, it could have been the Wayside Tavern, it could have been a competitor, the court did not ever elaborate.

The Magistrate's judegement:

"Guilty, no conviction to be recorded, and no restitution to be paid, as until banks serve alcohol, pubs should not cash cheques"

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Liquid Larceny

One Mine Host's favourite blogs is UK blogger The Magistrate's Blog, writing as "Bystander" and titled "The Law West of Ealing Broadway".

Recently Bystander posted a piece titled "Liquid Larceny", which was of great interest to Mine Host.

It provides some insight into the pub trade in the UK, which despite some surface similiarities, is a totally different industry to its cousin in the land of Oz.

From careful reading of the Magistrate's Blog, it would seem any similarities between being a Magistrate in the UK and in Qld are equally rare.

Mine Host is aware that the UK pub trade is quite tough, and if any of the following allegations from Bystander are remotely true, then the UK pub trade is every bit as hardscrabble as Mine Host has always suspected it to be.

Were anyone to make similar allegations about the Wayside Tavern, or any other pub Mine Host as operated or worked in, it would be so ridiculously false as to be laughable.

However human nature is such that were such ignorant allegations to be made, they would be believed by several of the clientele, though many would be motivated by the off-chance of getting a free beer out of it.

In "Liquid Larceny" Bystander makes several allegations:
That there is a lucrative conspiracy against the public. (by the liquor industry)
That short measures of beer are the norm.
That short measures are deliberate.
That the deliberate policy of publicans is to serve short measures.
That this fraud amounts to 150 million quid each year.
That topping up beer (ie, pouring with *ugh* no head on the beer) at customer request is done sourly and under duress only.
That charging 25p to add Lime, Lemonade etc to beer is a "fiddle".
That charging the same for a shandy as for a straight beer is also a "fiddle".

As some insight into the reality of the pub trade, Mine Host now provides his rebuttal of each allegation:

Drinkers demand a head on beer, and will send back a glass which is full to the brim as readily as they would send back one which has too much foam.
However, as the initiated know, spillage is the greatest worry of publicans, the elimination of which will bring far greater benefits than would short pouring, (and without the legal penalty & commercial boycott which would be the consequence of short pouring)

So the "short measures" are deliberate, are a deliberate policy by Mine Host, but are done purely at the request, nay, demand of the clientele.

Deliberate "short pours" are the least of Mine Host's worries. Spillage is the serious worry of any publican. Spillage, caused by a combination of poor equipment, beer temperature rising above 1 deg celsius, bar staff error, or high gas pressure

Spillage, when unchecked, can easily be 10 litres for every 50 litres actually sold. I say "piffle" to anyone who is so ignorant of the pub trade as to believe I would bother with short measures.

Charging for adding cordial or lemonade to a beer glass, is not a fiddle, done without consideration for the displaced beer. The cost of service is what is being paid for far more than the cost of ingredients.

Mine Host can only hold & pour five beer glasses at once, although some of his barmaids can manage six. A busy public bar keeps staff on the hop. The charge (about 1/3 of the 25p bystander & his fellow drinkers must pay) is a reflection of the time taken, rather than the amount of lime or lemonade consumed.

Staff are the largest cost in a bar, and their time must be paid for.

The Air Sure Gets Rare Up There

A blogger from overseas (UK) The Magistrates Blog, has made some ill informed & slanderous remarks about the pub industry. (Though it was the UK pub industry, Mine Host feels a kinship with his overseas brethren)

Bar staff are well accustomed to barstool experts. Bar staff are equally well accustomed being let down by the obscenity of inadequate decisions by Magistrates, and often wonder how they would fare when confronted by the reality which the rest of us have to live in.

A posting on decisions Mine Host has been impacted by, which should have resulted in dismissal of the Magistrate will follow. Preceded by a brief correction of the ill-researched comments of Mr. Magistrate Bystander.

First, let us look at who are Magistrates:

They are recompensed with a salary many times above the national average, plus they have the benefit of the Magistrate's quarters, a 3 bedroom house set on a quarter acre. (No problem with this)

The ranks of Magistrates are drawn almost exclusively from "time served" clerks in the court office. (This is a mistake). 20 years of stagnation in the most iniative and independant thought free section of the public service produces a stale mentality, one may almost say a warped mentality.

This mentality is then given unimpeachable and unquestionable power to sentence, release, acquit, set bail, allow bail, quash convictions (or refuse to convict in the first place) without ANY requirement to explain, be called into question, or to held culpable for the consequences of their actions.

The type of person (usually male) who works in the clerks of the court office for twenty years is generally an extremely introverted and sedate individual, who is unlikely to have any sort of background in team sports, manual labour, physical violence, or any dealing with criminals/crime (except for filing typed A4 papers which refer to some actual crimes in a dry and detached manner)

The result: Magistrates have much in common with Ottoman Sultans, who after a lifetime locked in the harem then in solitary, were almost gibbering idiots when suddenly elevated to the throne and absolute power, without ever having been into, or having any concept of life beyond the walls of the harem where they were born & raised.

In short, Magistrates have never had the opportunity nor ability to accumulate any wisdom, nor are they able to conceptualise the consequences their decisions have upon the hapless populace.

Yet on pain of summary gaoling for contempt, the citizenry and the police have to unquestioningly comply with decisions pronounced by these.. er.. highnesses.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Hot Air

11:30pm on Friday night, and four minors (16 years old) are at the rear of the Wayside Tavern arguing the toss about entry with the staff.

They were led by a belligerent lad who was slightly bigger (a fatty), though not older, than the others. (They were minors in stature as well as in age.)

The midgets had brought alcohol with them from elsewhere and were consuming it at the door, so Mine Host summoned the police.

When the police arrived the minors claimed that they only wished to get into the pub to "smash up" Mine Host. Keeping a straight face, the cops wrote each of them a ticket for $220. The illegal liquor had been hurriedly disposed of when the police were first seen, otherwise the tickets would have been for a MUCH larger amount.

Fatty had sucked his three mates into supporting him in a drunken outing. Now the three were in a panic that they were going to be "killed" by their parents for getting into trouble with the police.

Folornly, Fatty structed the police to write all tickets in the one name, his.

Fatty then asked the police what they would do if he was to "smash" Mine Host on the spot.

So the police told him.

Fatty then walked over to Mine Host and gave his idea of a tough, unblinking stare. Fatty is pimply and lacks a Clint Eastwood style "presence", so his action was more ridiculous than macho, causing plenty of mirth among the onlooking staff and police.

The four were mounted on kid sized bicycles, and in a breach of Queensland law, none were wearing helmets.

Lack of helmet on a bicycle attracts police interest.

All four stated they had pushed their bicycles to the Wayside Tavern, and would be pushing them home again. (winking to each other, thinking how easy it is to outsmart cops!)

The police said they would ensure they pushed the bicycles home.

The smirking stopped when the police produced a valve tool and instructed the four to surrender pronto the valves from their bicycle tyres, or the police would confiscate the bicycles....