Saturday, 10 October 2009
Britain is neither a country for old villains nor old heroes
First, the 'villains'.
Two men, one of 70 and the other 72, were sent to jail. They are thought to be Scotland's oldest thieves and their crime was : stealing almost £7,500 from a newsagent.
While one man distracted the shop assistant, the other pocketed £750 in cash along with stamps, electricity cards and mobile phone top ups. When the police found some of the money stashed in one of the men's couch, he said that, he "had been saving his pension".
In court the Sheriff said :
"You had a strategy...each of you has a substantial criminal record for dishonesty and, that being so, there's only one sentence that I can impose and that's a custodial one".
They were given 18 months each.
Now, if we say that they stole the equivalent of £3,750 each and calculate 18 months as about 550 days, that means that they got one day in prison for every £6.80 they stole or one hour for every 28 pence.
No Country for Old Villains indeed !
Now the heroes.
In the news yesterday : a 67 year old, Lincolnshire Parish Council Chairman and 72 year old Vice-Chairman are due in court for cutting the wires on a burglar alarm at an empty cottage. In their defence they said they did it after the alarm had made the lives of the 290 residents of the village of Hagworthingham, (in photo), a misery, with broken sleep for months.
They decided to take action after appeals to the Local Police and District Council had failed to put a stop to the problem and efforts to trace the owners of the empty cottage had got nowhere.
The 2 men were taken in for questioning more than eight months after silencing the noise at 'Foxglove Cottage', following a complaint to Police by someone, thought to be the absent owner of the cottage.
Now they are to appear in court accused of 'causing criminal damage'and could face a possible prison sentence of up to three months or a fine and end up with criminal records.
No Country for Old Heroes indeed !
The 2 men were applauded by villagers when they silenced the alarm. One of the heroes said: “We did everything we could to get the noise stopped but no-one wanted to know...It was ringing until the early hours of the morning and people couldn’t sleep. People were really annoyed and demanded that we do something about it. I admit I went round to the cottage and cut the wires from the outside but what else could we do?”
The decision to take the pair to court has apparently enraged the residents of Hagworthingham Wolds which was the setting for Tennyson’s poem 'The Brook' :
One resident said: “The noise was driving us all mad. The burglar alarm kept ringing on and off at all hours of the day and night. Normally you can hear a pin drop at night here but for weeks we were kept awake by the noise. No-one knew who owned the cottage and none of the authorities would do anything to help. It might have been legally wrong to cut the wires, but there really was no option. Everyone thinks it’s totally over the top to take two respectable elderly councillors to court.”
The collective age of my 4 villains and heroes is 281 years which in a 'time machine' would take us back to the year 1728, when King George I was on the throne and Britain still 'owned' the American Colonies and would continue to do so for anther 48 years.
And lastly, one feisty, old, American Hero :