There’ll be a lot of people who’ll cheer this without thinking it through:
But he instead he went into the boy’s bedroom and massaged his genitals telling him he was a “pretty boy” and they would be “best pals forever”.
When the upset and teary 10-year-old told his father, he is alleged to have dragged Davidson outside and bashed him almost unconscious.
But a jury today took just 40 minutes to return a not guilty verdict after magistrate Walter Tutt told them they must “consider if what the defendant did were the actions of an ordinary reasonable person given the circumstances”.
Paedophile beaten “almost unconscious”. What “reasonable” father could have done more?
But this is the thing. A state which accepts “provocation” as some sort of complete defence to a serious assault is a state that endorses vigilantism. It’s a state which gives the green light to citizens to take the law into their own hands. It’s a state which accepts mob justice and lynch mobs.
But mob justice is no justice at all. There’s a reason we have a legal system in which evidence is properly assessed and punishments meted out calmly and rationally: it’s because that’s the only way real justice is done. It’s the only way we make as certain as possible that we’re punishing the right people. It’s the only way we can apply consistent punishments that fit the crime. It’s the only way we can make the community a safer and less violent place to live.
This is what you do when you discover someone has attacked your family: you get your family to safety and call the police. If you can safely detain the person, you do that. And, if the evidence is sound and it’s clear that the person is in fact guilty of the crime, then the courts will punish that person. And don’t believe the garbage that you’re repeatedly sold by the sensationalist tabloid media – they will punish that person appropriately. They won’t take them out to an ant hill and douse them in honey and set fire ants on them before chopping them into little pieces and jumping on them and then throwing them into the ocean to be finished off by sharks, but if that’s your idea of justice then you have almost as much of a problem as the sicko in question.
Now – of course I agree that the circumstances are highly mitigating, and that the father deserves a lesser punishment for his brutal assault than if he’d just done it randomly and for no reason. But it should never have been a complete defence in which his conduct wasn’t even deemed a crime.
In Victoria, that magistrate’s direction to the jury would be wrong. We no longer have a “provocation” defence, and “what a reasonable person would have done” is not an excuse for an act of violence (unless we’re talking about self-defence, and then only to the extent it was necessary for someone’s safety). Our courts recognise that encouraging citizens to attack other citizens and telling them that it’s okay if the other person can be shown to be a bad person leads to MORE injustice. (It also results in victims being effectively put on trial.)
If Queensland is still accepting defences which boil down to “but he deserved it”, then it’s in urgent need of reform.
PS First person to post a comment along the lines of “if you don’t agree with vigilantes being permitted to run around bashing paedophiles unconscious you must luv them and want to marry them and have their babies” wins a special prize: my contempt for one entire morning.
UPDATE 4/6: Although they are whinging about this woman getting off, also in Queensland, and for a very similar reason. The inconsistency of their approaches to these cases doesn’t seem to have occurred to them.
Provocation should not be a defence. It should be a mitigating factor considered in sentencing only.