Monday, October 13, 2008

Inverted justice in Britain

'Next time, walk away' - what magistrate told a husband who stood up to yob threatening his wife

A husband who stood up to a yob who shouted vile abuse at his wife has been convicted of assault and told by a magistrate: 'Next time, walk away.' Stephan Toth acted after the 13-year-old threatened his wife Selina, who has cancer. Mr Toth put his hands on the boy's shoulders and guided him to his mother's house, where he explained to her what her son had done. He then went home, only for the police to call at his flat and arrest him.

The 34-year-old father of one was kept in a dirty cell for eight hours and interviewed for two hours before being charged with common assault. After a three-month wait he was convicted and given an absolute discharge, leaving him with a criminal record.

And he was stunned when chairman of the bench Tony Pomeroy told him to 'just walk away' next time. Mr Toth said: 'Am I supposed to just walk away when some yob screams such awful things at my wife? No way. 'I did what any reasonable person would do yet the law is behind him, not me. I'm the victim here but somehow I've ended up becoming the criminal. Meanwhile that boy feels like he's above the law.'

As he waited for the trial, Mr Toth, from Margate in Kent, lost his job as a carer and has been unable to find work since. He was hauled before Margate magistrates over the incident in front of his flat on June 1. His 46-year-old wife, who is suffering from cervical cancer, was becoming upset by the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, screaming abuse through her open window.

Mr Toth said: 'I went up to him and said, "Enough is enough". He said, "You can't touch me, I'll get you sacked". I thought his mum should hear this so with open palms I coaxed him towards her house, which is a few doors down. 'My job is providing support and care at a school for children with learning and physical disabilities, so I've been trained on how to handle youths properly and barely even touched his shoulders. 'I got him most of the way then he ran off, so I went and spoke to his mum. She refused to accept he had said anything and shouted at me so I called the police to let them deal with it.'

Officers arrived at Mr Toth's flat half an hour later. The boy's family claimed Mr Toth grabbed him in a bear hug and tried to pick him up, causing six scratches to his chest. Mr Pomeroy said: 'There is insufficient evidence that there was a bear hug causing injuries but the defendant has admitted that he took hold of him by his shoulders and that constitutes an assault in our opinion. 'We think however that there was some degree of provocation in this.' He added: 'It would be an idea next time just to walk away.'

Mr Toth, who also had to pay 85 pounds costs, is planning to appeal. He added: 'I've been treated appallingly. My career is looking like it's going to be crushed, we have bills to pay and my wife's already fragile health is worse because of this.'

Kent Crown Prosecution Service defended its decision to take Mr Toth to court. A spokesman said: 'The CPS only brings a prosecution if there is enough evidence to provide a reasonable chance of conviction and if the prosecution is in the public interest.' [Really?]

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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