But, Seriously?

When I posted my previous offering, I commented that I was unsure about doing it, as it was such a step away from what I usually write about. Unsurprisingly, it garnered fewer ‘likes’ than I normally get, but those who took the trouble to read and comment were kind enough to say that I had been right to post it and warn of the dangers that can lurk on social media. However, there is another statistic that I would like to attach to that post, as I think it is very meaningful: I’ve been doing this, on and off, for approaching five years now, and that post is already the second most read of any that I have posted – and this is my 250th. The majority of those readers are not regular followers of my blog, and have – rather ironically, perhaps – been directed here by the number of retweets my post has received on Twitter. So maybe it isn’t all bad, after all! And most of those readers probably don’t have a WordPress account and would have been unable to ‘like’ and comment – well, that’s what I tell myself, anyway! Importantly, the message got to a wide audience, and that is what I was hoping for.

Quite a few of the people I follow – and am followed by – on Twitter are victims of Parental Alienation Syndrome or, in Twitter terms, #PAS. Because of the links to my friend, who is very much a victim of this, I am on the fringes of a Twitter family of like-minded people. My friend has become a figurehead for victims – if you want to know more, his feed is at @fatherscontact and he has nearly 7,000 followers now. There are many out there who are suffering this abuse, and I hope you’ll take a look, follow some of the links and learn about what some people are prepared to do to their children as a way of exacting some perverse revenge on their former partners.

But that, whilst being extremely important, isn’t my main reason for this follow up post. Cast your mind back to the previous one, or follow this link back to it. Did it strike you as odd that, despite the horrible nature of Guerrero’s crime, he managed to avoid prison? To put his sentence – 21 months in prison, but suspended for two years – into context, it carried a maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment. Worryingly, this appears to be part of a recent trend of apparently lenient sentences imposed on men who have been found guilty of similar crimes, but who have somehow avoided immediate incarceration. I know that our prisons are very overcrowded, but that shouldn’t allow people who deserve to be in one of them to be spared. The law appears again to be becoming an ass, as Dickens so succinctly put it.

These two screenshots from the website of the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald, Guerrero’s local paper, contain a report on the trial and sentence:

But despite those strong words, the judge still gave Guerrero a much lighter sentence than he could have done, and then compounded this by suspending it. Why? There is an implication in the wording of the report that this was because he is a high earner, paying a large monthly sum to support his child. Two points: 1. Did they check the validity of his claim on this with his ex-partner, and 2. Does the judge really expect that Guerrero can continue to earn such sums? Remember, he is an IT expert who has breached the trust of the companies who employed him, and I somehow doubt that potential employers will be queueing up for his services now. So, Judge Pawson, can you SERIOUSLY justify the leniency of your sentencing?

Guerrero deserves to be in prison, paying a suitable penalty for his vile crimes. I saw a comment on Facebook to the effect that ‘he’s only looked at pictures, he hasn’t actually done anything.’ I can’t begin to describe how stupid I think that is: did the woman who said that stop for a moment to consider the serious harm done to the very young children coerced into making the images and films that Guerrero and his like take their perverted pleasure from? Is she a mother herself, and if so how would she feel about this if it had been her children involved? Any participation in such horrible acts deserves a prison sentence. Until this case, I hadn’t realised that it was open to anyone to request that the Attorney General review for undue leniency in a sentence – you don’t have to have any involvement, other than being a concerned, caring citizen. This screenshot from the AG’s website explains the procedure:

I have emailed the AG to ask for this sentence to be reviewed, and know of several others who have done the same. It actually only needs one such request, but the more emails that the AG receives the more likelihood there is that the department will have to take this seriously. The deadline for making a request is 31 August, so there is still plenty of time if you feel like adding your voice to this. I hope you do, and I hope Guerrero then receives the sentence he really merits.