On page 7 and page 17 of this newspaper, you will see two stories that pertain to criminal justice and sentencing.
The story on page 7 is part of an exclusive series of News Letter stories on how serious criminals have absconded from prison, without even a police appeal for information. Two of the men are murderers.
In an almost amusing illustration of a ‘human rights for murderers’ mindset, Thomas McCabe, 53, who murdered an 18-year-old relative of his girlfriend in 1990, even complained about not getting damages for having been returned to prison when his pre-release was suspended.
But in fact nothing about his case is funny. This repulsive man was sentenced to a mere 11 years for his murder and was due to be free almost 20 years ago. He kept absconding during his pre-release scheme.
On page 17 a report refers to an American court that gave a doctor 175 years for sexually abusing young girl gymnasts systematically. It was an unforgivable breach of trust for which he has deservedly been sentenced to decades in jail. But is a murder not as bad or worse? And if so, why do courts in the UK and most of Europe treat it so leniently?
McCabe should not even yet be eligible for release in the first instance, after a murder conviction as recently as 1990, let alone having been first let out of prison long ago. Since then he has serially exploited his early release opportunities, yet repeatedly been given further chances.