Prosecutors say they were justified in spending an estimated £20,000 on the crown court trial of a man who was acquitted of stealing a 25p banana.
The initial response is to rail against the waste of £20k of public money to try such a trivial offence.
The eye is drawn to the contrast in amounts of money and almost skips over the word 'acquitted'.
It is the tone of the article that worries me, there is no explicit suggestion, no direct editorial, but one just feels that it is saying 'wouldn't it have been better if the accused had accepted his punishment, regardless of guilt, and saved the public their money?'
As the District Crown Prosecutor quite rightly states it is his right as the accused to opt for a trial by jury, and having been found not guilty by his peers can now continue his life without a stain on his character (assuming he's no convictions prior to this).
Is his innocence worth £20k? I would say it is, if he had been convicted, and given that to get a job sweeping the streets you have to be CRB checked these days, how much would the taxpayer have coughed up in benefits to support him due to his unemployability because of the misappropriation of a 25p banana, which he didn't take anyway?
I've never recieved a fixed penalty notice for any of the myriad of offences for which they can be dished out now. But I'm assuming that they can all be challenged in a court of law, at least I would hope so otherwise it really is nothing more than receipted and legal mugging. Perhaps if more people elected to have a day out in their local Crown Court, rather than meekly paying up, the government and ACPO would spend more time detecting crime rather than recording stats disguised as fines.