Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill refused to intervene after his policies jailed Grandmother while allowing thug to go free. THE new sentencing guidelines launched by the Scottish National Party’s minority Scottish Government, which allow Sheriffs to issue “community payback orders” instead of sending convicted persons to jail, is so effective at combating crime & saving a few pennies on prison places, it was used to send an EIGHTY ONE YEAR OLD campaigning grandmother to jail, while career criminals walk free under Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill’s ‘watchful gaze’ (or should that be faze ? – Ed)
Report from the Sunday Mail follows :
Feb 6 2011 Stephen Stewart, Sunday Mail
FURY at the decision to jail a campaigning gran was mounting yesterday after a violent thug dodged prison under new government guidelines.
Career criminal Laurence Winters - who has 160 previous convictions for offences including numerous assaults and thefts - walked free from court after a sheriff imposed Scotland's first community payback order.
On Friday, Winters, 39, of Perth, was facing sentence for his latest crime - shouting and swearing at police. Sheriff William Summers told him: "You have just about the longest record I have ever seen."
But under a new scheme launched by the SNP government, sheriffs have been told to impose community payback orders as an alternative to jail terms of less than three months. So instead of going to jail, Winters will work on community projects such as renovation and removing graffiti.
Meanwhile, frail 81-year-old Georgina Smith is still in Cornton Vale prison, serving a 45-day sentence for failing to pay a £1500 fine.
And justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has said he will not intervene over Sheriff Douglas Small's decision to jail her.
Politicians condemned the sentence yesterday after Georgina's neighbours held a candlelit vigil at her house in the village of Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan peninsula.
Labour's justice spokesman Richard Baker said: "The situation where someone convicted of a string of offences escapes prison but an 81-year-old grandmother who hasn't paid a fine ends up with a jail sentence highlights the shambles of the justice system under the SNP.
"People are becoming more and more dismayed at a soft - touch approach to those who deserve a prison sentence while a granny is jailed for not paying her fine."
His Tory counterpart, John Lamont, added: "People who don't pay their fines should have money deducted from their income. "Prison should be for serious and repeat offenders who make the lives of others a misery.
"The public will wonder what on earth is going when those who shouldn't be in prison end up there - and those who should be in prison walk free."
Georgina was jailed at Fort William Sheriff Court on January 26 after she was found guilty of defacing an Edinburgh court on Armistice Day 2006.
She daubed slogans including "No Star Wars" and "No Cluster Bombs" on the building, causing £3000 worth of damage.
Sheriff Small said: "You have been given every opportunity to pay compensation but you refuse to do so for political reasons."
Georgina's own MP, Charles Kennedy, said: "Short prison sentences are almost always an expensive way of achieving very little. They should be used as an option of last resort, if at all.
"We need effective, enforceable community sentences that allow some good to come from offences that pose no threat to the public."
MSP Sandra White, who sits on the cross - party group for the elderly said: "The sheriff who sent Georgina to jail should pay the fine he imposed and take her out for a meal to apologise.
"It's a shocking situation for a woman of that age to be sent to jail for making a legitimate protest. Ok, she's put graffiti on a building - but when did anyone last see a graffiti artist being sent to jail?”
“Drug dealers and violent criminals who wreak havoc on our communities are allowed to walk free from court without more than a slap on the wrist.
"Where is the comon sense in jailing an 81-year-old woman?"
Georgina's daughter Lucy said: "What on earth is she doing in prison? This is a nonsense."
A Scottish government spokesman said: "Sentencing in individual cases must always be up to sheriffs and judges and it is fundamental to the independence of the judiciary that ministers do not interfere in those decisions."