‘He seemed shy, confused and a little bit scared’
IT’S one of those moments that takes your breath away.
“Daniel Bleazard’s just got six years,” a colleague informed us last week as she arrived back from court.
You may remember Bleazard, the man who was found with a 3ft axe in the crowds in St George’s Square just before the Queen arrived in Huddersfield last May.
Thankfully he was hauled away by police and had been making his way through the criminal justice system since that day.
That process concluded last week when His Honour Judge Jonathan Durham Hall sentenced the Marsh man at Bradford Crown Court.
Bleazard was given three years for possession of the axe, 18 months for breaking an anti-social behaviour order and another 18 months for possession of a knife.
Now let’s get one thing straight; Bleazard is a convicted criminal with a habit of carrying weapons.
He is no angel.
But is six years in prison really a fair sentence?
I happened to cover one of Bleazard’s appearances at Huddersfield Magistrates’ Court in connection with the axe incident.
In my own – no doubt prejudiced – way I tend to form a view of defendants based on their behaviour in court.
Some of them, the real nasty pieces of work, give off an air of menace, even if they’re trying to convince the magistrate that they’re all sweetness and light.
These are the guys whose eye contact you avoid, the sort you hope not to bump into outside the court.
Bleazard never gave me that impression. He seemed shy, confused and a little bit scared to find himself in front of the magistrates.
Of course, that is just my opinion. I could be wrong.
But it seems that Judge Durham Hall at least partially agrees with me. In sentencing Bleazard he described the 34-year-old as “deeply disturbed”.
I doubt Bleazard will be any less “disturbed” after six years in prison; at our expense I might add.
Again, this is not to say that he shouldn’t be punished, but rather that the judge went way too far.
But why did Judge Durham Hall decide to throw the book at Bleazard?
Well, his choice of language when sentencing tells its own story. “You wanted to brandish that weapon in as close a proximity to Her Majesty as was possible.
There cannot be any other legitimate explanation,” he told Bleazard before sending him away until 2014.
To Judge Durham Hall she is not merely “the Queen” you may note, but “Her Majesty”.
Not that the monarch would have been too concerned even had Bleazard, axe in hand, managed to get close to her.
For, as Judge Durham Hall told the court, she has “more courage than the rest of us put together.”
Even in early February that’s a strong candidate for the most ridiculous quote of the year.
The Queen has more courage than the rest of us put together? How could Judge Durham Hall possibly know this?
The Queen spends her life protected by a cordon of armed police. She is never called upon to show any courage whatsoever.
Of course it is perfectly possible that the Queen is brave, but neither Judge Durham Hall nor indeed any of us will ever find out about it.
Even if the monarch is blessed with courage, does she really have more than the rest of us put together?
That’s an awful lot of courage.
What a waste to have the Queen cutting ribbons and knighting retired civil servants. She should be saving lives in the fire service or the Coastguard. Courage like that ought be put to good use.
It’s reasonable to believe that Judge Durham Hall has made an example of Bleazard because his (assumed) intended victim also happens to be the head of state.
But what about victims of actual violence? What protection does the law offer them?
When I heard the Bleazard sentence my mind went back to another case I had covered in Huddersfield Magistrates’ Court late last year.
A man used a hammer to smash into his girlfriend’s flat.
He broke her DVD player and TV. When she tried to grab the hammer he pushed her away. He then broke her ankle while taking a swing at the stereo system.
Now what kind of sentence does this man deserve?
Well, by the Bleazard standard, probably about 30 years, since using a weapon is much more serious than carrying one.
But that’s not what he got.
The magistrates fined him £375 and told him to attend a domestic violence programme as part of a two-year community order.
You will perhaps not be surprised to learn that this man’s girlfriend is not Queen Elizabeth the Second.
Beware of initials . . .
WE journalists are prone to black humour.
Dealing with so much human suffering causes the average reporter to become a little, shall we say, unsentimental.
Coming from the black humour capital of the world that is Belfast – oh the laughs we used to have during the Troubles – I am doubly cursed. Or maybe that should be blessed.
But grubby-fingered hacks are not the only ones to laugh in the face of death.
A few months ago I saw Dave Spikey perform at the Lawrence Batley Theatre.
You might remember him as Peter Kay’s sidekick in Phoenix Nights.
Before becoming a comedian Spikey was a haematologist in Lancashire
He does a wonderful stand-up routine about the acronyms the staff used to describe patients.
A sick person of limited intelligence was NFB (Normal For Bolton) while someone not long for this world was classed as CTD (Circling The Drain).
It appears this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to medical acronyms.
I read in the paper this week that doctors like to scribble these sort of abbreviated commentaries in their notebook while treating patients.
People of a certain size are TFTB (Too Fat To Breathe) while someone with a mystery disease can be said to have TEETH (Tried Everything Else, Try Homeopathy).
Ladies, you may have a male GP who thinks you’re a GLM (Good Looking Mum) and then suggests a TUBE (Totally Unnecessary Breast Exam).
And both men and women should be wary if they spot their doctor scribbling down that they are GPO.
Good for Parts Only.