The above is the headline in an article yesterday's Telegraph. According to the article: "A police chief has expressed disappintment that a jury returned verdicts of manslaughter rather than murder in the trial of a gang of youths who killed a man in a 'happy slapping attack'."
I wrote on Thursday (link here) about this and my own anger, and confusion, that the verdict in the killing of gay barman David Morley had resulted in the conviction of the four adjudged to be the perpetrators on the lesser charge of manslaughter, rather than murder.
Of course I am disappointed, too, and share Metropolitan Police's Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur's dismay at the result. However, I believe in trial by jury (I have written about this often in the past, in relation to other matters) and it would be hypocritical of me to deviate from this view simply because a jury has returned a verdict I do not like. By all means let the Police and the CPS learn the lessons from this case. I am in no position to judge why the individual members of the jury took the decisions they did and of course I have not heard all the evidence that they must have been presented with during the course of the trial, even if I have my own private views and worries about what may be behind these. The only comment I would make is that the jury selection procedure might perhaps be looked at; on the other hand I am wary of the danger of 'packing' juries to achieve a desired outcome. Nor do I believe in the idea that 'double jeopardy' might be a valid idea, except possibly (and even then I remain a little doubtful) when genuinely new evidence has come to light which would cast doubt on a verdict - this does not seem to be the case here.
UPDATE: (Monday 23JAN06 23.55 GMT) The four killers have now been sentenced - three get 12 years, and the fourth gets 8 years.