Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Friday 18 August 2006

Aristocrat's defence in theft case is as damaging as crime

I just read this story in yesterday's Daily Telegraph(*).The facts of the case appear not to be in doubt. A young man, who happens to be the scion of one of England's oldest aristocratic families, has admitted stealing a cheque for about GBP117,000 from an elderly neighbour, after the envelope containing it had erroneously been delivered to his family's home in Wimbledon, London. The funds were the proceeds of the elderly lady's maturing pension policy.

No, what interests me about this sad case is the defence which his defence counsel has put forward on his behalf, presumably with his client's approval. The defence counsel has said Andrew Curzon suffers from dyspraxia, a condition which makes him unable to think logically, "particularly when under stress". Andrew Curzon was hoping to become a barrister. Doesn't being a barrister quite often require such a person to 'think logically', and does not the profession of barrister provoke a certain amount of 'stress' from time to time, albeit at a purely professional level?

My reaction when I read this story is that the defence is a novel variant on that used to defend the young Lord Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead Revisited, the novel by Evelyn Waugh about English upper-class life between the two world wars, when he was arrested for drunk driving, after having visited a brothel and his defence counsel described him in court as "a young man of good family who was unused to drink". Sebastian had no desire to become a barrister, of course, nor indeed to take up any other professional or remunerated activity so the main danger he represented was probably to himself. My conclusion in the Andrew Curzon case is that his erstwhile future potential legal clients have had a lucky escape from being defended by a barrister who cannot think logically, "particularly when under stress".

(*) I did not get around to starting to read yesterday's Telegraph until I was in bed last night and only read this article when I awakened this morning. I probably won't be reading a newspaper at all for the next few days as I'm away for the weekend in a few hours - be seein' ya!

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