Magistrates hit out at drinking culture

TWO experienced magistrates have today said that alcohol-related crime is overtaking the criminal justice system and filling up the courts.A magistrate at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court, in Ipswich, said he is tired of dealing with alcohol related crime and condemned alcohol for being the root cause of trouble in Suffolk.

TWO experienced magistrates have today said that alcohol-related crime is overtaking the criminal justice system and filling up the courts.

A magistrate at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court, in Ipswich, said he is tired of dealing with alcohol related crime and condemned alcohol for being the root cause of trouble in Suffolk.

Chairman of the bench, Robert Skinner, said: “The court is getting rather tired of hearing about alcohol as the cause of the problems in this town.”

His comments came after giving a 24-year-old 140 hours unpaid work for a booze-fuelled attack on another man in a nightclub in Felixstowe.

Retired magistrate Randall Bevan supported his claim and said alcohol had become a growing problem for the courts which had gradually got worse because of a soft approach towards offenders.

He said: “It's disgraceful. Drink drivers get disqualified for a year and never end up having to pay a fine or go to prison but if they can afford a car and they can afford to drink, they can afford the penalties.”

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Mr Skinner's comments came during the case of George Issac De Ville, of Yeoman Road, Felixstowe, who pleaded guilty in South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court to assault.

De Ville was in the Bandbox night club, in Bent Hill, Felixstowe, on September 21 when he hit another man in the face several times with a bottle.

The court heard how De Ville launched the violent attack at about 11.45pm after an evening of heavy drinking.

Gareth Davies, prosecuting, said: “Alcohol played a significant role; he'd had a lot to drink.”

De Ville, who admitted to having a problem with alcohol, said: “After this incident I have given up drinking alcohol completely and if I can assault someone without even realising it then alcohol is obviously a problem for me and I need to stop doing it.”

De Ville was given a 12 month community order which requires him to complete 140 hours unpaid work and remain under the supervision of the probation service.

He also had to pay £120 compensation to the victim and £60 court costs.

Have you been the victim or perpetrator of alcohol related crime? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police today said: “With the re-introduction of the Lock 'Em Inn Campaign on November 9, alcohol related crime and alcohol related violence in a public place is down on previous years, however, there are still a minority of people that come to Ipswich and spoil it for the majority.

“The police reiterate their night safety messages; don't over do it, friends stick together and get home safely.”

Suffolk police's Lock 'Em Inn Campaign was re-launched in Ipswich in November in an attempt to tackle anti-social behaviour over the festive period.

The high-profile campaign was originally launched in 2005 and sees more officers on the streets on Friday and Saturday nights while details of what sort of accommodation offenders can 'look forward to' in custody cells are distributed around the town.

Randall Bevan was a magistrate for 32 years before retiring in 2005.

He said: “The messages are not getting across because it keeps happening and it's got worse over the years.”

Mr Bevan on public order offences: “Any pub or club that has public order problems should be closed down for a couple of years.”

“Anybody that drinks and drives should have the book thrown at them.”

“Young people are different now, they have been encouraged to change by society and they have a lack of respect for everyone and everything.

“This is what happens when you have a free for all; I didn't start drinking until I was 40, my father would have killed me!”