Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Changing Perceptions About Lawyers

Barrister Saimo Chahal won Britain's Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year 2006 in the Mental Health category. Her firm, Bindmans & Partners, says:

“She sees her role as challenging the perception of the role of lawyers, providing representation to those who are disenfranchised, putting aside preconceptions and looking at the mentally ill person and the issues her/his case raises.”
She is currently seeking to 'challenge the perception of the role of lawyers' with the case of the allegedly 'disenfranchised' Peter Sutcliffe.

The 'issues his case raises' with regard to 'the mentally ill person' might be seen as his being tried as sane when he claimed and was found to be paranoid schizophrenic.

However, Sutcliffe 'wants to be declared sane and moved from Broadmoor psychiatric facility to a normal prison' as does Saimo, who:

...aims to get Sutcliffe transferred back into the prison system and has asked for a reassessment of his psychiatric condition... (and) will then attempt to use the European Convention on Human Rights for him to be freed within three years, on the grounds that a tariff was not set.
A tariff is the British legal term for an official declaration of sentence. Sutcliffe was told in 1981 he would serve at least 30 years:

...but that tariff was never formalised because his defence team did not hand in all the necessary paperwork. For that reason, his new lawyer claims his human rights were breached.
The alleged 'incompetance' of his defense now appears to be working in Sutcliffe's favour.

What worked in favour of the 12 women and the 16 year old girl he bludgeoned and stabbed to death and the seven more he tried to kill during his career as 'The Yorkshire Ripper'?

Victim Jayne McDonald, 16, was 'hit on the head three times with a hammer and had been stabbed about twenty times in the chest and on the back. There was repeated stabbing through one wound in her chest and and one wound in her back. Blood smears on her back revealed that Sutcliffe had tried to wiped his knife clean. When the police turned over her body, they discovered a broken bottle with the screw-top still attached had been embedded into her chest.'

Of Jacqueline Hill, her killer confessed: "I pulled Miss Hill's clothes off, most of them. I had a screwdriver on me, I think it had a yellow handle and a bent blade. I stabbed her in her lungs. Her eyes were wide open and she seemed to be looking at me with an accusing stare. This shook me up a bit, I jabbed the screwdriver into her eye but they stayed open, and I felt worse than ever. I left her lying on her back with her feet towards the entrance. I think she was dead when I left."

Sutcliffe hit Vera Millward three times on the head with a hammer, literally spilling her brains across her clothes and body, then, among other things, slashed so viciously across her stomach that her intestines had spilled out.

After killing Jean Jordan, he realised he'd left behind a freshly printed 5 pound note that could link him to the crime so days later he returned to her undiscovered body to retrieve the evidence. He couldn't find it and, enraged, mutilated her rotting corpse even further before attempting to cut off her head with a shard of broken glass then a hacksaw in an attempt to cover the tell-tale head wound signs of it being an attack by 'the Ripper'.

Barrister Chahal is a mother of two. Any daughters?

-- Nick

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