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Ní Chúilín critical of jail sentence for young mother

3 February, 2011 - by Carál Ní Chuilín

Sinn Féin North Belfast MLA Caral Ní Chúilín has criticised the three month sentence imposed on a young mother today.

Ms. Ní Chúilín said:

"I was outraged at both the sentence imposed by the Judge and his attempt to rationalise it today. Courts must always act in the public interest in a proportionate and reasonable manner. This sentence was neither proportionate, reasonable or in the public interest.

"While we have been rightly critical of overly lenient sentencing for serious criminals in the past we also have a duty to criticise the actions of the judiciary when they are seen to be unacceptably harsh for minor offences that could be addresed through non-custodial alternatives. From all reports the Judge did not take account of a pre-sentence report that this woman was unlikely to re-offend or the affect this sentence would have on her young child. He failed to consider alternatives to custody.

"The Assembly is presently considering a new justice bill and Sinn Féin is putting forward proposals for alternatives to prosecution for many non-violent offences.

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