YEP Says, December 19: Freeing up courts cannot be at expense of justice for victims

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...and Fanny’s place in city’s history is assured

WHEN the Government introduced new rules in a bid to lighten the burden on magistrates courts – and the country’s bulging jails – Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said the reforms would “empower” victims by giving them more of a say.

But assaulted pensioner Bill Ramsay says he encountered nothing of the sort when his attacker escaped any sort of court action. Bill, an 82-year-old war veteran, was left bloodied and bruised after being battered by Adam Talbot in his flat in Farsley.

Talbot, a firefighter, admitted assault and was ordered to pay £150 in compensation and write Mr Ramsay a letter of apology. He was also banned from entering his victim’s street.

While the case was undoubtedly dealt with much more swiftly than it would have been if it had entered the court system, Mr Ramsay certainly does not feel “empowered” by the outcome.

In fact he’s incensed that such a serious offence received the equivalent of a slap on the wrist – and rightly so.

West Yorkshire Police said the action taken was appropriate because Talbot had no previous convictions, admitted his guilt and had expressed remorse. They also said that the matter had gone to court he could have received a “lesser sanction”.

Which tells you all you need to know about the glaring shortcomings in the criminal justice system.

Fanny’s place in city’s history is assured

THE idea for a piano competition in Leeds came to Dame Fanny Waterman one sleepless night in 1961.

When her husband Geoffrey told here it would only work in the capital, she set about proving him wrong.

Recruiting Marion Thorpe, then Countess of Harewood, and with help from her husband, she set about establishing the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition.

In the more than half a century since its first staging, “the Leeds” has helped put the city on the map – and Fanny has been the driving force behind it all.

Now, at the age of 94, she is retiring. Her place in history assured, Leeds owes her a great deal.