Judge disciplined for offering to pay teenage girl's penalty

Bradford Crown Court Image copyright PA

A judge has been disciplined for offering to pay a penalty for a girl who had stabbed her abuser.

The 15-year-old had admitted attacking the man, who had sexually assaulted her when she was younger.

After giving her a two-year youth rehabilitation order, the judge said he would pay a victim surcharge penalty for the girl if one was imposed on her.

Following complaints, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC was disciplined for not demonstrating impartiality.

The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office said the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice had considered Judge Durham Hall's comment - made during sentencing at Bradford Crown Court - and issued him with "formal advice".

A spokesperson for the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office said: "[Judge Durham Hall] stated that he would pay the victim surcharge himself if the defendant were forced to pay.

"The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice considered this failed to demonstrate impartiality, and that his comment amounted to misconduct."

The "formal advice" sanction is the lowest penalty that can be imposed in instances where it is decided disciplinary action is appropriate.

The girl, who had been initially charged with attempted murder, pleaded guilty in 2016 to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

She had stabbed Zadhullah Boota in the stomach. He had been given a community order in 2010 after he was convicted of abusing the girl.

In sentencing the girl, Judge Durham Hall said he believed Boota had been dealt with "somewhat leniently".

"It is self-evident that this offence was caused by, and solely relates to, the impact of the offending upon you when you were [a young girl]," he said.

"I hope to be able to help you. There is no question of locking you up. That would be callous and cruel in the extreme."

The court heard the girl, who had handed herself in to police, had told officers her life had been destroyed by the abuse she had suffered.

She said she had felt let down by the justice system when Boota did not go to prison.

The victim surcharge is a financial penalty of between £10 and £170 imposed on defendants in England and Wales when they are sentenced.

The revenue is used to fund victims' services.

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