Comment: Justice has not been seen to be done

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there is a fine line between punishment and rehabilitation of offenders. We accept that jail is not always the most appropriate option, despite the gravity of the offence. But when it comes to an armed robber who terrified a shopkeeper, customer and seven-year-old child, imposing a sentence of community service really beggars belief.

The case of Gary Smith today is another example where justice has not been seen to be done.

Like the high-profile case of Gary McCourt who escaped both jail and a lifetime driving ban for knocking down and killing 75-year-old cyclist Audrey Fyfe, the Crown appealed the sentence given to Smith.

Like McCourt, appeal judges simply upheld the original punishment. Incredibly, it means Smith will simply have to perform 200 hours of unpaid work and stay out of trouble for three years.

Something has clearly gone wrong.

Balancing retribution and deterrence with rehabilitation is always going to be a difficult task. Unfortunately in these two cases at least, the scales of justice appear weighted far too far in 
favour of the offender.

Primark row

marks and Spencer is a national institution and one of the best loved names on the high street.

Like any long-standing organisation, it has had its ups and downs, but it is still one of our favourite places to shop, especially for pants.

So it is hard to understand its reluctance to welcome Primark as a new neighbour at the Gyle.

The opening of the new Primark store would be a real bonus for shoppers in the west of the city – and a great boost for the other stores at the centre, pulling in an estimated £4.5 million extra spending a year.

Let’s hope there’s a quick solution to the current impasse.