THE alarming case of the Hussain brothers which played out in Reading Crown Court has caused an almost repulsive disbelief and widespread anger amongst the Asian community, with a Facebook campaign group reaching well over 6, 000 members.
Not only has it prompted renewed debate over the level of force that British house holders can impose against raiders, but it has also led many to doubt the so called justice of our country’s legal system.
Meet Munir Hussain, a trained engineer, who came to Britain in 1964 and founded a company that employs nine people and has a turnover of £2.4 million. As a former chairman of the Wycombe Race Equality Council, the 53 year old is currently chairman of the Asian Business Council and is a simple, law abiding, family orientated British citizen. .
The businessman was returning to his High Wycombe home with his wife and children in September last year to be confronted by three masked knife-wielding burglars. Accompanied by his brother Tokeer, Hussain managed to chase the burglars away, savagely beating up one, Walid Salem.
You would be forgiven for thinking, despite reacting in the red mist of his anger, that Hussain was the victim and that the law would recognise that too.
Yet in court, this was far from so. Despite praising Hussain for his “courage” in defending his wife and three children from an attack Judge John Reddihough was quick to, rather infuriatingly, immediately slap on a 30 month jail sentence with brother Tokeer being sentenced to 39 months for their violent response. Yet what is even more exasperating is the fact that the intruder, Salem, a serial criminal with more than 50 previous convictions was sparred jail, and was, furiously, deemed as being the victim.
Sending the Hussains to prison was a disgrace to our once renowned and respected legal system. The severity of Salems injuries meant he was unfit to plead at court and for that, having been convicted, I have no issue with the fact that both brothers should have to be punished. But was a jail term surely that necessary? It is not only bizarre, but increasingly worrying how the authorities seem to cherish punishing people who are not a threat to society. How likely are the Hussains to re offend again in comparison to repeat offender, Salem? Would not a suspended sentence, or probation, have sufficed?
Judge Reddihough has caused nothing but sheer embarrassment and furore. Thanks to his misguided decision, our legal system, which prides itself in achieving justice, should now hang its head in shame for treating two utterly decent men in this way. In defending his ludicrous decision, Reddihough said it was his "public duty" to imprison them. Well, he should feel no duty towards me nor, I imagine, towards millions of other British law abiding citizens!
If Judge Reddihough is so concerned about his public duty then I would urge him to perhaps connect himself more with the general public. In passing sentence, he warned that people must not take the law into their own hands. I entirely agree. But I would urge the Judge to perhaps put himself in the position of Mr. Hussain. If his home was invaded, his possession stolen and his family threatened with death, I think we all agree that, at the moment of sheer panic, fear and anger, the phrase "I must not take the law into my own hands" would not be foremost in his mind. It certainly wouldn’t be on mine.
Salem had a choice about whether to go and burgle the Hussains' house. Mr Hussain had none about whether to become his victim. If we are to live in the idealised civilised society which Judge Reddihough depicted in this case, then maybe the authorities should do more to bring the true criminals to justice.
Today, Salem’s two accomplices remain free, no doubt committing endless crimes. Other than punishing an innocent man, Judge Reddihough has nothing other than make himself look like an idiot, make the mockery of the system as a whole and help increase this countries already soaring criminal rates.
Zeenat Moosa is a freelance writer based in Birmingham