Posted by: Bruce | December 10, 2013

Ex Victorian magistrate Simon Cooper – and a scary, graceless precedent.

Why isn’t this man in jail? I can’t spot the difference here between the Catholic Church covering up for their own criminal ‘priests’, and ex-magistrate Simon Cooper being well looked after by the court.

On November 19, 2013  former Victorian Magistrate Simon Cooper was given a three year suspended custodial sentence after pleading guilty to the sexual assault of two teenage brothers. The assaults occurred in the mid 80’s.

Ex magistrate Simon Cooper

Ex magistrate Simon Cooper

The apparent lenient sentence has drawn harsh criticism from some and attracted, possibly unwanted, attention to this case. At first glance the conclusion and punishment stinks. After further reading it stinks even more.

Cooper was formerly a Crown Prosecutor for 16 years then appointed as a magistrate in February 2012. During that time he would have been involved in jailing offenders, just like himself. Who knows, perhaps even an ex-copper or judge.

He had a judge, magistrate and chief Crown Prosecutor giving him character references at the plea hearing; that’s raised some questions and fair enough. He would know the rules well, and no doubt a deal has been done that’s allowed him to avoid going to jail. He won’t be registered as a sex-offender.

This case grabbed my attention with two standouts;

1/ When sentencing Cooper, Judge Stephen Norrish said maintaining Cooper’s safety in prison posed insurmountable difficulties and…

2/ the disgrace and shame Cooper has suffered under media scrutiny and the loss of his career and standing were themselves a form of punishment.

On prison safety; I can see there’d be problems, but tough luck for Cooper. There has been more than one bent judge or copper sent to prison. If anything, courts have made an example of such convictions because if anyone should know better, it’s those in positions of authority.

The jailing, in 2009, of former Federal Court Judge and NSW Supreme Court Judge, Marcus Einfeld comes to mind; and he didn’t sexually assault teenage boys.

A google imageAs for ‘rightfully suffering a spectacular fall from grace’, so what? Why mention it? Are we supposed to feel sorry for Cooper? It’s his own fault, he’s responsible. Perhaps if he had stolen a loaf of bread, his fall might be considered a form of punishment. Simon Cooper fell from grace when he sexually assaulted the boys. Since the assaults, did his unblemished 30 years include an admission and payment for his actions or was he forcibly brought to account by his victims? An artificial grace can’t really be lost.

Do the victims feel forgotten while Coopers’ social standing is factored in?

Has the Judges’ inclusion, of lost social status, created a legal precedent? No benefit for those without a high profile though; it’s straight to jail, do not pass go.

# Coopers fall from grace? A totally irrelevant and insulting consideration. Coopers’ fault.

# An unblemished 30 yrs since offending? So what; it’s expected from everyone.

# Did he turn himself in or was he forced to own up? Forced it seems.

Some links for further reading with some grubby background first up;

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/magistrate-simon-mitchell-cooper-pleads-guilty-to-sex-abuse-of-two-teenagers/story-fni0fee2-1226691969596

This next story is from Charlie Bezzina, an ex-homocide detective who worked with Cooper. I don’t get it. He talks of smart cunning criminals, like Simon Cooper who can fool us all. After serving it up to Cooper, he then supports the ‘fall from grace’ as a punishment. What?

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/former-victorian-magistrate-simon-coopers-conviction-for-indecently-assaulting-boys-is-a-warning-for-all-says-exdetective-charlie-bezzina/story-fni0ffqy-1226763432812

A couple of others

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-20/victims27-groups-angry-at-suspended-sentence-for-former-magist/5104466

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/opposition-leader-daniel-andrews-queries-magistrate-simon-coopers-sentence/story-fni0fee2-1226767336100

and last but not least; did Simon Cooper have a bag packed like Marcus Einfeld?

http://www.smh.com.au/national/former-judge-einfeld-gets-at-least-two-years-jail–all-for-lying-about-a-77-traffic-fine-20090320-93sr.html

Word for today;   Graceless….The judges decision to consider Coopers’ loss of status.

More to come;    same blog time, same blog channel

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Responses

  1. We watch as the circus duly named Royal Commission into Paedophilia rolls out its concern and heartfelt sorrow for the victims of stinking paedophiles. Oh yes it’s so sad for the victims and our good judges are going to fix the scourge of paedophilia that so blights society. Months of damning evidence is fed to the populace and priest after priest is shamed. The Church parts with millions in compensation. The wealth of the Church is severely affected but worse still for the Church it’s power over its followers has been lost. Some worshippers will never return to the church. The institution is on its knees. It is severely damaged. Meanwhile the Royal Commission rolls on and builds to new heights of do-gooding when out of the blue comes a judicial decision by none other than the King of Favours, Judge Stephen Norrish which blows apart the Commission’s do-gooding and illustrates to all of us what is really behind the Royal Commission. Norrish’s decision shows that in the eyes of the Judiciary (and the Royal Commission) paedophilia is not always a punishable crime. If you are member of the Church it is a crime and punishable. If you are a member of the Judiciary it is not a crime. The Church is bad. The Judiciary is good. Another view is that it can be seen as a single judge doing a favour for a mate. It should come as no surprise that Judge Norrish has had favours done for him in the past. Because of the favours he is compromised in his decision making. Simon Cooper is lucky to have such a good mate as Judge Norrish. Whatever view you take nothing will be done about Norrish and this decision. He is doing what the system wants him to do and the system in turn can get on with its Royal Commission into the Church oops I mean Paedophilia. There is a problem however with this decision and that, as this blogger rightly points out, is the law of precedent. Does the Judiciary bother with that any more? Wonder what the precedent will be. Bit of a lucky dip really. However nothing will be done to correct this absurd contradiction produced by Norrish’s decision (paedophiles in the Church are bad people and should be punished, paedophiles in the Judiciary are good people at heart and should not be punished). After the Royal Commission paedophilia will continue to flourish. The Church will not get off so lightly. The Royal Commission will have done its job. Sorry to those who thought it was about paedophilia. It’s the side issue. The Church is the big fish that has to be fried. It’s a pillar of society to be brought down by a very powerful, unanswerable Judiciary. Paedophilia is just another crime. All power must be vested in the State. The Church must be derided and its influence eroded. The Judiciary must be all powerful and inviolate. No-one can question the actions of judges and in turn judges can do as they please. If our system really worked Norrish himself would be doing time. Funny democracy isn’t it.

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    • Thanks for taking the time to leave such a comprehensive comment. You have certainly covered a lot of ground and the subject is clearly of importance to you. When the inquiries into the Catholic Church started, I thought the same thing, that is: who can vouch for the inquisitors? After all, we know that child abusers can be anyone. It’s a scary thought when confidence is eroded in those that are trying to do good.
      This strange, wrong decision by Judge Norrish doesn’t help to maintain trust and confidence. To me, it’s exactly the opposite. I hope the momentum to question and appeal the decision and decision makers, increases.

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  2. Bruce I never know what to say when this issue comes up. Enraged is the word that comes to mind. And we’re far too civilised in this country.

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    • Agreed and that’s a civilised way to put it Mary!

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      • At times like these I don’t want to be civilised.

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  3. Do judges forget that we the great unwashed ,actually pay their wages .When fellow judges give an accused judge who admits guilt a suspended sentence, I thought we were talking about bribery and corruption in a third world nation.Maybe the Vic justice system is corrupted toward other judges.If it smells like a fish…………

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    • The result is hard to comprehend. Also, Judge Stephen Norrish was brought in from NSW to preside over this case, so Victoria can’t be totally nailed on this strange outcome. The victims seem to have been forgotten and all consideration and empathy given to Cooper. Thanks for your thoughts.

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