Edward Vines – jailed for 3 years for stalking Emily Maitlis (again)

    Edward Vines – jailed for 3 years for stalking Emily Maitlis (again)

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    Photo from Thames Valley Police

    Introduction

    In 2016, we looked at the case of Edward Vines a university contemporary of journalist Emily Maitlis. He had made Ms Maitlis’ life a ‘living hell’ for 25 years for repeatedly stalking her.

    Back then, he was convicted of breaching Restraining Order and was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment.

     

    Facts

    On 16th January 2018, so less than 18 months after he was sent to prison, he was back in Court for further breaches.

    It seems that these consisted of writing letters to her whilst he was in prison, and again after he had been released and was living in a bail hostel.

    He pleaded guilty initially (we think in the Magistrates’ Court) and the case was sent to the Crown Court for sentence.

    When he appeared at Court, he applied to vacate (change from guilty to not guilty) his plea of guilty. This was unsuccessful and he received another 3 year prison sentence.

    In the news report, reports of the Victim Personal Statement that Ms Maitlis wrote to the Court are given, which make fairly harrowing reading.

     

    Comment

    There are Sentencing Guidelines for the offence of breaching a Restraining Order (see page 9).

    As we said last time, the sentence passed (especially after credit for a plea of guilty) seems to be well over the odds. But when you consider the history of the case for the last few decades, the sentence is completely explicable – the Judge had no real choice.

    It does raise the wider question of what do you do with someone like Mr Vines? It is clear that repeated prison sentences have not had any effect, and there is nothing to suggest that making the sentences longer and longer will do (and in any event, the maximum sentence is 5 years, not far off what Mr Vines got, given the plea of guilty).

    Making the maximum sentence longer would not appear to help either, and there is no provision for an indeterminate sentence for these offences.

    It’s tempting as a lay person to think that there must be ‘something wrong’ with Mr Vines, but we assume that this has been thoroughly considered and there is not an answer there.

    But you clearly can’t do nothing. In the absence of a solution, or a change of heart from Mr Vines, it is likely that he will repeatedly find himself back in front of the Court, being sent to prison.

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    19 COMMENTS

    1. I blame Rowland Hill and his postal system. It means that if A can afford a stamp and a sheet of paper and knows where B lives A can write to B even if B would rather not hear from A again.

      I know that sounds flippant – but what can anyone do? I share the judge’s concern that Mr Vines was able to write to Ms Maitlis from prison – that is preposterous – but from a bail hostel? Whatever the terms of life there he is not locked up 24/7 and there is nothing anyone can do if he buys pen and ink and a stamp and writes to her in the library or the coffee-shop and posts the letter during the hours he is out.

      This man is ruining both their lives, and I am very sorry for Ms Maitlis (and a bit for him, he obviously has problems) but I don’t see a remedy. Only the worst of murderers are banged up for life and this wretched man is not one of those, is he?

    2. From today’s Times it appears that the judge’s concern is not that he did it again after release but that he was not recalled to prison when he did; which makes more sense.

    3. As a ‘lay person’ I think his behavior clearly indicates there is ‘something wrong’ with him. It may not have a medical name, or be a known psychological phenomena – although I’m sure it is – but his behavior is clearly unbalanced and not normal.

      Surely there is a remedy for persistent offending ? Has it moved on from harassment to something more ? Can it be classified more seriously and covered by another offence carrying a longer sentence ?

      This has it seems been going on for decades, and I’m sure its not beyond the wit of PC Plod, the CPS and Judiciary to conjure something up.

    4. If he’s not making threats to kill then no, there is no more that can be done. There used to be an in-joke in the office of the DPP about the Nasty Persons Act but it does not exist. He is persistently committing an office with a max of five years and that is the most that can be given him. People can’t be given more because what they do is unpopular and they do it to somebody who is known to and popular with the public, can they?

      • Could I suggest the remedy then Andrew, then if the maximum sentence is 5 years, the judge sentences him to five years and the maximum sentence is imposed again if he reoffends.

        The problem of course is our sentencing guidelines and the fact that offenders know that they will probably only serve half of whatever sentence they get.

    5. This is now getting serious jail time for something which shouldn’t be being dealt with by the courts. As a result the justice system is being made to look impotent and foolish with every new sentence passed.

      The only way that this can be resolved is through some form of dialogue or mediation.

      This latest sentence and the media coverage of the case has only made it a certainty that he’ll try to write to her on his release to put across his side of what has been said in court and in the media. The longer the sentence, the greater this certainty becomes.

      • You cannot mediate with or have a dialogue with A who does not understand that B does not want to hear from him ever again.

        • More a case here that mediation/dialogue hasn’t been tried rather than cannot be done.

          Your comment makes a good case for mediation/dialogue taking place, the other side of which (to use your terminology) could be put that B doesn’t understand that A just wants to speak to her.

          There are those, especially where the court system is concerned, who are anti-mediation because it means both sides have to give up some ground and compromise, but this situation really is something which can only be resolved by some form of dialogue. The court just isn’t the tool for dealing with this type of thing, which is why when it tries to do so it looks so silly, and we end up sending people to prison for 3 years for writing letters and discussing whether the sentence should be even longer. We’ve got to this stage because the matter has been mishandled and over-escalated, and de-escalating through mediation and dialogue is the only way forward. Prison and the media coverage of the case will directly cause him to write or get in touch again, as was the case last time he was sentenced.

          • Once B has made it clear – as in this case she has – that she has no wish to hear from A, there is nothing to mediate about. B does not have to hear from A once, or just a bit, or on certain subjects only. A must stop communicating with B. End of.

            • Except it isn’t ‘end of’ and won’t be as long as the current approach is taken.

              Just because you don’t agree with someone doesn’t mean that there ‘can’t’ be mediation or that there is ‘nothing to mediate about’, in fact quite the opposite. You describe the case from B’s perspective, but don’t look at A’s, and any solution to this needs to consider both. From A’s point of view, as he has made clear, he wants to communicate with B, in part to give reassurances because he has been portrayed in the media as being a threat, which he feels he isn’t. As long as his communication is reasonable, he has the right to express himself (‘end of’, as you might say). So there is an impasse which needs to be resolved.

              The criminal justice system relies on orders and bossing people around which is why it looks so asinine when it involves itself in matters like this and attempts to tell one adult not to communicate with another adult and when it sends people to jail for years for sending letters. Real life interaction between people is much more subtle, and relies on dialogue to resolve problems.

              I posted a comment to the 2016 article on this site saying how this matter shouldn’t be taken through the courts, and should be resolved via mediation/dialogue, perhaps with the help of an old university friend of both parties, if one exists. Unfortunately the court has continued to escalate and whip up the problem and the latest prison sentence almost inevitably means that A will communicate with B in the future as a direct result of the sentence. The reality is that this matter will only be solved through some form of dialogue/mediation.

    6. I would imagine that that’s been tried long, long ago, and he is not getting the message. At least this time let’s hope that the Governor gets the idea that whoever he writes to it must not be to Ms M. Just not.

      • Unlikely given the court’s approach has been very anti-mediation/dialogue since it got involved. Its taken a ‘can’t’, ‘don’t’, ‘mustn’t’ approach which hasn’t worked and has caused the mess that the situation has now become. I very much doubt that any serious dialogue or mediation which would have allowed both parties to ‘get the message’ from each other’s point of view has been tried or encouraged by the courts. Even if it has, it should be tried again – the courts have had many years to resolve this and have only made a pig’s ear of it for all involved. Surely something which is likely to actually work is worth some concerted effort.

        It wasn’t the case that the last governor didn’t realise that the courts don’t want him to write to her, but stopping communication from prison is easier said than done, even if he was to be treated as a Category A prisoner, a measure which would see this whole situation finally descend into farce. Last time the letters were actually sent to the BBC, not directly to her. They were intercepted by the BBC, for some reason they in their wisdom decided to pass them on. Even if he’s stopped from writing while in prison, it only makes it all the more certain that he’ll try to communicate when he gets out. The reality is that this will only be resolved by dialogue/mediation. It just is.

      • What if he enjoys it and does it again to get another one?

        It’s a strange enough world. There was for a time an advert in the Personal column of the Manchester Evening News which read “Former Isle of Man policeman will birch you in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Satisfaction and discretion guaranteed” and there was obviously enough business to make it worth while paying for the advert for a number of weeks until the MEN decided not to take and more of this entrepreneurial ex-copper’s money!

        • There was a scene in Dirty Harry where the villain paid someone to beat him up to frame someone else.

          So much could go wrong by beating him, aside from the legal position. The beating could go too far, he could beat up whoever was sent to beat him up, it would give him a reason to write saying what happened to him, the list goes on.

          I saw a case the other day which makes the judgement on this one look like the wisdom of Solomon – a husband was convicted of harassment and told not to contact his wife, other than through lawyers, because he had sent her (non-aggressive and non-threatening) routine emails about bill payments. Unbelievable.

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