Friday, 6 March 2020

Corona Caught to Crown Court - Sick Criminals?

It is surely only a matter of days before the various ministries start to reveal their contingency planning for the full viral onslaught and, ominously, probably only a short period thereafter before they start having to implement them. The sacrifice of sporting events, concerts and museum trips is bound to be something we will all literally have to (hope to) live with.

Other ministries have an entirely different prospect on their hands. We can only imagine how the NHS is going to cope. Justice will not be the first thought or concern of most but one confirmed or even suspected case in a court centre is likely to see court proceedings come shuddering to a halt. It may only be a few weeks before the entire criminal justice system is in a state of total paralysis.

Only time will tell what crime in a time of Corona will look like. But something you may not have given a moment's though to is whether Corona could be a crime. In 2018 at Brighton Crown Court Darryl Rowe was given a life sentence for deliberately trying to infect 10 men with HIV. It is a crime to deliberately infect someone with a fatal or life limiting disease. It is, also, a crime to do so recklessly and that should give everybody pause for thought.

I often link to the CPS website in providing user friendly guides to the criminal law in practice. However the Terrence Higgins Trust has an unimprovable guide to how the law applies to those who have HIV and choose not to divulge their status or take the necessary precautions. Have a read of this website:

Now replace HIV with Coronavirus and you can see how receiving a diagnosis might impose legal obligations upon you that may not even have considered. You may want to self-isolate before the law forces you into isolation for up to 5 years.

Postscript: I am very much obliged to Claire Bradley who has informed me via Twitter that there is already secondary legislation in force that creates an offence in relation to isolation: Interestingly the maximum sentence is a fine!