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“I could send you to prison for this” – Why was Tom Meighan not imprisoned?

Ex-Kasabian frontman, Tom Meighan was found guilty on one charge of assault on Tuesday morning at the Magistrate’s Court in Leicester.

Words by Jack Squibb

Tom Meighan sentenced with 200 hours unpaid work after pleading guilty to domestic abuse charge.
Ex-Kasabian frontman, Tom Meighan was told by judge he could be imprisoned. Instead gets 200 hours unpaid work for domestic abuse.

A horrid incident back in April where the singer attacked his ex-fiancee, prompted District Judge Nick Watson to say to Tom Meighan, “I could send you to prison for this”.

Instead, the District Judge handed him a measly sentence of 200 hours of unpaid work. So the question that goes begging is, why was Tom Meighan not sent to jail for this incident?

Reports state that on April 9th, Meighan had dragged his ex-fiancee and forced her head into a hamster cage before threatening her with a wooden mallet. The assault took place in front of a child who dialled 999 and reported the incident while it was taking place.

The victim suffered bruising to her knees, ankle, elbow and toe, as well reddening around her neck. Not to mention the emotional trauma that’ll have been caused to both her and the child present at the time.

Prosecutor, Naeem Valli said that during the child’s call, they sounded panicked while in the background the victim could be heard saying “get off me, get off me”. So in one sentence, there lays out that there was an eye-witness who was petrified and could well be emotionally traumatised, then there’s also evidence in the form of a recorded phone call to the emergency services. There was also CCTV footage played in court of the incident too, which is what eventually prompted Meighan to admit to the charge as he broke down according to those present at the proceedings.

The cherry on the cake? This isn’t the first time police had been called regarding a domestic abuse related incident involving Meighan either.

So much evidence and yet such an underwhelming conviction handed down to someone who committed a disgusting crime. Yes, Kasabian were quick to announce that the 39-year-old singer had been removed from the band with a pair of (albeit flimsy) statements and there’s not much hope for him to come back from this and reignite his career in the music industry. That is a punishment on top of his 2000 hours dished out by the court.

Kasabian’s initial statement on Meighan being removed from the band, the day before his court appearance:

Kasabian’s more detailed statement after Meighan’s court appearance and sentencing:

But he’s still going to get royalties though to help get through those gruelling 200 hours of unpaid work and afterwards as well, isn’t he? He’s also going to pop into rehab, get that pesky substance addiction sorted because that’s what caused him to act in such a violent way.

Domestic violence is domestic violence, whether you front a popular rock band or work in a store on the high street. So why does someone with a history of domestic violence off the stage get a lowly sentence of 200 hours unpaid work, while back in January the Bristol Crown Courts handed down a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence, along with a five year restraining order to 24-year-old Anthony Allen for subjecting his partner to mental abuse over the course of their relationship.

The latter was perfect execution of the updated guidelines brought in back in 2018 for handling domestic abuse cases. So why was Tom Meighan’s sentence so lenient when evidence and guidelines all favoured the court to hand out a punishment that not only fitted the crime but presented an opportunity to make an example of Meighan to show other abusers the consequences of their actions, regardless of their background?

Meighan’s victim hadn’t provided a statement to police, which is sadly not uncommon in these cases. Yet the guidelines that were updated in February 2018 explicitly state that the lack of a Victim Personal Statement should not hinder a case:

The guideline further reminds courts to take any Victim Personal Statement (VPS) into account, but that where there is no VPS, this is not an indication of any lack of harm to the victim.

This sentence is a slap in the face of those who suffer in silence and are looking for the encouragement to speak up. During the height of the lockdown in the UK, Refuge who run the national domestic abuse helpline, revealed that they had seen a spike in the use of their service, with a 66% increase on calls received and over 950% increase of traffic to their website.

While just three weeks into the lockdown in the UK, deaths caused by suspected domestic abuse had more than doubled, with 16 women and children dying between March 23rd and April 12th. These figures were founded by project, Counting Dead Women.

This isn’t to say that Tom Meighan won’t turn his life around. I sincerely hope he does and that he overcome his addictions and leave behind his violent instincts too. Yet in the meantime, while this may be a turning point for Meighan, it’s an example for future defendants to say, “in the case of Tom Meighan, July 2020, he was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work. So why is my client facing prison time for a similar conviction?”

All the evidence stacked against him, the sentencing guidelines not restricting the court either, a prison sentence even hinted at too. So Judge Nick Watson, when you told Meighan “I could send you to prison for this”, why didn’t you?

If you need help, here are some brilliant organisations that you can reach out to, whether you live in the UK or Ireland:

UK organisations

Refuge – 0808 2000 247 – https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/ | Wales Live Fear Free Helpline – 0808 80 10 800 – https://gov.wales/live-fear-free

Men’s Advice Line – 0808 801 0327 – https://mensadviceline.org.uk/ | Galop – 0800 999 5428 – https://www.galop.org.uk/galop-to-run-national-lgbt-domestic-violence-helpline/

Women’s Aid – https://chat.womensaid.org.uk/ | Karma Nirvana – 0800 5999 247 – https://karmanirvana.org.uk/

Irish organisations

Women’s Aid – 1800 341 900 – https://www.womensaid.ie/ | Rape Crisis Centre – 1800 77 88 88 – https://www.rcni.ie/

Men’s Aid – 01 554 3811 – https://www.mensaid.ie/ | Aoibhneas – 01 867 0701 – http://www.aoibhneas.ie/

Immigration Council of Ireland – 01 674 0200 – https://www.immigrantcouncil.ie/ | Akina Dada wa Africa – 01 834 9851 – https://akidwa.ie/

The National Office for Victims of Abuse – 1800 252 524 | HSE Information Line – 1850 24 1850

Childline – 1800 66 66 66 or free text “Talk” to 50101 – https://www.childline.ie/ | HSE National Counselling Service – 1800 235 235 – https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/4/mental-health-services/national-counselling-service/

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