Here's how I'd punish vile man who robs elderly
PUBLISHED: 13:48 20 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:01 20 September 2019
There are rogues, there are villains - then there is Wayne Hambling.
Hambling is a special kind of criminal: a vile weasel with no conscience; a coward; a despicable dollop of detritus.
Why am I getting so worked up? Because this man repeatedly targets older and vulnerable people - tricking, burgling and even resorting to violence when pressed. I used the word "man" advisedly.
Twenty-two years ago, Hambling and an accomplice kicked vulnerable 63-year-old Barbara Paulley to death in the fireplace of her Westleton home.
Seven years inside didn't do the trick, though. For he has racked up a string of subsequent convictions for sneaking into the homes of elderly people, stealing their money and frightening the Hell out of them.
On Thursday, he was given a 13-year extended sentence for targeting neighbours in a Norwich sheltered housing complex. It included a violent assault on a 76-year-old man, whose life savings he then swiped.
Prison is clearly not uncomfortable enough for Hambling - otherwise he'd have avoided constantly returning.
In truth, he probably doesn't even consider the consequences of his actions. He's just hell-bent on getting money, and sees older people as the easiest way to get it.
Crimes against older people are not the "lowest of the low", but they are down there, jostling for space in the fires of Hell with some other offences.
Whenever I hear of crimes like Hambling's, my blood temperature rises and my fists twitch. Then I think about my Grandma.
Ethel, who died in 1995, was 5ft in her heels, a doughty Hackney lady who'd face a threat with a wave of her stick and a "gertcha!"
But if someone like Hambling had targeted her, she'd have had no chance.
In a roundabout way, I'm saying that it's good to humanise these stories by imagining your gran, granddad, mum or dad, aunt or uncle as the victim. Then you get a much better sense of the impact, and the depth of depravity.
I then get to thinking about an appropriate punishment for Hambling. Not death: I don't agree with the death penalty. And not giving him a tremendous beating - though it's tempting.
I think we can be far more creative. For example:
■ A year on the top deck of a Sanders bus from Sheringham to Norwich
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Rammed with older people with bus passes, with the windows closed even when it's sweltering, this can be torture for one journey. But Hambling would have to face his potential victims in a gang for endless days, while hallucinating through dehydration.
■ Being a bingo caller at a residential home for the elderly
Eyes down? No, all eyes on you, Hambling. And if you make even a tiny mistake, wear a robust jacket to combat the shower of wrath and milky tea.
■ A long spell as a chiropodist
Bunions, claw toes, fat-pad atrophy and interesting odours. In your foul face, Hambling.
Bleeding hearts will find reasons for his behaviour: he had a tough upbringing; he got in with the wrong crowd; he is feeding his addiction to drugs.
But he had a choice and he had chances.
He chose the path of least resistance, but was thankfully too dim-witted to get away with it (drinking a glass of water and leaving DNA behind, for example - sharp tool).
If you think my ideas for justice are half-baked, consider what has been achieved through traditional channels.
Prison hasn't rehabilitated him in any way. All it has done is to give him a break from having to raise money by attacking older people.
Then, when released, he has returned to his bad habits (or, as Proverbs says: "As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.")
So maybe it is time to think outside the cell.