An ex-soldier who had served his country with the Royal Highland Fusiliers was spared jail but given a sentence to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work, while his 14 year old tormentor was ‘punished’ by a meeting with his football heroes.

John Crawley, a 54 old year father of two and warehouse worker, had snapped after 5 years of putting up with thuggish behaviour from local youths. Despite reporting their behaviour dozens of times to the police he was continually faced with yobs trying to get a reaction from him.

In the end, according to an Express report, he snapped and confronted them with a knife after they had been kicking a ball against his wall and also reportedly resisted arrest.

He was subjected to court action but the judge saw his side and did not give him the threatened custodial sentence. But he still feels that he has been let down.

I’ve never been in ­trouble with the police before and have served my country yet I am threatened with jail. I know I was wrong to have the knife and I will serve my ­punishment but I think the ­system is a farce when you think of the way these kids have been treated with kid gloves. These young yobbos deliberately try and get a reaction by antagonising us and then claiming innocence. They know the law can’t touch them. As far as I’m concerned, the law is a complete waste of time.” He said. “I just lost my temper after becoming sick and tired with all the abuse I was getting. I had a knife in my hand because I had been scoring paper, and I just ran outside towards them. To think that one of them was ‘punished’ with a Blackburn Rovers training session just beggars belief. It’s just nonsense.”

But even the police admit that this tack has not worked with the young miscreant, Matthew O’Brien. “Unfortunately, it has had little effect and he’s run out of chances.’’ PC Sanford told the court.

Why do we continually place ordinary law-abiding folk in severe moral danger like this by not dealing with these problems properly? Just because he is an adult why is it his fate to have to put up with children the parents obviously cannot control?

Or is the truth that we have to leave them free because we cannot face what would happen to them if they ended up inside an institution?

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