SO 'beneath contempt' was banned driver Carl Anthony Little, who left his own brother bleeding and unconscious in the car he crashed, that District Judge Paul Firth told him he could not think of an appropriate description of his behaviour which he could use in court in order to match his feelings about him as a person.

"Total rat," would fit the bill, I think, sir.

Yet if Judge Firth was frustrated in this respect, it was nothing compared to his inability to properly punish the Colne 19-year-old when he was up before him at Burnley Magistrates' Court.

Little, the judge said, had breached one court order after another, continued to drive while disqualified, had failed to comply with combination orders and had driven while on bail.

The 11 months' custody that he gave him was, he added, 'wholly inadequate,' but that was all he could do as the law prevented him from sending him to the Crown Court - where stiffer sentences can be dished out - for any of the offences he had committed.

Doesn't this dismally tell us how wholly inadequate our legislators are when they promise to be tough on crime - when judges who rightly wish to be so are the ones who end up being hand-cuffed?