An eye for a tooth
Look here, upon this picture, and on this,
The genuine presentment of two pairs of vermin.
Those on the left need no introduction: their stone faces are icons of depravity and barbarism.
Those on the right are the mother and step-father of ‘Baby P’ – Peter Connelly – who died in agony in a blood-stained cot with 50 injuries to his body, including blows to the head so hard he swallowed a tooth, missing fingernails ripped out in some form of torture, a torn earlobe, eight fractured ribs and a broken back.
Hindley and Brady were found guilty of torture and murder and sentenced to life imprisonment – in the days when life meant life.
Connelly and Barker were found guilty of... err... well, he got 12 years for ‘causing death’ and she got five for ‘allowing’ it.
She will be eligible for parole in just three years.
It was not quite murder, you see. She only stood by while her son was repeatedly attacked.
Of course, the effect is the same: Peter is no more.
On earth, anyway.
Just like Pauline Reade, John Kilbride, Keith Bennett, Lesley Ann Downey, and Edward Evans are no more.
And Peter was tortured.
Just like the victims of Hindley and Brady.
And in some ways worse, for those who were inflicting the torture and privation were the very people he looked to for love and protection.
One wonders what today’s criminal justice system would make of Hindley and Brady.
They would have been sent to clinical psychologists and psychotherapists so the courts could hear of how the ‘broken society’ made them selfish, calculating and manipulative; how loneliness drove them to an internet networking site and how they spent their days drinking vodka, watching pornographic films and having sex. And consultants who have studied women who abuse or collude with a partner's abuse would have declared that Hindley is a victim: in cases like this there is often this early experience of abuse and trauma and neglect in the mother's background.
And Hindley’s evil would have been rationalised as the development of a narcissistic attitude or way of relating to children as an extension of herself; and so she treats children with the cruelty, contempt and neglect to which she was herself exposed. Accounts of her therapy would have disclosed notes which revealed her thoughts: ‘Life is bullshit’; ‘I'm fed up with letting people down. All my life I have messed up. When will I ever get it right?’. And we would have heard of her low self-esteem and suicidal tendencies: ‘Sometimes I wonder why I am here as I always feel I'm useless and worthless. People should stay away from me as I have always messed up everyone who's close to me. I'm a jinx to all I know.’
The court would then have heard that these cases are not rare. And because of the scale of this the dynamics of the maternal abuse, neglect or collusion in a partner's abuses should not be overlooked. It needs to be examined, understood and addressed, because scarred, abused and love-impoverished children grow up to be scarred, abusive, love-impoverished adults.
And poor Brady, with an IQ of 60, went to a failing school which Ofsted had put in special measures. He showed great promise, but the state system let him down very badly. He would have applied for Oxbridge under Lord Mandelson’s proposals for lower entry criteria for the deprived, but the ‘broken society’ got the better of him.
We would have heard tales of how Brady’s father was a sex offender and always absent. And of a neglectful mother and other relatives who lured him into a paedophile ring. And so he too is a victim, and not wholly responsible for the abuse he meted out on innocent children.
And so this context mitigates their sentences, because they genuinely tried to make the best out of their unpromising starts in life. But they lived in a private hell from which they could not escape, and they should not be damned for circumstances beyond their control. They should be understood.
And there would have been more psychiatric assessments and a probation report. And then they would have been released on parole because they were considered to be no longer a risk to young children.
And on their release, they would have been given new identities and anonymity under Article 2 of the Human Rights Act, the right to life, and Article 8, the right to privacy and family life. And they would have been assured of round-the-clock police protection, all at the expense of the taxpayer.
And Hindley and Brady would have been moved into a nice home, right next door to you.
And you would never have known.