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how is it that this man isn't still in prison?

(26 Posts)
Booooooyhoo Sat 08-Oct-11 14:22:13

story here in the belfast telegraph. it doesn't say anything about his sentences for 3 child murders, abduction and attempted kidnapping but i find it really hard to believe that someone convicted of those crimes isn't serving life (meaning life) in prison. how was he allowed to be back amongst the community?

GypsyMoth Sat 08-Oct-11 14:25:51

Is he in the community still?

LeninGrad Sat 08-Oct-11 14:27:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KatharineClifton Sat 08-Oct-11 14:28:38

Horrible. I just read his entry on Wiki and I think he has been in prison since 1990.

scaevola Sat 08-Oct-11 14:32:48

He is in prison.

All the offences took place in the 1980s, but he was only detected as perpetrator and arrested in 1990. He's been in prison since, but is retried for further offences when there is sufficient evidence.

Some people do not see the point in trying imprisoned convicts for further offences when additional guilty verdicts would not extend the sentences already handed down against them (mainly on cost/effort grounds I believe). I don't agree with that, as I think it important for every victim's family to see the accused stand trial for every charge.

Booooooyhoo Sat 08-Oct-11 14:35:36

he was convicted of these in 1994. surely if he was still in prison then there wouldn't have been an issue revealing what his convictions were as he was still serving? i really hope he was still inside. when i heard this on the news yesterday i was so shocked that he could have been released. i hope i am wrong.

Booooooyhoo Sat 08-Oct-11 14:37:00

ah xpost scaveola. thank you.

i agree, justice must always be sought. every victim deserves that at the very least.

LeninGrad Sat 08-Oct-11 14:38:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

scaevola Sat 08-Oct-11 17:14:24

It depends on the case and what other evidence is being brought forward. If the defence is, for example, bringing in character evidence then evidence of previous bad character may be admissible. Also it can sometimes be brought in if the intention is to show pattern of behaviour. It all depends on the individual case. It cannot however be introduced by the prosecution in a Gene Huntish way to show that the person is a wrong'un in order to sway the Jury.

scaevola Sat 08-Oct-11 17:18:05

This link gives background to the debate on whether previous convictions should be brought in. I don't know if the England/Wales changes in 2004 apply in NI, but the article linked in OP suggests they do.

Andrewofgg Sat 08-Oct-11 18:16:32

He is is prison.

He is doing life with a whole-lie tariff which makes the trial a pointless waste of my money and yours.

Bringing in previous convictions (unless the defendant attacks the character of the prosecution witnesses) is wrong, wrong, wrong. Give a dog a bad name and hang him.

Booooooyhoo Sat 08-Oct-11 18:25:55

so andrew, the family of the girl found dead thirty years ago do not deserve to know whether the killer has been found or not? if there is no trial then no-one has been found guilty of sexually assaulting and murdering this child. the killer may still be walking free for all we know. that's not the sort of justice i want. sorry but if they suspect him then he should be tried and found either guilty (case closed) or not guilty and the case remains open as to who killed the girl.

Andrewofgg Sat 08-Oct-11 18:40:41

Booooooyhoo - everything comes at a price, doesn't it? It's not what the family deserve - it's what is worth the community's while to do. I know others will differ but I see no use or point in a trial such as this.

Booooooyhoo Sat 08-Oct-11 18:47:01

so you dont think it's worth it to the community to ensure this child killer is off the streets? because if this is the wrong guy (which could be proven through a trial) that means there is still a child killer out there. should we just assume this guy is guilty without trial? is that what we should do with other crimes aswell? pick someone who is already in prison for similar and say they did it to save money? common sense required here andrew. this isn't the theft of a tenner from the mantlepiece.

Andrewofgg Sat 08-Oct-11 18:56:06

If this is the right guy he's already off the streets.

If he is acquitted that just means the jury were not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt.

Suppose any of us were accused of an offence of any sort thirty years on. Which of us can remember where we were, what we were doing, who we were with on a particular day that long ago? If we can, what are the chances that we can find the people we were with? That they will remember if we can find them? That, indeed, they will be alive?

No, of course we should not just accuse somebody already inside. But we may have to accept that a trial cannot be just and fair so long on and that a crim must remain unsolved. Sad, but true.

scaevola Sat 08-Oct-11 18:59:12

If someone is convicted of murder, then the case can be closed.

I've already posted that I think the family of every victim deserves to see justice done. I also agree with booooooyhoo that it is in the interests of the public to know that a murder has been solved to the required standard if proof and that here is not an unknown murderer still on the loose. It is also in the interests of the integrity of the whole judicial system that (other than in the case of death-bed confession, for self-evident reasons) decisions on guilt are made only after a proper trial, not by police or public prosecutor.

Booooooyhoo Sat 08-Oct-11 19:03:43

it would be a massive failing on the part of the judicial system to not even put this man to trial and use whatever information he can remember. if there isn't enough then so be it, no guilty verdict can be made but to not even put it to trial and give the jury the information that is available would be wrong. who is to say that a vital piece of information is available that proves beyond doubt he didn't do this? that means someone else did and i am happy that my taxes are being spent on finding out whether this is the right man or not.

not trying someone for a crime because 30 years has elapsed is not any way to run a judicial system. you know that dont you? you are just playing dumb here right?

Andrewofgg Sat 08-Oct-11 22:45:55

No, I am not playing dumb.

If this man is acquitted PSNI are not going to re-open the enquiry from scratch; don't kid yourself. They will shrug their collective shoulders and take no further action. The cjs and the judiciary should do what they can but be realistic about what is possible.

Booooooyhoo Sat 08-Oct-11 23:16:19

"The cjs and the judiciary should do what they can "
exactly! they should do what they can with whatever info they have available. and what they have available is a suspect. are you really honestly saying you would prefer the sort of judicial system that picks and chooses which crimes will be properly investigated and which will just be left to the public to assume where the guilt lies? who are you to say that this crime is less worth the money it costs to investigate than another murder? i'm really struggling to understand why this child's suffering and murder doesn't deserve justice in your eyes.

Andrewofgg Sun 09-Oct-11 09:05:27

Booooooyhoo In the real world every office which spends public money has to balance cost and benefit. And I know that can be painful. But that is the fact and it won't go away.

scaevola Sun 09-Oct-11 09:46:36

I think the balance is right - it is a fact that won't go away that such cases are indeed brought.

In cases of murder, investigations can only be closed with a conviction. There is neither in law nor in practice a time limitation, nor any difference the accused is incarcerated.

So yes, a cost benefit/balance is being made, and such cases are brought forward and paid for. The police, prosecutors and all others involved agree it is the right thing to spend time and other resources on.

Booooooyhoo Sun 09-Oct-11 12:42:48

andrew you aren't telling me anything i dont know. i am aware of how things work. it is you that seems to have the problem with how things work and want it changed so that murderers are not brought to justice if it costs more than you deem sufficient to do so.

Andrewofgg Sun 09-Oct-11 17:50:29

Actually: no. It sometimes happens that there is an acquittal after which the police force concerned say that there will be no further investigation; which is their way of saying we know the jury weren't satisfied but we also know we were right.

If there is an acquittal in the present case do you seriously expect PSNI to start again from scratch?

Or take a case where the best evidence is that the perpetrator was in his/her fifties. How long do you expect the file to be kept open? How long before commons sense says that the perp must be presumed dead?

Booooooyhoo Sun 09-Oct-11 18:57:02

not listening are you andrew.

scaevola Sun 09-Oct-11 19:31:39

I can recall police forces saying that in the absence of new leads, there will be no further investigation, but never (after an acquittal) that there will be no investigation at all: could yo link a case where this has happened.

The file is kept "open" in perpetuity. There is no current guideline which I am aware of when "common sense" kicks in - it is taken on a case by case basis, and in my view this is the only correct approach. With the advances in forensics, and the new evidence science can bring to previously "cold" cases, this has tended to lengthen timeframes.

If this is wrong, and there is a current guideline, could you post a) what it is and b) what it should be?

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