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Some thoughts on the Milly Dowler case and others.

(30 Posts)
GothAnneGeddes Fri 01-Jul-11 14:36:36

The more I think about this case, the more I think that the defence argument was more about fulfilling Levi Bellfield's sick fantasies then it was about providing a credible defence. I'm sure he really enjoyed watching her family suffer like that and that it was his intention all along.

Likewise, in the Vicky Hamilton case, even though prosecution evidence was water tight, the defence was still allowed to dredge up photos from her past and smear her reputation, to the great distress of her family, but probably to the delight of Peter Tobin, her murderer.

In the Sally Anne Bowman case, her murderer was allowed to use the ludicrous and sickening defence that he hadn't murdered her, but had found her dying and had sex with her. Again, I'm sure it thrilled her murderer to hear that described so graphically in court.

So even in death, women are denied their dignity and the legal system is more concerned with letting scum (can't think of a better term) further indulge their misogynist fantasies. angry

Anyone who dies in a violent way like the above mentioned are denied of their dignity, would it be male or female. Dennis Neilsen didnt give his victims any dignity either!!

The defence team are going to use any trick in the book to get their clients off - that is what they are paid to do again whether they are defending male or females.

sprogger Fri 01-Jul-11 18:28:43

There certainly seems to be a greater focus on defaming female victims. I'm not sure if that's because it's typical of the defense strategy, or because the media is happier to report all the grim speculative details about high profile female murder victims.

LilBB Fri 01-Jul-11 19:55:43

I can't understand why he was allowed to rake up every piece of 'evidence' possible to try and put the blame on either the father or her running away yet his past can't be brought up? I don't understand our legal system sometimes. Surely past convictions should be mentioned if they are relevant or follow a similar pattern?

I watched a program about it last night. I was young when it happened, 15, so I don't really remember much about it or about the other women he murdered. I remember it going on but at 15 you don't really bother with the details. It was terrifying to see how he preyed on women alone at night and seeing the women he ran over was awful.

UnhappyLizzie Fri 01-Jul-11 20:10:31

I missed the programme but caught some stuff about the trial in the newspapers.

I agree with OP. People who've been victims of crime shouldn't be put through these ordeals when the accused has a right to silence. It's so wrong. Millie Dowler's parents have now the whole world knowing that they had hardcore bondage magazines and equipment in their house.

How did the world get to know about this, their private business?

- because their daughter was murdered.

How wrong is it that this can happen in a court in a so-called civilised society?

Bellfield had no need to put her family through that, even without him being convicted of Millie's murder they were throwing away the key anyway. It was nothing to do with a reasonable defence to try to prevent him from losing his liberty, and everything to do with him being a sadist who enjoyed doing that to Millie's family.

Sorry but it is a feminist issue because the court system allows male sex offenders to get their rocks off again via tormenting their victims in court.

I can remember a ghastly case a few years ago where a young girl of about 14 was raped. She was forced to hold up the knickers she'd been wearing that day in court. They said 'little devil' on the front. He wasn't convicted, and she killed herself a couple of months later.

Northernlurker Fri 01-Jul-11 20:13:21

But how do you protect the privacy and dignity of the female victims without compromising the right of every accused person to a defence. A system that is some way assumes guilt is no system at all.

LilBB Fri 01-Jul-11 20:27:16

Can't some cases go on in closed court rooms? Why does every detail of cases like this have to put in the press? I don't understand why we need to know all the ins and outs. Sometimes i would rather not know.

I also think there needs to be more equality to the way the accused and victims are treated. Like has already been said why should they keep quiet whilst victims family are made to feel like they are on trial? Can the defense basically do what they want? Is the point to put the blame on someone else rather than prove their innocence?

scottishmummy Fri 01-Jul-11 20:29:18

the judge has ability to direct and intervene with qc.he should have done so
the system is combative to the qc used a particularly combative and unpleasant style. but i dont think it was because bellfield is male.think it was a style of attack

UnhappyLizzie Fri 01-Jul-11 20:33:27

Why is a woman's underwear relevant? The poor girl I wrote about was a virgin. Why is a woman's previous sex life relevant? A prostitute can be raped.

btw, it's a separate issue, but don't you hate the way if someone is a prostitute she isn't even described as a woman any more? That guy in Ipswich killed five women, but they were always just referred to as prostitutes, as if that was all they were. All of them were daughters, several were mothers, one was actually pregnant at the time of the murder.

Yes, you can't assume someone is guilty or compromise their right to a good defence, but there is no doubt that there is misogyny shot through the system.

UnhappyLizzie Fri 01-Jul-11 20:36:35

Something needs to change. I can remember Mark Dixie's trial for killing Sally Anne Bowman and the judge in his summing up said he was in no doubt Dixie enjoyed having the details of his crime relived in court and got gratification from using his ridiculous defence claim of having come across her body and violated it.

surelynottrue Fri 01-Jul-11 20:41:56

How can you change it though? what would you change it too? can you think of a system that would work better and be fair for both prosecution and defence. I think these questions are important whilst you may not be totally happy with how things are the problem is coming up something that can realistically replace it.

I can't remember the names but there was an absolutely dreadful rape trial a few years ago, where the rapist (I can refer to him as the rapist as he was convicted of the rape) insisted on conducting his own defence and cross-examining the victim. While wearing the clothes he had worn (or at least identical clothes) the day he raped her. I do seem to remember that the law was changed to prevent this ever happening again: the rapist knew there was enough evidence for him to be convicted so he decided to torture his victim all over again.

GruffalosGirl Fri 01-Jul-11 21:51:57

I'm pretty sure he had her in the witness box for two days as well.The law has been changed to prevent this now though.

The whole legal system is set up to be very adversarial, which just ends up very damaging for survivors but it would be very hard to change this as the defence has to be able to bring up other facts to try to create reasonable doubt as to their guilt.

smallwhitecat Fri 01-Jul-11 21:56:29

Message withdrawn

orangefrog Fri 01-Jul-11 22:18:09

Hi, I'm a regular poster on the feminist section, but have name changed for this. I was a good friend of one of the victims in a recent murder case who was defamed by the media, as were her family.

Her death has upset me very much, and I can't even imagine what her family has gone through. I have been both distressed and angered by the way the media has dealt with it and by the fact that had the criminal justice system properly dealt with her murderer's previous crimes against women, he would have been in prison and my friend would still be alive, as would some of his other victims. I also feel that the way the media deals with disappearances by focusing on highly sensationalised (and sometimes entirely untruthful) portrayals of the victim is unhelpful as turns the public's attention away from noticing things and coming forward with information.

I'd like to say thanks to all the people on the feminist section who talk about and care about women victims of crime and the way society treats them, even after their death. This section has kept me sane and helped me deal with my feelings about this.

scottishmummy Fri 01-Jul-11 23:11:48

sorry to hear about your friend
that's a shocking set of circumstances for you and family

GothAnneGeddes Fri 01-Jul-11 23:28:53

For those we should trust the judges/ justice system, this is a system which lets women down repeatedly, why should we trust it?

SGB - I remember that case and it was in my mind as I wrote this. What a horrific ordeal for that women, essentially a second rape.

Orangefrog - I'm sorry to hear about your friend. I agree that the media is also culpable and its coverage of such cases leads much to be desired.

I understand that everyone has the right to a defence, but surely, to put it bluntly, this process should not be abused to allow deeply unpleasant individuals to get their kicks.

scottishmummy Fri 01-Jul-11 23:36:29

no one asking for blind faith in legal system,but the overall principles are sound.the quality and accuracy does vary and flaws undoubtedly.but overall do support our legal system

BUT the judge could and should have intervened,and directed the qc

LeninGrad Fri 01-Jul-11 23:43:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SMallwhitecat: The fact that a couple are into BDSM (that's consensual sex involving costumes and a bit of spanking) does not mean they are murderers or sickos who should be publicly humiliated when they are already grieving over their dead daughter.

forkful Sat 02-Jul-11 09:53:23

orangefrog so sorry to hear about your friend sad. I am so glad that the views expressed in this part of MN are a source of comfort. Thanks for letting us know. That for me personally is encouragement to keep on with consciousness raising and activism.

Can I encourage readers of this thread to have a look in the activism section where I started a thread about the media's reporting if VAW. I am hoping to collate evidence to submit to a review (I have lost track of when the review is though).

Will link in a minute.

forkful Sat 02-Jul-11 09:56:38

Link to thread to report examples of the irresponsible reporting of VAWG in the media

GothAnneGeddes Sun 03-Jul-11 01:02:38

SGB - In the past when I've read BDSMers saying that they're a vulnerable group having to live in secrecy, I thought they were being a bit melodramatic and seeking victim status, but after the treatment of Milly Dowler's dad, I've changed my mind. hen I've read BDSMers saying that they're a vulnerable group having to live in secrecy, I thought they were being a bit melodramatic and seeking victim status, but after the treatment of Milly Dowler's dad, I've changed my mind.

GAG: I know. I wouldn't be surprised if the 'vile perverted porn' the poor man had was nothing more than a couple of copies of Skin Two and a pair of Ann Summers handcuffs TBH. But if you are caught up in any kind of newsworthy event and you have even the tiniest departure from heteromonogamy in your sex life, then all of a sudden that's the story...

smallwhitecat Mon 04-Jul-11 14:59:18

Message withdrawn

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