Thursday, July 28, 2005


Compare and Contrast: Smacking 'Youths' & Dismembering Wives

Who's the baddest bad guy?

Case number one:

"Jack Rylance, 59, lost his temper with the group congregating around the flats where he lived in King's Lynn, Norfolk. Rylance threw a firework, hit one with the flat part of the machete and then fired a shotgun from a balcony."

Jack Rylance was sentenced to six years in prison last Tuesday.

The previous day, Paul Dalton was sentenced..

Case Number Two:

"A teacher who killed his wife then cut up her body and hid it in a freezer..

"..Dalton was traced by police to Japan after his parents visited his home and found the body.
He was jailed for two years for the manslaughter and three years for preventing the burial."

For clarity: I'm not trying to hint that 'have-a-go hero' Jack Rylance should be knighted.

I'm not interested in him. Rather, that men who kill their wives in the UK do so in the fairly certain knowledge that they'll not be convicted of murder. The manslaughter law needs to be abolished or severely limited.

For a start, 'manslaughter' should be unavailable to anyone with a previous conviction for violence, or any history of serious violence against the victim whether convicted for it or not.

Any remaining element of a 'crime of passion' defence should be removed. 'Passion' (ie, anger) is properly regarded as evidence of guilt, not a partial defence as to intent.

Crimes like Dalton's pass us by in the news regularly without much comment. (Apologies for not digging up more links.) There have been some awful ones recently. I recall one in which a man beat his wife for years and then killed her when she said she was leaving. He got four years, and may be out in two. He was not fully in control when he attacked her, I suppose.

The part of the story that really disturbed me was when the police went to her son's house as next of kin. He opened the door, saw the police, and said "He's killed her, hasn't he?"

Meanwhile, we're all very concerned about the treatment of women in Muslim countries. How different is the Dalton judgement from the horrific concept of 'honour killing', which we rightly deplor?

(Here's a recent post + links on 'honour killing', from Sully's guest blogger. Jordanian blogger to UK.. 'we are very concerned about the human rights implications of your 'manslaughter' rule'.

Update: Here's a rather old list of killers-who-aren't-murderers from campaigning group Justice for Women. Shocking stuff.

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