|Major Ingram||The Algebra of Justice|
THE DERBY STEP-STRANGLER CASE - Michael Brookes
In 1978, 16 year-old Lynn Siddons was murdered on a canal towpath in Derby and her body left hidden in bushes. She had been stabbed 43 times, strangled unsuccessfully, and finally drowned in a puddle. Algae was found in her lungs. A 15 year-old boy was seen by eyewitnesses to leave the crime scene alone, and his age helps to explain why the killer had had so much trouble in killing the girl. The boy, who was recognized by the witnesses, was taken in for questioning, charged with murder, and tried in November.
At his trial he changed his story and claimed that his step-father had ordered him to do it. Despite the evidence of the eyewitnesses, he claimed that his step-father had been present and that he had held the girl for him and supervised the murder. The step-father was a burly, powerful-looking labourer, and this raised problems with the other evidence too, namely the difficulty that the killer had had in finishing the murder.
The motive for the murder is readily apparent, because teenage girls always look up the age range for sexual and romantic encounters, never down it, and in addition to his age, no doubt the boy's evident puniness and his murderous potential would have added to his unattractiveness for her.
However, his defence collapsed the trial, and he was never convicted. Ever since then, Thatcherist politicians have taken up his example, using "spin" and jaw-flapping measures to scupper public intelligence over matters of national importance while they squander the nation's heritage for their own personal success. After the trial the step-son retracted his claim that his step-father had been involved.
Lynn Siddons did not get justice, and for many years her female relatives turned their need for this on to the step-father, Michael Brookes, who experienced years of persecution with their campaign. He found it increasingly impossible to get employment, and he was willing and open in TV interviews about his situation.
While a motive can be detected in the case of the step-son, it is impossible to find one in the case of Michael Brookes. One would have to imagine one. A detectable motive for the boy using his step-father to carry the blame for the murder is that he was very immature, that he was still dependent on the protection and provision of the parent, and that he was homicidal. He was strongly attached to both his victims, and there is an interesting logic in the matter of this motive, because the physical weakness that is evident in the murder would not only have disappointed the boy's sexual success with the murdered girl, it would also have disappointed his self-esteem as the progeny of the 6 ft. 2 in. giant Michael Brookes, who was not his natural father, and who had not therefore passed his quality of strength to the boy, who must naturally look up to the parent and identify with it. The victims therefore share the same relationship problem for the killer, and they are combined in his motive.
In 1991 the three women turned to the civil courts, which are noted for having a cavalier attitude to culpability in criminal cases, and they prosecuted the step-father there. The women saw the frenzy with which they had hounded Brookes for so many years as the explanation for the 43 stab wounds and the messy finish, but this didn't accord with the other part of the story that their case was based on, which was that Brookes had only held the girl and that he had given the knife to his step-son instead.
If Brookes had been present at the murder, this would conflict with the frenzy of the boy in the murder, and since the boy was present and had used the knife himself, this conflicts with the frenzy of such a second party. The evidence is that only one person was involved. And that he was puny.
Despite the eyewitnesses, despite the logic of the evidence and the motive factors, and despite the illogic of the prosecution's argument, Judge Rougier decided that Brookes had been involved, and that he was guilty of murder as accused, and he ordered Brookes to pay compensation to the women. So, in Judge Rougier's court, the punishment for murder is a fine.
This judgment was seen as a triumph of feminism in the press, and as such it shows an astonishing lack of respect for evidence or for facts or logic and an obstinate belief in what these women wanted to believe.
For nearly two decades the police had declined to prosecute Brookes for obvious reasons, but after this judgment, they bowed to the mobbing pressure of the press and these women and prosecuted their case in the criminal courts. Michael Brookes and the step-son's story went through the jury like a dose of salts, and into jail he went, where he has pleaded innocence ever since.
In 1998 he mounted an appeal, but the appeal court judges determined that a murderer's defence was worth more in criminal trials than the logic of the evidence or the eyewitnesses, and his appeal failed.
The appeal court judges declared that they had "no lurking doubt about the safety of the conviction", which is an astonishing admission, since it means that they had neither instinct nor intelligence for any doubt about it. This would mean that they were not qualified to judge the appeal.
So, in the Michael Brookes case, a civil court judge fined an innocent man for murder, and this impropriety secured the criminal conviction. This case appears to have broken the professional integrity of the British police in matters of detection, because it has been the precedent for a series of malicious and exploitative prosecutions since, including those of Major Ingram, Sion Jenkins, Barry George, Roy Whiting, Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr, Wearside Jack etc.
There is also a palpable tendency nowadays for the police to yield to pressure from the press in the matters of both detection and prosecution, and they are apparently suffering from the media bends.
The Derby step-strangler case has the step-son committing the murder and the step-father doing the punishment for it, while the hereditary difference between them is the motive. This case serves as a warning against the bringing up of children by unnatural parents.
It also highlights the need for the right to appeal against indecent or unreliable decisions made by judges, juries and courts. A defendant must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and there are many jury decisions like this in which this criterion has not been observed.
This case also shows that civil courts should never be used for criminal prosecutions.
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