Crime

The Pusher – Real?

Hooded-man-eml

The Pusher

For a long time i have been hearing rumors about a serial killer at large in Manchester, UK. Reports state that between 60 and 65 bodies have been recovered from the cities canals in the last 6 years. More then twice the amount who have died in Birmingham, a similar sized city with twice the amount of canal miles.

Nicknamed ‘The Pusher’, reports of this claimed canal killer have been published as far afield as Scandinavia, America and Australia, while stories of near-misses and eerie experiences have been shared under the hashtag #thepusher on Twitter.

Getting his information from FOI requests to the police force, Prof. Craig Jackson pieced together the idea of a unsub prowling the towpaths of Manchester’s waterways.

One misconception seems to be that there is a Dennis Nilsen style suspect is targeting gay men, looking at the stats this looks not to be the case, although the majority of bodies are male.

Canadian tourist Anthony Muise, 53, was found in the Manchester Ship Canal with a puncture wound to his chest in February 2010. Police said “very little” was known about his final movements and his death was treated as unexplained.

Chris Brahney, 22, was discovered in the same stretch of water 10 days after going missing in June 2012 – and an inquest returned an open verdict. The following January, the body of local student Souvik Pal was pulled from the Bridgewater Canal after he disappeared on New Year’s Eve. He was seen walking away from a club with another man, who was never traced, and another open verdict was recorded.

 

The Telegraph

One thing i came to realize while watching the TV documentary is that how in this day and age do we have phones with 20 megapixel cameras but yet the CCTV footage still looks like it was taken with a potato?

 

EDIT:

As i come across any updates or possible information i will include them below:

13/06/2016 – Body Found in Canal in Ashton

Cyberbully – A Review

Maissie Williams - Cyberbully

“A chilling real-time thriller starring Maisie Williams – from Game of Thrones – as a teenager battling with an anonymous cyber-stalker. The plot of Cyberbully is inspired by dozens of real-life cases.” – Channel 4.

Where do i start about this film… Channel 4’s real time drama staring Maisie Williams was amazing. Edge of your seat tension from start to finish. Written by Ben Chanan and David Lobatto, the film was up to date with lingo that young people will understand. We are introduced to Casey Jacobs (Maisie Williams) who is alone in her bedroom skyping her friend, while also tweeting, texting, instagramming and wondering who had swapped her spotify playlist with Led Zeppelin. We are then taken on an emotional and suspenseful journey into the world of on-line bullying and its effects.

Terrorised by a hacker, whose abilities may have been a little bit over the top, Casey is forced to face her worst fears face on. With a nice twist and some heartfelt moments this film will leave you wondering about what today children face on a daily basis.

Having worked for ChildLine in the past i have heard some horrendous stories about what the results of cyber bullying can be.

My only annoyance is that we never got to find out who the man in the computer was.

If you missed it, you can watch it on catch up

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/cyberbully/on-demand/58485-001

 

If you have been affected by bullying check out these links:

http://www.bullying.co.uk/cyberbullying/

http://www.childline.org.uk/Explore/Bullying/Pages/online-bullying.aspx

 

Review: Hard Time by Shaun Attwood

 

Hard Time by Shaun Attwood

Hard Time by Shaun Attwood

 

The News of the World are quoted as saying this book ‘Makes Shawshank look like a holiday camp’, and while that description may be a tad emotive, the conditions described in this instalment of the Shaun Attwood series are beyond horrific and push the boundaries of what is barbaric. In this book, Shaun leads us through one of America’s most tough jail system, in a journey that involves everything from militant cockroaches to brutal beatings.

The book spans a period of just over 2 years in which Shaun goes on a wonderfully scary journey of self-discovery where there are battles at every turn and a judicial system that seems hell bent on making an example of him. Using his charm and his English wit he manages to progress from a broken shell of a man to a teacher and leader, but the biggest battle seem to come from within. When voices keep creeping into his every thought, sleep deprived and malnourished, Shaun battles not only for his freedom but his sanity.

One thing that does stand out to me in this book is Shaun’s ability to self-reflect and convey that he deserved to be punished for what he did, but not even animals deserve to be treated in the way that Sheriff Joe Arpaio prides himself on. A man who is clearly suffering from some kind of personality disorder which drives him to treat un-sentenced prisoners as his own toys to abuse. If you haven’t heard of Sheriff Joe before, I suggest you do some reading. You will be shocked. In this book Shaun is honest, sometimes to a fault, including stories that will make your toes curl. Such as the time his penis shrunk so much he struggled in the strip search and the time he had to unblock a toilet with his hand.

When it comes to his writing style Shaun states that the book was started in 2002 and you can tell he has come a long way with his writing ability. You can almost experience his ability grow as the book progresses. A more then forgiveable offence I am sure, this being his first book after all. But having said that, he still captures the imagery of the jail with great detail, from the smells of blocked toilets to the sounds of people being ‘smashed’. Yet another of his books that I struggled to put down.

I particularly like the competition hidden in the ‘Acknowledgment’ section at the back, although I suspect the prize has been claimed by now.

I gave this book 4 out of 5.

Review: Children Who Kill by Carol Anne Davis

Children Who Kill by Carol Anne Davis

Children Who Kill by Carol Anne Davis

“Children Who Kill,” by Carol Anne Davis, is a relatively long (396 pages) book which looks at the always emotive subject of juvenile homicide. The author sets out to explore this subject using in-depth case studies of children aged between 10 and 17. The book, as it was published in 2003, is relatively out of date and it does show when it comes to certain cases.

This could have been a very good book, it is relatively easy, if repetitive, to read. But then it is hard to write a boring book about such an emotive topic. Although this book is described as individual profiles, they are more like average essays including the obligatory lack of supporting evidence for what she puts forward as facts. Which unfortunately leads to Carol coming across as a bit of a ‘know it all’. It also leads to some wild claims which don’t sit as true to me, including a claim that all people who have attempted suicide has at one stage wanted to kill someone else. If I any Psychologists out there can confirm, or deny, this I would be grateful. She also makes the outrageous, and possibly libelous claim that Pathologists lie to spare the feelings of family members.

My main concern with this book, and thus the author, is that she seems to have a very simplistic view of what causes children to kill. Claiming that the only thing that can cause a child to kill is an abusive childhood, she seems to choose to ignore the influence of genetics as well as possible neurobiological influences.

Overall I was glad when it was over and that I don’t have to read it again.

I gave it 2 out of 5

 

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Review: Cries Unheard: the Story of Mary Bell by Gitta Sereny

Cries Unheard: the Story of Mary Bell

Cries Unheard: the Story of Mary Bell

 

Mary Flora Bell at the age of 11, strangled to death two little boys in Scotswood, an inner-city suburb of Newcastle upon Tyne. She was convicted in December 1968 of the manslaughter of Martin Brown (aged four) and Brian Howe (aged three). In this book Gitta Sereny controversially collaborates with Mary to provide a thought provoking biography that sheds some light on one of the most infamous child-killers of the 20th century.

I went into this book not having read her other book on the case (The Case of Mary Bell: A Portrait of a Child Who Murdered). The book was well written with a relatively easy to read journalistic style of writing. The book is structured in a way that Gitta writes a factual summery of a period of time which is followed by the reflective memory of Mary ad those who worked with her. I have two main criticism of Gitta, one is that there is almost an air of hero worship in the tone of her writing, this could be because she has spent so much time covering the case. The second is how she related the lack of religious faith to the fall of morality. If you need the fear of hell to behave in a good way then you’re not the nicest of people to begin with.

Mary comes across as a really articulate and intellectual, especially considering her start in life and the time spent in the system. One thing that strikes me as really interesting is her writing ability which can be seen in her letters.

The inadequacies of the UK judicial system, when it comes to youth offenders, is shocking. There was a clear bias by all involved to put the blame on Mary while Norma Joyce Bell was treated with protective gloves. From where she was held on remand to the way the prosecutor omitted evidence. It may be controversial to say but the evidence shows that Norma played on her ‘slow’ status.

There seems to have been many opportunity to remove Mary from her mother’s care and i can’t help but think how different life would have been for her and more importantly for Martin Brown and Brian Howe.

Reading this book with an open mind and the belief that there must be something that has happened to these children to make them commit these horrendous crimes. I must admit that I now stand by this view with even more conviction. This does not take away from the horror and torment she caused to those two children and their families. The revelations about Mary’s childhood and the physical, mental, and most of all, disgusting sexual abuse suffered at the hands of her prostitute mother. Her mother, Betty, clearly demonstrates a clear narcissistic tendency of needing to be the centre of attention and this came at the cost of Mary’s parental ‘safety blanket’.

Overall it is a really interesting book which shows how not everything is black and white when it comes to these cases.

If your looking for a book that condemns child killers without a thought, then this is not the one for you. But on the other hand if you want a book that makes you think long and hard about what can cause these acts, this is it.

I give it 4 out of 5.

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Review: Party Time by Shaun Attwood

Party Time by Shaun Attwood

Party Time by Shaun Attwood

What can I say apart from he has done it again.

After reading “Lessons from a Drug Lord” I was really looking forward to reading more from the English Shaun series, and I must say, it didn’t disappoint. As I am yet to read “Hard Time” or “Prison Time” I am unsure what happened when he was inside, but one thing I am sure of is that he crafted his writing skills to a fine art. This book flowed and captivated me from the first page to the last. With an effortless writing style that made it hard, if not impossible, to put down. Finishing this 288 page book took me less than 2 days, which for me is sort of amazing.

The mood is set with a brilliant first chapter that is so evocative it almost makes me wish I was born in the heady days of the rave scene. His fears and anxieties melting away with the chemical taste of Ecstasy and the beginning of what will lead to a dazzling story of sex, drugs and dance music.

We then step into a time machine to learn about Shaun’s past in his small home town. Stories of days spent with Wild Man in the ‘Thinking Tree’ lead you to realise that, in Shaun, there has always been this thirst for success and adventure that would eventually lead to his downfall.

After moving to be with his aunt in Phoenix, Shaun leads us into his life as a trader and his discovery of the blossoming rave scene in Arizona. Here we discover the “wolves” who will inevitably call him to the slaughter. Fed by the lifestyle and fame that came with his ‘enterprise’ Shaun builds an empire on the backs of his friends and students who are infatuated by the “English Shaun” persona. In the end, as is expected, it all comes crashing down.

There are many moments where you really feel the sincerity and kindness of Shaun, especially when talking about his close circle of friends or girlfriends. Wild Man, although clearly crazy and very dangerous (don’t come after me please!) is a loveable rouge.

I am left feeling frustrated that he didn’t meet Claudia earlier in his life so that maybe he wouldn’t have gone so far down this path. She comes across as being his guardian angel, who he describes in such fond and cute terms. There is real affection there and it is a shame that life took them in opposite direction.

Overall one of the best books I have read in the true crime genre and I sincerely recommend it.

5 out of 5 stars!!

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Review: Girl A: The truth about the Rochdale sex ring by the victim who stopped them by Girl A

Girl A

 

This was not something I really thought about as being an enjoyable read, and I was right, but as my future career will bring me into contact with victims such as ‘Girl A’ I gave it a chance. This is really a compelling book once you get past the first paragraph or two. It is written in more of a narrative style, which I guess comes from the fact that she dictated her story to a ghost-writer. Some parts where shocking and others had me feeling angry and frustrated at clear failing by the authorities. This book by far had the biggest emotional effect on me out of all the true crime books that I have read.

It taught me about grooming and what it is really like, as apposed to what you hear about online. I learned a lot about the hold these predators can have without physically controlling them, and how this brain washing works. I did find myself getting angry with her at times and found myself wanting to scream at her when she made, what seemed like stupid decisions. However, I guess this just testifies to the hold that the gang had on her.

The crime itself is shocking and the idea that this can be happening in your, or my, hometown is, well, disturbing to say the least. Can there be any rehabilitation for the perpetrators while inside?

The failings by Greater Manchester Police and especially Rochdale Children’s Services where systematic and shocking. Was this due to them not wanting to open a racial can of worm or was it a prejudice against what they saw as a girl from a ‘poor’ and ‘chaotic’ background? Well I guess we will never know, but they fact the social worker called what was happening a ‘lifestyle choice’ should help realise the answer. In fact, I would go as far as to say, that it seemed the victims social worker had a vendetta against ‘Girl A’. There is no doubt that the abuse that affected dozens of teenagers could have been stopped earlier but in the aftermath of the Baby P scandal social workers were more concerned about cases involving younger children than teenagers. Parents were fobbed off with suggestions that their daughter was simply hanging out with a bad crowd. Yet child sexual exploitation was not an unknown concept to care teams in this area. They first identified girls at risk of grooming in 2007. However, even at the end of 2011 they were still making mistakes in efforts to tackle the problem.

The attitudes of the parents sometimes disgusted me also, I know that they did not know everything that was happening, but the judgmental attitude they held should leave them in shame.

If there is anyone from Rochdale council reading this, then I sincerely hope that you have learnt the lessons needed from this failure. Although I must admit, I am not holding my breath.

Finally if ‘Girl A’ ever happens to read this review, I just want to say that you are a very courageous person and I hope your finally moving on and giving your daughter a better life then you had.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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Shaun Attwood – Drugs and Prison School Talk

Shaun Attwood is a former stock-market millionaire and Ecstasy kingpin turned public speaker author and activist, who is banned from America for life. His story was featured worldwide on National Geographic Channel as an episode of Banged Up Abroad called Raving Arizona. Random House published his life story as the English Shaun Trilogy. “Hard Time” (2010) documents his time in Maricopa County Jail that is run by “America’s toughest Sheriff” Joe Arpaio. His second book “Party Time” (2013) documents his rise as an Ecstasy kingpin. His third book “Prison Time” (2014) documents his time served in the Arizona Department of Corrections. His fourth book is a self-help called Lessons (2014).

Here is his hard hitting talk given to school children about what it was like in Americas prison system.

I have just spent the last hour watching this video after finding it on twitter (thanks @sophies_words who has a great blog over HERE) and what a roller coaster of an hour it has been. This man’s story is tragic yet inspiring, the descriptions of the conditions he, and the other inmates, had to live with are shocking. Cockroaches and spiders infest the cells and murder seems to be an almost daily occurrence. These might be hardened criminals, but at the same time we see insecurities and genuine people who have been dealt a bad hand, such as T-Bone.  I would love to interview Shaun for this blog, so if you happen to be reading this Shaun please get in contact! And I will be buying all three of his books.

You can follow Shaun’s blog at www.jonsjailjournal.blogspot.co.uk

And watch his episode of Banged Up Abroad below:

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Review: Beyond Evil – Inside the Twisted Mind of Ian Huntley by Nathan Yates

Beyond Evil

Being on a role when it comes to reading I have managed to finish two boos this week. The first one can be found here and now I am reviewing this book about the Soham murders.

Nathan Yates who is a journalist for The Daily Mirror and worked the case as it happened writes this book. A book delves deep into the past of both the killer and his partner including their upbringing and Huntley’s previous sexual and violent history. I can help but think there is a heavy use of ‘artistic licence’ in the details and descriptions that he uses. The author documents what Huntley would have been thinking and feeling when he murdered the girls, when he was hiding the bodies and subsequently trying to return to his normal life. As none of these details have ever been revealed, let alone discussed, I wonder how Nathan knew what was going on. The only person who knows what happened that day is Huntley himself. The author also tries to detail how Huntley killed the girls, which is still disputed by pathologists.

There is also one glaring fault in the book where Nathan claims that he believes Huntley may have used a drug similar to GHB to subdue the two girls, or may have given them alcohol. This is inaccurate as the girls stomach content analysis proved that they had not been given drugs or alcohol as their stomachs were devoid of any alcohol or drug related substances.

Nobody relevant to the case was interviewed in the book. The quotes all come from “a person close to the families”, or “An old school pal”.

Overall the book was sensational and biased, rather than fact based, but having said that it was a good read. Weather or not the murder of Holly and Jessica was intentional or not, I do not know. But I do believe that if he wasn’t caught he would have killed again.

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