Catching a Serial Killer: My hunt for murderer Christopher Halliwell – By Stephen Fulcher

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On the evening of Saturday, 19 March 2011, D.S. Stephen Fulcher receives a life-changing call that thrusts him into a race against the clock to save missing 22-year-old Sian O’Callaghan, who was last seen at a nightclub in Swindon. Steve knows from experience that he has a small window of time to find Sian alive, but his hopes are quickly dashed when his investigation leads him to Christopher Halliwell, a cabbie with sick obsessions. – GoodReads

I have just finished reading this book by former police officer Stephen Fulcher about his hunt for serial killer Christopher Halliwell. After obtaining a confession from Halliwell and discovering 2 bodies Fulcher was discredited and made into a pariah for breaching PACE guidelines. PACE sets out the correct procedure when it comes to questioning criminals. Some, including Fulcher, argue that it favours the criminal over the victim. After 2 trials over 5 years Halliwell was eventually convicted of both murders. In the final trial it was revealed that the police and forensics believed Haliwell returned to the body of his final victim up to 4 times in order to have sex with her corpse. Halliwell claimed to have killed as many as 6 when speaking to another inmate, but when the police found Halliwell’ss trophy stash they discovered 60 items of woman’s clothing, leading some to believe he may have committed many more murders. It seems like Halliwell may well be one of the UK’s most prolific killers, the UK version of Ted Bundy maybe?

The book raises some serious questions about who’s rights the law favours in cases such as this. While everyone agrees that the police should not ride roughshod over suspects and the law, surely the chance of possibly finding the victims alive and securing a conviction should prompt a review of the regulations.

4/5 Stars – A very thought provoking read.

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My Awesome Wife A.K.A The Dead Plushies

If, like me, you have a passion for understanding crime and murder then the fact i have the best wife in the world might make you jealous. You see, not only does she work hard and help raise our child, she also spoils me rotten. I came home the other day to discover that she had made me a dead ‘chalk outline’ plushy toy and a dead ‘gingerbread man’ plushy toy.

Chalk Outline Plushy

Makes you sick with envy doesn’t it? 😉

If you would like one, i could probably convince her to make one for a small fee 🙂

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: 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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