Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 1 November 2014

We should bring back hanging for such evil killers

Two families who had each lost a daughter, taken from them by sex killers in the most brutal fashion, have had to listen to the harrowing details of what happened to their girls.

The families of Ballinderry schoolgirl Jennifer Cardy (9) and landscape architect Joanna Yeates (25), from Hampshire, must now 'get on with their lives' knowing that, while their loved ones died in a horrible fashion, the killers - Robert Black and Vincent Tabak - will be tucked up safe in their cells with no bigger difficulty facing them than how to while away the time.

Open University course? Nice chat with the counsellor? Re-runs of Property Ladder?

It would have been better if those families started this week knowing that Black and Tabak were facing the death sentence.

The fact that both families called for the same solution to the problem of evil should give us pause for thought.

After Black's conviction, Jennifer's father, Andrew Cardy, said: "I would still say that somebody who commits murders like this, I believe their lives should be taken.

"I believe they should be put to death. That's my belief. I don't mean that in a vengeful way, I mean that in a just and righteous way."

He and his wife Patricia have also talked about the "absolutely horrendous" last six weeks when they had to endure, in detail, Jennifer's final moments. "... we were confronted with the awfulness of those last few hours and what she would have had to suffer and that has been truly awful for each and every one of us," said Mr Cardy.

Joanna's family issued a haunting statement: "For us, it is with regret that capital punishment is not a possible option for (Tabak's) sentence. The best we can hope for him is that he spends the rest of his life incarcerated where his life is a living hell, being the recipient of all evils, deprivations and degradations that his situation can provide."

Are we to ignore this?

Imagine those families are somehow less than us?

We don't have to live with the realisation that, while our loved one is dead for ever, the scum who killed them for perverted sexual pleasure has nothing worse than boredom to worry about. We can forget about the dead and their families.

But it is a very truncated view of crime and its effects which sees conviction and prison as sufficient punishment for sadistic murder.

Also in a prison are the relatives of the victims - themselves victims and sentenced to a daily nightmare where they wake up staring at the same sun as the laughing killer of their child. The Cardy and Yeates families will never be free again.

They will never be free of Black and Tabak.

And what would we lose by getting rid of the Blacks and the Tabaks of this world? Nothing but the stuff of nightmares. We might also convince the grieving relatives that there is such a thing as justice. That the world makes sense.

Coincidentally, we had recently a strange parallel to consider. It was the view in some places that the summary execution of the tyrant Gadaffi deprived the world of an extended examination of his crimes, but no one has had the stupidity to declare that his killing was not understandable and fundamentally 'just'.

The idea of Gadaffi serving out his time in prison was always an absurdity; as much as Milosevic or Saddam or Ceausescu. Or Goering. Or any of the dozens of other brutes over whose swinging or battered corpses we never lose a moment's sleep.

But my, oh my ... how we fret about Black and Tabak and Howard and Huntley and Tobin. Just as we fret over Brady, as he chuckles his way still torturing the relatives of the children he murdered.

We are supposed to 'value' their lives to show we are not like them. No mystery there.

We already know that we are "better" than a man who gets his kicks murdering little girls or one who re-enacts a scene from a strangulation website and then lies his head off in the witness box attempting to besmirch his victim.

We'd be better off showing that we stand beside the victims and their relatives, instead of being concerned to show off how much better we are than monsters.

Bring it back. Plain and simple.

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