Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 29 November 2015

What about price of not having death sentence?

By Gail Walker

Published 30/11/2011

Really, it is hard at times not to think of the legal system as a form of extended torture for the innocent.

The news that Robert Black is set to appeal his conviction for murdering Ulster schoolgirl Jennifer Cardy will come as little surprise to anyone. Maybe Black thinks he's been the victim of injustice. Or enjoys spinning it out for another bit. Or fancies a few more days out of his comfy cell and back in court. Or loves being the centre of attention.

It doesn't matter how noble or how base his grounds for appeal. He must have his day in court. And we, as a "civilised" society, must accept that. But we shouldn't forget that our "civilisation" carries a heavy price. Except it's not serial child killers who pay it, no matter that their crimes are so grotesque they can't be detailed in newspapers. In the midst of all the blabber about "Press intrusion", it shouldn't be forgotten that part of our "civilisation" is that we (papers) protect you (readers) from the truth.

No, it's not the killers. Fresh from the trauma of Black's trial for the murder of their daughter, Andy and Patricia Cardy will have to live, for a while at least, with uncertainty. The possibility that Black might win on a technicality and that they will never get closure.

Already, the Cardys have had to listen to him rambling on in recorded interviews about how he enjoyed sexually abusing girls. Now the legal system will dole out a little bit of extra agony for them - and them alone.

Nobody argues against the right to appeal. But we shouldn't be so smug about just how 'civilised' we are. We should bear in mind that our 'civilised' approach always comes at a price.

They may have been spared the new agony if, in the first place, we had a justice system which knew how to deal with vermin like Robert Black.

We are always hearing of the price we would pay as a society for having a death sentence. But step forward those willing to pay the price of not having it ... Think about that the next time you bleat about how rational we are as a society now we don't hang monsters.

Because it's Andy and Patricia Cardy who are paying the price for your bleating.

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