Belfast Telegraph

Why matching men for evil is one equality women don't need

By Lindy McDowell

Paula Wilson is some piece of work, isn't she? The 21-year-old bleach-blonde was part of a gang responsible for the torture and false imprisonment of a young man from Ballymena in September 2013 in a case that horrified the entire country.

Adam Robinson, also aged 21, was drugged, stripped naked, beaten and slashed with a knife and his unconscious body then sealed upside down inside a wheelie bin which was abandoned in a local park.

Close to death, he was only discovered when a man out walking his dog went to investigate what was causing the animal to become so agitated. He found the bin wedged under a tree branch where it could not easily be opened. For good measure it had been taped shut with around 60ft of masking tape.

Adam had been entombed for over 12 hours. He was perilously close to death. As his father says it was only by the grace of God that the man and his dog came upon the bin (and decided to investigate). Adam, although understandably still haunted by that hellish ordeal, is lucky to be alive.

Last week, Wilson's two co-accused, Teri Lau and James 'Roddy' Patterson, both aged 27, pleaded guilty to assault and false imprisonment. Wilson admitted aiding and abetting false imprisonment.

In a further, stomach-churning twist to this case it now emerges that, in the course of the investigation into this incident, police found footage on Wilson's phone which shows another assault on a young woman described as "vulnerable".

Chillingly, Wilson can be heard laughing as a group of men slap the girl around and subject her to what some reports refer to as a scalping, or dry shave of her head.

As I say, Paula Wilson is some piece of work. Although her co-accused in the wheelie bin case faced the more serious charges, it's Wilson upon whom much of the media spotlight falls. Is this fair? That's debatable. But there is good reason for it. Fairly or unfairly, the public is always so much more shocked when the participant in such a sickening crime of violence is female.

We may have progressed some distance beyond the old concept of seeing girls as sugar and spice, all things nice and butter-wouldn't-melt. But the simple fact remains that we do expect more from women. More mercy. More compassion. More humanity. More pity. We just expect better.

And this despite the fact that women committing or aiding violent crime is nothing new, even if it has been traditionally on a relatively lesser scale to male violence.

From Myra Hindley to 'White Widow' Samantha Lewthwaite, down the generations there has been no shortage of fiendish female role models.

Statistics confirm that men are much more likely to commit crimes of violence. They are also much more likely, it should be remembered, to be victims of crimes of violence.

But in recent years there has been evidence of a significant rise in female thuggery, maggotry and plain old savagery. What used to be referred to as ladette culture is now on a really vicious roll.

What's behind this? Alcohol and drugs are just part of it. There are countless other malign influences that you could point to - peer pressure, a desperation to impress and to act the big woman. And then, not least, social media's shoulder-shrugging accommodation of bullying.

In the online vulture culture there's nothing between the genders when it comes to nastiness. But it's a long way from that, of course, to actual participation in violence. Still. It would be hard to argue that it doesn't play some role in encouraging a callousness and a gang mentality.

And yet, for all that, we are still, thankfully, some way from achieving a vile equality for female brutality. One equality we really do not need.

Stormont needs some real drama

Public services are being hit left, right and centre, the Assembly is lurching from one crisis to another, and we can't even afford to run an orchestra, one of the undoubted jewels of our local arts scene.

The lights may not be going out at Stormont, but there is a distinct possibility they are going out at a street near you. And they won't be fixed.

What are we to do about this mess?

At a time when our movie and TV film industry is reportedly raking in more money than a Sinn Fein swear box, maybe we could rent out the big house as a film location and sign up acting-up MLAs for a real drama.

Series three of The Fall (of Stormont) perhaps?

An appetite for sensationalism

An American naturalist has ruffled feathers (maybe that should be scales) by filming himself being eaten alive by a giant anaconda. He was wearing a special suit that protected him from the snake's digestive system, and says he was more concerned with the reptile's welfare than his own.

Why do it then? Needless to say, our old friend "raising awareness". Money raised from the stunt will go to protect the snake's habitat. So that's all right then.

Liberally coated in pig's blood (what happened to the pig?), he allowed himself to be swallowed with cameras for an insider view. Why not send the camera in on its own and save the snake considerable discomfort? Not exciting enough, obviously, for a fame-hungry naturalist.

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