Would everyone please calm down and at least give the justice system a small chance to do its job?
All I’ve seen since Jon Venables’, one of James Bulgers’ killers, return to jail last week, is headlines demanding to know why exactly he is there. We seem to have become obsessed with knowing every single little detail about everything that happens these days, and with alarming immediacy.
And when we don’t get the details, the media seems all too happy to throw some kind of a hissy fit on our behalf.
It’s Sunday today, and the latest explanation the papers are throwing around, and it’s come direct from the pages of the Sunday Mirror, is that Venables is back behind bars in connection with child pornography offences.
Apart from murder, which he has already been sentenced for once in his frighteningly short life so far, this is perhaps the worst crime going. And it is certainly something he needs to be put in jail for, for a very long time, if it is indeed true.
But the problem is that if we all start acting like detectives ourselves, trying to suss out what on earth this monster has done now, and deciding exactly what kind of punishment he deserves for it, we are in danger of prejudicing the trial.
And prejudicing the trial is going to do no good for anyone apart from Venables himself. If they don’t think he can get a fair trial, then there is always a chance that he will not be given a trial at all.
Yes, this can and does happen. Even Rosemary West, wife of serial killer Fred West, had the nerve to try it. Her lawyers argued that there had been so much adverse publicity about her since the killings were discovered that it would be impossible for a jury to give her a fair trial.
Luckily the then Lord Chief Justice decided this was a ridiculous excuse not to put a possible serial killer on trial, but it certainly shows that this escape route is there, and that lawyers are not afraid to use it.
Don’t get me wrong. Nothing about this post is trying to defend Venables. There is no excuse, nor is there really any punishment, which could for a second make me think he doesn’t deserve everything coming to him.
But we need to let there be an opportunity for him to get everything he deserves and not fritter it away in our frustration that we’d just like to do the job ourselves. There are people working tirelessly to ensure this man, and every other person who has done wrong, are all given the sentence they deserve.
So, everyone please needs to calm down and let justice do its job. The truth will out, as it pretty much always does. The justice department is quite likely to be just as angry with this murderer as the rest of us are. We need to have faith in the system occasionally and not always presume that we know best.
Knowledge is indeed power. But sometimes power can be very dangerous.
By Sophie Hudson