Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Crime on a council estate? Ten times as bad

While the Edlington case sparked a national debate on "Broken Britain", a trial about a beastly murder took place elsewhere. You didn't hear about it because it didn't happen on a council estate.

You already know that last weekend newspapers were full of news and analyses about the Edlington brothers' trial and their brutal actions.

But exactly at the same time, a court case went on about a merciless, sadistic murder that took place in a "neat" and "respectable" privately rented terraced home in the town of Chilton, Co Durham. With the exception of some sporadically recycled wire copy, a piece in the Mirror and the local press, nationwide the case went largely unnoticed.

And yet it was the prefect tabloid material, a case so shocking that it would not be out of place in a horror movie script. In fact, it bears disturbing similarities with the tragic story of Sylvia Likens (later the subject of the film An American Crime). It was a killing so savage, cruel and calculated that the DCI leading the investigation said he "had never seen anything like it" in his lengthy police career.

The details of the case are disturbing. When 35-year-old Andrew Gardner died, his girlfriend Clare Nicholls told the police he'd been assaulted by muggers while on his way home. Yet, the details that emerged painted a radically different picture. Andrew had not left home for months. During that time, he'd been meticulously tortured and gradually starved to death by Clare, along with her ex-lover and her brother.

The postmortem showed the victim had "150 injuries including 21 rib fractures, a broken skull and brain injuries so severe they were like those suffered in a car crash or fall from a tall building". The torture took place in front of Andrew and Clare's own daughter and the woman's other three children who were even encouraged to take part in the assaults "because they thought it was normal". At one stage a noughts and crosses game was carved into the skin on the victim's back.

In the end, Ms Nicholls was sentenced to 32 years in jail and her brother to 25 years. This was a case that would grant an entire conference on psychopathic and murderous behaviour and the press hardly blinked.

Rest assured, however, that if the murderer hadn't lived in a nice privately-rented house, didn't have "a pristine public image" and hadn't helped at the local charity shop, the papers would now be oozing headlines such as "MOTHER OF PURE EVIL", "LAZY SEX MAD WITH A RING FROM ARGOS SYMBOLISES BROKEN BRITAIN" and "MURDERS WILL KEEP HAPPENING IF WE KEEP BANKROLLING THE UNDERCLASS".

The double standards are just amazing.


Helen Highwater said...

I remember reading about that - it was chilling.

There was something on the news earlier about a mother who has killed her two children. She lives in a big house with a name on the gate so don't expect anyone to be blaming it on "Broken Britain"....

Anita said...

Yes Helen I heard the story too. She was a city worker and she lives in a £500K house. Where are the front page headlines? Where's the outrage at Broken Britain?

Anonymous said...

I'd be ready to bet that this macabre family is in the receipt of as many if not more benefits than those that live on a council estate except that they rent privately - Housing benefits can be used to rent privately.

In fact - she was probably stealing his benefits too as the victim had special needs - no?