Sunday, 18 January 2009


Height Of Fashion

It's the type of call that always concentrates the mind, "Sound of gun shots fired". It's a fair distance away from where I'm driving and not far from the police station. I make my way not knowing what to expect. It's just one call into the control room, I'm thinking it might be a waste of time. If something bad has happened there are usually multiple calls. The location is a housing estate made up of blocks with each flat numbered in sequence.

I arrive but I'm not first. Officers on scene are looking for the flat, confused with the numbers. Perhaps it's a different block nearby. Nobody is coming out to direct us and there is silence. It's a beautiful spring night, my favourite time of the year. The gloom and coldness of winter is gone and the trees are coming to life. A cool breeze moves the leaves on the branches, it really is that quiet. Is this a wild goose chase? We're definitely looking stupid as more units turn up and we still can't find the flat. The ever growing group of officers moves off towards another block. I'm not one for following the crowd and turn a corner finding a stairwell.

This is it I think, and wander up the stairs looking for the numbers. That's what I'm focused on and I miss the scatter of shotgun pellets on the ceiling. I turn onto a balcony and suddenly there's much to take in. Laying feet towards me is a woman flat on her back, squatting beyond her is a male crying. "It was an accident". He made me jump, I'm not expecting this and I'm trying to take in what I'm seeing , not thinking straight. She's wearing black knee length boots, they were all the fashion at the time. They had to be laced up the front and I rather liked the look, except on fat birds trying to be the height of. I can't work it out, what's gone on? The sawn off shotgun laying besides her gives me a clue. Has he done it? and stayed at the scene.

I bend on my knee beside her and feel for a pulse in her neck, whilst watching the male now sat on the floor. She's dead, staring up with lifeless eyes. Already her skin colour is showing that milky opaque display of death. There's not much blood considering the shotgun was discharged at point blank range into her abdomen. I move towards him and tell him to stand up. I cuff him and pat him down. "The gun's over there - I didn't mean to do it". He is arrested.

There's an open door to the flat - "Who's Inside?". He didn't know - this is now a crime scene. Others have now worked out the mystery of the flat numbers and arrive on the balcony.

I have to keep him at the end of the balcony, the Boss turns up and I brief him quickly. He checks the flat in case of further carnage inside. Thankfully it's empty - but the balcony is full as an ambulance crew turns up and attach various bits and pieces to the woman. She's dispatched to hospital for the obvious to be confirmed. A young female probationer goes too as continuity officer. She was there the next day for the post mortem and was never the same again.

The suspect can't stop speaking. He came looking for the woman's boyfriend having had a falling out. They had words on the doorstep and somehow the gun went off. He might have been telling the truth as the gun had gone off as he came up the stairwell. I didn't really care. Somebody was dead - her life wiped out - literally blown away. This was murder wasn't it?


Bob said...

Umm...not if it was an accident.

It's very disturbing to note that a serving police officer doesn't even know the definition of the crimes he's arresting people for...

Anonymous said...

It sounds like an unbeliveable scenario to find yourself in. But they way you decribe it makes it sound so very ordinary. I mean, I could imagine going to a similar call and then not knowing what to expect.

The guy could have picked up the shotgun and blown you away too... But you don't think of those things in the first instance.

Bob, don't take it so literally. StressedOutCop does know the law and he is questioning it in this case. I.E. If the guys intent was to go up there and shoot someone, does it matter who he shot? A bit like the Rhys Jones shooting?

Bob said...

It does if the gun went off accidentally. In fact that is a fairly crucial factor in terms of whether this was murder or not. So you see why it appears that Stressed Out Cop either doesn't know the law, or else doesn't care about it, given his closing comment. As a police officer, it's his job to both know and care, otherwise he is just a little dictator.

It is not the police's job to question the law. That is for our elected representatives.

Stressed Out Cop would do well to remember this, otherwise he will find himself in pretty hot water before too long, and hopefully be relieved of his duties (which, if they're causing him so much stress...)

Stressed Out Cop said...

Bob - Welcome

I think I would leave "accident" to incidents where somebody is out shooting and through messing around somehow shoots somebody.

This case is somewhat different and of course unusual. You can sleep soundly that StressedOutCop is well aware of the required mens rea "with malice aforethought".

I could also go on about the legislation under the Firearms Act that might be applicable. Some sections carrying life terms.

This case goes to show that drink drugs and guns don't mix. It eventually goes on the evidence. He pleaded to Manslaughter but was still trialed for Murder and found not guilty. I don't have a problem with that - because that's our system. Of course the only other person present was unable to give her version, and I think if her boyfriend had been present it's possible a different verdict was reached. I just have that nagging doubt - he must have been stood with this gun right against her body. Only he knows what was going on in his head.

You are right. It doesn't matter if he went up with intention to kill the boyfriend. The actual act must be completed with a guilty mind.

I do question the morality of the law as this was more than an "accident". Should there be different degrees of murder? That was the point of my closing comment.

Anybody can question the law in a democracy. If I found myself in hot water (as you hope for)would that not be as the result of a dictatorship?

By the way he got 8 years for this.

Peaceout - SOC

Stressed Out Cop said...


It goes to show - never assume when going to a call. Yeah I did think afterwards for a minute, what if he'd been sat there waiting and blasted me - but he didn't so it's not an issue that worries me.

The difference with this and Rhys Jones is that Mercer had a guilty mind when firing the gun at somebody else,intending to kill or cause GBH hence Murder. Again in that case from the defence view it throws up issues around degrees of murder?

Interesting thing the law!


Bob said...

Anybody can question the law, but my point was that it is not a police officer's job to do so, in fact, quite the contrary.

The danger is that your personal beliefs about the morality of the law will affect your ability to do your job, ie to apply the law as it exists, not as you believe it should. If you do allow your personal beliefs to colour your judgement, sooner or later you will find yourself in hot water, because we are a democracy and not a police state.

I've got to question how come he was tried for murder, when it was clearly a case of manslaughter. The fact that he was found not guilty kind of goes to show, doesn't it? I wonder how much tax-payer's money was wasted by this example of the police's misapplication of the law?

Peace and love

Stressed Out Cop said...


Police Officers are crown servants not tools of Parliament - We keep the Queen's Peace and holding the office of constable apply the law in a fair way as we see fit.

As part of the criminal justice system the police already question and influence laws. Crack House Closures and searching procedures have been created as a result of police lobbying.

The law is not as black and white as you see it. It is a mass of grey and an ever changing creature with case law decisions being made all the time.

The police do not prosecute and haven't done so for years - the CPS do - for the crown.

The system says a jury decides guilt. The victim in this case deserves justice and the jury balance the facts and had to be certain beyond all reasonable doubt about his guilt. Maybe he would have pleaded to 2nd degree murder if a system was in place, saving tax payers money. At present Murder carries a mandatory life sentence.


Bob said...

Yes, SoC, "servants". I think you'd do well to remember that.

Changing the law by lobbying is all well and good, and in keeping with the principles of democracy.

But making arrest judgements, and tailoring evidence for the CPS on the basis of your own personal views is ethically corrupt and dodgy, and will land you in hot water. Sooner or later you'll be found out. I'm just saying.

The CPS may have decided to try him for Murder, but they'll have done that on the basis of what the police told them. What an effing waste, and how arrogant.

Damo Mackerel said...

Bob, the police are not automatons and will often be required to use their own judgement when implementing the law.

For example, if a police officer pulls in a speeding driver and then discovers that the driver's wife, who is heavily pregnant and in labour, he would be a right idiot to issue a ticket, instead of offering to escort the man and his wife to hospital.

Anonymous said...

Bob sounds awfully like any typical Daily Mail reader. Unhappy when police officers follow the letter of the law and prosecute everyone for anything regardless, but equally unhappy if they show a little independant thought or try and use some discretion.

This wasn't a clear cut accident, you only have the guy's word to take on it, and quite frankly someone who has just shot someone will say anything to get a lesser sentence. Standard police procedure is to arrest for the most serious offence you may have, ie murder. They are then charged with that offence and then the court will downgrade it as they see fit. They rarely increase a charge.

Bob said...

I'm not talking about who the police don't pursue, but cases like the one described, where clearly, the police tailored evidence (which is tantamount to corruption) to make the CPS think it was worth trying the guy for Murder, when it was clearly manlsaughter. No wonder the public think the police are a bunch of numpties and crooks...

Bob said...

Standard police procedure, Anon, as you describe it, is something the police may get away with against vulnerable people who can't afford decent legal advice. If you think that's ethical, you clearly have no conscience. But with those tactics, sooner or later, you will find yourself in the high court, looking like the vicious numpties you are.

Oh, and ps, I've never read a tabloid in my life.

Stressed Out Cop said...


I can assure you that if I was corrupt HE WOULD have been convicted of Murder.

Please don't say things like that it doesn't add to healthy debate.

Bob said...

Actually, this is exactly the kind of thing that needs to be talked about in a healthy debate.

You say quite confidently that if you were corrupt, he would have gone down for murder. I find that deeply disturbing. You clearly believe that if you chose to, you could visit an injustice upon someone quite unchecked. Perhaps this is the case. Like I say, deeply disturbing. Can you not see how your bold admission would make the lay public rather concerned?

In any case, I am merely questioning how the evidence was twisted to make the CPS think it was worth trying him for murder and not manslaughter, which this case clearly was. Thankfully, the jury were not fooled.

Anonymous said...

Bob...go swizzel!
Me thinks you have an axe to grind!
And dont bother replying...go and take your self off to a nice warm place and relax.

Bob said...

Hit a raw nerve, did I?

Bob said...

So much for healthy debate, eh?