Thursday, 18 December 2008

Silence is golden...

Well done to Merseyside for getting a set of convictions, including the murderer in this case, not an easy task given the doctrine of omerta that is de rigueur for the crime infested council estates that are spread across the UK.

'Nightjack' - a detective, and compelling blogger, has written many times about the 'evil poor' - added to this are copious amounts of 'stupid poor' - nowhere as morally corrupt as the out and out villains -for whom crime really is a lifestyle choice - just the kind of people who are wilfully blind to what goes on around them. These are the kind of people who think nothing of buying razor blades, bacon, cheese, large jars of branded coffee, large bottles of branded shampoo and the like from hollow eyed, sunken cheeked heroin addicts. These are the people who complain 'the police do nothing', yet know all about who does what, when, where and how - and somehow always neglect to tell us. These are the people who can ignore the shouts and screams from next door - who don't know where their children are - but who definitely know they weren't near a smashed window or damaged car... - the people who stare blankly back when you ask questions about the man who is now sitting in an ambulance while the paramedics staunch the flow of blood from his head - the people who 'saw nothing' despite the broken glass and bloodstains and upturned furniture. These are the people who will look you in the eye - tell you you are crap at your job - that they know who burgled the house - yet will absolutely refuse to put a signature to a statement - even when it's their own house. The frustration you feel taking a crime report from someone who says 'I know who did it - but I'm not telling youse lot' is enormous. At this point my sympathy does tend to take a bow and exit stage left. Even on the occasions when I've worked a beat for a while, it takes a while to build up the confidence and trust of the locals - and to reach the point where they tell you juicy nuggets of intelligence 'off the record, officer...' is satisfying - but still leaves you feeling very powerless to put the bad guys away. Very often this is the reason the police do know what goes on - yet without a witness, it all falls down - and sadly the world isn't like the Bill , where cheeky crims almost always admit the crime, and follow it up with some more information 'off the record'.

The fact that Rhys Jones's killer and his accomplices have been put away is testament to a lot of hard work, the high stakes in a murder case, and even a sense no doubt that this was a 'crime too far', and for the low lives of Croxteth and Norris Green, the murder of an innocent boy was beyond the pale.

Had Rhys been merely winged - then I have no doubt the shooter would be still at liberty. The acceptance of 'less serious crime' on the sink estates is rife. Let me explain by way of example. Back in the day, I worked in... let me call it 'Miff Moor' - and there was a small estate - let's call it 'Mucklethwaite' - a small hillside council estate, of about a thousand inhabitants. There were at least two drug dealers I knew of - mainly supplying heroin and amphetamines -with links to another who mainly sold cocaine and cannabis.

One of the ne’er-do-wells was 'Fred' - likable enough in person, when sober - but less pleasant when he was after a fix. One day, I went to a domestic burglary. The occupants had not lived there long - having returned from a long stint overseas - but with teenaged children, they had come to know most of the local faces. For the estate, it happened to be quite a high value burglary - it was in the days when computers were large beige boxes costing about a thousand pounds - and with a PC, printer, screen, hifi, and some other bits and pieces - the total value came to two and a bit grand. I submitted the crime report, and the distraught victims told me that 'Fred' was responsible - not that they'd seen it - but they knew him by reputation - he had been hanging around - and someone - anonymous - told them on good authority 'Fred' had done it.

Needless to say, and keeping this to myself to save CID snaffling a good lock up - Fred was duly arrested. Needless to say - he denied it - so confident was he that he didn't even want a solicitor.

Bail for further enquiries followed - 'Mr. anonymous' was identified - and he gave a statement - which later - at Crown Court - during the trial of Fred's co-accused, turned out to be lies - but that's another story.

N0 - the ace up my sleeve turned out to be a single fingerprint - at point of entry - and Fred crumbled during the interview, coughed the lot - and got two years for the break. Result!

That said - I knew beforehand Fred was a burglar - I knew he had a habit - but not who his fence was - any more than he would tell me who his supplier was, or how big his habit was at the time. It turned out that Fred had been seen by quite a few people - only my 'Mr. anonymous' fabricated his witness testimony to bring his step father into the story - and to stop me from sussing this out - swore to me he was by himself when he saw Fred - and hated step-father making off with the loot. You can imagine I was slightly less than impressed when my star witness admitted making a lot of it up under cross examination at Crown Court...

I don't think my experience there was untypical - I can think of similar cases - so when a conviction stands against real threats of witness intimidation - I take my hat off to the investigators - I truly do.

See ya later.

PS 749 Custerd.

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