Skip to main content

Christopher Jefferies? Vincent Tabak? YES, IT COULD BE YOU!

Will there, one wonders, be any quarry stone left unturned with the public‘s right to know - in a dwindling band of countries abbreviated to the first letter - the surname of a person suspected of a crime?

‘Landlord, Dutchman, presumed innocent - until such time as a jury has fully deliberated - we hereby sentence you…err, with just one sentence.’

If there were ever any ethical rules in journalism then the Joanna Yeates murder suspects’ show trial suggests they may need a little spit and polish.

The recent grotesque phenomenon of national newspapers falling over themselves to name names does not have its beginnings in the McCarthy era, no sir. It is a new brand of ‘netfluenced’ journalism, the kind where the guilt or innocence of a suspect - or even the near bystander for that matter - are now so often deliberated on internet crime forums that democracies the world over no longer have control over what was once fondly termed a fair trial by peers. And national newspapers are tripping over dead bodies to beat them too, M‘lud!

In many of these armchair crime sites (where one’s peers’ sit in judgement of the privacy and rights of the citizen reduced to suspect) ‘presumed‘ innocent in the eyes of the law is one legal sentence that caves under the weight of a very common gossip.

Now, in the 21st Century, it is ‘online‘ inside unseen walls that the rights of the individual are hung, drawn and quartered in the stocks of cyberspace for all just men (and women) to mock, and they do so salaciously and with impunity.

One of the more bookish of such sites is Here, internet detectives - some may call them ghouls - ponder over the likely guilt of an array of citizenry; whose only crime - in many instances it must be said - is to be unfortunate enough to be in close proximity to an equally unfortunate cadaver. Dirty fingernails? Blue rinse? Sinister smile? Yer guilty! Guilty! Guilty!

In fact these web-based anonymous finger pointers, whose postings are usually over the verge of libellous, indicate a need for a new breed of lawyer, one employed solely to defend the accused who stands in a cyber courtroom of innuendo: Rumpole of the old global computing network be upstanding in court!

In fact, if this does not happen soon the job will be left to web-based sleuths whose ‘brief’ seems to be to argue, not the beyond a shadow of a doubt guilt, but the hunch. And so anyone found guilty may be executed. But only in cyberspace, Your Honour!

We have all entered a digital age when a suspect will forever be held in penury in the gossipy walls of prison internet. We must all beware. We may all be upstanding in court.


Popular posts from this blog

Professor Joan Ginther: Do the numbers add up?

A Texan aged 63 has won at scratch-off card games every two years since 2006. In 1993 she also won a lottery bringing her total winnings to over $20m. Which is amazingly coincidental. But what if a seemingly ordinary person somehow managed to narrow the odds and beat the system, goddamnit? An American newspaper might say slim pickin's. TheBigRetort says...

Joan Rae Ginther’s luck began in 1993, when she won $5.4 million dollars on a game known as “Lotto Texas“.

Another win thirteen years later in 2006 netted her $2m.

Curiously, every two years since that date, she has won at scratch off games, two cards having been bought at her local store.

In 1993 she won $5.4 million; the odds: 1 in 15.8 million; in 2006 she won $2 million in a scratch off game; the odds: 1 in 1,028,338; in 2008 she won $3 million in a scratch off; odds: 1 in 909,000.

Her latest win in 2010, also a scratch off, was for $10 million; odds of winning: 1 in 1,200,000.

In fact experts contend that the odds of winning four…

Linda Ann Weston shock: escaped prison first time round

Police in Philadelphia recently discovered four abused and vulnerable adults shackled together in a dank cellar where they were being held captive, with dogs for cell mates. Officers also discovered a teenage girl. Three people have been arrested. It has been widely claimed that one of the captors, Linda Ann Weston, 51, served time in prison for a similar crime. TheBigRetort… but she didn’t.

In November 1981, Bernado Ramos was reported missing by his mother.

His body was found in a closet two weeks later.

Linda Weston, 23, and Venus Weston, 21 his lover, were later charged and convicted with his captivity and murder.

Apparently Bernado had been the father of Venus’s child but refused to support it. It was his last mistake.

The Weston sisters had beat him with a broomstick and eventually starved him to death in the cupboard.

A remarkably similar modus operandi when compared with the current charges.

However, Linda Weston, now charged with abduction and enslavement in the more recen…

Harry Bensley: The Great Iron Mask Hoax

[Engraving, Copyright (c) Jim Westergard. Used with his kind permission.]
On the 1st January 1908, following a remarkable wager, a man wearing an iron mask set off on an astonishing 30,000 mile journey around the world - then disappeared. TheBigRetort... The Great Iron Mask HoaxIn previous posts I detailed the extraordinary saga of 33-year-old Harry Bensley, who accepted a bet made between an American philanthropist and an English nobleman: to push a pram around the world, with his face encased inside an iron mask, for a purse of $100,000.
Many sighting were recorded of "The Mask” at that time but then... he inexplicably vanished. TheBigRetort: where in the world did The Mask go?Almost one year after the wager made between Harry Bensley aka The Man in the Iron Mask, a publication known as “ Answers” (December 19th, 1908, pi63) received a response to this same question; it has remained buried until now.

The respondent – who remained anonymous - had a very interesting tale to tell:…