Tuesday, 11 November 2008

‘Community’…?

A shopkeeper told an inquest that he fought off and killed an armed robber who came at him like a “mad dog” trying to steal the day's taking. Tony Singh, 34, was ambushed by Liam Kilroe, 25, a wanted criminal, in February outside his Lifestyle Express store in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, as he tried to get into his car after work.
Needless to say, the powers-that-be swung straight into action, and arrested the man who’d had the temerity to defend himself and his livelihood against a violent criminal:
By the time police arrived Mr Singh had subdued Kilroe, who was either dead or dying. Officers arrested Mr Singh on suspicion of murder and, although he was subsequently released on police bail, he feared that he could face a murder charge for some days before the Crown Prosecution Service declared that he had acted in self-defence.
Of course! The police have their targets to keep up, after all…
Mr Singh, a popular figure in the community, was renowned for working long hours trying to build up his grocery and off-licence business. By contrast Kilroe had a long record for violent crime and was wanted by police at the time for evading trial for two similar armed raids on shops.
Yet another familiar aspect – the contrast between the utter worthlessness of the criminal scumbag and the hard-working businessman.

And then you read something like this, and you wonder why people like Tony even bother to maintain a business to serve a ‘community’ like this one:
Earlier the inquest was told that when Mr Singh had Kilroe pinned to the ground, he punched him repeatedly in the face. It appeared to one witness, Deborah Barker, that the shopkeeper had “lost it”.

Mrs Barker said: “The children came upstairs and said, ‘there's a fight outside and Tony's involved' and so I came straight downstairs and by the time I was out the door Tony was on top of the other man. I was telling Tony to get off him because he was going to hurt him and Tony was screaming ‘The f****** b****** has tried to rob me!'. He said he had stabbed him or something.

“They were covered in blood, and he was going hysterical.”
Anyone would think there’s no moral difference between the two men.

And to people like Mrs Barker, there probably isn’t…

10 comments:

Blue Eyes said...

So you think that the police, on arrival, should have taken the living man's word for it without further investigation?

JuliaM said...

No, it certainly bears investigation. No harm in bringing charges later, is there? Once it has been decided if there is a need to do so.

But the kneejerk 'arrest the man left standing and let the lawyers sort it out' is the kind of thing that makes decent people start to look on the police as not allies in the fight against people like Kilroe, but as yet another of the vast wave of public sector pension-rich apparatchiks who are there to tick boxes and little more.

Blue Eyes said...

They didn't charge him though. He was arrested. Slight difference.

Suppose for a minute that the officers didn't see Kilroe attacking Singh in the first place. Perhaps because they were not there at the time. They arrive to find Singh "subduing" Kilroe. You expect them to do nothing?

It's very easy to say "well it was self defence" when you have all the facts neatly laid out to you in a Times article, but spare a thought for those mere mortals who arrived not knowing exactly what had happened.

I suppose you think the police should be investigating more important things than people killing each other...

JuliaM said...

"They didn't charge him though. He was arrested. Slight difference."

Not to Tony Singh, who now has his DNA recorded on the database, and had the worry of wondering if he might be charged.

"You expect them to do nothing?"

Except of course, they did arrive to see the fight. But no, I expect them to take all the information they may need, and make an arrest if they need to. Not simply as a routine.

You know, use their discretion and (that bad word for modern times!) judgement...

"I suppose you think the police should be investigating more important things than people killing each other..."

If it's people 'killing each other' in self-defence, then yes, frankly.

This guy was wanted by the police at the time! If they'd put a bit more effort into tracking him down, poor Tony Singh might not have had to fight for his life in the street...

Blue Eyes said...

OK separate your view on whether DNA should be databased from whether arrest was a good idea. The police turned up as the guy was dead or dying. So they are presented by a scene where a violent struggle has just finished, with one person dead or dying and another not dead or dying. Without the benefit of knowing that Mr Singh was a wonderful man and that knowing that the Kilroe wasn't, what do you think the police should have done? Do you think they should have walked back to Mr Singh's for a cup of tea and a chat? Should they have come back later once he had had a chance to clean himself up? Were the cops supposed to have known exactly what happened before they had even arrived?

He was arrested so that the death could be investigated. I think that is the correct course of events. He explained what had happened and was released on bail. The CPS decided not to prosecute, but if it had prosecuted he would have been tried and found not guilty. It's called the legal process.

JuliaM said...

"Were the cops supposed to have known exactly what happened before they had even arrived?"

Of course not. But arresting the most likely suspect isn't helping them to cast themselves as 'protectors of law and order', is it?. Why not arrest the bystanders too, 'just in case'...

And I'm afraid I can't seperate this from my views about the DNA database, because a man who has committed no crime, save that of defending his life and property when attacked, is now in the system with the thieves, scum, and other innocents arrested on spec and then released when no evidence that they have committed a crime at all materialises. Is that right? Is that just...?

"The CPS decided not to prosecute, but if it had prosecuted he would have been tried and found not guilty."

There's no cast iron guarantee of that.

Blue Eyes said...

He has not committed a crime and therefore has not been charged for one. What is your problem with that? You seem to be forgetting that he wasn't just some bystander, he had actually killed the man! They didn't know at that point that it was self defence. If I was found having just beaten a man to death I would expect a full investigation no matter how justified my action was!

JuliaM said...

"He has not committed a crime and therefore has not been charged for one. What is your problem with that?"

My problem is that he was arrested at all - when he didn't need to be - and his DNA and details recorded - when they didn't neeed to be. Surely you can appreciate that this adds insult to injury?

"If I was found having just beaten a man to death I would expect a full investigation no matter how justified my action was!"

Me too. It's not the investigation that concerns me - it's that that could - and should - happen without arrest and DNA collection.

The Happy Rampager said...

Blue eyes:

Arrests. Are. Not. An. Essential. Part. Of. Investigations.

That's in answer to your stupid false dichotomy of 'either arrest him or take his word for it'.

What's wrong with 'inviting him to the station'? If he's committed an actual crime he'd probably demur. That would be grounds for suspicion of murder. If it was self defence he would be more willing to accept the invitation.

Umbongo said...

Happy Rampager

"Arrests. Are. Not. An. Essential. Part. Of. Investigations."

But you see it would take, oh, as long as 30 seconds to establish that Mr Singh was a respectable shopkeeper and another 30 seconds to establish (CRIMINT can be accessed almost immediately) that the dead man was a criminal scrote on the run. Furthermore Mr Singh must have been in an awfully distressed state. But God forbid that our wonderful police should apply some common sense and humanity. (Mind you, I don't expect that from the police any more than I expect common sense and humanity from anyone at Haringey Social Services.)

Given these easily ascertainable facts, the likelihood would have been that this was not a premeditated murder much less a crime. Even so, as juliam points out, an invitation to Mr Singh to attend the nearest nick sharpish would not be unreasonable. Moreover, it's not as if Mr Singh's business (and most probably) residential addresses would have been withheld from the police.

As it is, Mr Singh the police went into attack mode. After all, it appears that Mr Singh is a law-abiding and upright citizen. Accordingly, he was arrested sharpish, his fingerprints and DNA taken and entered on a permanent database to cheers from blue eyes and Mrs Barker that a dangerous criminal maniac had (probably) been taken off the streets: well, taken from his store anyway.

I'm with juliam in asking "why people like Tony even bother to maintain a business to serve a ‘community’ like this one" - the financial returns can't compensate surely!