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Saturday, 25 June 2011

image for Bellfield Conviction In Milly Dowler Murder Case Re-Ignites Death Penalty Debate
The Final Solution.

The conviction of serial killer Levi Bellfield in the Milly Dowler murder case has raised many fundamental questions about the propriety of the British legal system.

Quite correctly, Milly's family members vociferously objected to having their lives dissected in cross examination by Bellfield's defence lawyers, claiming that they felt like the ones who were on trial.

After the verdict, Milly's family made their grievances public, and were received with great sympathy by the vast majority of the British public as they declared their dissatisfaction with the legal process.

Milly's mother made a heartfelt plea that Bellfield's incarceration should be a 'living hell' and Milly's sister stated that in her opinion, a life term was insufficient, adding that her philosophy encompassed an eye for an eye, and a life for a life.

Predictably perhaps, public opinion once again became focused unerringly on the reintroduction of capital punishment, as calls came from all walks of life for Bellfield to be 'strung up.'

It is not an unusual reaction to take in the heat of the moment. Levi Bellfield, as a convicted multiple killer is without any shadow of a doubt, a disgusting individual, the perpetrator of the most heinous offences, who is also likely to be investigated further in regard to at least one outstanding, high profile, unsolved murder case.

But does he deserve to die for his crimes?

There seems little evidence to suggest that executing Bellfield would unleash a tidal wave of public grief or outrage, but would it be the right thing to do?

"Yes," says J Finlay, of Leicester. "This odious individual has taken at least three lives. He should pay for that with his own. He'll never serve any function in society other than be a burden on the taxpayer, and the prison staff charged with ensuring his welfare. On the whole, this scumbag would be better off dead."

"Certainly not," says M Scrivener, of Dorset. "Civilised societies don't execute people. And when they do, they sometimes get it wrong. You only need look at the number of people in recent years who have been freed on appeal as new evidence has been uncovered to realise how unsafe it is to execute convicted criminals. Knee-jerk reactions are all well and good, but this issue needs to be looked at in the cold light of day, with an impartial eye, and not when the blood has reached boiling point."

Skoob News's Martin Shuttlecock finds this issue particularly emotive, and after years of consideration, has still not come down firmly on one side or the other of the debate. He told us:

"I understand the quest for justice, the desire for revenge. I recall the case of Ted Bundy in the United States. Had he been executed, he wouldn't have been free to escape from Colorado to commit further horrendous murders in Florida. I look at cases like the Moors Murders, the Yorkshire Ripper, and I think that in certain circumstances, execution is not only a vengeance option, but a practical solution to a horrible problem. I sometimes get the impression that the Gary Ridgeways, the Jon Venables' and Peter Sutcliffes of this world revel in their notoriety, whilst those left behind, like the Dowler family, like Ralph Bulger, and all the other victims affected by violent murderers are left to serve their own life sentences, in their own private hells. When I think like that, the death penalty becomes appealing.

"But on the other side of the coin - once carried out, there's no going back. Remember Colin Stagg, the accused in the Rachel Nickell murder case, that terrible act of violence that occurred on Wimbledon Common. Everybody and his mother was convinced of Stagg's guilt. There was never a shadow of a doubt. The nation wanted blood, it wanted vengeance - but as was later proved, Stagg was innocent. His case is far from unique. Had we retained the death penalty, how many innocent people would we have executed? It's situations like that which make me think that capital punishment is sometimes not such a good idea.

"I really don't know. To this day, my opinion swings in both directions. What is certain, is that it isn't something to be taken lightly. Something for far higher minds than mine to determine."

What is for certain, is that this is a debate which will run and run, because that's human nature.

More as we get it.

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