Monday 7 April 2014

Duty to Levi? - It's not right, but it's not surprising

Levi Bellfield found bullying the vulnerable easy.  He intimidated women and weaker men with his size, backed up by dreadful violence if it were needed.  But when it came to a more equal fight – such as when it kicked off in a club where he was working – he would be nowhere to be seen.  Perhaps one day the video we found of him supposedly ‘bare knuckle boxing’ will make its way on to You Tube, and the world can share the laughter we on the enquiry team burst into when we saw it.  ‘Bare-knuckle running away’ was a more accurate description.

So it is no surprise that he was assaulted and was unable to defend himself in Wakefield Prison.  There are some genuine hard men in there who, whatever they had done to be put away, were still decent enough to take exception to Bellfield killing young girls, beating up women and raping anyone he fancied.  It was only a matter of time before somebody took him on.  It isn’t right, but it also isn’t surprising.

Equally, it is completely understandable that the Prison Service chose to settle his claim. £4,500 is a tidy sum, but nothing like the amount they would have to spend on a full trial, even if they won.  The Service is just as cash-strapped as the rest of the Public Sector, and its bosses have to make business decisions, with sound economics winning over common sense morality.  And indeed £4,500 is drop in the ocean compared to the many millions the public purse has spent on trials already on Bellfield’s behalf.  You and I pay and the only winners are Bellfield and the lawyers.  It definitely isn’t right, but as distasteful as it might be, it also isn’t surprising. 

But if you want real proof that the whole system is messed up, look no further than the scale of compensation paid by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority to the families of murder victims.  For a single relative the maximum is £11,000, and for multiple relatives £5,500 each.  So, currently, the parents of Amélie Delagrange, Marsha McDonnell and Millie Dowler - who not only endured the loss of their daughters but the heartbreak of trials, of Bellfield sneering at them and having their lives dissected by his legal team – would each be entitled to just £1000 more than Bellfield has been given because the warders at Wakefield could not prevent him from getting a few scratches from a sharpened toothbrush.

And that is so not right as to be off the scale, and puts this whole ridiculous business of a duty of care being owed to monsters like Bellfield into a sickening perspective.