These are words that Steve Wright, convicted yesterday of murdering five prostitutes in Ipswich, Suffolk, in December 2006, will not be hearing when he returns to court for sentencing. Instead the judge will be choosing between a 30 year minimum with the possibility of parole after that, or, as the Americans would say, mandatory life, ie a whole life tariff.
Can anyone really say he doesn't deserve to be hanged?
How about this fellow?
This is Ian Huntley, 29. He was convicted in December 2003 of the murder in August 2002 of the 10-year-old girls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. (See image below.) He is currently serving 40 years in prison.
What about the ugly sextet below?
These repulsive individuals raped, tortured over several hours and then murdered 16-year-old Mary-Ann Leneghan and raped, tortured and attempted to murder her friend who cannot be named in May 2005. (Incidentally the one who can pass for white and given pride of place at the top-left in the BBC's image above is an illegal immigrant from Kosovo.)
As a little indicator as to how the BBC likes to massage public perception of the news you might like to compare and contrast the above photographs of the ugly sextet with the drawing the BBC previously produced during the trial. See below.
Strangely grey, aren't they? Not brown skinned at all! All except the Eastern European who has turned rather sallow; perhaps the stress of a murder trial did that to him. Or perhaps the BBC doesn't want inconvenient facts getting in the way of its message that immigrants are wonderful and so are their descendants.
However, that's a distraction from the point of this post - which is simply that all the above murderers should have been sentenced to hang by the neck until they are dead. Anything less isn't justice. Why should they continue to enjoy their, admittedly circumscribed, lives in jail; enjoy their comfortable cells, their three square meals a day, their association times, their recreational facilities, their gyms, their evening TV, when they have denied life itself to their victims?
And why should the taxpayer be expected to pay out the £1 million it will cost per individual to keep them inside for the rest of their natural lives?
Rope is cheap and closure is complete.
Of course the death penalty is not something to apply lightly. The case against it is that there is no coming back from a wrongful conviction. The innocent man cannot be unhanged. Safeguards would be needed.
First, a higher standard of proof should be required: guilty beyond all doubt, rather than the current guilty beyond reasonable doubt; second the jury must be unanimous (note as an aside that Ian Huntley's conviction was by a majority verdict, one juror demurred. So under these rules he would not have hanged.) Third the murder must have been committed by the murderer himself - no "let him have it" to confuse the issue; fourth, the crime must be in cold blood and without pity: mercy killings and scuffles-gone-wrong with blame on both sides need not apply. And lastly there must be an automatic appeal to a court otherwise completely independent of the judicial system in which the forum is open to the appellant to introduce any facts in any manner he likes - nothing can be ruled out of order from this court because there is no chance to correct a mistake in any subsequent hearing.
Subject to these safeguards, murderers should hang.
(A note on terminology: when someone is executed they are "hanged" not "hung". They are only "hung" if they survive the experience. Hence someone is hanged by the neck until they are dead, but hung, drawn and quartered, because, if the executioner is competent, they are still alive when the quartering starts. Many people seem to get this wrong.)
There is another issue. Often when a mass-murderer is finally convicted there are other unresolved killings on which he might be able to shed light. This information is currency for the convicted murderer in jail. Distraught relatives appeal to him for information on the fate of their loved ones. Are they missing or dead? Where lie their remains? The murder can favour these questioners with an answer if he is so inclined, or can choose to remain silent. Any time he wants he can summon police officers with the suggestion he might be prepared to let drop a titbit of information.
Steve Wright is suspected of involvement in the disappearance and presumed murder in 1986 of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh, 25, who was lured to a house viewing by one Mr Kipper and was never seen again. Wright apparently worked on the cruise ship the Queen Elizabeth II at the same time as Lamplugh. If it was him it was an incredibly audacious crime - she could have recognised him at any time.
A death sentence would concentrate Steve Wright's mind quite wonderfully. His sentence could be stayed while he provided significant information, or, if he has nothing to add he could be executed with despatch. (He should not of course be allowed to escape the noose in return for information, merely delay it.)