Joseph McCann
(courtesy of bbc news)

The sentencing earlier this afternoon of serial rapist Joseph McCann (above) has only really served to prove how much certain members of our society continue to commit (and will always do so) the most heinous and barbaric crimes imaginable.

When you have been around the criminal justice system for some 30 years as I have ( always on the right side I hasten to add) you sometimes feel that you can never any longer be shocked. Like the abattoir worker who loses his revulsion at blood and guts.

But even this old warhorse who has witnessed evidence that would instantly make you bring up your lunch has been left somewhat shocked at this catalogue of depravity.

McCann’s quite horrific campaign of kidnap and sex attacks has earned him, quite rightly, an unprecedented 33 life sentences with a minimum tariff set at 30 years. We should not be fooled though – this guy will never walk the streets again.

He is classically psychopathic. In the 1970s, criminal psychology researcher Robert D. Hare developed the ‘Hare Psychopathy Checklist’. Firstly, there is evidence of glib and superficial charm. This is not a trait that is motivated by a genuine interest or empathy for thers – rather it allows for the presence of charm to be used to manipulate others and curry favour with them.

Then there is usally a grandiose sense of self-worth, usually done at the expense of humiating others. We know that McCann’s degrading and humiliating treatment of his victims was part of his thrill.

There is also a distinct lack or remorse or guilt; an innate callousness and an often deviant lifestyle with overtly promiscuous sexual behaviour. At the sentencing today, the Judge, Mr Justice Edis specifically mentioned McCann’s lack of feeling, guilt, remorse and sense of no regret.

McCann has clearly demonstrated so many differing aspects to his personality : a rapist, a bully, a coward, a paedophile, a narcissist, a violent individual, a control freak.

Cases such as these always re-ignite the issue as to whether we should re-introduce the death penalty into the UK.

Image result for death penalty
(courtesy amnesty.org.uk)



The debate itself can often promote just as much disagreement as the crimes for which the re-introduction is sought.

There is a train of thought that everyone has a right to life, even those that commit the ultimate act of murder. Sentencing them and executing them therefore violates that right. Paradoxically, the position is that murder , which is a pre-meditated act and requires the crucial element of ‘mens rea’ means that those individuals forfeit their rights by taking the life of another.

Moreover, there is a train of thought that retribution is simply wrong. It is morally flawed and that we simply should not teach that killing is wrong….by killing. The principal argument that retribution is immoral is that, in essence, it is merely a form of vengeance.

It is not, in opinion correct for a decent, largely law-abiding country to re-introduce the barbarism associated with capital punishment. Add to that the simple statistic that, perversely, it does not appear to be a suitable deterrent and I for one would not wish to see its’ return.

There are some countries, many in fact, around the world in 2019 who have an unenviable record of human rights (including some of our own precious allies) . I would not wish to be part of that unseemly and abhorrent practice.

Ciaran

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