Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Notes on murders and sex crimes

It very occasionally occurs to me that murder (or suicide) is a purely private and intimate affair, like the flipside of making love (making death?), almost, so subsequent murder investigations made by police, forensics, courts and reporting by the mass media mostly appear rather vulgar and intrusive.

The murder of Joanna Yeates by Vincent Tabak – obviously horrific and tragic (mainly, it seems, because it was around Christmas time) – has been examined in minute detail for the world to see. There has been an almost fetishistic obsession with detail, from the topping on the 'missing' pizza (tomato, mozzarella and basil) to which of Tabak's hands went on Yeates's throat, the reporting of which possibly reveals more about the nature of the mass media than about the murderer himself.

By all accounts Vincent Tabak seemed a happy and normal man, until a fateful five minutes around Christmas last year when he strangled the landscape architect in what, to me, seems possibly like a bizarre accident. The police, judge and media, however, looking for an angle, have gone for sex crime. The fact that Tabak also looked at porn and once or twice visited call girls (whilst abroad in Los Angeles) adds fuel to their fire.

Whilst I wouldn't say either porn or prostitution were necessarily healthy pursuits (though an ex-girlfriend's father used to say if prostitution was on the NHS there would be a lot less sex crime), just as doing drugs for the first time probably won't kill you, and watching horror films won't turn you into a serial killer, viewing porn or using call girls probably won't automatically turn you into a sex murderer. Otherwise half the population would be in prison.

No, the sex murder angle seems a desperate attempt to establish motive and looks to me like clutching at straws by employing cod-psychology (I'm surprised physiognomy hasn't been introduced to explain his narrow eyes). Not much is mentioned of the presumably happy three-year relationship with his girlfriend, though the Guardian mentions his 'only' having the one girlfriend, as if that in itself is a crime.

(And certain things don't gel. Like detectives finding a pornographic image on Tabak's computer of a woman wearing a pink top, and Yeates wearing a similar pink top when her body was discovered. If Tabak didn't put the top on Yeates after killing her – and no one seems to be saying he did [put the top on her] – then what are the chances of Yeates wearing the same pink top as the woman in the image Tabak had been looking at?)

The judge called Tabak a 'very dangerous man'; presumably just for the unfortunate five minutes in Joanna's flat and not the other 33 years of his life (he has been linked to no other crimes). He is called 'cold and calculating' when it seems he miscalculated a situation for a few minutes, which resulted in the unfortunate death of a young woman, then panicked and tried to cover it up.

Joanna's parents have understandably expressed never being to get over their loss. That's the thing about murder – it may be private, but has far wider repercussions.

In other news, a 25-year old woman has been charged with sexual assault after groping the male member of a, er, male member of the cabin crew of a Virgin flight from Johannesburg to Heathrow. Katherine Goldberg, of West London, made 'strong sexual advances' towards the steward and demanded sex after drinking a pint of whisky. It is assumed the steward, who cannot be name for legal reasons, is homosexual, because most stewards are and no heterosexual man in their right mind would object to a drunk woman groping their genitals. Miss Goldberg faces up to ten years in prison. Vincent Tabak will serve a minimum of twenty.

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