SUFFER LITTLE CHILDREN

I promised myself that I would not write about Poppi Worthington.  It is so upsetting, it is difficult to remain objective and concentrate on the facts without being swamped by a sea of utter revulsion.

It is a strange and perverse world surrounding the Clown Prosecution Service and those minions who claim decision making status until it goes tits up, at which time they know nothing and are probably on annual leave.  I refer to the endless decisions where the CPS will charge anybody with rape or a serious sexual offence at the drop of  a pair of knickers and on the uncorroborated say-so of a mendacious complainant, but when it comes to the serious sexual offence perpetrated on the helpless Poppi by her father, they do nothing.  Absolutely nothing!

On the 12th December 2012, when Poppi was 13 months old, she died following anal penetration by her father Paul Worthington whilst in his bed and whilst her mother was snoring for England downstairs.  These curious sleeping arrangements were never satisfactorily explained.

Poppi had had the ‘benefit’ of two inquests, the first bordering on farce, and the second, recently concluded, more thorough and far reaching.  The coroner concluded that Poppi had been sexually assaulted, but was unable to conclude that this assault was the cause of her death.  The father, anxious to assist as an innocent party in search of the truth, refused to answer a total of 252 questions put to him, as was his right, but monumentally unhelpful.

The inquest was told that an investigation by Cumbria Police was so botched vital evidence was lost and Jerry Graham, Chief Constable of the force, apologised for “deficiencies” in its handling of the case.

He said: “It is clear the initial investigation into Poppi’s death launched in 2012 has done little to assist the coroner in coming to a conclusion on how Poppi died. I greatly regret this.” Well there’s a load off!

Lead detective on the inquiry Detective Inspector Amanda Sadler was subjected to a disciplinary hearing last year where gross incompetency was proven and she was demoted in rank.

She has since retired along with her boss, former Detective Chief Inspector Mike Forrester. No further action was taken against either, and good news, their pensions remain intact.

In 2015, the Independent Police Complaints Commission concluded both Mrs Sadler and Mr Forrester had cases to answer for gross misconduct.

And the final word goes to the Clown Prosecution Service: their spokesman said there were “no plans” to review charging decisions in relation to the case but “we would of course consider any referral from the coroner”.

We can all rest easy in our beds, which is more than we can say for Poppi.

JOB FOR PLOD

Continuing the Bernie Hogan-Howe saga, I have been pondering what the future may hold for this redoubtable Plod if his contract is not renewed, and I suspect he is scouring the situations vacant columns even as I write. But I bring him glad tidings, help is at hand, and a vacancy may arise at any moment that will suit his particular take on law and order. In fact, the job specification would fit him like a glove.

News has reached me from Thailand that a suspected gambling den has been flourishing in Pattaya on the east coast, and following a tip off, the ‘den’ was stormed by fifty police officers and soldiers.  Music to Bernie’s ears.  After all, he deployed only 22 men to arrest the 92 year old Lord Bramall which, on reflection, was a high risk strategy and woefully short of man power, especially if the nonagenarian made a run for it.  Far better to go for overkill. It’s what he does best.

The plot thickens.  Once the dust had settled in Pattaya, it was discovered that the illegal gambling den was no more than a British ex-pat Bridge Club, perfectly legal even by Thai standards, so the claims were dropped, but not before the twelve members of the Bridge Club had been arrested and held in custody for several hours. They were all pensioners. Shades again of Lord Bramall.  Keep them in custody till they snap!

Once the enormity of their incompetence was revealed, the Thai government went into damage-limitation mode.  They accepted there had been a ‘misunderstanding’, but no apology, which will please Bernie.  Scraping the bottom of the judicial barrel, the expats will be charged with using playing cards manufactured overseas.  And no, I’m not making this up, even as the tears coarse down my cheeks in uncontrollable mirth. It is apparently the law in Thailand that all official playing cards are printed by the Department of Customs & Excise and carry a government stamp.

I suppose it could be argued that a friendly game of Bridge does not require the use of ‘official’ playing cards, but valid defences in this formerly idyllic country now blighted by corruption and martial law, depend on the whim of the court, or more likely, the whim of the military government.

CASTE NOT THE FIRST STONE

I try my best to be even handed in my approach to ethnic minorities living in this country. After all, I belong to an ethnic minority myself, as I am a WASP, white Anglo-Saxon and Proud of it, and rapidly becoming an endangered species in my own right.

But when I read of the beating, rape and murder of twenty year old Banaz Mahmod, an Iraqi Kurd living not in the foothills of Kurdistan, but in South London, I am filled with total revulsion. She was killed on the orders of her parents, and her crime? She fell in love with a young Kurd who was deemed unsuitable, and in so doing, she brought “dishonour” on her family. It simply beggars belief! One of her killers complained that Banaz had taken two hours to die, and he had kicked and stamped on her neck for half an hour.

I am also reminded of the torture and murder of a young Indian whose only ‘crime’ was to fall in love with a girl from a different caste. It’s stone age stuff, literally, as there are still primitive communities that execute adulterers by stoning them to death.

But what depresses me more than I can say is the total incompetence of the police in preventing a preventable death. The object of my utter depression is WPC Cornes, a police officer apparently “trained” in violence against women, who ignored so many warning signs she must be related to the three monkeys. One instance will suffice. On New Year’s Eve 2005, Banaz’s father had forced her to drink brandy, and once intoxicated, had planned to kill her. But she managed to escape, broke two windows of a neighbour’s house to summon help, but this is South London, and helping a neighbour in distress isn’t on the agenda, so she climbed over a fence and ran, bleeding and barefoot, to a nearby café. The police were called, and enter, stage right, WPC Cornes. Having ‘assessed’ the situation, she described Banaz as a “lying, manipulative, attention seeking drunk!!!” Cornes’s main concern, it turns out, were the neighbour’s broken windows, and she wanted Banaz prosecuted for criminal damage! Words fail me!

WPC Cornes’s conduct was investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which carries with it all the gravitas of a wet blanket. They recommended that Cornes face a disciplinary inquiry, with a hearing set down for the 17th November. However, on the 14th November, she was told that proceedings against her were being dropped because of “insufficient evidence!!!!” Instead, Cornes is to receive “words of advice” and promoted to acting sergeant.

I must stop writing, as I’m becoming apoplectic. The police must earn our respect, they’re not entitled to it as of right, and this sickening narrative is a very sad reflection on every aspect of their “training”, commitment, and willingness to admit their mistakes and learn from them, as it is with the competence of the IPCC.

The final nail in the coffin, for me, is the fact that WPC Cornes was actually called to give evidence for the defence in the trial of Banaz’s father and brother, an ‘own goal’ if ever there was. The prosecution must have had a field day! Happily for the memory of Banaz, and in spite of Cornes, they were both convicted, received life sentences, and will have cost the taxpayer £1,380,000 by the time they’re released.