Home > Uncategorized > A short post about killing

A short post about killing

It’s 1996 and I’m standing in a bar near Euston railway station. I queue to get drinks and have a brief chat with the fella standing next to me. A nice bloke, nothing out of the ordinary – friendly and warm with a ready smile. But I found him an amazing example of humanity.

His name was Billy Power and in 1975, along with five other men, he was wrongly imprisoned for a terrorist attack committed in Birmingham.

We were at an evening to raise awareness for the group of men originally known as the ‘Bridgewater Four’. That had become three when one of their number, Paddy Molloy, died in prison. The other three men had, like Billy Power, been wrongly convicted, in their case of the murder of a paperboy called Carl Bridgewater in 1978. I had belatedly joined the campaign to free them which had been steadfastly led by Ann Whelan, the mother of one of the men, with the assistance of the great investigative journalist, Paul Foot. As well as Billy Power, other members of the Six were in attendance, and the likes of John McCarthy and a number of actors, some of whom had been drawn in when they appeared in a TV dramatisation of Foot’s book, ‘Murder at the Farm’. The convictions of the Four were quashed in February 1997, too late for Paddy Molloy.

Today the Daily Mail issued a call to arms for those who want the death penalty reinstated, I won’t link to it, their site doesn’t deserve the hits. This has been inspired by the creation of an online petition database aimed directly at government which went live today, one of the first petitions being a call for the return of the death penalty. The Mail has, of course, seized upon this opportunity to further its reactionary agenda and demanded that ‘the people speak’.

There are many coherent and correct arguments against the death penalty – ideological, sociological, its effectiveness, its morality etc. – and I agree with them. But here and now, my personal argument against it is the memory of a short conversation with a man who had lost 16 years of his life, who had been beaten and vilified, but who, to my eyes, held no bitterness. Billy Power unknowingly taught me a lesson that evening, just by being this normal, affable bloke who had somehow come through a hell not of his own making. If the death penalty had been in place he probably wouldn’t have been there. I probably wouldn’t have been there as the Bridgewater Four may have been executed nearly 20 years previously, and there would be no campaign to free them.

An opposing petition has been set up on the e-petition site and I ask that you sign it and share it.

Click here to sign the petition against the reinstatement of the death penalty.

Thank you.

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  1. Foxy
    August 4, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    I totally agree. I worked, many years ago, in the law firm of Gareth Peirce (In The Name of the Father, Emma Thompson portrayed her) and worked on the Guildford Four case. Nuff said.

    • August 4, 2011 at 10:29 pm

      Of course, I remember you saying. And, damn right.

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