We in Britain are more used than most to unspeakable crimes. On Boxing Day, a man walked up to a student in a Salford Street and shot him in the head
. A mentally disturbed young woman
is currently on trial for stabbing to death a schoolgirl in a Doncaster park. The case of Emma Winnall
, a woman of over 90 who was viciously assaulted while at home in her own bed was unspeakable, but what kind of crime is unthinkable?
Earlier this week, a senior prison officer was gaoled for the sexual abuse of a young girl, which began with her rape at the age of four months and continued until she was five years old.
Because of the reporting restrictions that surround such offences in the UK, very little has been or will be known about the details of this case. This report by the BBC
is probably as much as most of us will ever learn about the crimes of John Maber. Unsurprisingly, he was given a life sentence at St Albans Crown Court.
Another person who is beginning a life sentence this week is Michelle Smith who killed a young baby, her own. In Britain, there is something called the Infanticide Act
. This is a progressive indeed compassionate piece of legislation which acknowledges the fact that women are strange creatures, and that sometimes a young mother will do something unspeakable, usually smother her baby while suffering from some form of mental aberration. The infanticide law is something that is applied on a case by case basis, fortunately extremely rarely. A woman like Lianne Smith can expect no more mercy from a British court that from a Spanish one
. A jury at Swansea Crown Court decided that Michelle Smith
was no better than her namesake, and she was given the mandatory life sentence with a tariff of 12 years.