In the small hours of Boxing Day
last year, Kiaran Stapleton walked up to a total stranger in a Salford Street, pointed a gun to his head, and pulled the trigger. Then he checked into an hotel and watched the police from a distance. Finally, he went to a tattoo parlour where he had a tear tattooed on his face, which can symbolise killing someone and getting away with it.
When Stapleton was questioned about this, initially, he said he had killed his hamster. Yesterday, Thursday, he was convicted at Manchester Crown Court
not of killing a hamster but of murdering a student, a man who had his whole life in front of him. The only reason he was able to give for this in court, was that Anuj Bidve
had the biggest head.
If this sort of behaviour is a mystery, it is nearly as big a mystery why his trial dragged on for weeks when it should have been over in half a day, two days at the very outside with summing up and verdict. Alternatively, the Crown could have accepted a plea of diminished responsibility (a legal fiction); any judge worthy of his position on the bench would have handed down a life sentence with a lengthy tariff, because clearly a man who does something like this cannot be let back on the streets for a very long time if ever. He will be sentenced today.
Stapleton's first encounter with the law was at the age of 12. Nine years later, he would be charged with and then convicted of the ultimate crime. While on remand awaiting trial he committed a vicious unprovoked attack on another prisoner, so it is quite likely that he will spend most of the next few years at least in isolation.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, it is not a lowlife who is facing a murder trial but a former high flyer. Gu Kailai is the wife of Bo Xilai, a former Minister of Commerce and member of the Politburo. He fell from grace earlier this year, apparently for abusing his powers, something the Chinese are very hot on, unlike most Western governments.
In November last year, a British businessman, Neil Heywood
, was murdered in his Chongqing hotel room. This appears to be a complex case, an employee, Zhang Xiaojun, has also been charged. Gu Kailai is a wealthy woman, but if she is convicted, she can expect even less to look forward to than Kiaran Stapleton.