March 28, 2011

Double Jeopardy Outrage Continued

Continuing on from my post last week about the passage of the Double Jeopardy (Scotland) Bill, I came across this news story over the weekend:
An inquest has returned verdicts of suicide for Derrick Bird and unlawful killing for each of the 12 people he shot dead in West Cumbria last year. A jury of six women and five men sitting in Workington, Cumbria, returned the verdicts after listening to four weeks of harrowing evidence.
Unless I am missing something, this "inquest" seems to be completely pointless and a waste of time and money. As far as I can tell, there is a separate inquiry which is also wrapping up soon on how the police response could have been better. Why did a second one need to be held with a jury?
  1. Why did this take 4 weeks and required 70 some people testifying? There was no question he did it. If this was required by some legal technicality, couldn't they wrap it up in an afternoon? Why did so many people need to relive the events for no obvious purpose?
  2. Suicide is a actual crime you can be found guilty of? Is there a punishment for it? Who defends you? How much does the British government spend each year trying people for suicide?
  3. Unlawful killing? As opposed to lawful killing? (I actually read this is the English term for homicide and manslaughter which makes more sense, but I still wonder what the point of jury's verdict is since Bird is dead.)
  4. Going back to my double jeopardy post, if this had happened in Scotland, could you now be retried for suicide if you were acquitted the first time around? Could a dead person be retried for unlawful killing?

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