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UK: Murder of Paul Cooper

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  • UK: Murder of Paul Cooper

    Hi all,

    I spied this story from a tabloid headline as I walked past a newstand, the BBC aren't providing much comment, so I thought I'd post up this article, which came from a disability newsgroup, but I think is pulled from the independent.

    What really sticks in my craw is the righteousness of the tabloids in condeming "the mob mentality" when this is just the sort of "Hate half-hour" stuff they've been pedaling for years.

    This new "incitement to violence law", does it apply to tabloids?

    Originally posted by Ian Herbert
    Paul Cooper never found himself short of friends in the area of north
    Manchester where he grew up. He was known for his devotion to his
    dog, Blue, an interest in cookery and an optimistic outlook, despite
    a motorcycle crash that meant he needed a walking stick to get about.

    But a positive contribution to community life counts for little when
    a neighbourhood starts feeding on fears of crime and takes the law
    into its own hands.

    A murder investigation was under way yesterday after a gang of men
    near Mr Cooper's home at Heywood wrongly convinced themselves he was
    a paedophile and beat him to death at his flat.

    Detectives were forced to stress Mr Cooper's innocence after being
    hampered in their investigation by locals who are unwilling to give
    evidence because they believe he was a sex offender.

    Mr Cooper's disability hampered his attempts to defend himself
    against the attack, by several young men, which took place at about
    11.45pm on Friday, at his flat in Walton Close, a concrete-clad block
    of flats near Heywood town centre.

    He was subjected to a "brutal and prolonged" attack, detectives say,
    and was found with serious head injuries in his bathroom. He was
    pronounced dead on arrival at Fairfield General Hospital.

    Despite the police's insistence that Mr Cooper, 40, was an entirely
    innocent victim of "mistaken identity", the climate of bigotry and
    vitriol that contributed to his death was still palpable in Heywood
    yesterday. "Some people deserve to be killed," said a drinker at the
    Starkey Arms pub before issuing an obscenity about Mr Cooper and his
    dog.

    Greater Manchester Police have come across the same sentiment as they
    have set about solving the crime. "We are trying to dispel the myth
    that has developed in the area that Paul was involved in paedophile
    activities," said Detective Chief Inspector Jeff Mahon of Greater
    Manchester Police. "We have checked our records and there is no trace
    of anything of that nature. However, the myth appears to have led to
    tragic consequences. Paul was a nice lad who did not deserve to die."

    Mr Cooper's death appears to reflect the nationwide climate of
    suspicion and fear being fuelled by growing public concern over crime
    and punishment.

    Rising hostility toward minority groups, clamour for tough sentences
    against offenders and a sinister desire for retribution are being
    driven by an increasingly prevalent right-wing agenda.

    When the murder of Sarah Payne led the News of the World, four years
    ago, to publish the names and photographs of 50 people it claimed had
    committed child sex offences - tapping into anxiety about paedophiles
    in our midst - protesters circulated a list of 20 alleged sex
    offenders on the Paulsgrove estate in Portsmouth and proceeded to
    target them.

    In that climate of suspicion, a female registrar was hounded from her
    home in south Wales because neighbours confused "paediatrician"
    with "paedophile". A former sea captain from Grimsby, Humberside, who
    had been cleared of paedophile offences, was murdered after his
    details were published in the local newspaper.

    Mr Cooper's life appears to have been carefree before the vigilantes
    began targeting him.

    Old schoolfriends from St Joseph's secondary, around the corner from
    his flat, attest to the fact that he was popular. Some say he drank
    too much in adulthood but he spent most mornings doing chores for his
    mother and had many friends at the Starkey Arms and Navigation pubs
    in Heywood, where he drank and was known by many.

    His problems started when his brother was convicted of sexual
    offences. It is unclear whether the brother is still serving a
    sentence but local people suggest that Paul Cooper became the target
    of vigilantes some time ago and was on the receiving end of at least
    one serious attack.

    A police spokeswoman confirmed last night that Mr Cooper's brother
    has been convicted of sexual offences in the past.

    As community rumour and counter-rumour became detached from reality,
    many became convinced that Mr Cooper - not his brother - was the
    offender. "I used to live in the flat above him and I knew about his
    brother," said Paul, an associate. "But others didn't. There might
    have been confusion about them.

    "Paul was a good lad. He was liked and didn't deserve this."

    "It wasn't the only attack of its kind," said a man who would only be
    known as Stephen, 42, a former schoolfriend of Mr Cooper's. "There's
    a halfway house for prisoners at the top of this road and, when word
    got out that a paedophile was there, a mob hit that place too."

    Mr Cooper's mother, Patricia, who suffers from a heart condition,
    said she could see "no reason" for the attack. "He was an easygoing,
    friendly man whose disability would have made it virtually impossible
    for him to defend himself," Mrs Cooper said.

    By Ian Herbert, North of England Correspondent 23 March 2005
    \"It got worse. He needed something to cure himself. What? he asked. M-A 19 he answered.\"

  • #2
    That's appalling.

    Do you remember when the News of the World published the mugshots and approximate addresses of several hundred sex offenders throughout the UK?

    Several Registered Paediatricians were among those targetted by organised mobs who couldn't tell the difference between 'someone who works occupationally with children' and a 'kiddie fiddler'. Just goes to show the intelligence level of some people.

    Interestingly the courts hold quite a lot of power over newspapers - something I remember from my Journalism training. If you defame someone publicly, the editor of the paper and the writer of the article can get banged up. Probably with the same sex offenders they were trying to expose. What poetic justice that would be...
    Batman: It's a low neighborhood, full of rumpots. They're used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions.

    Robin: Gosh, drink is sure a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!

    Comment


    • #3
      I think that libel and defamation laws only cover rich people like Elton John - who can afford to sue.

      It's the medieval witchhunt mentality. You probably won't be surprised to learn that the children of the Paulsgrove ringleaders have children on the 'at risk' register. There's something weird and psychological going on there....
      \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

      Comment


      • #4
        You probably won't be surprised to learn that the children of the Paulsgrove ringleaders have children on the 'at risk' register. There's something weird and psychological going on there....
        No doubt - somewhat ironic perhaps that these 'parents' are prepared to beat the crap out of a complete stranger on the assumption that he's a child abuser, but yet they have no idea how to bring up their own children in a healthy manner.
        Batman: It's a low neighborhood, full of rumpots. They're used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions.

        Robin: Gosh, drink is sure a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!

        Comment


        • #5
          Here's a story about the paediatrician attack:

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/child/stor...1031%2C00.html
          Batman: It's a low neighborhood, full of rumpots. They're used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions.

          Robin: Gosh, drink is sure a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!

          Comment


          • #6
            I believe that the threat of charges of incitement to violence were raised against News Of The World (or that if attacks took place against anyone they had listed, they would be prosecuted). They either issued some sort of public apology, or some message to people not to take the law into their own hands.

            Mind you, Newport's been like that for many years - I remember when they were going to open a bail hostel near a friend of mine, and all the locals blocked the road (so the fire engines couldn't get through) and torched the building.

            Comment

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