Guest blog by David Holding, Author of books on Killer Doctors…
Reliance on the existence of medical privilege is attributed to Dr John Bodkin Adams who when arrested in 1956 on suspicion of murder arising from his medical practice, is said to have protested: “She wanted to die, that cannot be murder. It is impossible to accuse a doctor”. Unfortunately for him, his opinion was erroneous and he was prosecuted, albeit unsuccessfully. However, the legal importance of the case is that it endorsed the validity of the ethical doctrine of ‘Double Effect’ in English law. Dr Adams prescribed large and rapidly increasing doses of opiates to relieve disturbed sleep in a number of elderly care-home residents, many of whom had made bequests to the doctor in their will.
What was not explored at the time of the trial or since, is whether or not a GP can act with ‘Double Intent’ as distinct from ‘Double Effect’? In the general context of the administration of opiates to patients with a terminal illness, it is possible that in some instances, the GP does intend to hasten death as well as relieve symptoms.
This crucial importance of ‘intention’ was re-emphasised in the 1992 trial of R v Cox (12 BMLR 38). Consultant rheumatologist Dr Nigel Cox had managed the severe destructive arthritis of Mrs Lilian Boyes for 17 years and had an excellent relationship with both her and her family. She was in severe and constant pain which resisted even the opiates, and surrounded by her family, she begged and pleaded for assistance to die. Without discussing his decision with the nursing staff, Dr Cox administered intravenous potassium chloride to Mrs Boyes who subsequently died.
Dr Cox was charged with the attempted murder of Mrs Boyes on 16 August 1991 and stood trial in September 1992. The prosecution led evidence that, injected in that manner, and in the quantity, the drug had no therapeutic property, and that the accused intended in so administering it, to end the life of his patient. The defence argued that the primary purpose of the accused was to relieve the pain of the dying patient, and therefore, that there was no intention to kill the patient.
Mrs Boyes’s body was cremated and, therefore, it was no longer possible to prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that the sick woman had died as a result of the Doctor’s actions. As a result, the lesser charge of ‘attempted murder’ was brought. This introduced the legal advantage of a sentence amenable to judicial discretion. Dr Cox was convicted but given only a one year suspended sentence. Following a disciplinary hearing by the General Medical Council, (GMC) he was allowed to continue in practice subject to some retraining.
The distinction between the cases of Dr Bodkin Adams and Dr Cox, rested on ‘intention’. Both were motivated to act by the benevolent wish to relieve symptoms, but Dr Cox intended to kill, if only to secure pain relief. Dr Bodkin Adams intended only to relieve distress. Criminal offences are defined in terms of ‘act’ and ‘intent’. Motive can be an exonerating factor, as it was for Dr Cox, but only influences the sentence handed down.
A blog by David Holding, author of ‘The Pendle Witch Trials of 1612’.
An interesting article appeared in the Lancashire press in December 2011 under the headline:
“WITCH’S COTTAGE UNEARTHED NEAR PENDLE HILL, LANCASHIRE”
Engineers have said they were stunned to unearth a 17th century cottage, complete with a cat skeleton, during a construction project in Lancashire. The cottage was discovered near Lower Black Moss reservoir in the village of Barley, in the shadow of Pendle Hill. Archaeologists brought in by United Utilities to survey the area, found the building under a grass mound. Historians are now speculating that the well-preserved cottage could have belonged to one of the Pendle Witches. The building contained a sealed room with the bones of the cat bricked into the wall. It is believed that the cat was buried alive to protect the cottage’s inhabitants from evil spirits
Carl Sanders, United Utilities’ project manager said ”It’s not often you come across a fairy-tale cottage, complete with witch’s cat. The building is in remarkable condition. You can walk through it and get a real sense that you are seeing into the past. Pendle Hill has a real aura about it, and it’s hard not to be affected by the place”.
United Utilities routinely bring in experts before turning the topsoil in areas believed to have archaeological significance. A spokesman for NP Archaeology said, “It’s like discovering your own little Pompeii. As soon as we started digging, we found the tops of doors, and we knew we were on to something special”.
Blog by David Holding, author of “Murder in the Heather” The Winter Hill Murder of 1838″.
Travelling up the Winter Hill road towards the TV station, you pass over a ‘cattle grid’ in the road. Then the road bends to the left, with a metal crash barrier on the right side of the road.
This is the area of Winter Hill known locally as “Hole Bottom”. From the early 19th century, this was the location of a thriving small working community.
Just below the barrier stood a Brick and Tile Works, surrounded by several coal pits. Further up the road and on the left side stood a row of terraced cottages known as “Five Houses”. One of these doubled as an Ale House. The works, cottages, and coal-pits were all owned by a William Garbutt, who features prominently in my Winter Hill Murder book.
These cottages appear on old maps of the area up to 1894 when the first Survey maps were produced. This would suggest that by 1894 the cottages and tile works had been demolished.
An interesting article has come to light on searching the Bolton Chronicle dated 19th February, 1849. This carries the following advert:
“TO BE LET – an extensive and well-established Fire Brick and Tile Works situated at Five Houses on Horwich Moor, the present owner being desirous of retiring from the business. The works are complete with Steam Engine, Grinding and Crushing apparatus, stoves, dry-houses, ovens, moulds and every convenience for carry out the business. The clay and coal are of superior quality and are got on the premises. Any person taking the works can be accommodated with five or six acres of land, and a few cottages adjoining. For particulars, apply to Mr William Garbutt at the premises, or on Friday, at the King’s Arms and Four Horse Shoes, Bolton”.
What this information does show is that Winter Hill was a thriving centre of local industry for most of the 19th century, and part of the common ‘domestic system’ of industry of that period.
Regarding ‘Murder in the Heather’:
This book is a unique account of a brutal murder which occurred on the summit of Winter Hill in Lancashire in 1838. The account draws on both contemporary media reports and court transcripts, and examines the events leading up to the killing of a 21-year old packman. It details the proceedings of the trial of the only suspect in the case. The work concludes with a re-assessment of the case in the light of modern forensic investigation. The reader is invited to reach their own ‘verdict’ based on the evidence provided.
A search of the 1881 Census for the area reveals that two families were occupying the Five Houses at that time, in addition to Mr Garbutt. One family, the Thompsons, consisted of husband and wife, together with 6 children, aged from 19 to 6. The father and the two eldest sons were employed at the Tile Works, and described as Terra Cotta Workers. Another family, the Hampsons, also occupied the cottages, the father and son both employed at the works. It can only be assumed that a new tenant had taken possession of the Brick and Tile works possibly around 1850 and carried on the business until the early 1890s. After that time, it is likely that both the works and cottages were demolished.
Thirty years after Penny Taylor’s death, Judith Taylor has published a book of her life, and it’s a beautiful tribute to a wonderful young woman. Crammed full of art, letters, stories, poems, photographs and memories.
The book is available here. Lesley at Scott Martin Productions was also fortunate to chat to Judith and John Taylor, and has put together a little film of that interview.
David Holding, my colleague at Scott Martin Productions, is now blogging on subjects related to his non-fiction publications – see them here.
The role a Forensic Anthropologist plays in a death investigation is crucial to the field of forensic science as a whole. Anthropologists understand the forms and variations of various forms of skeletal properties, and apply their knowledge to their work in order to obtain reasonable conclusions. The main focus of their work is to process crime scenes, examine and process remains, develop a biological profile, compile appropriate documentation and testify in court. The anthropologist must be able to differentiate between human and nonhuman remains. The Forensic Anthropologist offers unknown deceased individuals an identity by developing a biological profile to portray their physical characteristics. There are various contributing factors that help to establish an individual’s age, sex and stature. To determine the age of the remains, the anthropologist must apply their knowledge of skeletal and dental development to their conclusions. Ossification centres in bones help to determine age in individuals. Ascertaining age also depends on the dental development of the subject. Odontological identification of the individual based on dental records assist in establishing the age range of the individual. The determination of biological sex of a subject can be determined by examining the difference between male and female pelvises, primarily due to the specific differences in size and shape..
Establishing the living stature of a subject, the most reliable results are obtained from many formulae that can be used. These are based on the bone lengths of the lower limbs. The Forensic Anthropologist contributes to the outcome of a death investigation by providing law enforcement agencies with answers and conclusions, through their knowledge of the human skeleton. The evidence that a Forensic Anthropologist presents to a coroner or medical examiner is crucial in understanding the cause of death in an investigation based on an examination of the skeletal remains.
Suddenly, we find it. The prom dress shop. Right up till that moment, we’re still not sure we’re on the right road, and I for one am completely convinced that we must be wrong. No way would a posh frock shop be situated in such a downbeat place. We’re in the most downtrodden of areas, just outside the bus station. On this pedestrianised stretch, only one shop in every six is still trading. Most are boarded up, desolate and dirty, and despite the day being bright and clear, I’m uncomfortable here. The brightness is that of a grating strip light and the air metallic. People are shabby with eyes downcast. I still can’t believe my daughter, who had always insisted that she would never attend prom, is dragging me here to a posh frock shop. I also can’t believe how excited she is. She’s been non-stop talking and practically bouncing as she walked.
She bounces even more as we open the door. We’re here because her friend Emma has a Saturday job at the dress shop. Caitlin and Emma aren’t traditional friends, and it is becoming more and more common that friends haven’t met in person. In this case, Caitlin and Emma have met. Ish. It was when we went to see Harry Styles at Manchester Arena. We had been drawing pictures in the air with our phone torches and noticed that another group of three about quarter of a mile across the arena, were copying our actions. Then we copied theirs. We did so for hours, and went home feeling as if we’d communicated in an age-old signalling ritual. That evening, one of the girls posted in Harry Styles fan group that they’d been copying flashing phones across the arena. They told the group where they’d been sitting and where we had been. Caitlin replied. ‘That was us!’. And voila, the online friendship of Emma and Caitlin was born. The two girls run to each other and hug and talk non-stop. They know each other so well, but have never been in such close proximity. The shop is all bridal dresses on the lower floor, and the furniture metallic and sumptious. Black and silver. White and ivory. Velvet and steel. But Caitlin notices nothing, just shrieks excitedly with her friend. Emma soon directs us upstairs and we walk up a twisting staircase to the top floor where we were confronted with alien swathes of satin, lurex, taffeta and lycra. Most of the gowns are royal blue, baby blue, peach, beige, red and navy. Three jump out as the freaks in the room: peppermint green, lemon and buttercup yellow. I’m immediately drawn to them as their colours are different though the styles are the same. I wonder where a person would go if they wanted a gown in deep purple or bright orange. Or if they wanted a non-traditional style. Long sleeves. Shorter skirt. High neckline? While non-stop chattering, Caitlin chooses her first 3 frocks and I am led to a set of bright modern chairs (lime, pink, blue and scarlet) to wait. As I sit, I glance at laminated photos of the various dress styles and effects. They leave me cold, though it’s nice here. I’m happy enough to look at the royal blue carpet with occasional spilled sequin, and to wonder what’s happening behind the matching royal blue curtains with silver sequinned stripe. The strip lights buzz reassuringly, so I write and wait. Caitlin and Emma, secreted in the large dressing room, are giggling as if they’ve spent their whole life as best friends. Over this, I occasionally hear the near- whispered conversation of women in the next dressing room. That young woman is apparently a size 4. Size 4! I don’t think my girl was a size 4 even at primary school. Its incongruous. The staff here dress in navy jeans, navy uniform t-shirts printed with the shop’s logo, and flat white shoes, yet they coax young women into tiny dresses and enormous heels in shades of peach and grey and shiny nude. Still, I sit and listen as the curtain rustles and ripples and Emma fits Caitlin into the first of five dresses. There are mild noises of cars outside and occasional shouting of drugged up or drunk men, and I feel as if I’m in another, far more privileged world than that of the outside. The kids now demand so much more elegance than I did at the same age. Tight bodices and floaty skirts. Off the shoulder strips of satin. Fairytale frocks. I sit and make notes and observations of this alien place with its fleur de lys wallpaper and the clean glowing chrome curtain and clothes rack rails. I turn my head. Next to me on the painted white shelf, is a long bent pin, but it isn’t the pin that catches my eye. It’s a box adorned with pink and white stripes and displaying the product name Nudi Boobies – “Reusable Backless and Strapless Silicone Bra”. It takes me back to the days of working at Transformation in Prestwich when I assisted transvestites with their silicone breasts. There it smelled of old buildings and mildew. But this place doesn’t smell of mildew. It smells of nothing but the lightest of floral perfume. Maroon 5 come on the shops speakers. Memories. I love this song and sing along which makes the girls giggle a little more. Caitlin has decided to try dresses only in grey tones. She plans to rainbow colour her hair so wants a simple dress She’s ready to show me the first, and even I feel the sense of anticipation and thrill as the curtains are swept back. The gown has an off the shoulder, tight fitting bodice and floor length A line skirt. Grey. Not metallic, but silvery blue dove grey with a corset back. It looks lovely on her, its satin drapes and sparkling lace bodice, with lace drifting from below the bodice, weeping organically onto the skirt. I can’t fault the dress and how it fits her. Caitlin’s second choice is far simpler but looks equally lovely. It is black and silver lurex with a corset back. Strange how she should choose such tones as she’s such a colourful character. Around me are sumptuous deep cherry red gowns of satin and taffeta, covered in beads reflecting light. My daughter’s usual butch style, her denim coat with blue and white polka dots. 1980s shape. Tan leather, her broken iphone lies on top. Screen cracked in a spider web. Her pink and green charging cord snakes around it. I’m struggling to see her as a fairy tale princess, yet she is clearly not uncomfortable. I’m also no princess, and neither do I feel uncomfortable though I’m scruffy here in my oversized jumper, flat laces ups and old jeans. Now the shop’s stereo is playing disco classics from the 1980s. Wailing ‘Don’t leave me this way’ puts me in a good mood. Caitlin tries another two pale grey dresses. Neither fits properly around her lower half. We discard them immediately. Her final dress is of a dark teal colour: very slinky with a mermaidy look which was not at all flattering. With very little discussion, we choose the first dress she’d tried. As she dresses again in her own clothes I hear the girls talk of the corona virus and how there are now quarantined Chinese people being cared for in the Wirral. Strangely, the location of the quarantined Chinese people is round the corner from another of Caitlin’s friends. We leave after paying the deposit and giving more hugs. Unsurprisingly, my daughter is high as a kite for the remainder of the weekend!
Some weeks ago, just as my personal crisis was reducing to a manageable normality, my friend, Tabitha, informed me that she needed my help in getting rid of her caravan. The storage site was having some issues, and had told her that the caravan needed moving by the end of the month. I told her that I couldn’t really help as I didn’t have a towbar, but our conversation led to my already overactive mind cogs leaping into action.
I thought Tabitha had sold the caravan before she set off on her holiday to Greece, and forgot to ask her about it for a couple of weeks, but when I finally did ask, she admitted that the sale had fallen through. This led me to think even more, and the thinking pattern went like this…
My first novel, Past Present Tense (published under the name of Lesley Atherton, and now republished as Finding Dad by Meredith Schumann) was primarily about hoarding, but a subplot was about alternative life, and time spent in a caravan. My second novel, The Waggon, is basically set almost entirely within the setting of a traditional gypsy waggon.
So, my thinking was that 1) I could acquire Tabitha’s caravan and pay someone to transport it to my driveway. 2) I could use a lot of my creativity (at that time, deeply frustrated) in updating the inside of the caravan by doing a lot of sewing and painting (two of my favourite things). 3) I could get someone (possibly my daughter) to spray paint the outside of the caravan in the style of a gypsy caravan. 4) I could set up the inside and an awning to be a kind of shop for the crafts that we make, and we could travel to events and festivals, selling stuff and running workshops etc. 5) I could get someone to signpaint text on the rear and side of the caravan, in order to promote the two novels which mention caravans.
I believed I might get the therapy I needed from all the making and painting, and would also end up with a useable promotional tool, a potential working space (writing room or craftervan), a potential holiday home for me, and a potential holiday home for others (a decent money earner, according to my friends) should l need any of these things in the future.
So, I acquired the caravan. It had a flat tyre, but I was able to get hold of a local guy on Facebook who was willing to transport it half a mile to my driveway, for a small consideration. It arrived, and then the work began. Being of a creative attitude, rather than possessing an engineering state of mind, I began with the bits that I could see, rather than the hidden bits. My thinking was that I would enjoy the caravan space far more if it looked and felt good.
First of all, I pillaged my secret DIY space (behind the fridge and freezer) and scooted around for some spare paint in interesting colours. My first task was to remove most of the curtain fittings (not the pelmets) then to get painting. So, in vinyl silk throughout (as recommended by many caravan adaptation websites) I began painting the ceiling a deep, dusky pink, the walls of the living area a paler grey-pink, and the walls of the kitchen area a funky blue. Once this was done, I began on the soft furnishings.
I bought thousands of metres of a subtle ethnic stripe fabric in shades of red, gold and green, and covered each of the seats. The rear of the backrest cushion was also trimmed with an ethnic tapestry design. Then, the four weirdly shaped armrests were upholstered with a funky green wool fabric, with fancy trim. I’ve had the fabric for many years, and had never found a use for it! After that, I made seven cushions, some with printed panels of a gypsy fortune teller, or gypsy dancers. I also mended three rag dolls (the two largest made by a friend of my mum’s and the smallest a Holly Hobbie doll I found in a charity shop’s 10p bin).
After that, it was curtain time. I used the same fabric as the seat covers, but trimmed it with lots of ribbons, braid and black cotton lace that I’d acquired over the years. I then made the pelmet covers from the most expensive of all the fabrics I’d purchased (£12.99 a metre!), and created the net curtains for the kitchen window, and long drapes separating the bed area from the kitchen area. These aren’t ordinary nets – they are embroidered with red and yellow flowers in a Jacobean style. I’ve still to make the curtain tie backs. I purchased braid online for them as I couldn’t find anything nice locally, but only then did I realise it would take 2 months to arrive as it was coming from Hong Kong.
The kitchen, being a brighter area than the more subtle sleeping/living area, was given a set of rainbow stripe curtains. Lovely. And, while I’m in the kitchen, I managed to get hold of a lot of bargeware and brightly coloured items. They fit in beautifully, including pans and a kettle, storage pots and tins. Then, using rugs pinched from my house – red fur and a circular rag rug – I laid the floor and was set up. I began to move things in – cutlery, plastic pots, toiletries in tiny bottles, some of my home made items for the craft shop, a television and DVD player, some brightly coloured plastic plants, lanterns and candles, books, and a few rapidly dwindling snack items. I even moved in my wooden parrot and my painted African four string oilcan guitar, and they look amazing!
I was then ready for the next step, and painted the cupboards a fantastic combination of forest green and ruby red. I’m still in the process of doing this, and absolutely love how homely it looks. A cross between a caravan, a narrowboat and a gypsy caravan. Now, I want to buy a bigger and more powerful car so I can get the caravan out on the road, but before I do anything like that, I have to get the outside of the caravan sorted.
My idea of painting the caravan’s exterior in the style of a gypsy caravan has been taken on board by my daughter who says she’ll do all the painting and design work in exchange for a new mobile phone. OK, I said, so that’s in the design stages at the moment, which is fantasic.
So, that’s the story of my caravan. I’m writing in it at the moment, and it is a lovely work space with muted lighting, and is peaceful most of the time. My recommendation, for anyone who is creative and is going through a dark time – find yourself a project. A big, but deadline-free project seems ideal to me. Give yourself no pressure, but do give yourself as much ambition and enjoyment as you can manage at any time. The caravan has been the saving of me, and for that I am very thankful!