“I’m not a monster anymore…”

… says convicted serial killer Paul Steven Haigh, representing himself in his appeal to have a minimum prison term applied to his sentence, sorry his life sentence, make that his six life sentences so he can have a chance of parole.

Over a period of nearly two hours on Monday, Haigh read a series of essays to the court about topics such as remorse, callousness and sympathy.

He described his six murders as “horrendous”, “abominable” and “repulsive”.

“What I am today [is] a far cry from the monster of yesteryear,” he told the court on Monday.

Haigh said he was not incorrigible and should not be denied his freedom.

I’m not one for writing off and denying even the hope of eventual freedom to even the worst criminals. I’m not saying let ‘em out – not denying awful criminals the hope of eventual release is not the same as actually releasing them. They should still have to earn their release and satisfy everyone that they’re not a danger. That many have apparently pulled wool over the eyes of those who make the decisions doesn’t say the principle’s wrong, just that it’s not always being done all that well.

So it’s not for me to say whether Haigh is or isn’t incorrigible and should have a chance of (as opposed to a guarantee of) freedom one day, but is it for him either? I realise this is a bit Catch 22 but I’ve always felt that someone who really is completely overcome with remorse for their crimes would accept that their punishment by incarceration is appropriate. On the plus side he hasn’t killed anyone since he’s been inside… apart from just that one guy:

Haigh, who has spent more than 30 years in prison, was also convicted of killing sex offender Donald George Hatherley, whom he helped hang in a jail cell at Pentridge Prison in 1991.

He told the court on Monday he was assisting Hatherley to commit suicide.

And of course that’s also illegal anyway. Still, he hasn’t killed anyone for more than 20 years, which is nice. So should he have a minimum term and therefore a chance of parole? Like I said, I don’t have the answer but I think dim prospects of release are fairer than all hope removed. However, I think he probably should spend some more time in the prison library. In the biology section.

He told a story about a butterfly becoming a caterpillar and said: “Though I don’t claim to be a perfect butterfly yet, I am not a caterpillar either.”

A butterfly becoming a caterpillar would be an example of regression, surely? Though to be fair there are enough examples of journos fucking up the basics of the animal kingdom that he mightn’t be guilty of that at all.

Posted on December 3, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. From the article quote it sounds more like the reporter screwed it up, but, given his history, I’d say that whether caterpillar or butterfly this fellow belongs where he is. Quite aside from questions of incorrigibility and rehabilitation, there are reasonable questions of appropriate punishment for crimes and of the dilution of deterrent effect when someone soundly convicted of a half dozen murders can be let out of six life sentences.

    – MJM

    • Yes, I think he probably belongs inside too, though I feel the deterrent effect of prison is often overstated as I suspect most crims just don’t expect to get caught and of course those who commit crimes of passion don’t give it any thought at all. What it does dilute is the impression the law abiding section of society has that justice is being done. But I’d argue that it’s also unjust, not to mention risking undesirable prison discipline side effects, to tell a man that he simply has no hope of ever being released. Exceedingly slim hope, fine, but no hope? I wonder if Haigh would still have helped in the 1991 prison killing if he’d originally had a distant but non-zero chance of parole.

  2. I went on Danny Alexander MP
    Chief Secretary to the Treasurys website

    http://www.dannyalexander.org.uk/

    Pressed the butoon on left
    “Make a Donation”

    and paid 9 [nine] pence into his account using PayPal.

    I urge everyone to send tuppence to Danny.

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