Gina Davidson: Mob outrage is not ill-informed

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‘YOU may call the people a mob; but do not forget that a mob too often speaks the sentiments of the people”.

So said Lord Byron when talking of the Luddites back in 1812 in the House of Lords, as the stocking weavers of Nottingham were busy destroying new loom frames which they believed would ruin their trade. But before then, and many times since, “the mob” and the actions of such have been condemned by a society which tends to agree more that a large gathering of outraged people, riled up about whatever subject it happens to be, are of many heads but few brains.

That too seems to be the opinion of advocate Brian McConnachie who defended Rosdeep Adekoya, the mother of Mikaeel Kular, the three-year-old whom she beat so badly that he died and then tried to fool the police and the public into believing he’d disappeared from their Ferry Gait home when in fact she had hidden his tiny body in a suitcase and buried him in a woodland in Fife.

Mr McConnachie, QC, a very learned man no doubt, declared when his client was given an 11-year sentence for culpable homicide that there was no sentence which could be given which would be “deemed sufficient by what appears to be an ill-informed mob who are no doubt at this moment waiting to express their outrage and indignation.”

He was correct – they were outraged, but that doesn’t make them ill-informed. It makes them feel – given that Adekoya, will likely be released in five years or so – that the justice system has let down Mikaeel, that it has stigmatised those who suffer from mental health conditions as potential child killers, and has done little to allow them to shake off the feeling of being conned by the guilty party.

“The mob” in this case were her friends and neighbours. They were people who knew Mikaeel and who cared enough when he seemed to just vanish in the night to get off their backsides and comb the streets near where he lived searching for him; the people who rallied to Adekoya’s side with offers of sustenance and help to look after her other children, while the hunt for Mikaeel continued.

They are the people this newspaper interviewed at the time who expressed their feelings towards her apparent grief by sharing their own fear and bewilderment at what had happened and their conviction he would be found. And they are the people who were left shocked to the core when he was – his little body discovered and his mum was named his killer.

Put yourself in their shoes – wouldn’t you too be outraged at the idea that a woman you cried for and with, who you went out of your way to help, turned out to be the kind of inhumane person who beat her son because he was being sick, who hid his bruises, who didn’t take him to the doctor when he began to suffer, who let him die and then packed him in a case, drove across the Forth Road Bridge, dug a hole and put him in it, then came home, phoned the police and cried wolf? Wouldn’t you have an incredibly informed right to feel she should spend more than five years behind bars?

Ah, but, she was ill wasn’t she? She had suffered from depression in the past and was finding it difficult to cope raising five children alone. She even admitted having little attachment to Mikaeel, her only son.

Mitigating circumstances? To some extent, but she wasn’t currently being treated for mental health problems, and if she knew she had a problem – which her Google history showed she did, given that she was searching for solutions to her aggression towards her son – why didn’t she ask for help?

Was there a fear her children could be taken from her? Maybe. Does that excuse what she did? Emphatically not. And what do her actions now say to other parents struggling with depression and attachment issues?

“The mob”, as Mr McConnachie describes them, has done nothing except react to the death of a child in a human way. They would have expected her to be locked up for a long time. That has not happened.

As one of Adekoya’s neighbour’s Julie MacLeod said: “It’s just not enough. We are the ones who have got to go home and explain this to our children. We have got to live with what’s happened for the rest of our lives.” They are perfectly within their rights to feel angry.

Of course mob justice or vigilantism is not something to be encouraged, but mob outrage? It’s to be expected and in this case, justified. They are just expressing the 
sentiments of the people.

Boys not happy about park strife

EDINBURGH’S green spaces are a huge part of what makes the city so attractive, so it’s understandable that people will fight to keep them free of obstructions. Even if the obstructions are the Ladyboys of Bangkok.

They have been Fringe visitors for 16 years to the Meadows, but are upset at the idea that they won’t get to park their tents there in future for the same length of time – 23 days at most – and that it could cost more. They’re even threatening to take the show west.

While chasing away business never seems a good idea, it maybe is time for something else to take their, erm. . . slot?

You have got to Hand it to Pippa

IT’S been a heck of a summer for Scottish sporting achievements (football aside) but let’s think about what Pippa Handley has achieved.

The 36-year-old clinical support worker cycled from London to Istanbul – a total of 3000km, or 1864 miles in old money. She was the first woman across the line, coming 14th out of 91 riders.

For those who think serious road cycling events are just for men – Le Tour for instance – Pippa’s put a huge spoke in your wheel.