Paul Kelly was stabbed on New Year’s Eve in front of 25 witnesses. No one will admit having seen the murder, but a poem naming the knifeman has been pasted up all over Bath, writes Mark Townsend.
The police believe they know he did it. So do his neighbours. His name is whispered by local people who lower their gaze when he approaches; eye contact is not recommended with the 17-year-old everyone claims has murdered and, so far, got away with it.
Police have confirmed that about 25 people watched as Kelly, 32, was repeatedly knifed in a dank alleyway outside the Longacre Tavern shortly after midnight on New Year’s Eve. Rarely are murders witnessed by so many. Detectives working on the case believed that a conviction was inevitable – two witness statements would be enough.
Yet no one has come forward. Eleven people have been arrested, including a number who are thought to have watched the frenzied attack. Not one is prepared to tell police what they saw.
The behaviour described here is typical of the criminal fraternity. It is well known that criminal gangs, pikeys, and other anit-social types will never complain to the police even when they have suffered some quite serious wrongdoing at the hands of a rival. Their cast-iron rule is to never talk to the police under any circumstances whatsoever. The reason for this is simple: the police are not on their side and never will be, so no good will come of their involvement. By contrast, they stand a good chance of being fitted up for something else on the flimsiest of pretexts. Interestingly, this mindset extends to the rest of society around these people, even those who are law-abiding and frequent victims of criminals. These people are normally lower class and poor, unable to move away from the anti-social elements that plague them, but they have also learned not to trust the police. Like all organisations captured by the middle classes in government, the police look down on the lower classes living in squalid tower blocks or grim terraces with almost as much contempt, possibly even more, than they do actual criminals. They care little for their well-being and are certainly not on their side, and the people know it. So when something bad happens in their neighbourhood and the police come looking for answers, the whole community remains tight-lipped. Talking to the police won’t improve things for them, and there could well be repercussions from criminals who don’t like grasses.
What makes the above story interesting is that this is happening in the middle of Bath, which as far as I know is as middle class as it comes (although Tim Worstall may be along shortly begging to differ, with a list of streets and their respective class associations). Perhaps this was a fight between pikeys witnessed by more pikeys which might explain the wall of silence, but if the witnesses were ordinary people this is an interesting situation indeed. What it shows is they don’t trust the police, either to act in a way which isn’t detrimental to their interests or to protect them from a knife-wielding murderer who might seek revenge on anyone who speaks to the police. If the perpetrator is from one of Britain’s protected classes, they would be wise indeed to keep quiet and say nothing: the police would rather jail an innocent witness for a decade than prosecute someone the government has deemed worthy of special consideration.
I would be fascinated to see if this is a one-off or whether this refusal to speak to the police is becoming more widespread among ordinary citizens. If it’s the latter I couldn’t say I’d be surprised: it’s been coming for a long time, and the behaviour and attitude of the police towards the law-abiding public is mostly to blame.