The Daily Mail, usually a source of clear-cut bias, veers between the victims being prostitutes and sex workers on alternate lines in the same article – too many contributors confuses the sub-eds.
They are in no doubt though, that you should know Steven Griffiths went to the same school as John Haigh – the ‘acid bath killer’ – and lived but a short hop from Peter Sutcliffe’s home. This is what the courts would term circumstantial irrelevance, but the newspapers have no doubt as to its relevance. He could well live but a short hop from the Archbishop of Canterbury too, but if he does, we are unlikely to be told.
Former neighbours step forward to describe Griffiths as ‘very weird’
He shared a council semi in Wakefield with his two siblings and mother Moira. The children never played outside and were considered ‘nerds’.
‘’Nerds’ – a common term used to describe those who study diligently and read a lot of books, in Griffiths’ case it is evidence of his ‘weirdness’.
Faced with near identical evidence of the behaviour of one of the victims, Suzanne Blamires, such habits take on different complexion.
She enjoyed the cultural side of life – friends remember her reading philosophy and Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses in her spare time.
Be sure we would have known all about it in the headline had Griffiths been found reading the Satanic Verses. Or anything else with ‘Satanic’ in the title.
Griffiths had other ‘habits’ too.
Stephen was once seen out in the garden killing and dissecting birds.
We are not told when, how old he was; he read psychology at University, so presumably did a Biology ‘A’ level…but the phrase ‘dissecting birds’ is left hanging in the air, willing us to see him as a cruel and thoughtless man.
Griffiths went on to take a degree in psychology and developed an obsessive interest in serial killers.
Could that be because he went on to do a PhD on investigations into serial killers? He would be a ‘weird’ PhD student if he wasn’t obsessed with his subject. PhD students obsess, it’s what they do. They spend years obsessing, driven on by Professors who are convinced that they are not obsessing sufficiently. I once shared a sleeping compartment on the overnight train to Wiesbaden with a PhD student who had spent 8 years obsessing over the differences between two near identical examples of the genital warts suffered by Sea Lions. 12 hours passed and he still hadn’t finished explaining his thesis.
But this is all grist to The Daily Mail’s thesis that ‘the police have got the right man’ and we have but a few hours to dig the dirt before he is charged and we must shut up.
Miss Blamires fares somewhat better at the Mail hands, as you would imagine befits the victim.
Her life as a sex worker/prostitute, depending on which line you are on, was as a result of ‘addiction to Heroin’ and an evil boyfriend who ‘allegedly’ – careful now folks, don’t want a libel tort for insinuating he was a pimp, do we? – sent her out on the streets to earn money to pay for their joint addiction. Who introduced who to Heroin? Nobody asks. Certainly not the journalists. It just ‘appeared’ in her life, and we are invited to think that someone – probably ‘Shifty Ifty’, we are helpfully given his descriptive nickname, and the fact that he is Asian – was responsible. Not her. Good God no. She’s a victim. Even though ‘she’s a bright articulate girl’ who might have been expected to make some sensible choices for herself.
But ‘she protected her family’ by keeping ‘herself to herself so people knew very little about her’ – unlike Griffiths, who, displaying the same habits, ended up being described as ‘secretive and introverted’.
Griffiths fares somewhat better at the hands of the Telegraph. They had also discovered his interest in serial killers, but as ‘in keeping with his university studies’ and noted that these consisted of “aggregate homicide, multiple homicide, capital punishment and targeted political homicide”.
“For the past six years he had been studying for his PhD in the history of homicide in 19th century England from 1847-99, comparing Victorian investigative techniques with modern policing methods.”
Alone amongst the prowling journalists, they had uncovered his previous mental health issues – in December 1991 he was sent to Rampton Special Hospital for assessment. I await the discovery of his frequent attempts to get help for his mental health issues – it is almost inevitable. Meanwhile we must content ourselves with demonising him.
The Telegraph journalists had also been more thorough on the subject of Suzanne Blamires.
She had worked as a prostitute for about a decade and had taken heroin for a similar period. She also had a long-standing alcohol problem.
Although once again – ‘she wanted to stop but was forced to continue to fund her pimp’s drug habit’. Not her own drug habit, nor her alcohol problem, you understand, it’s that ‘Shifty Ifty’s’ fault again.
Onto the Guardian, where the sex workers/prostitutes metamorphose into just ‘women’. Hurrah! Even Griffiths is only an ‘oddball’ PhD student, in parenthesis, least any of their readers think that they are labelling all PhD students as oddballs – although they are delighted to describe the three years out of his entire education, three years which may or may not have been paid for by bursary as ‘privately educated’ – and we are given the current figure of £9,000 a year for the fees, not the fees of 18 years ago – if they were applicable. The Guardian have diligently perused Amazon’s book site and report back breathlessly that he was reading a book on Cross cultural Homicide in North America – and the story of the trial of Lizzie Borden. Still diligently attending to his studies then?
The Times discovers that on Griffiths’ web site he had listed ‘more than 50 serial killers’ – is this evidence of evil intent? Careful folks. He is doing a PhD in the subject remember? The Telegraph writer Andrew Hough has helpfully posted this morning a list of 8 serial killers. A small step in the same direction? Perhaps we should keep Mr Hough udner observation?
The Yorkshire Post is at pains to tell us that the families of all three women were ‘being supported by police family liaison officers’ – as well they might be, it is surely a traumatic time for them. Whatever the cause or background to the cause, they are grieving families.
But what of Griffiths’ family? Is anyone supporting them? They lost a bright articulate son to mental illness and must now watch from the sidelines as he – and by implication, they – are vilified and demonised. Does any journalist care to ask them of their anguish and dismay?
All we are told is that:
As Mother of a villain, she doesn’t get the chance to paint a rosy picture of her offspring.
It wouldn’t be popular with the readers.