Saturday, 13 February 2010


Anyone who knows me at all would guess that I would be utterly against any vigilante action. And normally they would be right. I’ve seen too many mistakes made by people out to sort out a criminal their way, without any help from the authorities: too many stupid or maybe just very angry people, out to get their revenge. One in particular sticks in my mind many years ago, of a man beaten almost to death because he fitted perfectly the description given by a young girl who claimed that she had been raped. When it turned out that the girl had made the whole story up, the vigilantes looked a bit stupid and the poor man, very ill.

However, even I found the fact that Steven Barker, the stepfather of Baby Peter, had had boiling water thrown over him by fellow inmates at Wakefield Prison, a pretty satisfying piece of news.

According to the Mail, the boiling water, perhaps with sugar in it to make it extra painful, was hurled at Barker’s face and arms. It is speculated that he will be permanen
tly scarred. At least he can console himself that he didn't have any good looks to spoil.

One prisoner told the Mail (do prisoners in England normally give interviews to newspapers?) that Barker was reviled in the prison for what he had done, and that the guy who threw the water will now be applauded wherever he goes. He is apparently quite prepared to take the consequences of his actions. It seems, furthermore, that it is unlikely that this will be the last attack to be made on Barker’s person.

The Mail article, to which I link, has the details of Barker’s crimes against Peter. I found it too distressing to repeat them here.

I can only say to Barker that I hope it hurts like hell, and that the next time it hurts like hell too and the time after that........ As my Granny would say "Whit's guid tae gie's no ill tae tak".


  1. Well said Tris. There are times I think that hanging would be too good for some folk. This was one of them.

  2. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksFebruary 14, 2010 6:14 am

    Well, I certainly don't defend people who abuse and kill children. But I assume he was found guilty by a court of law and received the sentence prescribed by law. Having scalding water thrown on him was not a part of that sentence. Torture went out some time ago as punishment for crime.

    And I'm unimpressed by the famous hostility of the general prison population toward child molesters. Violent offenders....murderers and rapists.....have hit upon their cause du jour. They just HATE child molesters we are told. I don't buy it. Just something of a fad among incarcerated sociopaths I think. Maybe a convenient excuse to be violent toward other prisoners in a way that society will approve of. It's PHONY!!! And prison violence in any form is unacceptable. It cannot be justified.

  3. munguin

    People get released from prison all the time they probably spoke to a recent release


    Quiet happy to see Steven Barker hung drawn and quartered boiled in oil.......If that is the LAW whomever done this will have gone up in his standing on the landing..after his time(which could be a long time) in solitary
    and he has been transferred.

    Steven Barker will now get enhanced protection and treatment(in case the prison service get sued and have to pay him a fortune)

  4. I agree with Danny. Physical punishment is medieval. We should always strive to be better than that.

  5. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksFebruary 14, 2010 10:34 am

    The solution to inadequate punishment for crime is for legal authorities to specify more appropriate penalties.

    Of course no one is seriously suggesting hanging, drawing, and quartering as a penalty for crime. But the urge to exact revenge for horrible crimes is a powerful human emotion. It just shouldn't be part of any serious discussion of law.

    Thing is, such emotional responses can be quite seductive and destructive. I come from a country that still exacts the death penalty for heinous crimes. Pure revenge.....the families of victims are invited into the death chamber to watch the dying. They always blather on that they have achieved "closure" by watching a man die. They would have doubtless been much more satisfied by watching a good boiling in oil.

  6. Danny

    I am more concerned with 'GUILT' then punishment if thier was a certainty of the right person was being convicted. Then the death penalty to me would be welcome

    Incidents like these make me very wary of any guilty verdict...

    These men would of all been hanged(on the words of corrupt policemen) and they were all innocent

  7. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksFebruary 14, 2010 11:50 am

    Mr. Mxyzptlk...

    I agree that one of the most important practical arguments against the death penalty is that it can never be applied with any assurance of actual guilt. Police misconduct can always be a factor. And new technologies such as DNA matching have often disproved prior guilty verdicts. About 2/3 of the American states still have the death penalty by law. But there are moratoriums in a number of those states for various reasons. In Illinois, a moratorium was declared by the Governor after a period of time during which 12 men were executed while 13 condemned men were released on the basis of new evidence which invalidated their verdicts.

  8. Ah,

    I seem to have stirred a hornets' nest here... which is good.... What the hell use is a discussion board where everyone agrees?

    I don't believe in violence at all, and that's the thing that amazes me. In fact I abhor it in all its forms. I don't believe in the death penalty for the reasons that both Danny and Niko rehearse and normally the idea of vigilantes taking their revenge is repugnant to me. I, like Danny, find it weird that prisoners all over the world it seems detest the sexual offender and, no matter how bad their own crime, look down on him. There are other crimes as heinous, as life shattering to the “recipient”.

    I’ve always been for prison reform and indeed I did some work in a prison a few years ago, helping prisoners to plan for working when they would be released. My most normal sentiment for them was sympathy. You seriously wouldn’t believe the kind of lives there men have lived and some of the things that have happened to them.

    So it makes it all the more amazing that when I read of this attack, my gut reaction was “good, I hope it hurt”.

    I’m not going to try to explain it here, because I can’t. I was just what I felt. I certainly don’t say it’s right, but if I got the chance I’d pour burning fat over the guy.

  9. I agree with Danny. Prison vigilantism is just an excuse for psychopaths to continue to be psychopaths while in prison with that tacit support of the general public and I expect prison guards etc.