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June 2, 2005

Five Children Held For Trying To Hang Boy From Tree

Topics: International News

Time for societies to return to the faith and values of old?

FIVE children have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a five-year-old boy was allegedly taken from his garden and strung up by the neck from a tree.

Anthony Brown, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, told relatives he had been playing on swings in his garden with a 12-year-old girl around 4pm on Tuesday when she took him half a mile to a wood known as Devil's Ditch at Earlsheaton Park.

There she allegedly met up with two 12-year-old boys and two 11-year-old girls who put a rope noose around Anthony's neck and left him hanging from a tree. Anthony escaped after the children left.

Posted by Hyscience at June 2, 2005 11:59 AM

For Zoe
The case of a 12 year old girl supposedly commiting a devious crime against a 5 year old boy hurtled around the world and was relayed to people throughout a bewildered community before anyone on the ground got to hear what really happened. 'Attempted murder!' screamed most headlines and the court of public opinion was being cast come teatime. (1)

Given the level of coverage of the story and the venom hurled at the young girl surely the media and official line must be true? In the days and weeks following the case being made public typing in 'Earlsheaton hanging' into a Google search revealed many entries for papers around the globe - all with the same (associated press?) tagline stringing the girl up. Go to internet chat forums about the case and the discussion largely follows the same thread - ' she is evil, her parents must be wasters, what kind of community allows such a thing to happen?, what is the world coming to?' and so on. (2)

More to this than meets the eye? - quite possibly so. However, initial contacts didn't look good. Some two weeks after the event first broke I asked a couple of older teenagers from the area what they thought about it. Not good - 'she's an evil cow and she should be locked up' came the reply. Punters in the local pubs no longer wanted to talk about it - they were sick of having intrusions into their private lives and having their words twisted around and used against them - the girl, her family and the wider community all held up to be in a state of moral degeneracy and confidences betrayed.

Ongoing reports in the media talked of the park where the incident occured as an area where gangs of 'feral youth' caused mayhem. Yet 3-4 trips revealed the usual park activities - dog walkers, parents and children and 'gangs' of kids all enjoying usual park like activities. Sure, there had been the odd spot of vandalism but the park largely served it's function well and is definitely not a no-go area.

A 19 yr. old youth, wrapped up warm for a cold evening, said the area could do with lighting up to make it safer; so that such things do not happen again. Suspicion? In that case maybe he should be wary of talking to strangers in raincoats in dark parks and I should avoid hoodied and baseball-hatted youth in the same - who knows what might happen? A better case for lighting up the park would be to extend its use in winter time.

The best news came from talking to the groups of scattered cherubs that presumably make up this 'feral youth'. Quite an encouraging picture of youth culture emerged. Yes there was the odd fallout amongst friends, the general ribbing and mickey-taking but all kiss and make up stuff, and par for the course.

I asked whether there was bullying but the kids generally looked after each other and nothing much really goes amiss. Here was where the young lady really scored her points. Any kid has their detractors and one or two did have their disagreements but the overwhelming impression was that this 'evil young girl' was actually quite well liked and despite her personal problems (seeing her mother die suddenly on Xmas day 2004 for one) reasonably well balanced. She stood her ground when cornered and defended her mates when they were picked on, she would share her school dinner amongst her friends if they had forgotten their money and so forth. Hardly evil then.

It further transpires that she would study at home and even set herself extra work. Steve, her father, says she runs rings around him with her abilities. He was reluctant to say too much given the character assasination of his daughter and self - a quiet and tidy man who, when gardening on a hot day and enjoying a beer, saw himself labelled an alcoholic in the media. He hasn't bought a paper since and rarely watches the news and, even rarer, dare have a drink. Him, his daughter and the community want no more bad press and hope that this will all blow over so they can get on with rebuilding their lives. He speaks to his daughter daily on the phone and despite everything they are ok, if not slightly sullen. It's an extremely humbling experience to hear him talk of things not being so bad now - that he can see his daughter without counselling services being present.

There is not much good feeling within the wider community towards the family of the boy involved. Close and friendly neighbours, perhaps, but after taking their thirty pieces o' silver and scarpering off to a new life most in the area feel that the guilty party has been let off the hook - chat rooms, opinion pieces and workplaces laying into this party perhaps unfairly too. Comments ask how come a small boy can wander off and end up in such a situation? Yet given what I've found out about the community he seems to be largely in safe hands and it is some testimony to the companionship within such a place that he can do so.He has recovered from his 'ordeal' and 'injuries'. So much that he was back out playing soon after all the fuss and was lastly reported wishing he had a girlfriend. Clearly then, not put off the fairer sex.

The young lady has quite a good reputation amongst her peers and the neighbourhood, even in her unwarranted absence. Everyone hopes things will blow over and get back to 'normal', yet she has a blot on her character and possibly something that will lurk at the back of her mind and undermine her.

From what has been found out from people that genuinely know her she does have tremendous character and allowed herself to carry the can in a case that never should have been. The facts of the case as presented do not seem to match up to reality - perhaps the real reason why it took some nine attempts to get a truth to fit the billing?

And also allowed a lot of grown ups to make themselves look big.

The worst 'crime' that this young lady has done was to have a child's game or prank go maybe that little bit too far - everyday childhood experiences where boundaries are learnt naturally. In this case it was the girl herself who sorted the boy out after his ordeal - she bought him a drink and, apparently, called for an ambulance. In the mainstream media this was reported as bribery. After their shenanigans the word hypocrisy springs to mind.

No doubt offered counselling by 'concerned' authorities so she can come to terms with her 'defects'. Maybe it's their heavy handed and shameful approach that needs re-examining.

After all - they started it.


See also -

(1)http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=daily+mirror+earlsheaton+hanging&btnG=Google+Search&meta=
(2)http://www.onlinearsenal.com/forums/printthread.php?t=5208&pp=40
http://www.thesims.co.uk/forum/printthread.php?t=14699
These views are typical apart from the immediate locale.
(3)Very good reporting can be found in the 7th. October 2005 edition of The Press (Dewsbury paper) , email news@dewsburypress.co.uk
(4)http://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/section-item.asp?sid=12&iid=1568
(5)http://www.instituteofideas.com/publications/index.html - 'Who's antisocial? New Labour and the politics of antisocial behaviour'.
ASBOs: Politicians behaving badly http://www.spiked-online.com/Articles/0000000CA9C0.htm


Posted by: Mark Harrop at January 16, 2006 7:18 PM



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