And now, somewhat belatedly, I come to the verdict of the Inquest into the Death of City Barrister, Mark Saunders. The Coroner’s Court yielded to common sense and returned a verdict of lawful killing. So it is now, thankfully, at an end. My favourite newspaper The Daily Mail seems determined to squeeze the last few drops of blood out of the case.
I wonder what the Daily Mail’s traditional readers would make of Peter Hitchens’ comments in his column two weeks ago, in which he attributes Mr Saunders’ behaviour to the fact that he had been taking anti-depressants: Oh, and please note, the crazed, shotgun-wielding barrister Mark Saunders was taking ant-depressants – another connection everyone refuses to see.’
Yes, Mr Hitchens, Mr Saunders was indeed taking anti-depressants but he had also imbibed alcohol and taken cocaine along with a whole host of other legal/illegal drugs, non of which would have been compatible with one another. A doctor can only go so far in ensuring that a non-compliant patient (who is not a candidate for a section) adheres to the drug regime that has been prescribed for him.
And now another ‘Daily Hate’ columnist is in on the act. Max Hastings claims that the police shot Mark Saunders like a ‘mad dog’. (Is it common for armed police officers to launch into lengthy negotiations with mad dogs before they eventually shoot them? And who is in charge of negotiations? I knew police dogs were smarter than your average pooch but still…). It is, Hastings asserts, ‘an affront to the values of a decent society.’ And to have simply left him to get on with it would have been a lesser affront? Hastings is at pains to emphasize that Mr. Saunders was ‘drunken and depressed’. So, wouldn’t that have made him even more dangerous to the public then? And intoxication itself is no defence in law. Hastings proceeds to berate the police officers on the scene for denying Mrs Saunders access to her husband. Given that they were separated, it is hard to see what good that would have done. Now let’s imagine what would have happened if the police had permitted Mrs Saunders contact with her husband and she had been harmed in any way. There would have been an outcry, of course, led by The Daily Mail itself.
It occurred to me that Max Hastings and the tabloid for which he writes have chanced upon some scientific evidence which reveals a difference in lethality between the bullets from a gun fired by a city barrister from his 2.2 million pound home and the bullets fired by the gun of some ‘yob’ from a Liverpool council estate. Perhaps the brilliant barrister’s bullets were gentler, more civilised, more refined. Perhaps each one presents a summing up before it tears through your flesh and turns your insides to mush. Lesson learnt: if you must get yourself shot, get yourself shot by a barrister