Street Violence, are we on a slippery slope?
I was following a case in the UK recently and the facts revealed yesterday are disgusting and shocking. It's a heart breaking case about a nice, good, family man called Garry Newlove who tried to stop a gang of teenage thugs from vandalising cars on his road. Garry was subsequently kicked to death.
HIs attacker Adam Swellings, who had downed nine pints of lager on the night of the attack, and two other gang members - Stephen Sorton, 17, and Jordan Cunliffe, 16 - are all facing life imprisonment after being convicted yesterday of Mr Newlove's murder. Two other youths, aged 17 and 15, were acquitted of the same charge.
And interesting note about one of the little shits, Sorton, "Sorton, who has a previous conviction for assault, kicked Mr Newlove, who survived stomach cancer 13 years earlier, so fiercely that his training shoe was later recovered from underneath the victim."
Jesus wept. Swellings through the first punch. Let's have a look at him.
"Adam Swellings, 19, who has at least 11 previous convictions, including assault, battery and restraining order breaches, had been arrested a week earlier for punching a man who caught the gang damaging his car.
He was remanded in custody for a week and faced magistrates on the morning of Mr Newlove's murder, pleading guilty to battery and common assault.
But despite protests by the Crown Prosecution Service, JPs allowed him bail on condition he stayed away from the streets of Warrington. Soon after the court hearing Swellhead, as he was known, gathered together other members of his gang to celebrate his release and was back drinking, smoking cannabis and causing trouble in Warrington."
I'm listening to Brenda Power as I'm typing and she's just had some chap called Jim Beecher from Cork City County Council on the line who-while perfectly aware of the problems and anti-social behaviour carried out by gangs-more or less admits he has his hands tied when it comes to dealing with gangs of youths, especially as people are afraid to name them, due in no small part to an expectation of vicious retaliation.
The lack of action then emboldens the gangs, fueling their sense of invincibility.
So what's happening? And more importantly, what's to be done? Asbos? Children's court? More Gardai on the beat? Some more slaps on the wrist?
Why are gangs so violent now? Why are they so fearless? Why are they so lacking in even the slightest scrap of empathy for their fellow man? Why are more youths carrying knives and other weapons? What's the root cause of the viciousness? What pleasure can a gang get from terrorising decent hard working people?
Where are their parents? Do they defend them? Or are they incapable of controlling their children? Or do they wash their hands of them? Everyday you open a paper there are more and more incidents of assaults and attacks and younger and younger people involved in these incidents. These young people, already violent and beyond the law surely cannot grow up into anything other than violent adults, who will then breed the next generation of thugs.
It's a sad state of affairs to feel fear in your everyday life. To live in a place where your home is your prison. But even a trip into town on a bus can open your eyes to just how yobbish our youth have become. Smoking, screaming, feet up on seats, swearing and blinding, it's unreal sometimes. Maybe we've let it slide as we wallow in the spoils of a Celtic Tiger. Maybe we've turned a blind eye. But as the injuries pile up and the attacks grow more and more lethal and cold blooded, we, as a society can ignore it no longer.
But what to do? Thats the question, the million dollar question. What to do?