Opinion from Jean Calder

We find it significant that, in the dreadful case of the domestic homicides of Jean Redfern and Sarah Redfern, the police spokesperson continued after the trial to refer to both killings as “murder”, despite one guilty plea of manslaughter and one of murder.  Detective Chief Inspector Chris Singleton of South Yorkshire Police commented: “Peter Redfern murdered his wife and daughter in an attack that was shocking and impossible to understand.” He added “Only he knows why he committed such a violent act.” FOD shares his frustration.

We do not understand why the judge seemed so ready to accept the perpetrator’s account of his motives – especially given that the case did not go to full trial. The judge said “on the evidence (our emphasis) these tragic events would never have taken place if not for the side effects” of the cancer drugs Redfern had taken. FOD finds this hard to accept because Redfern’s guilty pleas ensured evidence was not heard or questioned.

The judge seems to have accepted the extraordinary argument that Redfern decided to kill his daughter because he did not want her to see what had happened to his wife. There was no explanation as to why this killing – if it was indeed intended to prevent suffering – was planned and carried out with such deliberate cruelty – nor why he hit her so many times with the hammer. Redfern prepared for Sarah Redfern’s return to the house “with a carrier bag, electric flex and hammer”. If he had genuinely been preparing for a quick death, he surely would not have placed a plastic bag over Sarah Redfern’s head before bludgeoning her to death, nor have secured the plastic bag with electrical flex (as he also did when he killed her mother, Jean Redfern). Despite the judge optimistically referring to “what must thankfully have been those brief moments before she died”, Sarah Redfern’s death cannot have been quick. She must in fact have died struggling, in great pain and in a state of terror.

The courts do few favours to bereaved families – and no honour to the dead – by minimising victims’ suffering. In reality, all that such statements do is to provide comfort to perpetrators. Surely, this cannot be in the public interest.

19th January 2014.

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