There’s ever such a slight suspicion that men and women are – or perhaps should be – differently treated by the legal system. Specifically, there’s long been a campaign in the UK that women should be handled, well, lightly perhaps, if the partner they murder was controlling or abusive during their relationship.
It is also insisted that this is quite different from the thought that perhaps men who kill in a fit of rage should be more lightly treated by the legal system. To certain campaigners that latter is bias against women while that first is the just and righteous order of things.
Which brings us to these two. This from Italy:
An appeals court in Bologna has halved the sentence of an Italian man who murdered his girlfriend, citing a “passionate storm” of jealousy as one of the mitigating factors. Michele Castaldo will only serve 15 years of a 30-year sentence for the killing of Olga Matei in 2016. The controversial reasoning for the reduction sparked anger and renewed calls for the passage of legislation to protect women from violence. “(The ruling) is a dangerous precedent that represents a worrying return to the past,” warned Valeria Valente, a centre-left senator who presides over a newly appointed Senate femicide commission.
Mr Castaldo, 57, was convicted in 2017 of murdering Ms. Matei, 46, on October 5, 2016 in the Adriatic seaside town of Riccione, where she worked as a shop clerk. They had been dating for just a month when Mr. Castaldo said he “lost his mind” upon learning she wanted to leave him. “I told her she was supposed to be mine and no-one else’s,” he said in the trial of first instance. “Then I grabbed her by the neck and strangled her.” Mr Castaldo then attempted suicide by drinking wine laced with aspirin, sending his fortune-teller a text accusing her of inaccurate predictions. “Get a new job. I’ve killed her,” he told the woman, who alerted authorities.
Hmm, well. Now Sally Challen:
Though she had told few people, Sally, 56, and her husband Richard, 61, were planning to reconcile. They were about to begin clearing the family house so they could put it on the market. The Challens’ home was valued at about £1m, and with this they intended to take an extended trip to Australia, a late-life adventure, before deciding where to live next. But first Richard wanted bacon and eggs for breakfast, so Sally went out to buy some. When she returned, she felt suspicious, as if Richard had got rid of her for a reason. A quick check of his phone confirmed he’d just had a call from a number Sally knew belonged to Susan Wilce – a woman Richard had met through the networking site Dinner Dates. Sally had Googled Susan’s name the night before. Then she had Googled “Dinner Dates”. Now she asked Richard to explain the call. He replied: “Don’t question me.”
Sally served breakfast and, as Richard ate, she took a hammer and hit him more than 20 times. In case he was still breathing, she stuffed a tea towel into his mouth, before wrapping him in some old curtains. She wrote a note that said “I love you, Sally” and placed it on Richard’s body. Then she washed the dishes and drove back to the home she shared with their son, David. The next morning, after giving David, then 23, a lift to work, Sally drove to Beachy Head. She parked, called her cousin to confess, then walked to the cliffs. It took a suicide prevention team hours to talk her back from the edge.
Hmm, well, yes.
A woman who killed her husband in a hammer attack after saying she suffered decades of abuse has won an appeal to have her murder conviction quashed. Sally Challen, 65, of Claygate, Surrey, admitted killing 61-year-old Richard in August 2010 but denied murder. She will now face a retrial. She was convicted in June 2011 and ordered to serve a minimum of 22 years, later reduced by four years on appeal. Lawyers had asked the Appeal Court to reduce her conviction to manslaughter. During the two-day hearing, the court heard evidence relating to Mrs Challen’s state of mind at the time of the killing and the issue of “coercive control”.
It’s entirely possible to say that both should be leniently treated. Difficult things emotions. Even that this is why we have the distinction between murder – the premeditated intent to kill or harm must be there – and manslaughter. Equally, it’s entirely logical to be harsher on this, look at the fragmented corpse and insist that someone must swing for this, all else is namby pamby.
I would tend to the former myself. But that’s not at all what the public zeitgeist is, is it? The crime of passion defence – or mitigation perhaps – receives very short shrift both in our courts (even if not the Italian) and in the public square. That abused woman who snapped defence – which any reasonable definition of a crime of passion would include of course – is regarded as right on and the way things ought to be.
Funny that really, how equality does so often mean different treatment, eh?