Dennis Nilsen

It seemed like an impossible sentence to execute, when you ask someone who’s ever killed before how he feels about being put to death.

He begins by saying he doesn’t even know how to say “I do”.

“I’m not a person with a name, you know?” he adds.

It’s a technique used at every level of the criminal justice system to bypass the witness selection process, which kicks off after the 11th suspect. In this case, by appointing a murderer known for life at the time of his arrest, the judge essentially appointed him a member of the jury of the 16 people who’d have to agree to sentence him to death.

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He told me that he never saw any real mitigating circumstances like having a four-pack of beer in the day before he killed the student.

Which I suppose is normal for someone who was very young, two black guys in their thirties, who’d also done his minimum lock-up time, been deported, and died in the hospital in his thirties. He’s 29 and spent no time in prison since, having been convicted in a case where the person involved made no excuses for what happened to him.

“My God, I’m an awful lot younger than everybody,” he goes on. “We should just go with the law as it is, it’s all fair.”

Because he’s such a horrific person, we need to have a system, a chosen one, that shields us from death row.

It’s an up your own alley response that ought to be rejected by the wrong people, but it’s the only one I can think of.

You’re supposed to be wary of people who may talk in detail about their abuse and mental illnesses in prison. You’re supposed to be wary of people who’ll say they have “marginalised victims”.

No one else should be told not to be angry, or even frightened.

If the law wants to go out of its way to avoid giving out absolute sentencing powers, then maybe the law has come to an awful out-of-body place and applied its most dangerous punishments to some people who just shouldn’t get what they get.

“I’m a terrible person,” he says.

In times of social anxiety, the kid who hanged himself, or the kids walking in circles in an underpass, or the custodian of a house of horrors who strangled a pet bird to death, or the nurse who killed an animal and covered it in a filthy bedsheet and then lied about it, we tend to focus on the guilty and forget what was really wrong, behind those pretence of good behaviour.

We don’t get too worked up about the murder suspects who giv us bad credit.

In recent years, we’ve watched as much dignity and righteousness has been erased from this world by some who, or thought themselves to be such, by so-called intelligent people who don’t know the difference between right and wrong, and who, from time to time, even start dating women who’ve been single since they were 13 or 14.

There was also the dismemberment case of Ronald DeFeo, who was murdered as he slept in his apartment in 2014. Everything was flatlined in the week leading up to the trial, so it could hardly have been a shocker that he walked away with his life.