20 November 2007

Straffen dies

John Straffen the UK's longest-serving prisoner, died in jail aged 77, 55 years after he was convicted of murdering five year old Linda Bowyer.

In 1951 Straffen was s arrested for the murder of nine-year-old Cicely Batstone in Somerset. He confessed to the crime and to the murder of Brenda Goddard, aged six. Straffen was sent for trial at Somerset assizes in Taunton in October 1951 but was found unfit to plead. He was declared insane and was sent to Broadmoor asylum. In April 1952 Straffen escaped briefly from Broadmoor. When recaptured he is said to have told the police"I did not kill the little girl on the bike". Linda Bowyer’s body was found near Broadmoor and he was charged with her murder.

Unlike his previous trial Straffen was declared fit to stand trial on the basis that he understood four of the Ten Commandments. Straffen pleaded not but was convicted of her murder and sentenced to death. The then home secretary Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe commuted the sentence (subsequently released medical records made it clear that Straffen was reprieved on the grounds of insanity).

Straffen served his sentence in maximum security prisons rather than a high security hospital such as Broadmoor. He died in Frankland prison in Co Durham.


Frank Partisan said...

Do you feel justice was done?

MC Fanon said...

Just thought you would like to know that I gave you a nod on my blog. I quoted your post we were talking about the other night in my response to No Country for Old Men.

jams o donnell said...

THe biggest concern was over his fitnes to plead at his second trial. THe indications are that he was unfit. He should have beenreturned to a secure hospital rathter than bweing fed into the prison system. Whteher that would have made a difference? We'll never know

THanks Dave, much appreciated

elasticwaistbandlady said...

I'd like to think that a hospital for the criminally insane would have better safeguards to prevent escapes and that he should have been kept in such a facility indefinitely.

jams o donnell said...

It took his escape to make Broadmoor more secure. I can't speak for Broadmoor or teh other secure hospitals but there hasn't been an escapre from a maximum security prison since the early/mid 1990s

DAWHIFF said...

that scum gone for ever we can now live happy