A Far Far Better Thing

So it’s over.  Raoul Moat has died by his own hand, near the river in Rothbury.
Had the police taken him alive, as they sought to do, I might well be writing a passionate plea for Capital Punishment.  Surely there was never a more deserving case, or a better example.
We have here a man who bore a grudge while in prison, and told fellow inmates of his intention to seek revenge.  On his release, he lost no time in making good his threats.  Now 37, six years ago he had formed a coercive and abusive relationship with a sixteen-year-old girl.  When she finally broke free from him, he declared, outrageously, that “if he couldn’t have her, no one else would”.  He then went and shot this young woman, now 22, twice, and he shot dead her new boyfriend.
Wrongly believing the boyfriend to have been a policeman, he conceived a grudge against the police, and proceeded to shoot a police officer at random.  He then made various threats against the general public, though none was carried out.
Of course we like to talk about “the Right to Life”, but rights are a sort of social compact.  They also carry the obligation on each of us to respect the rights of others.  Surely no man who shows this sort of wholesale disregard for the rights of his victims can expect to invoke the Right to Life on his own behalf – nor can he expect society to respect it.
One of the most emotive arguments adduced against capital punishment is the undeniable fact that a handful of innocent men and women have in the past been executed in error by the Criminal Justice System.  But against that we should also recall those innocent victims who have been killed by convicted murderers whom we had previously failed to hang.  These days convicted murderers may be released at the end of their sentences.  They may be paroled.  They may escape.  Or they may even murder a fellow inmate in goal.  I am prepared to bet that these innocent victims greatly outnumber the miscarriages of justice, so on that basis alone capital punishment, on balance, saves innocent lives.  In the case of Moat, we can now at least be sure that he won’t do it again.
Had he been apprehended alive, he would presumably have gone to gaol for twenty-five years or so, at a cost to the tax-payer well north of a million pounds.  There would have been a high-profile trial which might have cost another million.  And he would have been a troublesome and dangerous prisoner for those charged with his care, and for fellow inmates.
In killing himself, Moat has achieved that Holy Grail of the modern Criminal Justice System, “closure” – for surely his death has brought closure for all those involved in a way which no trial, no verdict, no sentence could have done.  So although the police had an obligation to try to prevent his suicide, it may in fact have been the best outcome.  He has saved himself a long prison term.  He has saved prison staff from an onerous duty.  He has brought closure, if nothing else, to victims’ families and surviving victims.  He will never again be a risk to the public.  And he has saved the public purse a very large sum of money.
Even his mother said that he would be better off dead, and I believe she was right.
In shooting himself, Moat has done “a far far better thing than he had ever done”.  Whether he will now go to “a far far greater rest than he has ever known” is a matter between him and his Maker.  But speaking personally, I doubt it.

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7 Responses to A Far Far Better Thing

  1. Julian says:

    Moat’s case was clear cut. Many more are not. As has been shown by the recent case in the US of the man who was shot by firing aquad, the death penalty is not necessarily cheaper – he was on death row for 25 years.

    Not executing killers is nothing to do with their “right to life”. It is about us saying we’re not going to stoop to their level. We could kill them in return for what they did but we choose to forego that right. That puts us alongside the majority of civilised countries which take that view, rather than the barbarous regimes that do not, such as many Middle Eastern countries.

    Also, the reason Moat killed again was not because we didn’t hang him, it was because we let him out of prison.

  2. Mrs Gail Wharmby says:

    Very well put.

  3. Tapestry says:

    Guido comments say that Sky reported the new boyfriend was a policeman who was involved in the removal of his kids.
    Kilobar says:
    July 10, 2010 at 2:15 pm
    It is being said in Newcastle that the one Moat killed is a cop. Sky have also reported this earlier today. So if it turns out Moat killed the one who fitted him up then put his kids in care to go round and kop for his bird then Moat will be the biggest hero in the world.


  4. Tapestry says:

    There are rumours that he was not offered a chance to surrender. How did he wound himself with his shot gun and not kill himself outright? There are many unanswered questions. I think the removal of his kids drove him over the edge as he said it did. Why not look at the other side of the situation?

  5. Tapestry says:

    The Police didn’t want him talking and telling everyone what happened and why he killed. If he wanted to die he would have done it quicker than over six hours.

  6. smilingcynic says:

    What a fantastic, cheap and effective conclusion to that wicked bastard’s life. A last, something good has happened.

  7. If you’re right, Tapestry, that the new boyfriend was a police officer, then clearly I have made an error (but based on earlier news reports). But I think the main thrust of my piece stands. It’s clear that Moat had six hours in which he could have surrendered. Let’s not start a new conspiracy theory.

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