"INTERNET LAW BOOK REVIEWS" Provided by Rob Jerrard LLB LLM (London)
John Blake Publishing Limited Books Reviewed in 2008
Nowhere To Hide
Author: John McShane
Publishers: John Blake
Publication Date: Feb 2008
gruesome string of murderers, rapists and master-crooks who laughed at the law
for years are at last being brought to justice through DNA profiling. The
revolutionary techniques of 'genetic fingerprinting' has meant convictions,
long after they committed their crimes, for the evil men who mistakenly thought
they had escaped detection. Cases that have ended with guilty men standing in
the dock are chronicled in this fascinating examination of the past two decades
of forensic crime-fighting and how it had finally put the villains where they
belong - behind bars. From the sensational, groundbreaking case of bakery
worker Colin Pitchfork who murdered two teenage girls near his Leicestershire
home to the historic conviction of teenage shop assistant Craig Harman -
tracked down by his brother's DNA for slaying an innocent lorry driver by hurling
a brick at him from a motorway bridge - this engrossing book details the crime,
the criminals and the men and women who brought them to justice. Acclaimed
author John McShane also analyses the hunt for and capture of the M25 rapist
who carried out a series of terrifying attacks on young women. He traces the
DNA trail that led from London to Korea and back to convict a bloodthirsty
landlords who killed his female tenants and callously dumped their bodies in a
cupboard and a suitcase. A catalogue of other gruesome cases where the DNA
analysis caught the criminals involve are re explained in a clear, jargon free
manner. This book also highlights and explains the astonishing future that lies
ahead for DNA research. Every crime was unique. Every one looked unsolvable.
Many remained so for years. These gripping accounts covering the past 20 years
at last reveal the true stories behind the headlines and send out a chilling
message to the criminal underworld. Now there really is nowhere to hide.
McShane is a journalist and author. As a Fleet Street reporter and then as
associate editor in charge of news at both the Daily Mirror and The Sunday
Mirror he reported on and covered most of the major crime stories of recent
years. He is married with three children
The author of this book, John McShane was a Fleet Street Reporter and then Associate Editor in charge of news at both the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror, and as such reported on and covered many of the major crime stories of recent years. John McShane uses all his 'reporter's skills' to present the reader with a concise, interesting, informative and well-written book.
The book chronicles eighteen murderers or rapists and their evil deeds, but all have one thing in common - they were all brought to justice, some, decades after they committed their crimes, by amazing DNA technology.
This engrossing book takes the reader through each case in a clear and jargon-free way, setting the scene and giving interesting background information about the location, the victim(s), the perpetrators, the Police Officers who investigated the crimes and the forensic scientists who assisted them.
The last three pages of the book contain a glossary, which explains in detail, but never-the-less plain language, each of the scientific terms used, from what exactly DNA is, to how the Forensic Science Service operates, and the work that it undertakes.
I do not intend in this review to discuss every case that is covered in this book, suffice to say that all of them are British and all were reported in the press. However, all of the cases took time to investigate, develop and evolve until the eventual court case. The author takes the reader through all aspects of each and every crime - in some cases multiple crimes, the Police investigation, how DNA was found and how it eventually led to the conviction of those responsible.
Each case is unique in itself, from the first man in the world to be convicted of murder based on DNA evidence, to the amazing story of how the then entirely new technique of 'familial searching' of the DNA database was responsible for the conviction of a man for manslaughter. This, on the strength of DNA information obtained not from him, but from a relative.
The first chapter of the book -'In the beginning', explains how Alec Jeffreys, (now Sir Alec), a genetics lecturer at the University of Leicester had “a eureka moment” in September 1984 when he removed some X-ray film from the development tank and experienced a rare moment in science. That was the beginning of a long and difficult road to the time now, when DNA is accepted as probably the most important tool in the armoury of the criminal justice system. The chapter then elucidates how one of the first cases examined by Jeffreys and his team not only resulted in the conviction of a killer, but also in the release of a suspect from custody who had previously admitted to that particular crime.
The author does not concentrate entirely on DNA but also describes in interesting detail the long and painstaking enquiries often undertaken by the Police during their investigations, and the many twists and turns that major enquiries often encounter.
The book also gives some interesting statistics, not only regarding the crimes written about, but in the way that the criminal justice system in this country works. One example of this is starkly illustrated in Chapter 8. A serial rapist was convicted and also found guilty of a string of horrendous indecent assaults, (all proved by DNA evidence), but because the suspect pleaded not guilty, at least twelve of his victims had to give evidence and be cross-examined in court. The man was given four life sentences for the rapes, plus a further 49 years for the other attacks. The author then states that the convicted man was told that he must serve just 12 years and 5 months before he can be considered for parole!
As stated before, all the cases in this book are British, and all were reported widely in the press at the time, and these reports were, of course, spread over many months, years and even decades. What the author does is to bring together the relevant facts about each case, present them to the reader in an easily understood and interesting manner, whilst at the same time ensuring that all facets of each case are included.
At the end of the book is an Epilogue, in which the author discusses many aspects of DNA, including the fact that the UK Data-base is the largest in the world, with over four million profiles, and a new one being added every 45 seconds. The author then discusses the possible future of DNA, and whether it is acceptable to have hundreds of thousands of entirely innocent people populating the database, and whether that information could, at some future time be used for something other than fighting crime. The opposite view is also stated - that the sacrifice of this particular information on the part of law abiding citizens is not an unreasonable price to pay to make it harder to be a crook, and in turn make the criminal justice system a fairer one.
The author then points out that many criminals, especially those who commit sexual offences, are repeat offenders, so detection protects possible future victims. Access to a larger data-base would not only bring more criminals to justice, but may prevent them from offending in the future.
Government data is then quoted which reveals that, (at the time of writing), the detection rate for crimes where there was no DNA evidence is 26%, but 40% where DNA was present.
Whatever views you may hold, there can be little doubt that all the crimes written about in this book would have remained unsolved, had it not been for DNA.
If you are a reader of 'true crime stories', or have an interest in how DNA has assisted in bringing some of the most evil criminals in Britain to justice, then this is most certainly a book for you. I enjoyed this well written, informative and interesting book, and I recommend it.
Andy Day 2008
Brown Bread Fred
The Autobiography of the
Godfather of British Crime
Author: Freddie Foreman
Publishers: John Blake
Publication Date: 2007
To Britain's underworld, Freddie Foreman is the Godfather. Responsible for the gangland killings of Ginger Marks and Frank
'The Mad Axeman' Mitchell, he was the punisher to those who broke the
underworld's strict code of conduct. Foreman's dramatic kidnap and arrest for
Britain's biggest cash robbery made headlines around the world, yet this daring
raid was just the peak of a safe-blowing, bank-robbing career that had spanned
decades. His story is a fascinating, yet chilling account of life as a
freelance enforcer for the Kray twins, and as London's most feared gangster.
But bloodshed aside, Freddie's often humourous stories reveal a caring man, one
who treated even tied-up security guards with reverence. Giving one cigarettes
as he emptied a safe, Freddie believed violence was always a last resort and
treated people with respect. Revealed in these pages are the amazing details of
the heists, the double crossings, the shoot-outs and the betrayals that
accompanied life as a career criminal when the streets were controlled by fear.
Exposed are the audacious plans behind the century's most famous crimes, the
damning evidence of police corruption and the eye-opening events that gave
Freddie this most revered reputation.
Foreman was born in South London in 1932 and was on trial for his first crime
at the age of just sixteen. It was to be the beginning of a prolific criminal
career that culminated in Britain's biggest cash robbery. Freddie was sentenced
to nine years imprisonment for his involvement and previously served ten years
for murdering Frank "The Mad Axeman" Mitchell as a persona favour for
Ronnie Kray/ Today, Freddie has retired from a life of crime.
Freddie Foreman, born in London in 1932, was there or thereabouts in most of the London crime of any notoriety in the years after the Second World War up to the 1970s. His autobiography reads like a chronicle of the gangs and firms of those years: the Krays, the Great Train Robbers, the rival outfits and the clubbers. But in addition to all that, this book has a wealth of social history, because Foreman provides a truly entertaining and engrossing account of his life.
He writes: 'Throughout my life, I've always felt revolted by liberty-takers and bullies. In the eyes of the law and society I am seen as a villain, but I have always strived to be quiet, polite and well-mannered. My father's belief in civility was ingrained in me. Whatever pub, club or betting shop I owned, I treated people decently…' That statement says a great deal about the content of the book. Under the anecdotes, the heists, the capers and the acts of vengeance there is the solid, consistent life story of a career-criminal. That's not really the right word for what Foreman has done. A better way to explain this is to insist that he realised, when young that crime was a life of glamour and adventure. The morality that goes with that meant, in those days that there were codes of honour and friendship, and Brown Bread Fred is very informative on that.
This is a likeable, charming and straightforward man at the centre of the story: he has had true friends and implacable enemies; at times the story reads like a gangland movie, but at other times it's a traditional autobiography, with loving words for family members, respect given to all where due (notably in the heroics of a City of London policeman who fought tenaciously against the odds) and surrounding all this there is the casebook of 'jobs.'
Foreman narrowly missed being a player in the Great Train Robbery; he was almost involved in some espionage skulduggery, he masterminded some big-time jobs, and he survived a culture of fists and confrontations to emerge as a man with an eye to business, both inside and outside the prison walls.
Here we have the story of Ginger Marks, an account of the 1963 Sharps-Pixley raid and even a wild story of a foray into Ireland. There is drama as well as humour, and one of the real strengths of the book is the ability Foreman has of giving vibrant vignettes of friends. The character of Alf Gerrard for instance, is so surreal and amazing that the man merits a book of his own.
Foreman has also moved in showbiz circles, and has known George Raft, Barbara Windsor and Henry Cooper among many others, but what moves centre stage here is his ability to tell a tale with panache and skill. The reader will almost certainly feel the enthusiasm when Foreman talks about his beloved 211 Club, or about the simple friendships back home in the East End.
Brown Bread Fred gives new angles on several infamous crime cases of the 50s and 60s and at the same time makes us think again about the mindset behind the whole nature of a 'firm' and the people who align themselves to such outfits. The stories are told with pace, authenticity and spirit. Personally, I'm waiting for the second volume with relish.
Nightmare in the Sun
Author: Danny Colins
Publishers: John Blake
Publication Date: 2007
September 2002, house hunters Anthony and Linda O'Malley from North Wales
arrived in Benidorm on Spain's Costa Blanca to bid for a house at auction that
they had earmarked for their retirement. Within a week of their arrival, the
couple had vanished. Alerted by the withdrawal of large sums of cash from the
couple's UK bank account the Welsh police launched their own missing persons
inquiry. Daughter Nicola Welch, frantic with worry but with no idea of what
really happened, made an appeal on Crimewatch for her parents to get in touch.
Six months after the couple's disappearance, following emailed ransome demands
from a mysterious figure codenamed Phoenix, Spainish police recovered their
bodies from the cellar floor in a villa in Alcoy. The full horrifying story was
pieced toegther in a painstaking investigation. The O'Malleys had been tricked
into viewing a property, held captive for five days and forced to hand over the
money they'd saved for their deposit. When they were no longer of use, they
were disposed of in the cellar of the very house they'd hoped would be their
dream home. Investigative journalist Danny Collins helped North Wales officers
rack down the killers in a tense and dangerous search - thisis what he
Collins is a freelance investigative journalist working crime-ridden southern
and eastern Spain from Gibraltar to Valencia. The disappearance of the
O'Malleys was one of the last cases he covered before taking semi-retirement in
2004 as news editor of the CBN News Group to become its senior correspondent.
He is a regualr broadcaster and accomplished cartoonist and writes a regular
weekly column of British affairs for CBN.