Whole Life Term

whole life termToday would be a day like no other.

I parked the car with care – too often, in haste, I’d invoked the wrath of neighbouring drivers by allowing them less than their perceived allowance of door space; the chipped paint on my own vehicle mute testament to angrily-opened driver’s doors – the perpetrators, scuffing their way against my paintwork as they squeezed themselves from their seats into the far-too-narrow gap I’d inconsiderately left them to exit from.

It was unlikely I’d be needing my car for some time now.

I Checked my tie in the rearview mirror before clambering out and making my way towards the building. Main entrance today – more straightforward that way. I took the sweeping stairs to the glass frontage, two at a time, was nodded through the door by the young girl on duty and made my way to reception. Clarke was the desk sergeant, and he looked up at me in surprise as I approached.

“Morning sir. Anything I can help you with?”

“Morning sergeant, as a matter of fact, there is… I need you to arrest me.”

“Arrest you, sir? I don’t quite follow…”

“I’m afraid so, sergeant. I need you to arrest me as an accessory to murder… multiple murders, actually.”


Terrence Donnelly’s arrest, trial and conviction were a media circus, and understandably so. During his six-year reign of terror the Payback Slaughterer had claimed at least 16 known victims, every one of them kidnapped, horribly beaten and maimed, before he murdered and then dumped them unceremoniously, in public spaces. The killer demonstrated a remarkable disregard for disposal of incriminating evidence, leaving an abundance of fingerprints, DNA and – on several occasions – hastily discarded items of bloodied clothing at his crime scenes, along with his signature ‘calling card’: a handwritten note, with the scrawled message, ‘It’s payback time’. He’d even been picked up on CCTV, yet despite everything they had working in their favour, the police were impotent. His dabs and DNA were in none of the databases, and his whereabouts and movements showed no pattern or preferred locality – to the police, he was their ultimate nightmare… a first-time offender, with apparently, no fixed abode.

In an unprecedented – and some would say, wholly unacceptable – comment, the trial judge, Martin Simpkington QC, caused a sensation in handing down his judgment:

ob“You are a vile and depraved criminal who cared nothing for the lives of his victims and the pain caused to their families. It pains me that the remedy of the death penalty is no longer available to those who would see justice properly administered! As it is, I am only permitted by law to impose the maximum possible sentence allowable, therefore I sentence you to life imprisonment, with a recommendation that you serve nothing less than a whole-life term.”

Whether acceptable or not, there were many – both within and outside the judicial system who – albeit behind closed doors – found themselves agreeing with the judge; and public opinion was such that parliament found it increasingly difficult to resist renewed calls for the death penalty to be debated in Westminster. Such was the feeling generated by Donnelly’s crimes.

Remarkably, there were those who were sympathetic to Donnelly – and, although distancing themselves from his actions, a significant number of highly respected and outspoken supporters felt strongly enough about his circumstances to demand action to put right what became popularly described as: ‘A shameful failing on the part of society to protect the weak from the failings of those around them’. Donnelly’s trial had polarised the country – certainly the vicious and callous crimes he committed caused revulsion amongst the populace, but equally certainly there was a morbid and macabre fascination with both the man and his mode of execution: his story was the bread and butter of the tabloid press, and the hacks relished it. Similarly, the details of Donnelly’s life that came out in the course of the court proceedings sparked heated debate – the Slaughterer, according to his defence, was a product of his upbringing: an extreme, yet involuntary reaction to his own circumstances. There, he argued, but by the grace of God, might any one of us, faced with a similar situation, find ourselves following in his footsteps.

Donnelly’s defence, of course, had no hope of success – it was clear, beyond reasonable doubt, and based on the wealth of evidence available, that he had committed multiple murders in the most horrific of circumstances, even so his defence found resonance in the minds of many who felt that society had important lessons to be learned. Following the trial, the press turned their attention to the moral decay within society that had spawned such a killer.

Until the age of 16, his life – at least to the outside world – was unremarkable and pretty much the same as any other young person. However Donnelly, despite appearances, was a very disturbed and disaffected young man. Throughout his trial, he denied all responsibility for his actions, blaming everything on his parents – he vehemently maintained that any guilt for his crimes should attach to them… they had driven him to crime, any fault lay with them – he had simply acted out the perverse destiny their treatment of him was bound to produce. The court disagreed, as did the experts – however his assertions had struck a chord: there was no doubt that he had been grievously let down by his parents and by those whose role it should have been to protect him.

There was nothing unusual about coming from a broken family, but it was the manner in which it was broken that had produced the monster that was Terrence Donnelly. His mother left when he was 8 years old, although it was clear that she had already wrought much of the emotional damage to her young son, long before leaving. Tracey Donnelly had never wanted a child, much less a son, and throughout his formative years she ensured that young Terrence was fully aware of the burden that she felt him to be. He was constantly reminded how he had ruined her body and good looks, simply by having the nerve to be conceived and born; how he had destroyed her social life and career, alienated her friends and placed a financial burden upon her from which she would never recover. Whilst his friends were tucked into bed at night with a teddy bear and bedtime story, he would be locked in his room, alone with just a dirty mattress, whilst the sound of his parent’s arguing about getting him ‘put into care’ kept him awake through the nights.

Today they’d call it abuse, back then it was just ‘neglect’ – whatever you called it, it was damaging. By the time Tracey Donnelly walked out, Terrence had no doubt in his mind that it was entirely his fault – that he alone had driven her away and that he wasn’t like other kids… he didn’t deserve a mother, and he had never been the good little boy that all mothers deserve: he was evil and worthless, why else would she have left?

Tracey’s departure marked a turning point, not only for Terrence but also for his father, a seemingly timid man until now, quiet and reserved, but also a man whose world was now collapsing around him… and to whom did he turn to apportion blame?

His father’s assertion that Terrence had caused Tracey to leave served only to reinforce his own misguided beliefs, and so it was that the young boy felt himself wholly deserving of the hatred that his father now felt towards him. It was a hatred that found voice in relentless, callous and brutal punishment – a phrase that was one day to be echoed in the judge’s summing-up of Terrence’s treatment of his own victims – as his father turned to alcohol to numb the pain of his broken marriage, it served to also numb any remorse he might feel for his treatment of his son.

In later life, Terrence would attribute his fear of the dark and paralysing claustrophobia to being locked, often for hours, in the cupboard beneath the stairs – to his father, it was an ideal solution: Terrence out of sight, was very much out of mind and, whilst his son would whimper, wide-eyed in mortal fear, imprisoned in his dark and lonely hell, father would drink himself into a stupor – the boy would often be forgotten until morning. Although never physically violent, his father ensured that Terrence lived a life full of misery and torment that easily outdid the pain of mere broken bones and bruises.

kitOn the day of his twelfth birthday, Terrence found a stray kitten – a creature that seemed even less significant and more miserable than himself. Here was something that he would care for and love, something that would love him back in return and which would prove that Terrence was not rotten to the core. His father, on discovering the poor creature, was apoplectic with rage, took both cat and son by the scruff of their necks and dragged them to the kitchen. What transpired next was an event that Terrence vividly described in court:

“It was the moment I knew I really was beyond redemption, the moment that proved I was capable of the most despicable acts… acts that even though I knew were my own, performed by my own hands, were not of my own will, but my father’s. I did what he made me do – just as all those other terrible things I have done would never have happened if the actions and words of my father and my mother had not made me do them. As my father stood over me in that kitchen, with my tears streaming down my face, he thrust that poor, helpless bundle of fur into my hands, and I knew what he wanted me to do. I had no choice. He made take that one thing that still represented to me, the love and compassion and happiness that still remained in the world and hold it beneath the water until it was no longer a warm, living, breathing thing, but a cold, sodden, bundle of death and despair… and something in me – the capacity to feel anything of worth – died in me also.”

Terrence became adept at looking after himself. Remarkably, he still attended school – it was an escape for him, a place of sanctuary where he could hear laughter and see friendship, even if he himself felt entirely unable to partake of such things. There were practical benefits too – Terrence became a bully: the need to feed himself and the ease with which dinner money could be liberated from his classmates were simply an opportunity that could not be ignored. Inevitably it lead to trouble.

At the age of 14, Terrence left both school and home. Almost immediately he found himself in a position that he considered to be singularly positive, and despite the usual connotations associated with being a rent boy, he now found himself in control of his circumstances – for once, he felt wanted and even needed; the money he made was more than sufficient to meet his needs and, within the circles in which he now moved, there was even a sense of grudging respect for his talents and strength of character. In comparison with his years at home, life even felt good, so good in fact that Terrence felt no need to involve himself in the shadier side of the lifestyle he’d now adopted – petty crime and drugs were a mug’s game, so he kept his nose clean and avoided trouble – this, for Terrence, was the good life.

At the age of 18, Terrence came to an epiphany.

A seedy hotel room, rented by the hour in the backstreets of a nameless town: his client, an overweight, beer-bellied sales rep…

“He was going at it like the clappers”, testified Terrence under cross-examination, “that’s how it always was when they couldn’t keep it up. Then the john starts slobbering into my ear, ‘tell me you love me’. I didn’t want to hear that crap – I didn’t love no-one, and this tosser thought he owned me. Something snapped inside and I just stood up, turned around and looked him straight in the eye. I could feel my dad stood behind me, like that day with the kitten – hating me and despising me for what I’d done, and suddenly I was thinking this sad, fat bastard, sweating and gasping in front of me meant less to me than that kitten ever did. I knew what I had to do”

“I think I broke his nose when I smashed my elbow into his face: something went ‘crunch’ and suddenly there was blood everywhere. I just kept going for around 20 minutes, I guess. The guy didn’t have a face by the time I was done, then I finished him off by caving in his skull with the bedside lamp. All the time I was waiting for my dad to say ‘well done, I’m proud of you’ – but, of course, my dad wasn’t there, and even if he had been, he’d never have said it.”

dumpTerrence’s first victim was never found – he was just one of those nameless missing persons; people who found themselves on the wrong side of misadventure and for whom there was no escape. The police had no records, no unsolved crimes and no idea whom he might have been. Terrence disposed of the body with ease, wrapping it in a sheet and leaving it in the hotel dumpster in the back yard, to which he gained access using the service lift. It was simple and straightforward – he didn’t bother cleaning up the bloodstains and, quite rightly, assumed that the ‘hotel’ would take little notice of the state in which the room had been left. To all intents, it was the perfect crime and Terrence felt empowered… no longer would he be the victim and no longer would his parent’s legacy rule his life – he was now master of his own destiny – it was payback time!

The following morning, Terrence walked out from the hotel and disappeared; it would be another 15 years before he was to hit the headlines, as the Payback Slaughterer. As to those missing years, Terrence refused to be drawn – when questioned, he would simply respond: “I had a whole lifetime to rebuild – you don’t do that overnight”.


That the killer had been apprehended at all was, in no small part, thanks to the efforts of Detective Inspector Gerald Southway. Gerald was the guy they brought in when all else had failed – a hard-nosed troubleshooter who had a reputation for cracking cases that seemed to be going nowhere. It had earned him the nickname, ‘Gerald the Peril’ – when enquiries were in peril of coming to nothing, D.I. Southway was often the kick up the butt it needed to get things back on track.

policeThe Slaughterer case was three years old by the time ‘the Peril’ was assigned, although it was thought unlikely – behind closed doors – that even he could rescue the investigation. Many were of the opinion that this particular case would be his swansong and – with impending retirement just a few years away – the chances of the case outlasting him were considered fairly high. Although his undoubted tenacity was never in doubt, there were those who thought a younger man would have been a better choice… there was a new nickname making the rounds and ‘Gerry-atric’, would have his work cut out for him, if he intended finishing his career on a high note.

Southway was having none of it; he’d made a career of cracking cases that had stalled or simply come to a dead end and, from his point of view, this one was no different – every criminal slipped up sooner or later and Southway was determined to be around when this one made his fatal mistake… the burning question, was where to begin.

His first day on Operation Parchment was spent alone in the incident room, surrounded by the case files, photographs, press clippings and statements that typified almost every case he’d been involved with – in so many ways they were all the same, but in so many ways, this one was different. He took a thoughtful sip from, his now tepid, mug of coffee and considered once again, the peculiar characteristics of the case: in every other investigation he’d conducted there had been some sort of pattern – if could be the killer’s methods, a common link between victims, or a routine that gave away vital clues. In Southway’s world, patterns were as important as fingerprints – and often more so – fingerprints could tell you who a murderer was, the patterns they established could tell you where to find them. This case was different… there were no patterns, and the fingerprints were giving nothing away.

Southway allowed himself a moment to reflect on past cases: he turned them over in his mind… was there anything they could tell him about the Slaughterer? Mentally he crossed each case off the list… the HGV rapist whose attacks followed the same schedule as his delivery routes, finally brought to justice thanks to his tachographs. The killer who preyed on boy racers, lured to their deaths by too-good-to-be true Subarus on offer in the small ads of free newspapers… each had their own unique pattern that ultimately betrayed them, but not it seemed, this time.

Pushing back his chair, Southway stood and walked across to the whiteboard, with it’s taped-on photographs and scrawled annotations – the known victims:

August 2001: Bethan Toogood, 45, Hartlepool;
November 2001: Angus Holroyd, 22, Cardiff;
March 2003: Unknown woman, mid twenties, Bristol;
July 2004: Ethan Foxworthy, 67, no fixed abode – body dumped in Lambeth;
September 2004: Carl Jeffries, 58,  Chatsworth, (CCTV footage);
October 2004: Diana Tate, 18, Manchester;
October 2004: Eleanor Matthews, 18, Manchester, (bloodstained t-shirt left);
January 2005: Edward Patchard, 36, Liverpool.
July 2005: Mohammed Aslam, 40, Peckham.

He stared at the list and let the numbers, dates and locations filter through his mind… somewhere there must be a pattern. Was the killer becoming more prolific over time? It was a possibility, however Gerry had a suspicion there were more victims that simply hadn’t yet surfaced. The only common theme seemed to be the brutality of the murders, but the killer was as eclectic in his preferred methods as he was at choosing his victims: everything from blunt objects through to knives and broken bottles had featured in his arsenal, not to mention the damage he’d inflicted with his bare hands.

Signing deeply, D.I. Southway resumed his seat and noted down the facts that were known about the killer:

Mobile – own transport? Public transport? Possible hitchhiker? – Check CCTV at transport hubs/motorway junctions around location/dates of murders.

Male, 5’6″ish, caucasian, largish build (t-shirt evidence).

Motive – Point to prove! – ‘payback’ note. Not sexual, probably not misogynist/racist. Extreme brutality. Psycho???

No police record – prints unknown, DNA draws blank, no suspects.

The detective sighed again… not a lot to go on, but it was a start – he just hoped they could make some progress before more victims had to die.


It was always the smell, more than anything else, that turned his stomach. It didn’t matter how many murder scenes you’d attended – particularly those as messy as this one – you never grew immune to the smell of blood and broken bodies. Experienced though he was, Southway still found it difficult to shop at his local butchers’… the smell always brought back images of crime scenes.

This was a particularly horrific one.

Being dragged from bed at 3.00am by the insistent bleeping of a pager is never a good thing, spending the next few hours in close proximity to a dead teenage body, surrounded by the reek of blood, doesn’t help to improve the mood.

multiInitially the matter had been called in as a suicide. Young girl, body twisted from a 40 foot drop from a multi-storey car park seemed pretty straightforward – nasty, but simple. By the time the police arrived, the paramedics were getting twitchy – this was no suicide; this had all the signs of murder. When they found the ‘calling card’, four floors up, tucked behind the windscreen wiper of an old Renault, the call went out that The Slaughterer had struck again. Two hours later, following a nerve-wracking 140-mile, high speed motorway drive, and D.I. Southway was now seeing the killer’s work at first-hand. It was not a pretty sight and neither, he mused, was the car, which now appeared to be the murder weapon – albeit in a most unconventional manner.

The detective found himself wondering how the car’s owner might react… the shattered windscreen and the multitude of large, blood-spattered dents that covered much of the bodywork bore mute testament to the violence that had been wrought. Forensics’ initial view was that the damage to the vehicle and the girl’s injuries were consistent with her head and face being hammered multiple times – with extreme violence – against the car. Death was almost certainly the result of a fractured skull and severed carotid artery: injuries sustained following multiple crushing blows as the attacker had attempted to slam the car boot lid shut against her head.

The blood trail, from the car detailed what happened next, the attacker appeared to have dragged the girl’s lifeless body the short distance to the low wall of the car park, where she’d been hoisted over, falling to the ground beneath, where her body had been discovered by a shiftworker, on his way home. As he stared down at the incident tent that had been erected around the body, Southway shook his head slowly and chewed his lip as he considered the circumstances of the murder. Like the others, there appeared to be no motive or rationale – the only commonality, the shockingly brutal manner in which the girl, and previous victims, had been killed. It worried the detective that they had so much evidence, but so little of any worth – the killer seemed to strike at random, taunting the police with his brashness, then vanishing into thin air. They still had no idea whether his crimes were premeditated or opportunistic; his victims chosen at random, or carefully selected.

Increasingly, Southway found himself wondering what sort of psychopath they had on their hands – the appalling acts of violence being committed were not simply born of a need to kill, there was a purpose to them: either the killer was mentally deranged, or a cold, calculating sadistic beast. These murders held a message… they had a story to tell that Southway knew would reveal the mind behind them, but it was a story that he was struggling to make sense of. The ferrous smell of blood clouded his thoughts… “Too many damn endings, one main character and no plot – what the hell kind of story are we trying to piece together here?”

“Sargeant! Call me if anything crops up – I’ll be at the local nick. When the SOCO guys are done I want a fingertip search of the whole crime scene… get me any CCTV within half a mile and I want to know who the girl is before the day’s out!” The D.I. glanced at his watch: 7.40am; “You know anywhere nearby I can get a decent breakfast?”


“Professor Wellbank, you state in your report that – although the defendant demonstrates certain traits of psychopathy – it is not your opinion that he is, in fact, a psychopath; neither, you aver, is he psychotic.  Perhaps you would explain to the court, in layman’s terms, to what extent exactly do you believe the defendant is mentally unstable, if at all?”

“I’m afraid, it’s not quite as simple as that”, frowned the psychiatrist. “Put as simply as possible, when I interviewed Mr. Donnelly it rapidly became clear that the manner in which he enacted his crimes was significantly at odds with what we would traditionally equate with psychopathy. Certainly, he shows no remorse for his actions, nor does he empathise with his victims – although I believe that to be his choice, rather than a mental aberration – and, whilst he appears to have a vastly diminished sense of right and wrong, he has made it clear to me that he is perfectly capable of exercising sound and appropriate judgment. When he killed, he did so in the full knowledge of the gravity of his actions and with a willingness to cross normal moral boundaries, without any qualms.

It could be argued that Mr. Donnelly, nonetheless does exhibit some of the classic signs of psychopathic behaviour although it could equally well be argued that he does not. For example, he is not gregarious, commanding or socially engaging; he lacks charm and people do not gravitate to him – these are all characteristics that I would associate with the classic underlying traits of a psychopath. If anything, Mr. Donnelly tends towards the sociopathic end of the spectrum – he has no friends to speak of, little purely social interaction with others, and is very much a loner – again, these could be considered to be classic signs of psychopathic tendencies, equally such traits can be attributable to a range of other, more prosaic influences. The manner in which Mr. Donnelly constantly moves from place to place is neither conducive to establishing friendships, neither does it encourage social activities with others. This, coupled with possible latent emotional trauma arising from his upbringing and family life – about which he has maintained a resolute and stoic silence during his sessions with me, which I take to be strongly indicative of historical causality – might easily account for behaviours that might be mistaken for psychopathy.”

“So, are you telling the court, professor, that in your opinion, the Defendant is not a psychopath?”

“That is correct, I do not believe him to be so.”

The barrister paused to look at his notes, before turning to take instructions from the lawyer behind him.

witness“So, you believe that he is not a psychopath, although you concede he may have sociopathic tendencies… that leave us with a dilemma, does it not? If the defendant is, in fact, not a psychopath then how is it that he is capable of carrying out crimes of such sickening violence and brutality? I put it to you professor that these are not the actions of a normal, rational and sound human being – they are the acts of a madman! Someone for whom prison is not the answer? Surely this is an individual who requires specialist treatment in an environment where he can be looked after appropriately… this is not a person who needs to pay his debt to society, he is a person who who has slipped from the cradle of society by virtue of a mental condition over which he has no control! Yet, professor, you are adamant in your report that the defendant is as sane as you or I!

The barrister for the defence paused, allowing his words to permeate the courtroom, then folded his arms and turned once more to address the witness:

“Professor Wellbank, let us say – for the sake of argument – that the defendant is not psychopathic. Yet it is patently obvious to even the man in the street that his behaviour is completely abnormal… surely you will not deny that the defendant must therefore be psychotic?”

The professor removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes wearily:

“No sir, Mr. Donnelly is not suffering from psychosis – he is not delusional, he does not hear voices, or experience hallucinations. He does not live in a world of his own making – he is very much in touch with the real world, and utterly capable of making his own rational and logical decisions – even if such decisions do not fit into the mindset of ‘the man in the street’. By any definition he is rational, calculating and entirely sane.”


Tina Matthews was three days off her 19th birthday when she died. An outgoing, attractive young woman with good prospects and a promising future. On the night she was killed, she’d been celebrating with friends – an early birthday bash at ‘Flashlights’ since she and her boyfriend were going away for a long weekend at a health spa… her choice, and not one that Jack had been particularly impressed with.

Tina was not a drinker: she was the sort of girl who could have a great night out and remain completely sober, the same couldn’t be said for Jack – by the time 2.00am was approaching, he was slurring badly and Tina was suggesting that maybe it was time they should make their way home. Hugs, kisses and birthday greetings were exchanged and the party went their separate ways: Tina and Jack heading back to the multi-storey where they’d earlier parked – that was one of the advantages of not drinking, taxis were never an issue. One of the disadvantages was having to put up with the inebriated rantings of her boyfriend who – as usual – was not at his best after a few too many bevvies. Right now he was ranting loudly about the planned spa weekend, making it absolutely clear to anyone within hearing distance that it was not his idea of having a good time.

“Jack!”, hissed Tina in frustration, “It’s my birthday treat – please don’t spoil things”

Jack was too far gone to take any notice – not for the first time, Tina wondered whether her friends were right after all – she did deserve better. “Jack, I’m not going to put up with you being like this; I’m going to Freshfields whether you like it or not, even if that means I go on my own – but if that’s the way it happens, don’t expect me to be coming back home to you!”

Even in his addled state, Tina’s words seemed to filter through the alcohol haze to strike their target. Jack yanked his arm from Tina’s supporting hand: “Wha’ the hell you talking ’bout? Hey, don’t you go giving no ultimatums to me, bitch! You wanna go to your ‘ealth spa? Huh? You go to your freakin’ ‘ealth spa… I couldn’ give a toss!”

Angrily, he glared at her then staggered ahead. Tina stood in exasperation and sighed – should she follow him? ‘Sod him’, she thought. From the opposite side of the street, Jack turned unsteadily, shouting almost incoherently: “Go to your effing ‘ealth spa! You could do wiv losin’ a few pounds, yer fat bitch!”

That was it. Tina wasn’t going to be spoken to like that one moment longer. Quickly she strode onwards, ignoring Jack’s drunken taunts, which continued from the other side of the road, and briskly turned into Blackheath Street – he could make his own bloody way home! As she entered the car park – main ramp, stupid to attempt the stairwells this time of night – she could still hear him cursing in the distance, what a jerk!

Her footsteps echoed in the deserted car park – it was one of the better ones, CCTV and well-lit, but it still gave her the creeps. Normally she wouldn’t consider being here alone, but she’d not counted on Jack acting such an idiot. She self-consciously pulled her jacket tighter around her shoulders; just one more ramp to go… and there she was: Beryl, her ageing, but fairly reliable Renault, all alone, thankfully where she’d left her earlier that evening. Tina hurried towards her, ten more minutes and she’d be home: bed, a long lie-in and then off to Freshfields tomorrow afternoon… who knows, she might even meet a half-decent and eligible bachelor whilst she was away? Sod Jack, she did deserve better.

“Excuse me, miss… Are you ok?”

The voice behind her was much closer than seemed possible. She increased her pace, focussing hard on Beryl.

“I saw the argument in the street and you seemed upset, so I thought I’d check that you were alright…”

Just ten more paces now. Tina fumbled in her bag; where the hell were the car keys?

“There’s nothing to be afraid of, miss…”

Got them! Tina fished the keys out, now thoroughly unnerved. Blast! In her haste, she’d dropped them at the side of the car; crouching awkwardly, she scrabbled for them, only to find that another hand had reached them first.

“Let me help you with those.” The voice was now right beside her ear, then she felt a deep, burning, raking pain as her pursuer plunged the keys into her leg, tearing upwards through her flesh as far as her thigh. The scream never made it past her lips – silenced by a crushing blow from a fist that felt like concrete.

The last thing Tina Matthews ever heard was her attacker’s voice: “I’m sorry, but you looked so helpless and sad, just like a kitten I once had… and father won’t let me keep you.”, followed by the sickening crunch of her own face being slammed into the car’s side window.

The whole attack couldn’t have lasted more than ten minutes, even so, Terrence was thorough – he was fascinated by the way in which the vehicle’s panels yielded to flesh and bone, and once his attention had been caught by the phenomenon, he simply felt obliged to experiment with every surface the Renault offered – completely fascinating.

Finally, the job was done and he tucked the postcard he’d brought along for the occasion behind the mangled driver’s wiper before dragging the girl’s inert and twisted body to the parapet wall and manhandling her over. This must have been somewhere in the region of his twenty-fifth killing, but he still found himself surprised at the dead weight of even a young girl’s body.

“There you go, dad”, he half-whispered, “another one to torment your non-existent conscience. Perhaps one day you’ll get the message – until then, I’m just going to keep on paying you back for what you did to me.”


“Be a love, Jeff, and go down the chippy – I’m just too knackered to cook tonight.”

Jeff smiled good-naturedly and rubbed his hands together: “How about I do one of my special chillies instead?”

“Jeff, as and when world war three becomes a distinct possibility, I’m sure that the world’s superpowers will come flocking to our door for the recipe for your special Chilli, until then it should be considered a weapon of mass destruction and kept in sealed concrete bunkers until the need for the ‘final solution’ becomes necessary!”

“Aww, it’s not that hot…”

“Honey, the last time you made a chilli, the share prices in Gaviscon tripled overnight…”

“I’ll take that as a yes then?”; Jeff ducked the expertly-thrown cushion that flew his way from the sofa. “Ok, ok… the chippy it is!”

“Girls!”, Jeff shouted up the stairs, “Your mum’s gone on strike again! She pleaded with me to make my special chilli, but I put my foot down, so it’s chips tonight… what do you fancy?”

“Oooh!”, came the excited response, “Sausage in batter for me, please, and not one of those giant ones!”, followed by Samantha’s shrill, “I want cheese and chips with gravy… cheese on the chips, gravy over the top, NOT the other way round!”

Jeff rolled his eyes: Kids! ‘I blame their parents’, he thought, with a smile.

“And daddy…”

“Yes, Sam?”

“No salt, remember? It’s not healthy!”

Jeff laughed, chips, cheese and gravy… but none of that unhealthy salt, of course!

“Ok, back in five.”

Still chuckling to himself, Jeff closed the door behind him and headed off in the direction of Salt & Battery.


Terrence was acutely aware that, to the majority of people, his proclivities would be considered abnormal. This was never in dispute – they were abnormal, in the sense that the brutal murder and mutilation of a fellow human being, even when provoked or justified, was by no means a normal activity in any modern-day society. Whilst he acknowledged that to be perfectly true, Terrence reasoned that his upbringing and the manner in which his parents had treated him – a fellow human being, and their own child, no less – were equally abnormal. Historically, he had been provoked beyond reason to react to his own abnormal treatment in a manner that seemed contingent with his own experiences. As one who had experienced extreme fear and pain, and against whom unwarranted anger had been directed, was it so surprising that he should feel the need to expose others to extreme fear and pain and to the full extent of his own anger? Since he himself had no children, against whom he could vent his feelings – no loved ones or close family – it was necessary to turn to strangers, who no doubt, were loved and close to others.

Terrence felt fully justified in his actions – he had an extremely highly-developed sense of right and wrong, of justice and retribution – for every moment spent in terror, it was fitting that some other should suffer that same terror; for every deprivation and denial he had suffered, a fellow human being should also be deprived of their rights and denied succour; for every scream uttered, every plea ignored, every piece of humanity torn from him, it was only right that someone, somewhere should suffer the same fate. Natural justice – an eye, for an eye.

It mattered little to Terrence that his methods were so extreme – the fact was, he had suffered beyond reason: and every moment of torment that he had suffered something of himself had died… Terrence had died a thousand times, it was only fair and right, that others should also die to make amends. An eye, for an eye.

Then there was payback. When Terrence was finally caught, as he knew one day would inevitably happen – he made no effort to hide from the authorities, after all, but then again, the authorities seemed blind, futile and unable to put a stop to the pain he was causing – just as they had been blind to his own sufferings and the misdeeds of his parents. As a criminal, he accepted he would be punished – expected to ‘pay his debt to society’ – but before that could happen it was necessary that society should have to repay its debt to him. Where was society when he was locked away under the stairs? Where was society when he was neglected, abused and treated as trash? Where was society when, forced by his father, he stood at the kitchen sink, drowning the only thing that had any meaning in his world? Society’s debt to Terrence was huge, and society was just going to have to suffer the pain of paying him back. An eye, for an eye.

What about his father? He knew his father had no conscience – just as Terrence knew exactly what he was doing when he murdered innocent strangers, so too did his father know exactly what he was doing when he destroyed his son’s life. Terrence had no idea where his father might now be, neither did he care, but he knew that one day, somehow, his father would learn what Terrence had done and would make that connection… perhaps, just perhaps, the father who had never shown any conscience over his treatment of his own son, might develop a conscience for those deaths that had resulted from his son’s actions. Terrence may have been the murderer, but it was his father who carried the responsibility.

busA sudden gust of cold wind whipped through the bus shelter making Terrence shudder involuntarily; he was not at his best, and spending time rationalising his actions was rarely a positive activity. Almost inevitably, he felt the need to strike back, never mind that he’d already taken a life less than 24-hours ago.

He peered through the smeared windows of the shelter, realising that he was not only angry, but hungry. A slight waft of cooking smells – stale oil and vinegar – hung in the air from the chip shop opposite: Salt & Battery – ridiculous name and one that Terrence imagined its creator had felt ridiculously smug about when coining it. Catching another whiff of chip shop aroma, he mused about the peculiarities of the human senses and how a smell, that under other circumstances, would be so distasteful could possibly be so pleasing right now. The hunger was not helping his mood, but there was little he could do about it with less than a pound in his pocket.

Terrence’s reverie was interrupted by the arrival of a bus. The clatter of the engine and squeal and hiss of air brakes were an intrusion.

“Are you gonna get on, or what, mate?”, barked the driver through the open doors.

Terrence ignored him.

“Suit yourself then!”, and the bus pulled away in a cloud of fumes and noise.

He couldn’t sit here all night: he was cold, hungry and rattled; time to make a move – he’d chance his arm at the chippy, see what he could get for his loose change. He headed across the road, irritated as hell, only to be met by some gormless idiot practically bowling him over as he reached to open the door.

“Sorry son, didn’t see you there -trying to get this lot home before it goes cold, or my life won’t be worth living!” – the idiot winked at him.

It was the wink that pretty much sealed the idiot’s fate. If there was one thing Terrence couldn’t abide, it was the kind of careless camaraderie that some people considered essential to social interaction. Terrence waved the idiot past, waited briefly, then started to follow with a confident stride. A short walk later saw the idiot turn into a modern housing estate – it couldn’t have suited Terrence better – the place was a warren of roads and alleys and, off to the left, a fairly substantial building site where new homes were being thrown up like Ikea flatpacks. It was time to make his move:

“‘Scuse me, mate, got the time, please?”

Jeff paused. Always the way, within sight of home and he had to stop to be a good Samaritan. Carefully resting the carrier bag containing the family’s meal on a wall, he fished in his pocket for his mobile – he hadn’t worn a watch for years, and seemed to spend his whole life regretting it – “It’s eight-thirty ma…”

The force with which Terrence swung the brick into Jeff’s face shattered both his jaw and nose and crushed his right eye socket. The idiot dropped like a stone, providing Terrence with all the incentive he needed to drive his heel into both knees; the resultant popping and snapping reassured Terrence that the idiot wasn’t going anywhere fast.

The pain from two disclocated knees rocketed through Jeff’s body: unconsciousness, when it came, was both swift and a blessing.

buildingTerrence felt good. Mopping up the last of the gravy with a handful of chips, he let out a satisfied belch, before wiping his greasy hands on his jeans. Conveniently, the idiot had been too far gone to cause any problems whilst Terrence gorged himself, but now he was starting to become lucid and noisy, and something would have to be done about that.

“Thanks for the food, mate – can’t tell you how much I needed that – bit much for little me though. Fancy a sausage?”, Terrence proffered a, now cold, sausage in batter, waving it in front of the idiot’s face: “No? Well, I suppose you’ve more pressing things to think about right now? Have to say, you’re not looking good – I’ve seen it before, many times… that shivering is your body going into shock. Do you know how many people die from shock? You’d be amazed. Of course, you’re not going to die – not from shock anyway, that would be unfair.

Oh yes, the world is a very unfair place; that’s something I learned the hard way. I’ve lain in the darkness, scared, shivering and in pain like you, many, many times. Just like you, I’ve prayed that there was someone who would hear me, come to my rescue and make everything alright… but no-one ever did. 

No-one is going to, mate.”

The idiot whimpered. Terrence reached down to pick up the scaffolding pole lying at his feet and hefted it experimentally.

“I, er, emptied you’re wallet, I’m afraid – not normally my thing, but I’m a bit skint at the moment and I get the feeling I’m not going to be welcome around these parts for much longer. You won’t be needing it, anyway.”

Terrence slowly rose to his feet: “Who’s Kate, by the way?”

The idiot jerked and twitched, a low groan escaping his ruined face.

“I think she might be worried about you… she’s been calling your ‘phone every few minutes”

As if on cue, the phone buzzed into life, illuminating the small pile of belongings that Terrence had removed from his victim’s pockets. The amusing parody ringtone filled the night air, as Yoda’s voice announced the incoming call. Terrence picked up the ‘phone, glancing at the display.

“There she is again… would you like to speak to her?”

“Hello! Jeff? Where the hell are you? We’re all worried sick here?… Jeff?”

“I’m so sorry, Kate. Jeff can’t speak to you right now, but I can pass the ‘phone to him, if you like?”

“Who is this? Where’s Jeff? What the…”

Terrence tossed the ‘phone to the ground: it hit Jeff in the face.

“Best say goodbye now, Jeff”, smiled Terrence, giving him a friendly wink, before bringing the scaffold tube down upon the prone form in front of him.

What transpired over the next ten minutes was later described as a frenzied attack – it was nothing of the sort. Terrence took a pride in methodically and systematically dealing with his victims and this occasion was no exception. The scaffolding pole was an excellent and most efficient weapon, one with which he was convinced he could break every bone in the idiot’s body, and he pretty much succeeded. When it was all over, he squatted down to retrieve the mobile ‘phone, hung up and – after a moment spent figuring out the device – tapped out a short text: ‘It’s payback time’, before selecting ‘last caller’ and pressing ‘send’.

“There you go, dad – another one for your collection. Did you see how that Kate cared about him? You could learn a thing or two from her.”

Pausing only to give the mess of flesh and bone beside him a final kick, Terrence slunk off into the night.


“Mr Donnelly, do you seriously expect this court to consider you to be the victim in this case?”

“Well, certainly. How else would you describe a person who has suffered trauma, torture and deprivation at the hands of others for a large part of their life? A person who has never been afforded what are generally accepted as basic human rights and one for whom no effort has been made to put right the wrongs that were perpetrated against them?”

“You speak of basic human rights, Mr Donnelly”, the lawyer interjected, “what about the basic human right to life of those who were to become your own victims? You have said in your defence that your acts are simply ‘natural justice – an eye, for an eye’. Surely, as someone who describes themself as an unwilling victim at the hands of others you must have realised that two wrongs do not make a right?”

Terrence Donnelly leaned forward in the dock, locking eyes with the barrister:

“And this is precisely where you fail to grasp my point, sir. I do not deny that I deprived those people of their right to live, but that was the only basic human right that I took from them. I was denied almost every right that every other person in this courtroom takes for granted – yes, nobody ever deprived me of my life, but I experienced every possible punishment short of that – a few people’s deaths are nowhere near adequate recompense for what I was put through!”

The barrister paused, holding Donnelly’s intent stare.

“And on that point, Mr Donnelly, both the law and I must disagree with you. Now, if, as you say, the act of taking the lives of your victims was insufficient recompense for your own perceived mistreatment, would that account for the brutal and inhuman manner in which you not only murdered your victims but – on almost every occasion – continued to inflict the most horrific injuries and damage to their bodies even after death had occurred? Was this your method of exacting the recompense that mere killing alone could not?”

“When you’re dead, you’re dead… what does it matter after that? How does what I did differ from cutting up a body at an autopsy, or cremating a corpse?”

“Mr Donnelly, you’re evading the question. Let me put it another way – why, having killed your victim, did you then go on to beat them to a pulp?”

Terrence shook his head and sighed: “Look, I don’t care how many years you spent in law school, or how educated, sane or rational you might think you are, can you honestly tell me that you, or for that matter anybody else here, has never been driven to the point where you’ve wanted to smash somebody’s skull in with a hammer, and keep on pounding until there’s nothing left? It’s human nature – everybody contemplates killing someone, sometime in their life, and everybody has planned how they’d do it and how they’d make their victim suffer. I’m no different to anybody else.”

“Well, Mr Donnelly, that is your unsubstantiated opinion and since we are primarily here to decide whether your actions are indeed consistent with with normal human nature, or entirely aberrant, then shall we leave it to the jury to decide with regard to what is rational and sane?”.

The barrister made a note on his brief, before looking up to the judge, “My Lord?”

“Yes, Mr Rowles, it has been a long day and if this is a convenient point, perhaps we might adjourn to tomorrow morning.”


van“Bloody town is in lockdown”, grumbled Davies, dumping a pile of paperwork and styrofoam cup, half full of coffee, on the desk.

“My fault, I’m afraid”, responded Southway, turning from the map that covered most of one wall in the hastily set up incident room. “D.I. Southway, I’m leading the investigation.” He extended a hand to the flustered Davies.

“Well let’s hope you can make some sense of this nightmare. This is a quiet town most of the time – this is way beyond anything we’re used to dealing with.”

Southway perched himself on the edge of the desk, rubbing his forehead

“Don’t know how you can drink that stuff,” he pointed to the coffee, “I tried some earlier – you’d think in this day and age you could get decent coffee from a machine? To be honest, sargeant, this is way beyond anything any of us are used to dealing with, but we haven’t a lot of choice. We’ve got to stop this guy and this could be our biggest break yet”

As the room started to fill up, Southway made his way to the front, introducing himself as he did so to those faces new to him and stopping to talk with colleagues who’d been working the case with him, and who’d been dragged from their beds back home at such short notice. He tried not to dwell on his own bed – he was desperately tired but congratulated himself on his decision to stay overnight, rather than travel back earlier that afternoon. The thought that he’d have otherwise had to drag himself half way across the country twice in the same day didn’t bear thinking about, he smiled inwardly, perhaps ‘Gerry-atric’ wasn’t such a bad description after all!

At precisely 2.00am he called the team to order, bringing them up to speed on the day’s developments.

“Thank you all for making yourselves available at such an ungodly hour, particularly those of you who’ve travelled to get here – I wouldn’t have summoned you, unless I felt it absolutely necessary, however considering the tragic events of today, I felt I had little choice.

Some of you will be intimately familiar with Operation Parchment, whilst there will be those of you who have quite literally been thrown into this only today by the events that have taken place here. You’ve all been provided with briefing notes, but I think it’s more important that we focus on the salient points, rather than get mired down by the historical details of this case.

In brief, at 2.15 this morning, a young woman, Tina Matthews, was discovered brutally murdered outside the Blackheath car park. She had been beaten to death against her own vehicle, before being thrown over the car park wall. A note left at the scene of the crime, together with the assailant’s methodology, indicated that Tina may have been murdered by the person popularly known as ‘The Payback Slaughterer’ – not, I might add, my preferred title, and I’d appreciate it if everyone concerned could stick to ‘the killer’, or similar, when referring to him?

Tina’s boyfriend – Jack Taunton –  was brought in for questioning, but could tell us little, other than they’d been out celebrating her birthday and rowed on the way back to the car. He, or she – it’s unclear – stormed off, and that’s the last he saw of Tina. Needless to say, he’s distraught and blaming himself, but as far as we’re concerned, he doesn’t figure in this investigation.

Crucially, we have clear CCTV footage from the car park entrance, which we’ve compared with footage recovered at Chatsworth from 2004, and which undoubtedly shows the same suspect.

Our killer is male, around 5’10”, caucasian, clean shaven, glasses, and was wearing a camouflage combat jacket – unfortunately, we don’t have a clear face shot. What we do have, you’ll find in your briefing pack.

Roadside checks were set up and all exit routes to the town have been policed throughout the day. We’ve also been pulling all the town centre CCTV footage, which is still being analysed.

At 21:40 this evening, a call was received at the local control centre from a Kate Elias, concerned about her husband, Jeff, who had been expected back home from the local chip shop over an hour earlier. He was failing to answer his mobile and she was concerned there may have been an accident. A further, panic-stricken call was received from Kate Elias at 21:54, to say that a stranger had answered Jeff’s ‘phone and she was now fearful for his safety. A patrol was asked to call at the address, but with resources already stretched by the cordon for the earlier murder, we were unable to respond before a third call came through from Mrs Elias – she’d received a text from her husband’s ‘phone – ‘It’s payback time’.

Jeff Elias’ body was found, beaten to a pulp, on a building site at the Colinborough Estate, no more than a hundred metres from his front door. The killer had bludgened him with a scaff pole and emptied his wallet.”

The D.I. looked up from his notes and surveyed the officers in front of him.

“We…”, he paused, cleared his throat, then continued: “We are extending our trawl of CCTV footage to a corridor between the town centre and Colinborough and we are maintaining a high-profile presence, together with helicopter assistance in the area. A press conference has been fixed for 08:00 and I want to be able to present them with as much as we possibly can – camera footage, descriptions, possible locations… whatever we have that can nail this bastard.

This is a tragic series of events which may ultimately be the break we’ve been looking for. Throughout this investigation I’ve looked for a pattern that will lead us to the killer – there hasn’t been one, other than the seemingly random nature of his attacks. We don’t have a pattern even now, but what we do have is a trail that we can follow – and it’s a fresh trail, and it’s going to lead us straight to him.

Now, get your arses into gear! Nobody sleeps until we have him in custody!”

The press conference had been gruelling: Southway hoped it hadn’t been for nothing; for what seemed the hundredth time that morning, he turned his attention to the case files in front of him. Throughout his career he’d relied on his ability to identify patterns that contained the vital clues leading to arrest, but he had no patterns to go by. Without patterns of behaviour, all Southway could hope for was an unexpected breakthrough… the stupid mistake, that so often exposed the criminal who by all other means had remained hidden. Had the killer now made his own stupid mistake, wondered Southway? Striking twice in the same town, in the same day was either pure arrogance or an indication that the killer was losing control – either way, it seemed to the detective, it was a mistake. Now, with descriptions, CCTV footage and detailed analysis of his movements over the past 36 hours in circulation – press, TV and door-to-door enquiries – he was certain they were only one step behind. Even so, it wasn’t that simple: the town was gripped by fear and with people locked behind closed doors, terrified to venture out, there were fewer eyes on the streets.

Southway was acutely aware that the clock was ticking and with every sweep of the hands, the trail was growing colder. Damn!

“Sir…”, a young WPC paused at the doorway: “We’ve got a lead.”

Southway snapped from his reverie.

“Bus driver reckons he saw someone matching the description we’ve issued waiting at the Blackstone Island bus stop last night, around twenty past eight. Remembers him pretty clearly too – says the guy wouldn’t get on the bus and gave him a ‘wicked stare’ when he told him to get a move on. Totally freaked the driver out – he says he’d recognise the face again anywhere… Sir, that bus stop is just across the road from the chip shop Jeff Elias was going to.”

Southway leaned back in his chair, stroking his beard thoughtfully, “Where’s the bus driver now?”

efit“He’s given a statement and he’s with the e-Fit guys now – we should have something from them within an hour or two.”

“Excellent. Once we’ve got a picture, I want it everywhere – national coverage, newspapers, TV and every other force. Get me a copy of the bus driver’s statement and let’s see if we can start making progress!”

“Yes sir, anything else?”

Southway grinned, “Yes, actually. Is there anywhere around here I can get a decent coffee?”

When the e-fit finally came through, Southway found himself – as had been the case many times before in his long career – looking into the eyes of a murderer. He fought the sensation of familiarity – it was almost as if he knew the man whose likeness he held in his hands; occupational hazard – you spend enough time around murderers and rapists and you learn the signs. They all look familiar, you feel as if you know them… and, in a way, you do, intimately… every aspect of their lives, the way their minds work and what is is that drives them to do what they do.

Southway shivered, and closed the file. They say familiarity breeds contempt, and he had nothing but contempt for the man he intended to bring to justice.


“Ladies and gentlemen, this has been a most distressing week for all of you. Seldom has the undertaking of one’s civic duties been so painful or as deeply affecting as this trial. Even those of us for whom such matters fall within our professional remit – myself, my colleagues and the officers of this court – have been shocked, appalled and deeply troubled by the things we have heard and which you, the jury, are now required to adjudicate on.

juryI will not rehearse further the sordid details of Terrence Donnelly’s inhuman treatment of his victims, neither do I suggest that those should form the focus of your deliberations. Your task is merely to consider, beyond reasonable doubt, whether Terrence Donnelly committed these atrocious acts as a cold, calculating killer, in full command of his senses, or whether he is, in fact, incapable of determining the difference between right and wrong and lacks the mental capacity to distinguish between the two. In short, taking into account the nature of his crimes, his own testimony and that of the expert witnesses the court has heard from, are Terrence Donnelly’s acts those of a sane person?

If it is your opinion that Terrence Donnelly’s mental state is such that he is fully capable of understanding the nature of his crimes and committed them in the full knowledge that they were indeed evil, then he will stand trial for each and every one of those atrocities.

You have heard Terrence Donnelly argue in his defence that he is the victim – a victim of his upbringing, a victim of society’s neglect and a victim of circumstances beyond his control. You should not let these assertions colour your judgment – Terrence Donnelly is the one on trial here and, no matter what justification he may seek to give, he has clearly and unequivocally broken the law and done so in a manner that is wholly disproportionate to whatever provocation he may maintain as justification. You have not been called to consider the circumstances of his life that may have contributed to his crimes; neither are the facts disputed – by his own admission, Terrence Donnelly has murdered twelve innocent people, of which we have knowledge, and others, as yet unknown. Your task is to decide whether he did so whilst fully in control of his mental faculties.

There is no question that Terrence Donnelly is guilty – that much is fact – the question you must consider, is to what extent he is guilty. Is Terrence Donnelly fully accountable for his actions, or does he lack the mental capacity to own his guilt?

You have heard expert psychiatric opinion on behalf of both the prosecution and the defence. The prosecution has argued convincingly that whilst Terrence Donnelly may exhibit a range of symptoms consistent with mental disturbance he nevertheless carried out his attacks fully aware of what he was doing, the consequences of his actions and the nature of his deeds. The prosecution urges you to consider Donnelly’s own testimony, in which he has stated that he chose to commit his crimes of his own free will and in the full knowledge that in the eyes of law and society they were wrong. Whilst his interpretation of the wrongness of his crimes may be at odds with the law and acceptable behaviour, he has never disputed that his activities are considered unacceptable and would not be tolerated by ‘the man in the street’, and he accepts that according to the law he has indeed committed numerous offences. 

Terrence Donnelly would have you believe that by some warped – and wholly incorrect – operation of, what he terms, ‘natural justice’ his crimes are not unreasonable. Again, it is for you to decide whether this is a view that any rational person might hold.

Despite the sickeningly brutal nature of his attacks, the considered opinion expressed in the psychological evidence offered by the prosecution paints a picture of a man who has acted calmly, methodically and consciously to perpetrate his crimes. Both the prosecution – and indeed, Terrence Donnelly himself – are of the opinion that there are no deep-seated psychoses or mental aberrations that prompted his crimes; he does not hear ‘voices’ in his head; he does not suffer amnesia or any loss of memory recall in relation to his crimes, and; he himself has stated under oath, that on each occasion he killed a fellow human being, both the act and the manner in which it was carried out were of his own choosing. If therefore your findings are consistent with these statements and with Terrence Donnelly’s own plea, then you must find him to be sane and fully accountable for each of his crimes.

The defence have argued that Terrence Donnelly is mentally incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong and that his actions stem from that mental incapacity. My Learned Friend has suggested that Donnelly has no will of his own and is merely a puppet of his own psychosis, acting out scenarios over which he has no control and no choice. The defence would have you believe that Terrence Donnelly is indeed a victim, one who deserves – if not our compassion – then certainly our understanding and that his crimes have been the ultimate outcome of his childhood trauma. This may be so: there is no doubt there is some degree of ’cause and effect’ in Terrence Donnelly’s life, however – as I have already outlined – the effect surely outweighs the cause by several degrees of separation. The defence will say that this is incontrovertible evidence of his mental incapacity – the prosecution says this is not the case: Terrence Donnelly has spent the greater part of his life seeking revenge against society in general for the perceived misdeeds he believes society has inflicted upon him. This is not the result of mental illness, it is a cold and calculated campaign of payback.

You have heard my Learned Friend speak of ‘diminished responsibility’, and yet Terrence Donnelly in his own evidence has accepted full responsibility for his actions. He has not tried to defend himself in the form of denial or by playing down his actions, rather he has intimated that it is society which is at fault for not understanding his point of view. He fully acknowledges the weight of his crimes, yet argues we should judge them as acceptable and reasonable, based upon his own interpretation of natural justice. 

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury – I put it to you that Terrence Donnelly is a cold-hearted, implacable murderer who feels completely justified in his actions. He fully understands what he has done and has committed his crimes in the full knowledge of what they are. He has shown no remorse, no pity and no compassion throughout – instead, he expects us to feel sorry for him and to applaud him for his crimes, which he feels are fully justified as a ‘victim’ of society’s failures.

Is Terrence Donnelly insane? That is for you to decide.”


Terrence Donnelly was arrested at 14:52, on 11 October at the junction of Tapsall Street and Wickham Road. He did not resist arrest. In his police statement, Anwar Hussain, 54, described how an agitated man, wearing a combat jacket which appeared to be covered in what Mr Hussain thought to be blood stains, called at his newsagents on Tapsall Street to purchase a pasty and chocolate bar. He paid with a £20 note and left without waiting for his change. This may well have been connected with the photofit occupying most of the front page of The Chronicle lying on the counter – Mr Hussain immediately dialed 999 and Donnelly was apprehended shortly thereafter.


Terrence Donnelly was initially charged with the murders of Tina Matthews and Jeff Elias and subsequently, following forensic matching of evidence, a further 9 murders. He was remanded in custody by the magistrates court, where he pleaded guilty and asked for numerous further unspecified offences to be taken into consideration.


“Now, what’s all this nonsense about, Gerry?”

Chief Superintendant Arthur Wilkes steepled his fingers and frowned across the desk at his D.I.: “I know Parchment has been tough on you – it’s been tough on all of us – but you got him, and now he’s going to be tried… all thanks, in no small part to you. Hell, Gerry, you gave evidence at the trial.”

Gerald Southway didn’t look good – his face ashen, and sunken eyes, made him appear much older than he was, Wilkes saw that his hands were trembling.

“Gerry, perhaps you need a break… maybe even consider bringing your retirement forward a couple of months? Heaven knows, you deserve it. Now, spit it out: what’s this all about?”

Southway looked into his superior’s eyes. He swallowed, mouth dry. Now was the time – the truth had to come out.

“Like I said to the Desk Sargeant, you need to arrest me…”

“Don’t be ridiculous, man! For crying out loud, what are you on about?”

Southway exhaled loudly, “Sir, if you’re not going to arrest me, then at the very least, question me under caution – this needs to go on the record.”

Wilkes shook his head in exasperation, “And what exactly am I supposed to caution you for?”

“Accessory to murder, sir, I wish to make a full confession.”

Wilkes examined the man across the desk carefully, then came to a decision. Leaving his chair, he walked across the room and bellowed through the doorway, “Mace! Interview room three, now!”

A surprised Inspector Mace appeared at the door, a quizzical look on his face.

“Take a seat, Mace and shut the door behind you”. Wilkes gestured to the seat beside him then, once Mace was seated, turned his attention back to Southway:

“Detective Inspector Gerald Southway, you do not have to say anything. However, it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence – do you understand?”

Mace raised a questioning eyebrow, but remained silent. Wilkes punched the record button on the tape machine, before continuing.

“Thursday, 26th July, 09:24am, tape recording of interview of Detective Inspector Gerald Southway. Interview conducted under caution at D.I. Southway’s request by Chief Superindent Arthur Wilkes. Also Present, Inspector John Mace and Sargeant Adam Jones… OK, Gerald, what do you have to tell us?”

Southway gathered his thoughts then, in a measured calm voice, began to speak:

“For several months I have been the officer in charge of Operation Parchment which ultimately led to the arrest and successful trial of Terrence Donnelly to ascertain whether he is fit to be tried for multiple assaults, murder and unlawful disposal and interference with corpses. Subsequent hearings are to take place in due course.

I gave evidence at the original trial and have followed the proceedings with interest on a personal and professional basis and I have become very familiar with the evidence given by Terrence Donnelly and it is his testimony that has led to me making this statement today.

Prior to joining the force, my life was very different – it was, in every way, a complete shambles. My behaviour and habits had led to the breakup of my marriage and the alienation of my family until, finally, events came to a head and I realised I needed to get a grip on my life and make drastic changes. I sought professional help and, over the course of some three to four years, I gradually became what I suppose you would call a changed person.

I turned a new leaf and decided that I wanted to give something back… something of worth that would have value and would make up for all those years I’d messed up, so I applied to join the Force and, to my complete surprise, I was successful.

That was a long, long time ago and now, when I look back on it, I find it hard to believe that the person I once was could ever have existed. In fact, I haven’t looked back for many years and I’ve devoted myself entirely to my police career, moving up through the ranks until I arrived at where I am today. Many would say, a career to be proud of… but then, they never knew me before I joined the Force.”

Southway paused, then lowered his gaze.

“I never expected the past to come back to haunt me… but it has.

The truth became clear to me as I read through the transcripts of Terrence Donnelly’s testimony. You see, there was a single event, all those years ago, back in the bad old days, that shook me up so much I finally realised things couldn’t go on as they were – I needed help.

That event was when my fourteen year-old son walked out of my life forever, and finally, his angry, violent, alcoholic waster of a father realised that he’d driven away everything that ever mattered to him.”

Southway continued, almost in a whisper:

“All those years ago, and I’d forgotten… but now, all those memories come flooding back… I’d even managed to forget about the kitten…”

He looked up, tears glistening on his cheeks.

“Don’t you see? It’s all my fault… It’s all because of me. He changed his name… wanted nothing more to do with me, but that doesn’t change the facts… Terrence Donnelly, is my son.”

whole life term

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