Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Curious Omission of Richard Walter in the Judgment on Stuart Syvret

With Wikileaks making news headlines, and our own leaker of private information, Stuart Syvret, I've been reviewing the judgment reported on another blog in the case of Stuart Syvret:

On Mr Syvret's blog is the following statement, not by him, but as part of a leaked document about Nurse X:

Mr. Richard Walter is a US Forensic Psychologist based at the Michigan State Prison. He has considerable experience in the field of offender profiling and visited Jersey to attend the International Police Surgeons Conference. Whilst in Jersey, I took the opportunity to relay the facts of this case to him. He confirmed my suspicions that X possessed the hallmarks of a serial killer and that he was an extremely dangerous man. (1)

Just a few of Mr Walter's significant successes are as follows:

In 1989, Walter provided the psychological profile for mass murderer John List, who had been in hiding for 18 years. Using Walter's profile, forensic sculptor Frank Bender was able to appropriately age the suspect in a bust displayed on America's Most Wanted; List was captured the next day.

In Lubbock, Texas in 1999, City Police solved the murder of Scott Dunn with Walter's aid. This is a rare case where a conviction was garnered in the absence of a body.

In 2005, the Hudson, Wisconsin Police Department consulted with the Vidocq Society on the cold case double homicide of Dan O'Connell and James Ellison. With the help of Walter, the Hudson police solved the case. The murderer was a priest who was trying to keep child molestation allegations from surfacing. (2)

You might think that would provide a degree of support for the public interest defense, especially as Mr Walter is a also a founding member of the Vidocq society, which has now been instrumental in solving hundreds of crimes, and a fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Science.

Walter began his career as a criminal psychologist at the LA County medical examiner's office in the 1970s, and since then has profiled the perpetrators of some of world's most infamous crimes - including the serial killer Colin Ireland, who terrorised the gay community in London in the 1990s. He is recognised as one of the creators of modern criminal profiling. One would have thought his judgment - that the Nurse in question was "an extremely dangerous man" would have carried some weight. The Jersey police must have been over the moon that he was available, by chance, to bring in to look at this case.

But in fact, the summing up by Assistant Magistrate Mrs B. Shaw gave the impression that Senator Syvret was a lone (and aberrant) voice in deciding, on his own personal judgement, that the Nurse was "an extremely dangerous psychopath" - Mr Richard Walter's professional opinion is simply ignored.

The defendant describes X to the Police in his e-mail sent shortly after the blog was published as "plainly and unambiguously an extremely dangerous psychopath.. This is how he represented X on the blog. The comments together with the report give a seriously misleading picture of an unchallenged and very dangerous man.(3)

Isn't that a misleading picture?

(1) Stuart Syvret blog
(2) Wikipedia
(3) HDGL Farce Blog


Anonymous said...

and we just carry on like nothing happened.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think B shaw discarded what Richard Walter had to say. Do you not think she should have taken it into account.

TonyTheProf said...

Quite frankly, yes - otherwise her judgement on the "dangerous psychopath" blog posting seems purely Stuart Syvret's invention, which it plainly was not.

Anonymous said...

Once again Tony you have put your finger on a point that many others - myself included - have missed. And a most valid point it is too.
The two obvious reasons that Mrs Shaw disregarded this important evidence are -
* she simply chose to ignore it because it did not suit the desired outcome of the trial; or
* she is incompetent.
If she had a good reason to disregard this evidence, she should have said so and given the reasons for so doing.
This should be of some assistance to Mr Syvret in his appeal.

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent blog posting. So simple and yet so right.

So what is going wrong in our court of law. Why has B.SHAW discarded this. Is it the same problem that Senator Le Marquand now suffers.

Tony do you think we have a problem

TonyTheProf said...

The strong point of her judgement, and the weakest point in Stuart's case is:

2. The defendant makes little reference in his defence to the need to name Y. In cross examination he said that it was right to name her as she was the
type of staff member who turns a blind eye and he needed to expose failings in H&SS staff

102 What possible justification or public interest there could have been in naming Y, I have no idea.

I'd have to concur with that, I'm afraid. I can see a legitimate case for naming Nurse X, but not the individual whom the judgment calls Y.

TonyTheProf said...

However, this is INCONSISTENT:

"5. As a result of the blog, there was an independent review of the
investigation by the Metropolitan Police. The review concluded that the 1999 investigation had been thorough; there were no further areas that could or should have been pursued either in 1999 or in 2009; there were no grounds to
reopen the enquiry."

"36. However, the review recommended that an up to date risk assessment be carried out on X. This was done expeditiously and the recommendation that X
should not be employed in a nursing or care environment was sent to the nursing regulatory body (now the NMC). Registration has expired and is not expected to be renewed."

Now these items seem to contradict one another:
- no further areas that could or should have been pursued
- the review recommended that an up to date risk assessment be carried out

I would have thought the recommendation was suggesting pursuing a further area - an up to date risk assessment.

Of this risk assessment, the judgment notes:

"This was done expeditiously and the recommendation that X should not be employed in a nursing or care environment was sent to the
nursing regulatory body (now the NMC)."

Surely this was a failing of the original inquiry - an area that "could and should have been pursued" earlier?

Anonymous said...

So why is the magistrate being inconsistent should we not be expecting something better from a court of law.

Was this case too much for B shaw

Anonymous said...

128 ........In my view they were not the measured and considered words of a responsible elected representative who is deeply concerned for public safety. .......

If Stuart had redacted the name/s, surely this would have had a far worse impact, the public would have feared every nurse, it would have damaged morale in the nursing profession and there may have 'nurses' being wrongly accused. I think it was in the Public Interest to know the name of this 'dangerous person'.

Anonymous said...

What is a rational explanation to what is happening to our magistrate court judges.

Is it power from above or incompetence. Sometimes what looks like a conspiracy is just pure incompetence. Make no mistake, incompetence is breeding like rabbits in the spring time over here.

But should we expect incompetence from a magistrate. What rational explanation is there for what you have pointed out

TonyTheProf said...

Rational explanations?

(1) she overlooked this - after all Stuart did not cite it in his defense, and she was focused on his defense rather than all the material on the blog. After all, there was a whole mass of material to consider, and the legal mind - rather than the scientific mind - may considers only what has been brought into the court as evidence, rather than looking at the whole issue.

(2)she was considering evidence for a guilty verdict rather than looking for any extenuating circumstances, possibly because she was riled with Stuart's behaviour to the Court ("crooks and gangsters" quote just after he came back to Jersey and exited the Court, sitting down, etc); in other words, subconsciously conflicted by personal feelings, however much she consciously tried to set them aside.

Anonymous said...

38. A referral to the Police would have been sufficient. The Police were due to review the case in any event. No date had been set but the blog merely brought the review forward.

Do the SOJP have a policy of reviewing cases after X amount of years? If so where did the Maguire's fit in, perhaps checking if Mr Maguire had regained his health sufficiently to stand trial?

It also begs the question, how many old cases, have been routinely reviewed where a new recommendation had been made!!

'blog merely brought the review forward.'

If that was not the case, Public Interest would have been proved to been served well.

Jill Gracia said...

This is an excellent post Tony. The analysis of Nurse M fitting the profile of a serial killer bore very little weight either in the Court case or the summing up by Magistrate Shaw.

Your last comment referring to her personal feelings is possibly very 'spot on'. Her contempt for Stuart was made patently clear by her facial expressions and body language.

I still maintain, having heard days of evidence that Stuart did have a public interest case.

TonyTheProf said...

Yes, well it is easy to say "brought the review forward" - what I'd like is evidence that a review had been planned for such and such a date, rather than this - after the event.

It could be like someone tidying their desk (me!) because the boss had asked for it to have less papers on it, and me saying "I had planned to do so, you've just brought this forward".

Anonymous said...

What were the odds Shaw would have ever ruled in Stuart's favour anyway, no matter what he tried in his defense? It seems to make no difference how anyone tries to rationalize the "why" things logically, the odds are always against Stuart winning and that adverse pattern against him is simply staggering.

Hill street blues said...

Clearly Nurse M was judged by the review as being an inappropriate person to be in charge of the vulnerable and yet the original (dropped) investigation allowed him to carry on because it found insufficient evidence (that well worn phrase, locally).

Let me put forward the idea, mentioned by me and others before, that the central stupidity/corruption of the Jersey legal sphere is their apparent belief in the omniscience of their procedures at divining the truth (if that is what they are really after).

In particular, the main corruption/stupidity is in the precise way they apply those procedures and the precise elements they give weight to when forming judgements.

Briefly, if they don't see what they regard as sufficient proven evidence to prove guilt beyond all reasonable doubt, something weird happens in their heads. In the case of Nurse M, they apparently claimed there was insufficient evidence to charge/convict yet anyone reading the drugs and items he was found with, the opinions of a respected profiler, the possibly exaggerated but nevertheless highly suggestive background info leaked by Stuart "Wikileaks" Syvret would have to conclude that the nurse should not be employed in health care.

If the general public had read all this stuff, they would be horrified and staggered that the powers that be continued to allow them and their relatives to be exposed to this character. It is clearly "oligarch" propaganda, and pretty dumb unsophisticated propaganda too, that it was all Stuart making lies up on his blog about innocent people.

Had the judgement been that Nurse M was perfectly safe to be allowed to look after vulnerable people, then one could maybe feel reasonably reassured about the official line but the fact that Nurse M was not judged perfectly safe makes the very rationality of the Court process, and the Magistrate and her pronouncements in particular, suspect.

The inconsistency shown - was he dangerous or not? - positively screams some sort of double-think. This needs rooting out of public life, along with all those who promote it, and those who stand idly by watching it without comment or protest.

rico sorda said...

Very interesting

Again if we are questioning Bridgit Shaw what about ex Magistrate Senator Le Marquand.

Do we have a problem here? This is a very serious question. Look what a former magistrate did to Graham Power.

Tony what is going on here? excellent post


Anonymous said...

Hill Street Blues is bang on target. Legally, a criminal verdict must be "beyond a reasonable doubt". This does not mean that there can be no doubt whatsoever - the word "reasonable" is in there. However, this is a pretty high hurdle.
In civil cases, the burden of proof is "on a balance of probabilities". This is a lower hurdle.
In the real, everyday world we regularly use our judgement as if we were looking at a civil case - because that's what reasonable people tend to do. As Hill Street Blues says, any reasonable person in the circumstances that were surrounding the Nurse M situation would, whilst recognising that there was perhaps some doubt - even reasonable doubt - nevertheless on a balance of probabilities this person should not be allowed to continue to practise the nursing profession. A reasonable and responsible employer should have at least suspended him and held a full enquiry.
But I guess such a process might well have raised the profile of the problem and been a source of embarrassment to the Health Department so .............

Anonymous said...

At para 77 of her judgment, Magistrate Shaw states " The investigation (into the nurse) was intensive and a genuine effort to determine whether there was evidence to support the allegations made. Mr Faudemer (the ivestigating officer)found NO such evidence"

Why then would there be a review of the case some 10 or so years later as part of normal procedure?

It just does not make any sense at all, but DCO Taylor stated in evidence and under oath that the allegations were due to be reviewed whether or not Syvret had publicised matters in his blog.

How could Magistrate Shaw be so naive as to believe DCO Taylor's evidence. No evidence of crime - no review - nothing else makes sense. No wonder Syvret has little time for Shaw, the judiciary and the police. Given the existing brain power in their various organisations he could have no faith in their collective abilities to undertake a proper investigation and therefore had no option but to go public with his suspicions.

Of course, you couldn't expect Magistrate Shaw to agree that the "establishment" she belongs to, are/were in any way incompetent or indeed corrupt.

It certainly looks to the outside observer that the evidence appears to be cooked up and part of a larger "establishment" conspiracy to discredit and quieten Syvret.

Anonymous said...

Tony the Prof

You should return to this Blog Posting. I found it a shame you didn't let it run a little longer.

Here today gone tomorrow with such an important issue.

TonyTheProf said...

It's not gone - it is still here!

The list of december postings at the right hand side makes it very easy to find.

But I like to and write something every day or every other day for my blog, so it is a rolling commentary / musings.