How do you treat a criminal convicted of manslaughter?

19 June 2013

I was feeling pretty delighted after an eBay listing of mine that I expected to end for 99p, ended for over £20. But it wasn't long after this when I found myself with a moral dilemma. As I was so surprised that my listing ended at such a high value (for what it was), I wanted to include a personalised message with the item just to show that I had pulled out all the stops. But the further I dug for information on the buyer, the more I discovered about their tainted past.

After the buyer had paid, their address was revealed and there began my research. First, I headed to Facebook and then I headed to Google to search their address. It was then when I found out that the buyer had recently been released from jail after being convicted of manslaughter as a result of gross negligence.

First came the shock and then came the denial. But after the address proved to be almost an 100% match bar the property name (which could have easily been changed) and considering the size of the settlement which I believe to be a hamlet (smaller than a village), I was almost certain that the winning bidder of my listing was that of the convicted criminal. It wasn't until I worked out their birth date from their eBay username when I realised that it coincided with all the online reports of their age or their relative age, according to the dates the articles were written.

Then came the anger. The incident itself caused the deaths of two Fire & Rescue service members. Although it was not premeditated, it was still manslaughter. At first, I didn't want to send the item and I started coming up with excuses to use in order to cancel the transaction. I also didn't want to give the buyer a sense of gratification that they could use eBay like a normal person when they have killed two innocent people. At one point, I said to myself that I really needed the money but that struck a cord within myself as this was precisely what the buyer had thought as reasoning for gross negligence.

When I had calmed down, I began the bargaining stage and asked myself the question "They have killed, but are they killers?" After doing intensive research, I discovered that there were many flaws in the prosecution from the use of poorly trained servicemen to bribes. There is even a website dedicated to the release of said convict. However, I always take the internet with a pinch of salt. Not everything online is reliable, if at all. Even largescale media outlets are untrustworthy.

From this, I reminded myself that I didn't know the full story of the incident and never will. More importantly, it is not mine to magistrate or get involved with. In the end of the day, all I was doing was selling goods on an online marketplace. eBay is a place to buy and sell, it is not a court room. It is unbiased, as am I. If I hadn't decided to include a personalised message, I would not have known about the buyer's past. If all our actions were determined by our history and background, we would live in a very unproductive and solemn world. Since the deaths were not premeditated but caused by ignorance (which each and every one of us is guilty of), I can only assume that they too are suffering from their actions as well as the families grieving their losses. They have already been judged by society, punished and will have to live the rest of their life knowing that they were responsible for the deaths of two innocent people. Surely that's enough? For me to then deny something so trivial such as an eBay item, would be heartless.

Obviously, if the conviction was different or if it was a family member or friend of mine who'd lost their lives, I may think differently - albeit biased. But I think that the lesson here is not to take sides, and to think logically and fairly. We shouldn't judge people or situations as if they were ours when they are not. Yes, some criminals are cold-blooded monsters but some are just normal people who have to live the rest of their lives haunted by huge mistakes. I'm not defending this person as their ignorance lead to the deaths of two people and numerous injuries and much like I've said, I don't know the full story but it's safe to say that these sort of things could easily happen to anyone who turns a blind eye to things like safety. Cutting corners and saving time/money is something we all do, big companies do it and so do the little guys. It's the type of lifestyle we all have become accustomed to, so to put those who have been reckless as opposed to blood-thirsty in a Criminal/Non-Criminal categorical position would be unfair.

The judicial system itself is a difficult realm to police and I'm sure there are other factors I haven't considered but I am no expert on the subject. I'm just a normal person, and I too can be ignorant sometimes.


  1. Excellent article TSOH, a gripping read from start to finish :)

    1. Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed reading it.

  2. Wow, this is an interesting read x

  3. This is so interesting! I'm a trainee solicitor for criminal defense, and I have this internal battle every day BUT the way I rationalize it is that is a human right to have legal representation, and all I'm doing is representing their argument, not actually making a judgement. Its a hard one though.


    1. Oh how interesting! Yes, it's hard not to make judgements for yourself as I believe human beings are programmed to, but sometimes it's not appropriate or fair!


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