Acts Of Homicide, And The Invention Of Pedestrians

“The [1957 Homicide] Act was criticised on many grounds and in most quarters. None criticised it more severely than those ‘abolitionists’ to placate whom the Bill had been brought in. That is perhaps natural enough. For them, it abolished too little. The nervous and those who simply saw no reason for change (known as ‘retentionists’, just as non-motorists had, to their astonishment, come to be known as ‘pedestrians’) were dismayed to find that no more than a ‘life’ sentence (averaging ten years) thenceforward awaited those who, for the first time as far as the law knew and when not actively engaged in robbery, for any reason or none, killed anyone but a policeman or prison officer with poison, cold steel, a blunt instrument, drowning, strangulation, smothering, burning, gassing, starvation, driving a car at the victim or tampering with his brakes, infecting him with a fatal disease, pushing him off a tall building or over a cliff, torturing him beyond what his constitution would bear, shutting him in with dangerous animals, inducing madness with drugs, hypnotic suggestion or sustained ill-treatment and then putting the means of suicide into his hands or leading him to believe that a fatal trap is a way to safety, anything in fact that a writer of detective stories might plausibly imagine. Apart from prison officers and policemen, the victim might be anyone at all, a child or the Queen.”

Rayner Heppenstall, The Sex War And Others : A Survey Of Recent Murder, Principally In France (1973)

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