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Saturday, October 28, 2006

'Full inquiry' plea from victim's husband

Eddie Marshall, the husband of stabbed McDonald's manager Jacky Marshall, has called for a full inquiry into how her killer's mental health problems (who had Asperger Syndrome) went undiagnosed.

Lessons must be learned from the case to avoid further tragedies in the future, says Eddie.

Eddie Marshall has questioned why Shane Freer's affliction by the Asperger Syndrome was not diagnosed.

Mr Marshall (64) said: "Obviously Asperger's comes in all sorts of shapes and forms. His was a very severe form. That's one of the things that I'll never understand – why he managed to slip through the system."

He added: "He was always considered a loner and someone who didn't mix well and it's a mystery why it wasn't picked up before. I think it needs to be looked into and investigated

"Everybody has been let down. Society has been let down. Obviously his parents don't want this either. There are no winners here. We all lost on April 16, 2006."

Mark Dunn, West Sussex County Councillor who has responsibility for child services, said compared with ten years ago when there were less monitoring processes, the system had improved and changed for identifying children who show concerning behaviour.

He said: "The whole ethos today is that diagnosis happens very early on and to make an early intervention."

'No link' between autism and crime

The National Autistic Society has said there is no link between autism, including Asperger Syndrome, and crime - and there was no evidence to suggest people with autism were more likely to break the law than any member of the public.

In a statement, the society said: "In fact, in many cases individuals are unusually concerned to keep to the letter of the law. A person with autism will have individual personality traits and facets to their character, just like any other person, that make up who they are and determine their actions."

It said the syndrome was a form of autism that was a lifelong development disability which affected people in different ways and affected their social and communication skills.

It said there was concern that people with autism may be more vulnerable to criminal acts against them because of their social difficulties.

A charity providing support to people with autism has said Asperger Syndrome sufferers are not likely to be violent.

Lisa Perks, chief executive of the Sussex Autistic Society, said: "It is not common for someone with Asperger Syndrome that they will stab people. It is certainly not typical behaviour that someone with autism is violent."

She said service provision needed to catch up with the increase in diagnoses seen over the last few years.

Specialist schools did not suit all children with autism and support for people with the condition was determined on an individual basis, she said.

A mother of a child with autism was concerned by press coverage of the Shane Freer court case which she said has given people with the condition a reputation as criminals.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said great damage had been done.
"People on the autistic spectrum have enough difficulties to face without adding further public prejudice caused by ignorance and fear of their condition."

Sunday, October 08, 2006

McDonald's Killer Gets Life Sentence

I was a witness at a fatal attack in McDonald's in Chichester - a small city on the English south coast, UK, between Portsmouth and Brighton.

My initial thinking in the aftermath is best supporting the victims of such a knife crime. Much has been written and broadcast about the man who committed this killing - but it's time to think of the victims, especially the affected families. My experience of this has shown they are not as well helped as they could be.

Overview: A man with a severe form of autism was jailed for life and detained under the Mental Health Act at
Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire for stabbing his manager in front of customers on a busy Saturday lunchtime .

Shane Kevin Freer (21), of First Avenue, Batchmere, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility (he had
Asperger Syndrome) for a "horrific, frenzied, ferocious and crazed" attack on 56-year-old Jacky Marshall in April 2005.
Tribute to Jacky from her husband, Eddie

Here I list some of the website addresses for you to check news coverage of the court case:
Local paper - The Observer
The Guardian
Daily Mail
The Sunday Times
The Mirror
The Sun
Google search

What did you think about what happened? There'll be more written here over time about your views, but also the difficulties and issues that the victims suffered and continue to deal with. Jacky's family are backing this blog and are keen that systems are changed and improved, that knife crime can be reduced.

It is my intention to use this blog as a kind of living petition to change things with regard to knife crime - and to at least press for better help for victims during the machinations of the legal system.

Do start sending your thoughts, insight, inside knowledge, information - whatever you believe may help.

Many thanks.