Ishtiaq Ahmed – the ‘bedsit murder’

Looking for work, five friends travelled down from Newcastle to Reading: Clive Scott, Mark Randle, Stephen Muir, Martin Hogg, and David Pickering. They found a house that had been converted to bedsits and each took a room. This was the summer of 1989. By the end of the year, David Pickering would be dead and Ishtiaq Ahmed, the man accused of his murder, would be waiting to go on trial.

But the case would prove to be anything but straightforward. Over the next decade or so there were complaints about Police behaviour, suppressed reports, strange decisions by the Home Secretary, and a witness who admitted lying on tape – and then later admitted lying about lying.

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Rillington Place on BBC1

Framed by the police for a serial killer’s crimes, Timothy Evans was one of the last men in Britain to be hanged. Although authorities now accept that he did not carry out those crimes, they still refuse to quash his conviction. His story is dramatised in the BBC’s excellent ‘Rillington Place’.

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Memory, trawling, and misinformation

It seems that when you ask a psychology student of any level which experiments they remember from their studies, there are two that always stand out.

The first is Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment. It’s one of the most famous psychology experiments of all time, and involved dressing some students up as guards and others as prisoners to observe the power structures and roles that the students played out. What happened afterwards has been analysed and discussed ever since.

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The dual life of Justin Ross Harris

In July 2012 a video showing a man locked inside a car as temperatures rose to deadly levels went viral. In just thirty minutes, the temperature rose from 95°F to 117°F, and you can see from the video below the incredible discomfort that a healthy, fit adult finds himself in.

Dr Ernie Ward, a North Carolina veterinarian, made the video to highlight the dangers of leaving pets locked in hot cars. As Ward says, it’s a lousy way to die, and Ward relates a story in which he observed a dog locked in a car outside his own clinic starting to suffer from the heat. The well-meaning owner had popped into the clinic for two minutes to pick something up, but two stretched into ten, and then into fifteen. It’s a lousy but all too easily preventable way to die.

On average, 37 children a year die the same way in the United States every year. Most are left purposely, in the same way as the dog above, by well meaning but busy parents who underestimate the time they’ll be away and the incredible speed with which temperatures can rise to fatal levels. But sometimes, they’re left by an entirely different means.

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The unlucky life and sad, solitary death of Carole Ann Hanson

19th October 2016 would have been the 98th birthday of the former judge Sir Leslie Boreham. As the son of a former chief constable it was perhaps inevitable that he would work in a legal capacity and in 1965 he was appointed Queen’s Counsel, where friends knew him as ‘a gentle and courteous silk of the old school’. He served the profession diligently, eventually becoming a judge and having a number of high-profile cases coming before him. In 1981 he was instrumental in convincing the attorney general Sir Michael Havers that Peter Sutcliffe was deceiving doctors and Sutcliffe should not be able to use a defence of diminished responsibility for his crimes. As a judge he was known to favour hard sentences, and Sutcliffe received 20 life sentences with a recommendation that he should serve at least 30 years.

Boreham was also known to be sympathetic to women. In 1972 he sentenced a man to 15 months for an indecent assault on a female acquaintance. Although the man claimed that he had perhaps misread the signs, Boreham said, “I cannot believe it takes 20 minutes for a man to understand that when a woman says no, it means no.” In 1974 he gave an abused wife a suspended sentence after she stabbed her violent husband to death with scissors, and in a 1986 civil case he awarded £96,000 to a woman whose breasts had been wrongly removed, stating that the loss was “difficult for a mere male” to comprehend.

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Justice for Glyn Razzell

The question mark against Linda Razzell’s disappearance

On 19th March, 2002, Linda Razzell was spotted by an old friend driving through Highworth, near Swindon. Linda was driving a car that the friend didn’t recognise and she recalls thinking, “Linda has a new car, good for her”. The two women made eye contact and the friend recalls thinking that Linda looked cross, which was quite understandable. According to the police, she’d been murdered by her estranged husband Glyn the day before.

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“Sugar Paper Theories” & the Reykjavik Confessions

On the evening of November 19, 1974, Geirfinnur Einarsson was at home with his wife and two young children in the town of Keflavik, just over 30 miles from the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik. When the phone rang, his ten year old son answered it. A male voice asked for Geirfinnur. “I came”, his wife heard him say. A pause. “Well, then I will come.”

On finishing the call, Geirfinnur took his car keys and left the house without saying anything, something his wife would later say was quite normal for him. He drove down to the Harbour Shop in Keflavik where he bought cigarettes. The shop assistant, whose name was Gudlaug and who knew Geirfinnur well, said that he seemed to be in a hurry and did not stop to chat, as he usually did. Gudlaug was the last person to see Geirfinnur Einarsson alive.

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