Evil: Ten Songs About Real Murders. In An Attempt to Save Her Young Children From Satan, Andrea Yates Drowns All Five of Them in a Bathtub in Houston, Texas. This Day in History, 20/06/2001.

1.  The Killers ‘Jenny Was A Friend of Mine’

(from the album Hot Fuss, 2004).

2.  Interpol ‘Evil’

(from the album Antics, 2004).

3.  Luke Haines ‘Leeds United’

(from the album Off My Rocker at the Art School Bop, 2006).

4.  Catatonia ‘Road Rage’

(from the album International Velvet, 1998).

5.  The Boomtown Rats ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’

(from the album The Fine Art of Surfacing, 1979).

6.  Morrissey ‘Jack the Ripper’

(from the album Beethoven Was Deaf, 1992).

7.  At the Drive-In ‘Arcarsenal’

(from the album Relationship of Command, 2000).

8.  The Dodgems ‘Lord Lucan is Missing’

(single A-side, 1978).

9.  The Rolling Stones ‘Midnight Rambler’

(from the album Let it Bleed, 1969).

10. The Smiths ‘Suffer Little Children’

(from the album The Smiths, 1984).

Song of the Day: War in Music (Day Five). “They Killed the President”.

“We start from different ideological positions.  For you to be a communist or a socialist is to be totalitarian; for me no … On the contrary, I think socialism frees man”.

– Salvador Allende.

El President, from the 1998 album White Magic for Lovers, is a collaboration between Drugstore and Thom Yorke, singer of Radiohead.  The song, released as the second single from the album and, much due to Yorke’s involvement, reached number 20 in the UK singles chart, giving Drugstore the biggest hit of their career.   El President tells the story of the death of the democratically elected Chilean President Salvador Allende during the 1973 Chilean coup d’etat.  The coup was a watershed moment in both the Cold War and the history of Chile.  Following an extended period of social and political unrest between the conservative-dominated Congress of Chile and the socialist President Salvador Allende, together with economic warfare ordered by US President Richard Nixon, Allende was overthrown by the armed forces, led by Commander-in-Chief Augusto Pinochet, and national police.

Up until the 1960s, Chile had been known for its stability in Latin America, particularly compared to its neighbours.  This all change when Chile began to be affected by the Cold War and Chile became part of the Alliance for Progress.  The alliance was meant as a way to keep socialistic revolutions from taking hold in Latin America.  However, the Alliance for Progress was scorned by a majority of the countries that signed it, including Chile.  At this time, the president of Chile was Eduardo Frei.  Frei was endorsed by the Johnson administration and sought to pass radical reforms.  However, as Chile became more industrialised, the more Labour unions demanded higher wages.  Due to the Labour unions’ dissatisfaction with the wages that they received, prices and inflation soared.  The Chilean youth adopted a Leftist view and started to protest against the government with Labour unions, with both leaning towards Chile’s Communist Party.

In 1970, the Socialist Party won the presidency.  New president Salvador Allende promised the people of Chile a republic and said that he would make the working class more equal.  Meanwhile, in America, President Nixon, in conversation with his advisors, namely Henry Kissinger, scorned Allende and wanted him out of power.  The viable method of removing Allende would be by way of a Chilean military uprising.  Kissinger sent a cable to the CIA office in Chile saying that agents were to continue instigating a military coup.  However, this wasn’t entirely necessary as after three years, the Chilean people were standing against the president.  Allende nationalised the copper industry and other industries as well as freezing prices and raising wages in order to stop inflation.  During these reforms, the CIA was busy running propaganda against the president.

By 1973, the Chilean Congress and Judiciary stood against Allende, claiming that his government went against the Chilean constitution.  On September 11th 1973, shortly before the capture of the Palacio de La Moneda by military units loyal to Chilean Army leader Augusto Pinochet, President Salvador Allende made his famous farewell speech to the Chilean people on Radio Magallanes.  The President spoke of his love for Chile and his deep faith in the future.  He continued to tell of how much he was committed to Chile, so much so that he refused to take the easy way out or be used as a propaganda tool by those he referred to as “traitors”.  Throughout his radio broadcast, gunfire and explosions could be heard clearly in the background.

Shortly afterwards, an official announcement was made declaring that Allende had gone to war with an AK-47 rifle.  The rifle was reportedly given to Allende by Cuban leader Fidel Castro and bore a golden plate engraved with the words, “To my good friend Salvador from Fidel, who by different means tries to achieve the same goals”.

What happened next has been the subject of much speculation.  At approximately 1.50pm local time, Allende ordered the defenders of the La Moneda Palace to surrender.  In response, the defenders formed a line from the second floor, down the stairs and onto the Morande street door.  The President walked along the queue, from the ground floor up the stairs, shaking hands and thanking each of the defenders personally for their support in that difficult moment.

The President went into the Independence salon, located in the north-east side of the Palace’s second floor.  At the same time, Doctor Patricio Guijon, a member of La Moneda’s infirmary staff, was on the second floor of the palace recovering his gas mask as a souvenir.  Guijon heard a noise and opened the door of the Independence salon in time to see the President shoot himself with the AK-47 rifle.  At the other side of the salon, Doctor Jose Quiroga; Arsenio Poupin, a member of the cabinet; Enrique Huerta, a palace functionary; two detectives from the Presidential security details and various Presidential Security (GAP) members were able to either see the moment of death, or arrive a few seconds afterwards, attracted by the noise.

Despite these witnesses to Allende’s apparent suicide, many of Allende’s supporters have always upheld the presumption that he was killed by the forces staging the coup.  On the 28th September 1973, just two weeks after Allende’s death, Fidel Castro told the Cuban crowd in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolucion that Allende had died in La Moneda wrapped in a Chilean flag, firing at General Pinochet with Castro’s rifle.  Castro continued to tell his version of events to the Cuban people for the next few decades.  In his 1975 book The Murder of Allende and the end of the Chilean way to socialism, Robinson Rojas agreed with Castro’s version of events and claimed that Allende was killed by Pinochet’s military forces whilst defending the palace.

Despite the speculation as to what actually happened to Allende, the end of the military junta in Chile in 1988 and different testimonies becoming available in news and documentary interviews have made the verdict of suicide the more accepted version of events.  Members of Allende’s immediate family have never disputed that killed himself.  However, there are some who still argue that Allende was murdered, including Chilean doctor Luis Ravanal, who in 2008 published an article in El Periodista magazine claiming that Allende’s wounds were incompatible with suicide.  In response to the article, Isabel Allende, the daughter of the President said that the correct version of events was suicide.

In January 2011, a Chilean judge opened an investigation into the death of Salvador Allende, as well as hundreds of other possible human rights abuses committed during the 1973 coup which brought Augusto Pinochet to power.  In May of the same year, Allende’s remains were exhumed by order of the Chilean court in furtherance of a “criminal investigation into the death of Allende”.  On the 31st May 2011, shortly before the autopsy had been completed, Chile’s state television reported that a top-secret military account of Allende’s death had been discovered in the home of a former military justice official.  The 300 page document was only found when the house was destroyed when the house was destroyed by the 2010 Chilean earthquake.  Following a review of the document by two forensic experts, findings revealed “that they are inclined to conclude that Allende was assassinated”.

The results of the autopsy were officially released in July 2011.  Medical experts who conducted and reviewed the autopsy results confirmed that Salvador Allende had died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds, indicating that Allende had died after shooting himself with the AK-47 given to him by Fidel Castro.  The report continued to tell of how Allende had died from two gunshot wounds fired from the rifle, which was held between his legs and under his chin.  The rifle was set to fire automatically.  The bullets blew out the top of his head and killed him instantly.  The conclusion made by the forensics team was unanimous, stating “We have absolutely no doubt” that Allende committed suicide.

On Drugstore’s El President, singer and songwriter Isabel Monteiro, in a duet with Thom Yorke, upholds the belief that Allende was murdered by Chilean armed forces in a US-backed coup:  “I’ve seen the masterplan, Kill the president, They killed the president …”

The song tells the tale of the arrival of military advisers, fighter jets and bombs to carry out the coup, “It came from the skies, In all shades of green”, with the “green” being camouflage.  The song goes on to tell of Allende’s refusal to surrender and his final address to the nation in the lines “I’m not giving in, All the people understand, ‘Cause they all fell down and prayed, I know …”

Further to this, the song criticises the West’s involvement in the coup with the lines, “We can always justify, We can measure up your dreams, I know; I’ve seen the masterplan”.  And of course, we all know what happened due to this masterplan:  Democracy died along with Allende and Chile, under the new rule of Augusto Pinochet between 1973 and 1990, became a hotbed of repression, torture, forced disappearance, and for many Chileans, exile.

Propelled by Ian Burdge’s stunning cello playing, dramatic piano interludes and Daron Robinson’s strummed acoustic guitar, El President is a brief but beautiful retelling of the events of the 1973 Chilean coup d’etat.  The song was coupled with an equally wonderful video featuring Monteiro and Yorke singing the song in a small room whilst the rest of Drugstore are projected on the walls around them.

Note at the end of the video, upon Yorke singing the line “I’m just a man”, he points two fingers, symbolising a gun, to his head, perhaps inferring that Allende’s death was suicide.  Therefore, what the song is saying is that even if it was suicide, he was still driven to it by the events of the 11th September 1973, the Chilean army and the US.

Song of the Day: Crime in Music (Day Seven). “Hey Little Girl, Do You need A Ride?”

Diane is a song recorded by St. Paul, Minnesota band Husker Du for their 1983 Metal Circus EP.  Written by drummer Grant Hart, the song concerns the abduction, rape and murder of West St. Paul waitress Diane Edwards, whom Hart vaguely knew, by Joseph Donald Ture in 1980.  Ture (pronounced Toor-ee) was convicted of the kidnap, rape and murder in 1981 and sentenced to life imprisonment.  Whilst serving his sentence, Ture was also found guilty of the 1979 murder of eighteen year old Marlys Wohlenhaus in rural Alton, Minnesota and sentenced to a second life, consecutive life term.  Ture was later also found guilty of the murder of thirty-six year old Alice Hurling and three of her four children at their home in St. Cloud, Minnesota in 1978.  At the time of these convictions, Ture was also serving consecutive sentences of three Minnesota rapes.  Ture has always protested his innocence in relation to the homicide charges.

Diane is a graphically dark song telling how the abduction, rape and murder of Diane Edwards took place, told from the perspective of the murderer.  “Hey little girl, do you need a ride?  Well, I’ve room in my wagon, why don’t you hop inside, We could cruise down Robert Street all night long, But I think I’ll just rape you, and kill you instead” sings sings Hart in the opening verse of Diane, detailing what happened to Edwards and giving the listener a glimpse into the thoughts, desires and psyche of the killer.

In the second verse, the killer is seen attempting to convince his prey that his intentions are honourable by attempting to get her to go to a party with him:  “I heard there’s a party down at Lake Cove, It would be so much easier if I drove, We could check it out, we could go and see, Oh won’t you come and take a ride with me”.

As the song continues, verse three offers more insight into the killer’s depraved and twisted mind and we see the scene of the murder, with the lines, “We could lay down in the weeds for a little while, I’ll put your clothes in a nice, neat little pile, You’re the cutest girl I’ve ever seen in my life, It’s all over now, and with my knife”.

As with many of Husker Du’s songs, the lyrical content is brief, with Diane having three verses.  However, this briefness is the key to Diane’s effectiveness because it doesn’t say any more than it needs to.  What it does say though makes for some very dark and disturbing listening.  The wonderful verses are complimented by one of the most deceptively simple choruses in music history.  The chorus is simply Diane sung three times but with the backing vocals putting an inflection on the pronunciation of the name to emphasise the first syllable, making it:  “Die Anne”.

Whilst Husker Du’s original version of Diane is stirring and frightening enough, Northern Irish band Therapy? covered the song in 1995 for their album Infernal Love and released it as the third single from the record.  This version, as opposed to the fuzzy guitar that adorns the Husker Du original features just a haunting cello and singer Andy Cairns’ mighty voice on the main vocal and backing vocal.  The ingenuity of the backing vocal is made even more apparent on the Therapy? version, perhaps because of the starkness of the song’s cello only backing track.  When released as a single, Diane was coupled with a video every bit as graphic and powerful as the song itself, directed by W.I.Z, which breathed even more new life into the wonderful song.

Speaking of the song in an interview with Thumped in 2012, Grant Hart, when asked “How much of yourself do you put into what you do?  What I mean is, are you inseparable from the music you make or the art that you create?  Or is it a different you that we hear on record or see on stage?”, replied:

“Perhaps the best answer I can give to that question is … if an artist is honest and is not trying to come off as something they are not, then they are putting as much of their self into the songs they write as they can.  I stopped playing Diane because I could no longer stand putting on the mask of a monster.  A book came out about one of Diane Edwards’ murderer’s other victims [Justice for Marlys by John Munday (2004)] and it made me physically sick.  There was not as much info about the Edwards murder as the other girls.  The cruelty that this psychopath confessed to made me bloody-minded myself”.

Song of the Day: Crime in Music (Day Six). “William Zantzinger Killed Poor Hattie Carroll …”

The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll from Bob Dylan’s 1964 album The Times They Are a-Changin’ tells the story of the murder of Hattie Carroll, a 51 year old barmaid, by William Devereux “Billy” Zantzinger (referred to as “William Zantzinger” in the song).  The lyrics of the song are a commentary on 1960s racism.  At the time of Carroll’s murder, Charles County was still strictly segregated by race in public places such as restaurants, churches, theatres, doctor’s offices, buses and the county fair.  The schools of Charles County remained segregated until 1967.  William Zantzinger was then 24 years old and a wealthy young tobacco farmer from Charles County, Maryland.  Zantzinger was sentence to a mere six months in a county jail after being convicted of assault.

The murder in the song took place in the early hours of the 9th February, 1963 “At a Baltimore hotel society gathering”, the white tie Spinsters’ Ball at the Emerson Hotel in Baltimore.  Zantzinger, in a drunken state, assaulted at least three of the Emerson Hotel workers: a bellboy, a waitress and at about 1.30am, Carroll.  The murder weapon was a toy cane, referred to in the line “William Zantzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll, With a cane that he twirled round his diamond ring finger”.  Carroll “who gave birth to ten children”, was president of a black social club.

Zantzinger was already drunk before reaching the Emerson Hotel that night.  The cane that the 6’2” inch tall killer used was a 25 cent toy.  At the Spinsters’ Ball, he called a 30 year old waitress a “nigger” and hit her with the cane.  The waitress ran out of the room in tears.  A few moments later, he ordered a bourbon from Carroll.  When he was displeased with the length of time that Carroll had taken fetching the bourbon, Zantzinger cursed her and called her a “nigger”, followed by “you black son of a bitch” and struck her on the shoulder and across the head with the cane.  In the court notes, it states:  “He asked for her a drink and called her ‘a black bitch’, and a ‘black son of a bitch’.  She replied ‘Just a moment’ and started to prepare his drink.  After a delay of perhaps a minute, he complained about her being slow and struck her a hard blow on her shoulder about half-way between the point of her shoulder and her neck”.  She handed him his drink.  After striking Carroll, he attacked his own wife, knocking her to the ground and hitting her with his shoe.

Within minutes of receiving the blow, Carroll leaned heavily against the barmaid next to her and complained of feeling ill.  Carroll told co-workers, “I feel deathly ill, that man has upset me so”.  The barmaid, along with another employee, helped Carroll to the kitchen.  Her arm became numb and her speech became thick.  She then collapsed and was taken to hospital.  She died eight hours after the assault.  Her autopsy revealed hardened arteries, an enlarged heart and high blood pressure.  A spinal tap confirmed that Carroll had died from a brain hemorrhage.  She died in Mercy Hospital at 9am on the 9th February, 1963.

Initially, Zantzinger was charged with murder.  His defence was that he had been extremely drunk and said he had no memory of the attack.  His charge was reduced to manslaughter and assault, based on the likelihood that it was her stress reaction to his verbal and physical abuse that had led to the intracranial bleeding, rather than blunt-force trauma from the blow that left no lasting mark.  On the 28th August, Zantzinger was convicted of both charges and given the six month sentence.  Time Magazine covered the sentencing on the 6th September, saying:

“In June, after Zantzinger’s phalanx of five top flight attorneys won a change of venue to a court in Hagerstown, a three-judge panel reduced the murder charge to manslaughter.  Following a three-day trial, Zantzinger was found guilty.  For the assault on the hotel employees: a fine of $125.  For the death of Hattie Carroll: six months in jail and a fine of $500.  The judges considerately deferred the start of the jail sentence until September 15, to give Zantzinger time to harvest his tobacco crop”.

Coincidentally, Zantzinger’s sentencing occurred on the same day as Martin Luther King led 250,000 civil rights marchers to Washington in what the New York Times called “the greatest assembly for the redress of grievances that this capital has ever seen” and made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington.  Bob Dylan was present as Martin Luther King made his speech and on the journey back to his home in New York, read about the conviction of Zantzinger in the New York Times.  The headline read “Farmer sentenced in barmaid’s death”.  This inspired Dylan to write a protest song about the case whilst sitting in an all night cafe in Manhattan.  Dylan had previously written about two other white-on-black murders, both in the 18 months prior to the writing of The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.  These songs were The Death of Emmett Till about the murder of a 14-year old African American by two white men in 1955 …

… and Only a Pawn in their Game (also from The Times They Are a-Changin’) about the murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers, shot in Jackson, Mississippi in June 1963.

The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll tells of how Zantzinger’s wealth and connections aided the lenient nature of the sentencing.

In the second verse of the song, Zantzinger and the wealth and influence which helps him to get out of prison on bail quickly are described thus:  “William Zantzinger, who at twenty-four years, Owns a tobacco farm of six hundred acres, With rich wealthy parents who provide and protect him, And high office relations in the politics of Maryland, Reacted to his deed with a shrug of his shoulders, And swear words and sneering, and his tongue it was snarling, In a matter of minutes on bail was out walking”.

Now compare this description of Zantzinger with the description of Hattie Carroll in verse three:  “Hattie Carroll was a maid of the kitchen, She was fifty one years and gave birth to ten children, Who carried the dishes and took out the garbage, and never once sat at the head of the table, And didn’t even talk to the people at the table, Who just cleaned up all the food from the table, And emptied the ashtrays on a whole other level, Got killed by a blow, lay slain by a cane, That sailed through the air and came down through the room, Doomed and determined to destroy all the gentle, And she never done nothing to William Zantzinger”.

In complete contrast to Zantzinger, a swearing, sneering and snarling tongued rich young white man who was given a silver spoon by his parents, Carroll is described as a gentle poor black woman who spent her life caring for others, whether it was her family or the people whom she served in the Baltimore hotel in which she was killed but was discriminated against because of the colour of her skin.

The fourth verse of the song tells of how the judge presiding over the trial stresses that all are equal in the court of law, but also of how this will be of no help because of the wealth of the accused: “In the courtroom of honour, the judge pounded his gavel, To show that all’s equal and that the courts are on the level, And that the strings in the books ain’t pulled and persuaded, and that even the nobles get properly handled, Once the cops have chased after and caught ‘em, And that the ladder of law has no top and no bottom, Stared at the person who killed for no reason, Who just happened to be feelin’ that way without warnin’, And he spoke through his cloak, most deep and distinguished, And handed out strongly, for penalty and repentance, William Zantzinger with a six-month sentence”.

The chorus of The Lonesome death of Hattie Carroll, “But you who philosophise disgrace and criticize all fears, take the rag away from your face, Now ain’t the time for your tears”, refers to the way in which upper class women would hide their faces with a veil or some sort of cloth (a “rag”) when experiencing strong emotional outbursts like tears which were not considered proper in public.  However, burying your face in a cloth over-dramatically, implying tears, was also a way to fake emotions.  In the chorus, Dylan purposely uses very elaborate words such as “philosophise disgrace” and “criticise fears” in order to describe their actions, further supporting the impression that Dylan is addressing the upper-class public with these lines, criticizing them for the very shallowly condemning such acts without caring to find the real cause and root of the problem:  The particular tragedy of the case not being the murder of an innocent woman, or that the perpetrator got out on bail so quickly, but that he was only sentenced to six months in prison.  Therefore, in The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, Dylan makes the point that the main tragedy is not that upper class people treat the lower class badly; it is the ease with which they get away with it.

In 2001, talking to Howard Sounes for Down the Highway, the Life of Bob Dylan, Zantzinger dismissed the song as a “total lie”, going on to say, “It’s actually had no effect on my life”.  He also expressed his disdain for Dylan saying, “He’s a no-account son of a bitch, he’s just like a scum of a scum bag of the earth, I should have sued him and put him in jail”.  Zantzinger died on the 3rd January 2009 at the age of 69.

“This is a true story, it’s taken out of the newspapers”

– Bob Dylan introducing The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll at Manchester Free Trade Hall in May 1965.

Song of the Day: Crime in Music (Day Two). “Let Him Have It, Chris”.

In 1953, Derek William Bentley was hanged for the murder of the police officer Sidney Miles, committed during the course of an attempted burglary.  The murder of the police officer was actually committed by 16 year old Christopher Craig.  However, Craig was too young to hang.  Bentley was convicted as a party to the murder, by English law principle of common criminal purpose “joint enterprise”.  The judge in court, Lord Chief Justice Goddard, sentenced Bentley to death based on an interpretation of the phrase “Let him have it”, Bentley’s alleged instruction to Craig.  Goddard described Bentley as “mentally aiding the murder of Police Constable Sidney Miles”.

The crime took place on the 2nd November 1952.  Bentley and Craig attempted to burgle the warehouse of the Barlow and Parker confectionary company at 27-29 Tamworth Road, Croydon.  Craig armed himself with a Colt New Service .455 Webley calibre revolver.  Craig had shortened the barrel of the gun so that it could be easily concealed in his pocket and also carried a number of undersized rounds for the revolver, some of which he had modified by hand to fit the gun.  Bentley carried a sheath knife and a spiked knuckle duster, both of which Craig had given to Bentley.

At around 9.15pm, a nine year old girl in a house opposite the warehouse spotted Craig and Bentley climbing over the gate and up and a drainpipe to the roof of the warehouse.  She alerted her mother, who called the police.

When the police arrived, Craig and Bentley hid behind the lift-housing.  Craig taunted the police.  Detective Sergeant Frederick Fairfax climbed the drainpipe onto the roof and grabbed hold of Bentley but Bentley broke free of Fairfax’s grasp.  What happened next s something that has been debated ever since.  Police witnesses claimed that the police officer asked Craig to “Hand over the gun, lad” before Bentley shouted the ambiguous phrase, “Let him have it, Chris” to Craig.  Craig fired his revolver at Fairfax, hitting him in the shoulder.  Despite his injury, Fairfax was able to restrain Bentley.  Bentley told Fairfax that Craig was armed with a revolver and had further ammunition for the gun.  Bentley had not used either of the weapons that he had in his pockets.

A group of uniformed police officers then arrived and were sent onto the roof.  The first to reach the roof was Police Constable Sidney Miles.  Miles was immediately killed by a shot to the head.  After his ammunition had run out and he was cornered, Craig jumped around 30 feet from the roof onto a greenhouse, fracturing his spine and left wrist.

Bentley and Craig were both charged with murder and tried at the Old Bailey in London between the 9th and 11th December 1952.  At the time of the crime, murder was still a capital offence in England and Wales.  However, those under 18 year old could not sentenced to death, meaning that of the two defendants, only Bentley could have been hanged if convicted.  The doctrine of felony murder or “constructive malice” meant that a charge of manslaughter was not an option, as the “malicious intent” of the armed robbery was transferred to the shooting.  Bentley’s best defence was that he was effectively under arrest when Miles was murdered.  There were three main points of contention during the trial:

Firstly, the defence claimed there was ambiguity in the evidence with regards to how many shots were fired and by whom.  Forensics later cast doubt on whether Craig could have hit Miles if he had shot at him deliberately.  The fatal bullet was not found.  Craig had used bullets of different under-sized calibres and the sawn-off barrel made it inaccurate to a degree of six feet at the range from which he fired.

The second contentious point was the exact meaning of Bentley’s alleged command to Craig, “Let him have it, Chris”.  Both Craig and Bentley denied that Bentley had said the words but the police officers testified that he had said them.  Furthermore, Bentley’s counsel argued that even if he had said the words, Bentley could have meant “give him the gun, Chris” as opposed to “shoot him, Chris”.

Thirdly, there was a disagreement as to whether Bentley was fit to stand trial in light of his mental capacity.  Bentley had undergone diagnostic tests during his time at Kingswood Approved School, where he served a three year sentence for theft.  In December 1948, at the age of 15 years and 6 months, Bentley’s mental age was estimated at 10 years and 4 months.  He had a reading age of 4 years and 6 months.  He scored just 66 on an IQ test in December 1948 and 77 in 1952.  Following his arrest for the murder of Sidney Miles, he was described as “borderline feeble-minded”, with a verbal age of 71, performance IQ of 87 and full scale IQ of 77.  Bentley was also examined twice by EEG.  A reading taken on the 16th November 1949 indicated that he suffered from epilepsy and a reading on the 9th February 1950 was “abnormal”.  In February 1952, Bentley had undergone a medical examination for National Service in which he was judged “mentally substandard” and unfit for military service.

Principle Medical Officer, Dr Matheson, referred Bentley to Dr Hill, a psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital.  Hill’s report stated that Bentley was illiterate and of low intelligence, almost borderline retarded.  Bentley was also known to suffer from epilepsy.  Matheson, whilst agreeing that Bentley was of very low intelligence, was of the opinion that he was not suffering from epilepsy at the time of the alleged offence.  He also stated that Bentley was not a “feeble-minded person” under the Mental Deficiency Acts.  Matheson considered Bentley to be sane and fit to stand trial.  At this point in time, English law did not recognise the concept of diminished responsibility due to retarded development, with this only being introduced by the Homicide Act in 1957.  The only medical defence to murder at that point in time was criminal insanity, where the accused is unable to distinguish right from wrong.  Whilst he did suffer from severe debilitation, Bentley was not insane.

The jury took 75 minutes to decide that both Craig and Bentley were guilty of Miles’ murder, with a plea for mercy for Bentley.  Bentley was sentenced to death on the 11th December 1952 whilst Craig was ordered to be detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.  Craig was released from prison in May 1963 after serving ten years in prison and later became a plumbing engineer.  Bentley was originally scheduled to be hanged on the 30th December 1952 but this was postponed to allow for his appeal.  Bentley’s lawyers filed appeals highlighting the ambiguities of the ballistic evidence, Bentley’s mental age and the fact that he did not fire the fatal shot.  The appeal was unsuccessful on the 13th January 1953 and Bentley was hanged on the 28th of the same month.

For his 1989 album, Spike, Elvis Costello composed the song Let Him Dangle based on the events of the murder, the trial and subsequent questioning as to what happened on the night of Sidney Miles’ murder, particularly what the phrase “Let him have it, Chris” actually meant: “Bentley said to Craig, “Let him have it, Chris”, They still don’t know today what he meant by this”.  Let Him Dangle also questions whether Bentley should have been hanged when it was Craig who killed the police officer:  “Craig fired the pistol but was too young to swing, So the police took Bentley and the very next thing, Let him dangle”.  Later in the song, Costello tells of the shock at Bentley’s conviction and the failed plea for mercy:  “Not many people thought that Bentley would hang, But the word never came, the phone never rang, Outside Wandsworth Prison there was horror and hate, As the hangman shook Bentley’s hand to calculate his weight”.

Speaking of his comprehensive retelling of the events in the Bentley case in a 1989 interview with On the Street, Costello said:

“It’s one of those cases that’s always brought up when they have a big debate about capital punishment.  And as you can hear in the song, I didn’t want to make any ironical point, it’s fairly much a statement of what I understand the facts of the case to be, and what I feel about it, and the way the debate is used as a distraction from the horror of an execution.  The song is kind of written like a Woody Guthrie song.  It tells a story and then says, ‘And the moral is …’”

After years of battling from Bentley’s sister, Iris, Bentley was eventually granted a partial posthumous pardon in 1993, followed by a complete pardon in 1998.  Additionally, there have been many questions as to whether Bentley even said the infamous phrase “Let him have it, Chris”.  In September 1991, Christopher Craig broke a forty year silence and was interviewed by Thames Reports.  Craig even took a lie detector test to say that it was police lies which hanged Bentley and that Bentley had never said “Let him have it, Chris”:

“He didn’t say a word.  It only needed one sentence from me and that is to agree with the prosecution that Bentley did say that remark.  I haven’t said it, I never will say it, even [with] all the pressure, because it never was said and my principles, whatever happens to me, I will go to the grave with the truth”.

Song of the Day: Crime in Music (Day One). “It’s All Over the Front Page, You’re Giving Me Road Rage”.

On a dark country lane on the 1st December 1996, Tracie Andrews, a barmaid and aspiring model, stabbed her fiancé, Lee Harvey, over 42 times with a pen knife after they had stopped his Ford Escort XR3i after an argument.  Two days later, Andrews claimed that Harvey had been killed in a road rage attack, saying that a “fat man with staring eyes” had stabbed him 30 times.  Later that month, however, Andrews was charged with Harvey’s murder.

The couple’s relationship had been tempestuous from the very beginning.  Andrews had met Harvey at a nightclub in Birmingham and the pair quickly became an item.  However, it quickly became apparent that Andrews had a temper and easily became jealous if any other woman came close to Harvey.  Both Harvey and Andrews had a child each from previous relationships and both parties were particularly jealous of the others’ ex-partners.   Many commented that Harvey and Andrews’ feelings towards each other verged on obsession and there was an apparent lack of trust between the pair.

On several occasions the relationship became violent with the police often being called to the couple’s home.  People commented about the acts of domestic violence after Harvey’s murder, saying that both were as bad as each other, Andrews continuously having bruising on her arms and Harvey once having scratches all over his body and a bite mark on his neck which looked as though he had been bitten by a dog.  There were also very public incidents of violence, including one in Bakers Nightclub in Birmingham in October 1996 when Andrews had confronted Harvey and assaulted him because he had gone to the club when she felt that Bakers was her night out and not hers.  After Andrews spotted Harvey chatting to another woman at the bar, she bit him and was dragged out of the club by security.

It also became apparent that Andrews was a chronic liar.  In the August before Harvey’s murder, Andrews had announced that she was pregnant, much to the horror of people who had witnessed the violence in the relationship.  Despite their misgivings, the families and friends of the couple were upset when Andrews told them that she had had a miscarriage after falling whilst shopping.  It soon transpired that Andrews had in fact had an abortion, feeling that having a baby would ruin her life.  Once again, the police were called to the couples’ residence after violence had ensued following Andrews’ revelation during an argument.

The explosive relationship between the couple was a recipe for disaster, a disaster which occurred on that fateful night of the 1st December 1996.  On their way back to the couple’s home from the Malbrook Pub, Bromsgrove, where their last argument had started, the couple stopped on Cooper’s Hill.  In Andrew’s initial statement to the police, she told of how a car had been following them, speeding to overtake them and beeping his horn.  She stated that Harvey had stopped the car after having enough of the aggressiveness of the driver following them.  She continued to tell of how the driver of the other car had got out, screamed abuse at Harvey such as “Paki bastard” and had stabbed him repeatedly.  At first, nothing about Andrews’ story of how the incident happened made the police suspicious; such was Andrews’ highly manipulative nature.  Andrews’ story was made even more plausible by the fact that Andrews herself had sustained various injuries, claiming that Harvey’s assailant had also attacked her.  The media quickly began to state that the murder had been a result of road rage.

On the 3rd December, Andrews appeared in person, together with Harvey’s family and holding the hand of Harvey’s mother to appeal for witnesses.  Those present noted that for somebody who was supposedly still in shock and upset, Andrews had a lot to say for herself whilst others noted that certain parts of her story did not correspond with what she had initially told the police.  Here started the police’s suspicions.

On the 4th December, Andrews told her family that she was going back home for a sleep.  Her family became worried and went to Andrews’ home to check on her.  On entering Andrews’ home, her mother picked up her handbag and in it, found a note addressed to Andrews’ daughter reading, “I’m so sorry, I can’t be here no more, I want to be with Lee”.  Her family entered Andrews’ bedroom to find that she had taken an overdose.  Andrews reportedly died twice whilst on the way to the hospital.

A few days later, the police finally obtained the evidence that would change the investigation.  Simon Baker, who was travelling down towards Cooper’s Hill from the opposite direction with girlfriend Elaine Caruthers, passed Harvey’s Ford Escort XR3i but stated that there was no vehicle following them.   The witnesses stated that the couple were having such a disagreement that Harvey had overshot his intended junction, reversed the car and began to travel down Cooper’s Hill.  On the 7th December, the police arrested Andrews on suspicion of murder.  On the 19th December, after being given a medical all clear, Andrews was questioned about the discrepancies in her story and Simon Baker’s witness report.  Andrews flatly denied having killed Harvey, calling in a solicitor who took the unusual move of lifting any reporting restrictions on the ensuing murder enquiry.  At a defence press conference, an E-fit of the person whom Andrews claimed to have killed Harvey, the “fat man with staring eyes”, was issued.

In the ensuing court case, investigators noted that her clothes were covered in Harvey’s blood in a manner that would suggest Andrews was the murderer.  Additionally, a black hat was found discarded at the murder scene.  The hat was covered in cat hairs from Andrews’ pet.  Andrews admitted that the hat had been in her possession and that she had thrown it by the side of the road.  Forensic evidence eventually showed that the murder weapon, a pen knife which Harvey had brought back from a holiday in Spain, had been concealed in Andrews’ snakeskin boot, had been on her person when she was taken to hospital after the murder, and flushed away down a hospital lavatory.  It was also found that Andrews had waited a full seven minutes before shouting for help.

Andrews was convicted at Birmingham Crown Court on 29th July 1997, and was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a recommendation that she serve at least 14 years.  Andrews appealed against the sentence, claiming that she was the victim of a miscarriage of justice because of the damaging publicity surrounding her case.  In October 1998, her appeal was denied.  In April 1999, Andrews admitted that she did stab Harvey to death, whilst maintaining that she acted in self-defence.

Two years after the much publicised murder of Lee Harvey, Catatonia featured the song Road Rage on their second album International Velvet.   The song was released as the album’s third single, reaching number 5 in the UK singles chart.  Road Rage was inspired by the murder and the media coverage that it gained in the aftermath.  This was something that did not escape the notice of Maureen Harvey, Lee Harvey’s mother, who said of the song in an interview with the Sunday Mercury on April 5th, 1998:

“It is tasteless and disgusting that people are trying to make money from such a tragedy.  My son did not die in a road rage attack; he was killed by Tracie Andrews.  We simply do not need songs like this”.

In her 1998 book, Pure Evil:  How Tracie Andrews Murdered My Son, Decieved the Nation and Sentenced Me to a life of Pain and Misery, Maureen Harvey talked about the song further, saying:

“ … at least the group’s singer Cerys Matthews had the decency to return my call and explain that she hadn’t intended to cause any offence.  She tried to convince me that the song showed how Tracie had gone crazy and that it didn’t actually do her any favours”.

In relation to the case of Tracie Andrews, Road Rage includes the chorus:  “You could be taking it easy on yourself, You should be making it easy on yourself, ‘cause you and I know, It’s all over the front page, You give me road rage, Racing through the best days, It’s up to you boy you’re driving me crazy, Thinking you may be losing your mind” and additionally features lines such as “If all you’ve got to prove today is your innocence, Calm down, you’re as guilty as can be”.  In defence of the song, Cerys Matthews told the Birmingham Post on 6th April, 1998:

“The title, Road Rage, was inspired by the newspaper reports of the case of Tracie Andrews.  But it is really about how fast technology is moving”.