Monday, October 3, 2011

John Paul Massey

Revised:   Oct 3, 23:21
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It's difficult to draw meaningful lessons from the short  life of John Paul Massey. But the enormity of this tragedy is too poignant to ignore.

At the inquest into the toddler's death the Liverpool coroner, Andre Rebello, said that Helen Foulkes had fought "heroically" to save the four-year old. Helen Foulkes is John Paul's grandmother. Angela McGlynn, John Paul's mother, also referred to her mother as a hero.

But with further reading this picture of heroism becomes clouded. Is it possible for the person who creates a dangerous environment for a child, to be considered a hero when the child is killed? Uno, the pit bull that killed John Paul, was owned by Christian Foulkes, John Paul's uncle. Uno and a second pit bull lived in the house with Helen Foulkes, John Paul's grandmother, where the murder occurred.

Christian Foulkes was later jailed for possessing and breeding pit bulls. The grandmother received a suspended sentence for possession of the pit bulls.

This disorienting mashup of circumstance, irresponsibility, and cloying sentimentality is enough to make a reader turn away in despair, but there is more. Britain, where the crime occurred, is a country with loosely enforced (or unenforced) Dangerous Dog Laws (DDL).  The police had been informed of dangerous dogs being bred at the house and had failed to respond.

At the inquest Mr Rebello said:
After death Uno was classified as a dangerous dog within the meaning of the Dangerous Dogs Acts of 1991. Whether Uno would have been present if the police had investigated is speculative and unknown.
An expert dog handler also spoke at the court hearing to claim that Uno may have been trying to move up in the family hierarchy.

Has nature turned? What is the natural order, when a dog expert speculates on Uno's motives for murdering a child, but we aren't to speculate on how that child's death might have been prevented?

Is it useless to speculate on what might have happened if the police had investigated? Should we not wonder what might have happened if the dogs had been removed? Should we not wonder about the miserable lives of Christian and Helen Foulkes, who would keep and breed pit bulls in the same house frequented by a young toddler?

The Foulkes flagrantly endangered the life of John Paul, their son, nephew, and grandson. It's  evident that the Dangerous Dog Laws did nothing to protect John Paul, with tragic results.

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See Also: BSL Scholarship, Dangerous Dog Laws
Source: Liverpool Echo

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