The Murder of pensioner Joan Charlton, Sentence is passed, but is it enough

Mrs Joan Charlton

The Victim
The Victim

Joan Charlton

Above is a photograph of Mrs Joan Charlton. She was an 85 year old resident of the city where I live on the East Coast of Yorkshire, England. I say was as this lady was murdered recently.

When her body was discovered at her small council house, home, police were uncertain just how long she had been dead. She was found Thursday, 11th June 2009, after police were alerted.

With what I know I would guess that neighbours realised something was wrong due to a problem with flies or a nasty smell. Then again it could just be that people realised they had not seen Mrs Charlton for some time.

The victim died of multiple head injuries but it has been reported that every bone in this lady's face was broken. As the press have said it was a violent attack in what should have been this lady's sanctuary from life, her home. It is not the best part of the city but neither is it that bad. In fact when we first married years ago we lived nearby. Of course it could have changed recently.

Initially police were looking for this lady's 40 year old gardener. He seemed to be the chief suspect. However a 20 year old man has now been arrested.

Local press 15th June 2009

Our local press had this to quote today via our local police officers:- 

"Detective Supt Fleming described the attack on Mrs Charlton as "horrific" as she appealed for anyone with information to come forward. She said: "This is a particularly horrendous and brutal attack."I would ask anyone who may know anything at all about this incident to please come forward."

Mrs Charlton, a widow for more than three decades, lived alone in her terraced house.

Police want to establish her movements prior to her death, as it was not yet clear how long she had been dead before her body was discovered.

Friends and neighbours of Mrs Charlton earlier paid tribute to a "lovely, warm, and kind-hearted" woman. Joyce Taylor, 83, who has lived in West Parade for 28 years, said Joan had loved her garden.She said: " She would spend hours tending to it, she was always outside pruning her roses." Another neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said Mrs Charlton had been a "quiet" lady who was always happy.

She told the Mail: "We rarely saw her but whenever we did it would always be when she was looking after her garden. "She loved being there and always seemed really happy when she was. "She would always say hello and always smiled."

Forensic examinations continue to take place at the West Parade property.

Anyone with information should contact the major incident room at Tower Grange Police Station on (01482) 796271.

Alternatively, Crime-stoppers can be called anonymously on 0800 555111.

Opinion, thoughts, outrage and more

I know that Joan's fate is not unusual in this day and age. It was not even unique when I was a child. I also know that old people can be troublesome at times, just like we all can be. However what incites such behaviour is beyond me.

It does not seem at present that there was any other motive than robbery. To die from such a "sustained and brutal attack" is appalling for anyone. No person should have to leave this earth in such a way, nor should any friends and family have to cope with such a loss.

However to reach the age of 85, looking so well and happy only to be beaten to death, beggars belief. The resistance that an elderly person could offer against a young person would be minimal. Excessive force would have been totally unnecessary. For, however, strong this woman may have been she would have failed against a young, strong attacker.

So this leads me to the question "Why this amount of force?"

Was it that Mrs Charlton's attacker got a sick thrill out of inflicting pain?

Only the murderer knows and perhaps he will withhold such information.

THE DEATH SENTENCE

I have never felt comfortable about the death sentence for crimes such as murder. It just feels wrong. Add to this the fact that many unsafe sentences are passed each year and capital punishment is a no-no for me. Cases such as that of Stephan Kiszko who served a long sentence, plus beatings in jail, for a crime he did not commit prove that the death sentence is still not possible.

However if the criminal justice system ever finds a way of confirming a person's guilt 100% surely the perpetrators of such crimes must face the fate that they gave their victim. Even then it will not be as drawn out and painful as it was for their victim but it will be justice.

Consider criminals such as The Yorkshire Ripper, in England, who there is doubt killed many women. Such crimes probably mean he is insane. However such insanity deserves and needs life imprisonment and I mean LIFE. If he is sane then his cruelty and inhumanity warrants the death sentence.

inappropriate sentences

In recent years we have seen and heard about mediocre sentences for murderers. Whether it is a young person or an adult committing murder it is a crime which must be treat seriously. No doubt where you live you will be no different.

The murder of Joan

When the full details of this current case are publicised I have no doubt we will hear or read more terrible revelations. I hope that police officers arrest the person responsible for this heinous crime and that he or she receives the sentence they deserve.

Surely in this case, and others that are much the same, it must be life. Is such an animal ever safe to walk our streets again? I think not.

UPDATED INFORMATION

17th June 2009

A press statement has confirmed that Mrs Charlton's 20 year old next door neighbour has been charged with her murder. The young man had lived next door to her for six years and his parents live a few doors along. It would seem that burglary has been the main purpose of this man's break into Mrs Charlton's home.

26th August 2009

Having received contact from a relative of Mrs Charlton's, through this hub, I wanted to make sure that an update was appropriate. Joan has now been laid to rest and her family have the task of coming to terms with their loss.

Our local press has reported that the person arrested in connection with this murder has admitted his crime. Currently the case is adjourned awaiting psychiatric reports. The results of these will determine what his plea will be. Either way he will be pleading guilty but perhaps these reports will modify this plea somewhat. I will update this hub when firm details, especially sentencing, are announced. Whether or not the sentence will fit the crime remains to be seen but it is hoped that it does.

15th September 2009

Having missed the local news for a few days I had not realised that Tozer has now been sentenced. A link to the local report was sent to me by a relative of Mrs Charlton. Tozer was sentenced to 30 years in prison but this has been reduced. As he pleaded guilty the sentence was reduced by 5 years and due to the defendant's age a further 3 years was removed. This leaves Tozer serving 22 years in Jail.

Imagine how the family, neighbours and friends of this dear lady must feel. It is hard to imagine, and the report makes painful reading but read it we must. Without the knowledge that there are such terrible people living today how can we ever stop them and prevent further tragedies?.

I for one do not think that a 22 year prison sentence, on a young man, will do the trick. Bear in mind that the gruesome details in the press will only be the tip of the iceberg and that this man, for one so young, already had a history of violent offences.

RIP Joan and Sincere Condolences to your loved ones

Capital Punishment

Should the death sentence be restored?

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Life?

Should a life sentence mean life?

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Comments 16 comments

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Thanks for your input Lita. I am no longer sure what the answer is.


Lita C. Malicdem profile image

Lita C. Malicdem 6 years ago from Philippines

In my country, death penalty was already abolished more than 2 decades ago. But with the onslaught of brutal killings today, those in government are suggesting to resurrect it. These people will never learn, what to do, really. After the issue of heinous crimes die down, they forget their stand, anyway. I'm pro-life. Death penalty isn't the answer to our increasing problem such as this that you detailed.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

I think that would have been a fitting sentence in this case Sheila


sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 6 years ago

Here in the US, at least in some states, we do have a sentence of life without parole, often called L-Wop.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Thanks for your input Rodney. It is not an easy subject but such horrific murderers need stopping once and for all.


Just_Rodney profile image

Just_Rodney 6 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

Yes,

The Death sentence is twofold.

It is a definite deterrent. I am not sure of the statistics of all the countries, so only have my country to consider.

Since the abolition of the death sentence the rape and murder statistics have increased.

At the same time there has been an increase in the overall population as well.

If the death penalty was reintroduced for Rape, Child Molestation, as well Murder especially aggravated assault resulting in a death, I feel we would have a safer society.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Thanks Habee. I have been brought close to one of Joan's relatives through this Hub. It makes you reales the full impact of such inhuman muderers


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Great hub, tragic story. I will never understand man's inhumanity to man.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Diane that's sweet of you to say.


Diane 7 years ago

A Yorkshire friend felt she had to apologise for all Yorkshire folk. Absolutely no need - I know Hull well and still have friends there (who. like you, were flooded - only just back in their home after all this time). Sadly, there are rotten apples in every barrel no matter where we live - but there are also a whole load of very sweet apples. Thanks for your thoughts Ethel.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Diane I simply do not know what to say. Know that our thoughts are with you though and that there are still many decent people living in Hull.


Diane 7 years ago

I voted a resounding YES - Joan was my beloved Aunt. The quietest and most gentle of women and I am still breaking my heart just thinking what the horrors of her last minutes on this earth must have been like.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

Life sentences should mean just that..........life without parole! We don't need these people who do these horrible crimes walking the streets again.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

I know it is a very emotive subject. I guess the older I get and the more regular and horrific crimes I read and hear about makes me find it harder to agree with a life sentence which may only last 8 years. Recently three young men received life sentence for the random stabbling of another young man. He was stabbed 11 times in a frenzied pointless attack. I just wonder what that life sentence will be?


men are dorks profile image

men are dorks 7 years ago from Namibia

Kill the killers and child abusers


Iðunn 7 years ago

I'm anti death penalty so I voted no, but like you, I have no idea why people commit crimes like this.  I can't wrap my mind around them at all.  I'm American so our nation is very keen on death penatly and life without parole.  I'm not for either with exception to lwp for those who have an illness that drives them to repeat abuse against children.

We had a case here about two weeks ago where a woman was raped and there was another high profile case like it in 2007.  Unbelieveable. 

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