You can’t lose a child to a killer and not lose a huge part of yourself in the process.
You can’t cover the funerals of murdered children or follow the footsteps of missing children and not lose part of yourself either.
Press, like parents, like police, never really give up hope of learning the truth.
And we shouldn’t. Take the Madeleine McCann case. I watched the Crimewatch special with reluctance. What more could be achieved by publicity?
I was one of 7.3m viewers - some 30 per cent of that night’s total audience share. The highest audience on record for Crimewatch. But it wasn’t some cynical self congratulatory drum up figures exercise - unlike some of the regurgitations of red top tabloids over recent years.
This did the business. Proper police work established a fresh suspect and a wholly different timeline after six years of chasing more red herrings than a Portuguese copper wife’s shopping for the Sunday barbecue.
It restored hope that maybe this time there would be a break. Then the calls started. Hundreds of them. If Maddy is ever found it will be because her parents never ever gave up. Nor should we if there’s a chance, however slim, that an abducted or missing child may still be alive.
Nor can we fail to bring perpetrators to justice, the real thing, not the emasculation created by courts of so-called human rights.We don’t want killers who have led lambs to slaughter bleating their own human rights have been stifled.
I have no time for Peter Chester and others lining up behind one of Britain’s longest serving prisoners to press their case for freedom - to vote. Donna Marie, only daughter of June Woon, now Gillbanks, of Marton, died in 1977. She was seven. She had been raped and strangled by her Uncle Peter.
In a calculating bid to hide his crime he placed her toy bunny beside her and drew the bed cover over her chin. To all intents and purposes the child would appear to be asleep when her mother looked in. The devil lurks in such detail. It’s the detail which can emotionally unravel even hardened observers. I was a junior reporter when I covered the case - and have aged with each of the eight parole bids since.
It’s a war of attrition. June is 60, three years older than I am. The tragedy has utterly redefined her.
Seven Supreme Court justices have dismissed Chester’s “right” to vote. But it’s taken three years.
In December 2010 three Court of Appeal judges permitted the challenge on the claim the “serious nature” of his offence did not “justify disenfranchising him” and to do so was “disproportionate” and “violated” his human rights.
Violated his human rights? Donna Marie cannot press her own case. She’s missed out on high school, exams, kissing her first boyfriend, Christmas shopping with her mum, working.
She will never kiss her own child goodnight. Or vote.
She should have been in her mid 30s.
By any definition of what’s right and proper the freedoms we take for granted were lost to Chester the moment he stifled the life out of his niece.
More than just four wheels and a few tools
It takes two minutes to lose a livelihood. Ask the Carleton gas fitter who left his white Citroen Dispatch van outside a client’’s home in Bispham.
He popped in to price the job, was back in minutes and it had gone, tools and all. Having left the keys inside insurers won’t cover losses. And Christmas is coming and heating bills are rising. Shameful timing.
His wife said: “That was his livelihood gone in two minutes. I have been driving round everywhere looking for it.”
I felt sorry because my brother went through something similar some years ago after his marriage broke up in Portugal.
He was working as an electrician when his wife left. He came back to Blackpool for some tender loving care and left his Ford Transit with “friends” - who used it daily and sold the tools within.
It took thousands of pounds to set him up again. We all mucked in. But some things are irreplaceable. Tools that once belonged to our late dad had gone, others bought by our mum, or purchased with his very first pay packet. It’s a despicable thing to steal a man’s livelihood.