Innocence and Criminal Justice
Undercover: Crime Shorts is featured on the global author network, The Authors Show, Channel 4
I shall be reading from one of my short stories, answering questions about my writing career, how I started my writing adventure and where I get my ideas.
My fab host, Linda Thompson, is a true professional, and she manages to get every ounce of information out of her guest authors with ease, and I had a great time nattering with her about my crime writing, studying Forensic Science and Criminal Justice so that my writing is as accurate as it can be.
We touch on miscarriages of justice and I chat about some of the cases I studied in my university courses including the murder of TV newsreader, presenter, broadcaster, and journalist, Jill Dando, in 1999. She was murdered outside her own front door and a man was arrested, tried, and found guilty of this dreadful crime.
The man convicted, and imprisoned for her murder, Barry George, spent eight years in prison before he was acquitted following an appeal and retrial. It has long been suspected that a Serbian Warlord, Arkan, was responsible for her murder and he was named a suspect in the crime in 2012, although he died in 2000.
To date, her murder remains unsolved.
Jill presented shows such as CrimeWatch on BBC.
We also studied other cases of miscarriages of justice and the work of the Innocence Project in America.
The Innocence Project is a non-for-profit organisation, based in New York, New York, USA, committed to exonerating individuals who have been wrongly convicted – through the use of DNA testing – and working to reform the Criminal Justice system to prevent future cases of wrongful conviction.
I studied several American cases as part of my course and I must admit the apparent ease with which it is possible to try and convict a person of a crime they didn’t commit, did not fill me with confidence in the workings of the Criminal Justice system, here in the UK or the USA.
The seven forensic science courses I undertook were specifically designed for crime writers and they suited me well. I learned about Crime Scene Investigation, Identifying a skeleton in a shallow grave from just the bones – no belongings or other items had been left with it that could be used for ID.
It was fascinating discovering how to determine the cause of death by gun/knife or strangulation as well as other methods. This was very helpful when writing Undercover: Crime Shorts as you can imagine. I employed many ‘unusual’ methods of despatch in my short story, Murder by Christmas, for example.
We studied blood splatter, gun residue, knife and saw cuts, and so much more. I loved it. We took a case from discovery of a body, investigation, to identification, to following clues about the victim and the murderer which led eventually to an arrest, trial, and conviction with a lot of time spent on Witness Investigations and interrogations and finally how the police operated and the courts worked.
I also undertook basic archaeology and had fun doing lots of practical experiments.
I discuss a lot of this with Linda during my interview. I do hope you join us on The Authors Show, Channel 4 – see the link – and it is then in archives 24/7 so you can visit later or again and again, If you listen in, please let me know your thoughts.
Undercover: Crime Shorts continues to be used by Western Kentucky University, KT, USA, 2nd-year students in their studies Introduction to Literature, since October 2021.
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