When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Wrenches

The beat goes on, even in England where guns are outlawed. Wait, make that, the beat down goes on. It’s the home of beat music, after all. Cue the Beeb:

A man who bludgeoned a former bomb disposal expert to death in a row over a debt before dumping his body has been convicted of manslaughter.

Colin Gale, 40, from Worthing, West Sussex, denied murdering Mark Manning, saying he had acted in self-defence.

The court heard that Gale had hit Mr Manning, who bought and sold cars, with a wrench at his garage in Lancing during a row over money he owed him.

Does anybody else find this writer’s pronoun use hard to follow? Who owed whom the money?

Wait, they said “wrench”! Isn’t the term in, well, English, English, a “spanner”? (Here in the breakaway colonies, a “spanner” is a very particular kind of wrench). We’ll be waiting for the answer from the Old Country – we find the uncertainty wrenching.

We could have told the guy how far a self-defense claim would get him — all the way to HM Prisons.

He was found guilty at Lewes Crown Court of manslaughter, having admitted preventing the lawful burial of Mr Manning’s body.

Stewart Robertson, 50, was found guilty of preventing the lawful burial.

Mr Manning, 54, a father of two who used to work for a charity that helped clear mines in some of the world’s poorest countries, had been reported missing in April 2014 after failing to meet his son, as arranged.

Det Ch Insp Mike Ashcroft, who led the investigation into his disappearance, said after the verdicts that Gale had concocted a story about dropping his former friend at a railway station.

“He has put Mark’s family through a living nightmare,” he said. “He not only killed Mark but destroyed his family’s lives as a result.”

Gale, of Offington Lane, Worthing, was arrested on suspicion of murder in May 2015 and formally charged in January 2016.

Stewart Robertson was found guilty of helping dispose of the body

It was only after his associate, Robertson, was rearrested in May 2016 that police discovered where Mr Manning had been buried.

Robertson, of St Aubyns Road, Portslade, took police to the woodland site in Slaugham, West Sussex, where his remains were recovered.

Pronouns again. Yes, this one’s susceptible to being figured out, but it’s still careless.

He claimed he was protecting himself.

A very hard claim to sell, a year after you kill the guy and hide his body. Generally, people with nothing to hide stay on scene and meet the police. Coppers are sight hounds — you run, they’ll chase. Their heuristic is a runner is Sumdood with mischief afoot.

Gale and Robertson will be sentenced later this month.

So much for their perfect crime. Still, are Britons an indoor race? We ask, because there are not many woods left in Britain’s home counties, but a body in the vast American forests seems much more likely than its British cousin to be found by a passing hunter, hiker, or bird-watcher. The number of “perfect crimes” undone by half-assed body disposal is really staggering. (But then, the number of criminal masterminds who are not fictional characters on TV is vanishingly small).

Well, no passing hunters in West Sussex, right? That takes one mechanism of body discovery off the table.

10 thoughts on “When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Wrenches

  1. Ken

    My knowledge of the British Empire comes almost entirely from Agatha Christie, Colin Dexter, P.D. James etc. However, it seems the British are big on “rambling” and I believe they have plenty of public access to pass through lands owned by the rich and titled who own the land.

  2. Chris

    I find the pronouns confusing, but not a confusing as their laws. Mr. Gale delivered a blow (sorry) claiming self defense. If it was self defense, then the act was justified. If it wasn’t self defense, well Mr. G. intended to hit the vic – hence not an accidental death nor manslaughter. It’s murder. I suspect it’s the same in Ol’ Blighty as it is here. The prosecutor bargained the crime down because s/he is too lazy to go after a conviction for the actual crime.

    1. Bloke_from_ohio

      I don’t think it’s laziness that leads to please deals. It is rather an appeal to certainty.

      From the perps point of view, the prosecution has probably stacked a whole mess of charges on them. The implicit threat that losing the trial will really suck is a great motivator. If they “cooperate” and admit to something lesser then they still go to jail, but it won’t be as bad as it would be if the fought it and had the book thrown at them out of what seems like spite. This is double true of the defendant knows they are guilty of at least a subset of the charges.

      For the prosecution, they have one job and that is to put bad people away. They also realize they could loose and a truly aweful person might walk. If they can get them to admit to something lesser and get them off the streets for a time then it is not a total loss. All it takes is one jurror after all. This incentive to please problems away is even greater when you add in politics and carreer considerations.

      Personally I am philosophically apposed to the practice since on both sides it perverts actual justice. Get the perp for what he or she actually did. But, I am not so daft as to demand it’s total prohibition. I simply wish it were used less.

  3. Simon

    A spanner is a tool that ‘spans’ a nut or bolt head, usually fitting exactly. So, you can have an adjustable spanner. That picture is a Stilson wrench. It is used more on material that does not have flat sides.

  4. Byron The Dog

    I think Simon is right. We use wrench for Stilson’s and plumber’s/pipe wrenches and similar.

    We also, and this is much more serious, call the Mersey either ‘the Mersey’ or at a push, the river Mersey. Getting it wrong is like calling 35 Regiment Royal Engineers the “thirty fifth” Regiment etc. Imagine the 82d Airborne being called the “eight, two” Airborne and you get the picture.

  5. staghounds

    There are plenty of un-rambled-in forests in England. Some not far from Lewes- there’s a pretty substantial population of wild boar in the New Forest, for example.

    It’s been new for a long time now.

  6. Loren

    “The number of “perfect crimes” undone by half-assed body disposal is really staggering”
    Digging a body sized hole in the forest is harder than you think. It usually involves a couple of kinds of shovels, a mattock or digging bar, an axe and several hours of hard work made somewhat easier if the body is fresh.
    After it’s all said and done you wind up with a 100′ sq. area of disturbed ground that says “look here”.

    1. Kirk

      Body disposal is often a lot easier than the average serial killer thinks–If you leave someone out in the open, here in the Pacific Northwest, the body will usually be scattered bones within a fairly short few months. Good luck with your forensics, once the rains and the small animals are done scattering all the small bones and so forth all over hell’s creation.

      If the idiots bury the body, they’re actually doing the forensics guys a favor, because the small animals aren’t going to be doing their thing.

      The trick is, you have to select the right location, where nobody is likely to be going while the body is recognizable, and then let nature take its course after you remove any identifying clothing and jewelry. Select a site uphill from a ravine that often floods in the spring? Golden; the bones will wind up scattered through a vast swathe of the floodplain.

      The real wonder isn’t that we catch so few serial killers; it’s that we catch any of them at all. Nature can destroy evidence of foul play so quickly that it would rather boggle your mind, and it is even worse in warmer, wetter climates like the South.

      1. DaveP.

        ^What he said. Most of the things done to conceal a crime actually work to delay decomposition and preserve what evidence might remain. Lime, wrapping in plastic, and most forms of burial just retard the natural processes and keep the scavengers and insects at bay.

  7. Docduracoat

    Kirk,
    We have had several cases of skeletons identified by means of medical implants
    There was the lingerie model whose breast implants led to identification and we have had hip implants and dentures lead to identification of skeletons
    Several methods of disposing of bodies that seem good are actually terrible
    House fires are not hot enough
    Ocean dumping, even in weighted suitcases does not work well.
    Decomposition gases and ocean currents often bring the body ashore
    I am still a fan of using lye to dissolve the body and pouring the residue down the drain
    Just don’t buy your lye using your debit card!
    (They can trace the transaction)

Comments are closed.