Tragic little Mikaeel Kular. It’s an awful tale of a beautiful little boy, a desperate search and, finally, the saddest of endings.
Along with the rest of the world, I watched the story unfold adding my hope to the groundswell of wishes to see him again. Safe.
Painfully, it was not to be.
Now his mother Rosdeep has been charged with his murder and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.
Now there’s a process to go through, a trial, evidence. It takes time.
However, already on social media sites it seems she’s guilty. People are calling for her life imprisonment or, even, the death penalty. One even suggests she should be tortured. They denounce her as “evil”, “disgusting” and “absolute scum”. They boom on about who should and shouldn’t be allowed to have children and what they’d like to do with her, given the opportunity. And that’s before you get to the racist nonsense…
This is trial by Twitter and it needs to stop.
If a jury finds that Rosdeep killed Mikaeel, then we can call her a murderer and the courts will decide on her punishment. And only then.
We live in a mature and civilised society that has a long-established and successful system that tests the evidence and forces a case to be proven. In the main, it means that criminals are punished and justice done.
What we don’t do is decide on someone’s guilt on the basis of a few news stories, some blurry photos and a bundle of prejudice. Neither do we kill or torture people.
But this isn’t just about the ignorant baying for blood, it’s worse than that. Tweets and posts could actually harm the case and derail the whole legal process. Bunging something up on Twitter isn’t the same has telling your mates in the pub or bending the ear of your hairdresser.
It’s also why the accused’s face is sometimes pixelated – in case you were wondering – not some arbitrary and sinister form of censorship.
Innocent until proven guilty – it’s an important principle and one that must be supported, whatever you feel about what happened here… or what you think happened.
The best thing we can do for Mikaeel now is protect the system that will bring him justice.