Being a good bloke by Susan Grimsdell
There’s a programme on BBC called the Kindness Test designed to show the level of kindness in the general population. The questions are along the lines of “Would you go to someone’s aid if you could see they needed help?” or “Do you hold doors open for other people?” “Do you give to charity?” “Do you volunteer?” and so on. Now I grant that kindness is a difficult thing to measure, but I contacted the researchers to suggest that superficial small acts of kindness are not really an indication of the underlying values people live by.
This was brought home to me reading about the ghastly murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard in London by a police officer, Wayne Couzens. She was walking home from a friend’s house at 9.30 one evening when a car pulled up beside her, the driver showed her a police warrant card and accused her of violating Covid rules. He arrested her, handcuffed her and put her in the back seat of the car. You want to yell out “Don’t believe him, don’t get in the car”, but in real life most of us are law-abiding and I think many of us would have done what Sarah did – complied.
He drove her to Kent, transferred her to another car, took her to a remote area, raped and murdered her. That must have been thirsty work because later he went to a petrol station to buy some refreshments for himself. Next day he bought a tin of petrol, returned to her body, burned it and threw the remains in a pond. Her body was found a week later. During that week Couzens went about his normal life, including taking his dog to the vet. Just your average bloke.
At his sentencing – there was no trial because he pleaded guilty – it was revealed that he had a history of sexual offences, including indecent exposure on more than one occasion, and his nickname was “the rapist”. Despite this, no action had ever been taken against him and he was allowed to stay in the Force. He had been a cop for 20 years. Several of his colleagues spoke up for him to the judge, even knowing what he had done to Sarah.
To me, the worst thing about this story is that these fellow police officers stood up for him in court and that he had not been prosecuted and expelled from the Force for his previous sexual crimes. Perhaps he was indeed “a good guy” who you could have a joke with. Maybe he opened doors for people, maybe he gave a hand to someone when they needed help, but what matters is what’s going on in his heart, and what was going on there was cruelty and brutality. He had carefully planned the murder for weeks and showed no remorse.
I hope those supportive mates of his are in the minority. I hope as a society we are outraged that a creep like Couzens should be wearing a police officer’s uniform. Perhaps the Kindness Test scientists can think up a few questions that dig a bit below the surface to show up what’s really going on in our heads.