The Old Bailey Judge

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Unlawful Killings

book | Non-Fiction | 2022
World → Doubleday (Ed. Andrea Henry)

Every day in the UK lives are suddenly, brutally, wickedly taken away. Victims are shot or stabbed. Less often they are strangled or suffocated or beaten to death. Rarely they are poisoned, pushed off high buildings, drowned or set alight. Then there are the many who are killed by dangerous drivers, or corporate gross negligence. There are a lot of ways you can kill someone. I know because I've seen most of them at close quarters.

The author is one of just a few judges licensed to try murder cases at the Old Bailey. Every day they preside over the high-profile stories that grab our attention in dramatic media headlines. But, unlike most of us, they don't get to turn the page and move on. Nor does the defendant, or the family of the victim, nor the many people who populate the court room.

Unlawful Killings peels apart five dramatic murder and manslaughter cases and removes this distinction between ‘them’ and ‘us’. There are many and subtle ways in which we can all be touched by these killings; any one of us could end up in the witness-box or even in the dock. But most people have only the sketchiest idea of what happens inside a Crown Court. By revealing the inner workings of the Old Bailey and UK law, the author makes clear that every member of society has a vested interest in what happens in the court room. By describing with breath-taking skill and deep compassion how the cases unfold, they illustrate exactly what it's like to be a murder trial judge and a witness to human good and bad. Sometimes very bad.

Right now, the courts are straining under the weight of the many heinous crimes being committed, but it’s not merely the system that is flawed. The fracture lines that run through our society are becoming harder and harder to ignore and, from their unique perspective, the author warns that we do so at our peril.


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Alice Lutyens
+44 (0)20 7393 4400
Email Alice Lutyens