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The strange Case of Ian Stuart Brady and the Mental Health Tribunal

King, MS and Foley, M and Cummins, I (2016) The strange Case of Ian Stuart Brady and the Mental Health Tribunal. The Internet Journal of Criminology.


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Haggerty (2009) argues that serial killing is essentially a phenomenon of modernity. One of the key features of modernity is the role of mass media and the rise of celebrity culture. He suggests that there is a symbiotic relationship between the media and serial killers. This paper will use the newspaper reporting of the June 2013 appearance of Ian Brady at a Mental Health Review Tribunal hearing to explore the nature of the relationship between the media, high profile cases and notorious offenders. The paper uses bricolage as a research method to explore the inter-connectedness of real events and their media and fictional representations. There is a loop between fictional representations and real life events. The authors argue that the focus of such cultural processes is almost solely on the motivations of the perpetrators of these appalling crimes. The result is to obscure the real nature of these crimes and marginalise the suffering of victims and their families. The MHRT raised very important moral, philosophical, ethical and legal questions about the nature of mental illness, crime and punishment. The consideration of these wider issues was pushed to the margins as the reports of the hearing took on the tone of Gothic fiction concentrating on the “appearance” of Brady. The reporting of the hearing is an example of what Seltzer (1997) termed modern “wound culture” an addiction to violence.

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