Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Justice, For Once.

I used to live on Park Hill flats, a somewhat notorious council estate by Sheffield city centre.

There is always a lot to say about Park Hill, but for now I won't be going into that. I just need to talk about one incident, and today's long-awaited update on it.

In June 2002, I was woken by the smell of smoke. I leapt out of bed and went all the way round my flat, trying to find its source. When I couldn't find anything, I looked out of a window and saw the very clear cause. One of the flats opposite was very much on fire.

There was a huge amount of smoke, and I watched as one of the windows shattered with the heat, letting yet more smoke out. I saw that there were people around the flat door, and for some reason I presumed that the flat belonged to one of the women standing there. I grabbed my phone to call 999, when I saw firefighters arrive.

I was very frightened and disturbed by what I could see, and did not want to be part of that weird voyeuristic thing which happens to the best of people in situations like this, so I moved away from the window, and hoped the firefighters could get it under control quickly.

I was mainly relieved that the flat's occupant had got out.

Later that day I went down to the Co-op, which as well as being the local shop, also seemed to serve as social centre, marriage guidance, community news spreader and gossip centre of the estate.

Of course, all talk was of the fire. When I got to the till, I asked if anyone knew what had happened, and the woman serving me said, 'They're saying it's murder'.

I was stunned. Totally and utterly stunned. I had been convinced that that woman by the front door of the flat lived there. Why on earth had I thought that??

I was given more information - a woman was killed in the fire, she had had a stalker, one of her kids had seen the fire from the school playground, presumably not knowing their mum was dying in it. The thought was that the stalker did it.

Over the next few days, information began to be confirmed and denied. The situation was that this woman, June Bond, had 7 children. A man had been stalking her, and the flat which had been on fire was actually *his* flat. He was prime suspect, her death was being treated as murder, and he was being looked for.

The firefighters had struggled to get inside the flat to put out the fire, and once they had they were slowed down by the sheer heat and smoke. June Bond was dead.

I was terribly traumatised and disturbed by this whole event. Having seen the fire, I couldn't stop imagining how this (unknown to me) woman must have felt, dying in a fire. Unable to breathe? Burning? Worried about her kids? I had indirectly witnessed a murder and I couldn't get it out of my mind.

And then, after a few weeks, there was nothing. The flat remained boarded up, but talk got onto other matters and I learned nothing more.

This event comes to my mind still regularly, and I occasionally search the web for details of any kind of conviction or anything to follow up this woman's awful murder, but I found nothing.

So today, to read that the guy, Vincent King, had been convicted and sentenced to life, serving a minimum of 16 years, I felt so glad, so relieved.

It seems he had actually killed her with a claw hammer, and then set the flat on fire to cover his tracks. He'll be in there until at least 2018 which I'm glad about, but it doesn't seem half enough. He was stalking her, and had previously been in a relationship with her.

Yet again, a violent man kills their partner or ex-partner. Two women a week in Britain are killed by (ex-)partners. At least this time there is a conviction and something of a sentence.

16 Years for Murderer of Former Lover

A BRUTE who beat his ex-lover to death with a hammer and then tried to cover his tracks by arson must spend at least 16 years behind bars.
Vincent King, aged 59, of Norwich Row, Park Hill, was found guilty at Sheffield Crown Court in November 2002 of murdering mother-of-seven June Bond.

He had already pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was
endangered. He was jailed for life.

Now his tariff - the minimum number of years he must spend in prison before he can seek parole - has been set at 16 years by Mr Justice McCombe, who was reviewing the case at the High Court in London.

Even taking into account the time he spent on remand, the ruling means King will not be able to even apply for his freedom before 2018.

Mr Justice McCombe said he had taken into account the fact King had been left in a "distressed mental state" when it emerged Ms Bond had begun seeing a neighbour, Oswald Darmudas.

But he also observed that King had a number of previous convictions for violence, including one against Ms Bond.

The judge also said he had tried to cover up the murder by starting a fire.

The court heard King met Ms Bond, who was 14 years younger than him, in 2001. In May 2002 she began seeing Mr Darmudas and split with King, but he 'stalked' her and discovered her new relationship.

On June 12 2002, he lured her to his flat by saying he had money for her, said Mr Justice McCombe, before killing her with a single blow to the head from a claw hammer.

At around 6.50am the next day he bought petrol from a filling station and set fire to his own flat with Ms Bond's body inside.


sparklematrix said...

Hippy - I'm not surprised that you felt traumatised and disturbed. There's sadness with accidents but when someone sets out to harm it's very different.

Anonymous said...

oh god, I am so glad he was sent down for a long time. I lived at Park Hill at the time too (for anyone else's information!) and although I did not see the fire I saw the aftermath.

I see he had a previous conviction for violence against her (and therefore goodness knows how many times he may actually have done it)once again DV becomes murder, and an innocent woman is viciously killed, and seven people have no mother. I thought again and again about that poor woman, and the poor child who watched the flat burning from the primary school playground, little knowing their Mum was dead inside.

I hope he rots in there.


Unknown said...

Thanks sparkle, I agree.

And Claire, yes you're so right. Hoping for the same rot as you, may it be long, slow and painful.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Horrible yes but please remember that the majority of men in this world and this city are like me. I have never hit a woman in my life though I have been hit by one or two. I have never taken advantage of any woman in a sexual way because for me sex is inextricably linked with love. In declaring these truths I am not seking a medal or anything I am just telling you that from my experience this is how most men are - we respect women, we are vulnerable, we are looking for love and kindness and connection with another human being. Militant feminists may not want to accept this reality because it may not fit their agendas but it is true.

flez1966 said...

People often say it would be wrong to bring back death sentences, but for cases like this were there is no mistake of it being the wrong guy, I'm all for it.

(a distant family member)

Unknown said...

Hi Clare was my mum Hun was awful n were all still paying now c