Crime scene: Get off badly. . . a calculating murder under another name
I have seen a lot of stories lately about people falling out of windows.
Some are dead, some aren’t, but what really caught my eye?
Well, I’m currently researching my next book, which will describe how the various rooms in our homes have been exploited to facilitate murder, and I expected to find contemporary cases of defenestration.
It is a French word which literally means to be thrown out of a window when you die – you are “from” “fenestrated” and the French for window is the window.
I guess most people will associate this murder method with Bran in Game of Thrones Pushed Out the Window by Jamie by now.
Hoping to keep his incestuous affair a secret, Jamie pushes Bran out the window, although Bran survived the fall.
However, there are also very real cases of defenestration including the “Defenestration of Prague” in 1618, which started the Thirty Years’ War, and of course William, Earl of Douglas, was cast to death from a castle window. of Stirling by James II in 1452.
In my research for the book, I found a number of contemporary examples in Canada, China, and America of defenestration murder, but I was unable to uncover any recent British cases.
Perhaps it is because the design of windows has changed so much that this type of crime has become more
But what surprised me was the extraordinary number of murders taking place in Britain where the victim was pushed down the stairs.
This type of murder – although the charge was often subsequently reduced to manslaughter (or culpable homicide in Scotland) – invariably occurred after both the victim and the perpetrator had been drinking and there had been a sort of disagreement.
The victim was often described as “wobbly on her feet”.
There was therefore no intention to kill the victim – there was no mens rea or “guilty spirit” on the part of the aggressor – and therefore the charge of manslaughter rather than murder.
But who can say that was the case, especially if there were no witnesses to speak on behalf of the victim?
It also made me wonder about any recorded “accidents” involving stairs that led to death could have been the result of something more sinister.
I have also discovered that there is in fact no technical criminological or legal term to describe murder or manslaughter resulting from the victim being pushed down the stairs.
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It made me think.
What could I call this form of crime?
I thought of the word defenestration and I was once again inspired by the French language and that’s what I found – “to descend badly”. Literally to descend badly, because to descend in French means “to descend” and evil is “false” and also the root of “malicious”.
So you heard it here first – getting off badly – is the new term I suggest to use if someone is being pushed down the stairs.
Oh, and don’t get me started on the unique role the kitchens played in the history of the murder in Britain – that will have to wait until the book’s publication in 2022.
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