Friday, May 6, 2011

Online predator sentenced; victims' families differ on sentence

You may have heard of the bizarre and tragic case of an American nurse, William Melchert-Dinkel, who has just been sentenced for seeking out depressed people online and getting them to kill themselves. At least two of them, Nadia Kajouji of Brampton, Ontario, and Mark Drybrough, from Coventry, England, actually did it. Melchert-Dinkel has just received a somewhat creative sentence - following 260 consecutive days in jail, he'll serve weekends on the anniversaries of Kajouji's and Drybrough's deaths for ten more years. One thing I find interesting, though, is the vastly differing reactions of the victims' families to this sentence. From the CBC article:

Marc Kajouji, Nadia's brother, said the punishment was too light for the crime.

"A guilty verdict isn't justice; punishment is justice," said Kajouji. "A year in a jail with work release doesn't really seem like justice."

Meanwhile, across the pond we see this:
Last night Mr Drybrough’s mum Elaine, of Walsgrave Road, Stoke, said the sentence was a “good result”.
So is an individual difference, or a cultural one? I'm inclined to think the latter, especially since this isn't the only case of dramatically different responses to similar crimes between Canada and the UK. Remember how Tim McLean's mum was all but calling for the public execution of Vince Li? Well, when another person with severe mental illness, Sabina Eriksson, killed a man in the UK in 2008, the victim's brother had this to say:
"We don't hold her responsible, the same as we wouldn't blame a rabid dog for biting someone. She is ill and to a large degree, not responsible for her actions. But her mental disorder should have been recognized much earlier."
So why are we so much more vengeful here? I think it's probably because we watch more American TV, with its emphasis on hang 'em high "justice". For what it's worth, I find the British response more rational and civilized.

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