Chris Foster shot his wife and his daughter. He then set fire to his house and killed himself. Figuring out how such a thing came to happen - so we can reduce the risk that it happens again - is a great idea. Step forward Jon Ronson in the Daily Mail and possibly the most offensive article I've read all year.
Firstly this article is in the "Femail" section. This is an article of interest to women. Presumably women who don't want to get shot in the head at point blank range...? Sick.
Secondly large parts of the article are not about the case - they are about Jon himself:
"I’d love to live somewhere like this if I could afford it, I think ruefully as I drive through the village"
"I show him my Press card. ‘You look too scruffy to be a journalist,’ he says. We both laugh. Then I bid him farewell and drive away."
Of course lots of great journalists include their own reactions to situations, but this isn't his reaction, it's the minutiae of his day, the stuff of "Dear Diary". And it shows a kind of lack of respect for the victims I think. He's more interested in being jealous of the area they lived in and having a laugh with the local police.
But it gets much more sinister than that. The murderer is portrayed as a nice guy...
"According to his friends, Foster adored his family."
According to the gunshot wounds, he didn't. That is not the hallmark of adoration.
Then our intrepid journalist goes to meet Ian, a friend of Foster's. The guy explains that Foster was a big spender who liked to spend money ostentatiously but who was actually going bankrupt. And then mystically the subject of divorce comes up:
"‘I empathise with Chris,’ Ian says. ...‘I’m going through a divorce at the moment. I probably seem normal and relaxed to you, but inside I’m finding it very stressful."
OK, now I do find it weird that anyone would tell a newspaper that they empathised with a multiple murderer. I see where Shipman was coming from, that Peter Sutcliffe was so misunderstood...
"‘We’re supposed to be manly,’ ... ‘We’re not supposed to get upset. We’re supposed to be the breadwinners and the providers, especially in our children’s eyes. We’re supposed to do miracles.’"
According to who? I have never said this. Who is telling people this? As far as I am aware - mostly journalists at the Daily Male.
"‘When I went to the divorce hearing, my wife’s solicitor suggested I sell this house and split the proceeds. The judge agreed. He knew nothing of the case — he’d just read a brief thing.’"
The judge agreed to a 50-50 split? What an evil bastard...
"‘If I sell the house I’ll have to sell the horses, too. My kids live for those horses. For someone to take that life away from the children…’ There’s a silence. ‘It’s heartbreaking,’"
I think your kids would rather lose their horses than their lives. And if your kids live for their horses maybe they need a more fulfilling family life. Maybe they would benefit from more time with their father, rather than just a lot of expensive toys.
"'Fair enough, it’s my wife who’s trying to take things away from me, but it’s somebody else who’s giving her that authority."
Giving her authority? She's been in this marriage as long as you have and she's been raising the kids too, it sounds like with rather little help from you. I think she's entitled to half the house. No-one is giving her that authority, the court is defending her right to it which you are trying to take away.
"‘You’re as mad at them as you are at her. That’s where I can empathise with Chris. The idea it puts into your head is getting back at the Establishment."
How does it get back at the establishment to murder your wife and daughter? He seems to have forgotten that they are people, not items of property that the state might have wanted to put up for auction.
"When you hear about bailiffs turning up the next morning, as the bodies were still smouldering, you think: “Fair play”."
You do? You hear of the bodies of two innocent women smoldering and you think "fair play"? Then you should be shot at dawn you creepy weirdo asshole.
Are you hearing what I'm hearing? That the reason Chris Foster murdered his wife and daughter was because of the difficulties of getting divorced? The article glosses over things like his being a member of a shooting club where the members tell obscene jokes and talk about suicide. The article doesn't bother to expand on the risks of the fact that he collected guns as a hobby. And when his career is mentioned it is to suggest that the state has no right to reclaim money owed by Foster. Yet even his business career had signs of danger in it, like this one:
"At the High Court, on February 28, 2008, Lord Justice Rimer said Foster was ‘bereft of the basic instincts of commercial morality. He was not to be trusted’."
But most incredibly of all after all this: Chris Foster wasn't getting divorced. His wife knew he had no less than eight mistresses and yet still "played the dutiful wife". Clearly she would have been much much MUCH better off if she had gotten divorced a long time ago. But that's not what the "Femail" section is there to tell women is it? Not when they can have a male journalist tell them it's their own fault when they're murdered.
Photo by Ian Britton, from FreeFoto.com