Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Victims of Invisible Crime

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Victims of Invisible Crime

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN BIRRELL

SCAPEGOAT: WHY WE ARE FAILING DISABLED PEOPLE by Katharine Quarmby (Portobello, [pounds sterling]15.99) LIKE many people with learning difficulties, Brent Martin's life was a struggle. He was bullied and teased as a child for being "slow", harassed on his way to school and sexually assaulted as a teenager, which led to a breakdown and a decade of sectioning and institutions.

Four years ago he was on the brink of a new life at 23. He was living independently, had a girlfriend and was about to start a job with some savings in the bank. But word went round his Sunderland estate he had money and, thinking he was buying friendship, he was fleeced by stonehearted scroungers.

With his last few pounds he bought a bottle of vodka for three trainee boxers. Then they killed him for a [pounds sterling]5 bet over who could knock him unconscious. They beat him over several hours in at least four different locations, then posed for photos over his battered body. The attacks were so vicious that when his uncle found his dying nephew, he did not recognise him. Amid the many distressing deeds detailed in this powerful, compelling and important book, this was the most affecting. Perhaps it was his loving family, so devastated by the death, that reminded me of how those of us with disabled children can wrap them in a warm environment at home, but are powerless to be evervigilant and must put so much trust in others. Or maybe it was the myopia of the local police, who discounted the idea Brent's death had anything to do with his disability. Or the appeal court judges who said the murder was not sadistic as they reduced the sentences on his killers.

The journalist Katharine Quarmby deserves credit for her campaign to get this country to wake up to the horrors inflicted on people with disabilities in our midst. …

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