Educational facilities for children like Sonnex have improved so little under Labour
Last November, shortly after the details of the awful life and death of Baby Peter became public, the chief executive of Barnardo's, Martin Narey, gave a speech which provoked anger and disbelief. Narey suggested this: "The probability is that had Baby Peter survived, given his own deprivation, he might have been unruly by the time he had reached the age of 13 or 14. At which point he'd have become feral, a parasite, a yob, helping infest our streets. The response to his criminal behaviour would have been to lock him up."
The general opinion was that Narey had spoken disrespectfully about a toddler who had died in innocence. He had besmirched the child's memory by positing for him such a bleak and distasteful imaginary future.
Yet Narey was right to speak out. It is impossible to argue that humane and sensible state intervention would not have saved Baby Peter's life. Narey went further, and suggested that it might well have improved the quality of his life, his character and his own adult impact on wider society as well.
It is easy to feel pity for abused young children, especially when that abuse causes great suffering and tragedy. It is not so easy to summon sympathy for the abusive adults they so very often become. Few people can feel remotely sorry for Daniel Sonnex, the man who slaughtered the French students Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez with such cruelty and viciousness. But the director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, Frances Crook, has been brave enough to argue that there may, at some distant point in his past life and development, been some grounds for summoning up such feelings.