Evil beyond belief

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THERE are some crimes that can be partially explained, though not justified, by a unique set of circumstances or perhaps a profound sense of desperation on the part of the perpetrator.

The attack which left a defenceless stroke victim with a fractured skull, however, defies any such rationale.

Ryan Slattery and Christopher Hartley set upon their 59-year-old victim with crowbars as he lay bed-ridden, having already identified him and his elderly mother as soft targets.

Despite knowing that he would be unable to mount any sort of defence, they subjected him to a merciless beating at his home in Leeds in order to steal money and the morphine that he used for pain relief.

Slattery, 18, has now been jailed for nearly seven years, while the sentencing of 26-year-old Hartley was adjourned after the judge decided to reassess him in light of the sheer “wickedness” of his actions. Many might think the authorities could do worse than simply throw away the key.

While police say the pair were motivated “purely by greed”, it is hard not to think that this was a crime with evil at its very heart. In a separate incident, Hartley broke a pensioner’s jaw because he refused to hand over cigarettes and money.

Such readiness to prey on the weak and vulnerable indicates a callous disregard for others that chills the blood. While it is to be hoped their time in prison and the efforts of those tasked with their rehabilitation can effect some change in character, the reality is that some individuals are beyond redemption – and this pair are prime candidates.