How could the media call our killer father a ‘caring’ person?
When mother and daughter Claire and Charlotte Hart were murdered by Claire’s husband outside a sports centre in Spalding, it came just five days after the pair had bravely escaped the family home following years of abuse.
But the picture painted by some elements of the media was completely different.
One writer suggested the murders were a “twisted act of love,” while another wrote that Claire’s husband was “a good guy who was always caring,” much to the anger of their sons Luke and Ryan.
“How can you say he was caring when he’s just murdered his family? You’re clearly wrong. How can you use those words now? It seems absurd, but our society likes to excuse men in particular for horrendous actions,” Luke said.
Media reporting of domestic abuse is something the brothers feel passionately about, both in terms of their own experiences, but also because of the damaging effects it can have going forward.
“We know from our own experience our father was researching media reports on previous domestic homicides when he was writing the murder note to kill our family. He was being re-enforced by much of the apologist reporting he’d come across - the excuse that ‘the poor man lost control’ or ‘he was drunk’ or ‘he was provoked’,” Luke continued.
“Those were the ideological backing he needed to murder our family, and he was actively looking for that stuff and using it.
“The murder note he left behind was a moral justification for killing his family. It was basically saying we were evil, we had provoked him, we had humiliated him by leaving. It casted us as evil and him as good, so he could kill us and it was almost a crusade.
“When these behaviours and ideas are floating around in our society it’s easy to rationalise incredibly aggressive behaviours, particularly towards women. So we all have to play our part so when we see these things from our friends or in the media we call them out and say ‘this isn’t okay and this has consequences’.”
Luke is speaking to the Peterborough Telegraph nearly five years after he lost his mother and sister after they experienced years of abuse at the hands of their father.
The interview has been arranged following the murder of Sarah Everard to highlight the risks women face and what men can do to challenge behaviours which lead to some feeling a sense of entitlement.
Luke - who alongside his brother has been campaigning on these issues for several years - also believes there is a double standards when it comes to how the media report on women compared to men.
He said: “You see it now where a man might have raped several woman during his career and we bemoan ‘oh no his career’s falling apart’. We excuse the most severe misbehaviours of men for the sake of some trivial goodness in their life.
“People were victim-blaming mum and Charlotte - ‘you shouldn’t have left, it wasn’t safe’. That’s really messed up that you blame someone for being killed but won’t blame the person for killing them. I think that shows the level of distortion when we see these events, and when it comes through media headlines that’s the ultimate vindication for people like our father to think they have the country behind them, almost.
“And our father, when he wrote the murder note, he even left a note in our car for the police basically apologising, saying ‘I’m a good guy, here’s the keys to the house, don’t break down the door’.
“He was basically being super helpful to the police while murdering his own family. He thought he was a good guy who had been pushed by his evil family to do this horrible thing.
“He was very aware of what he was doing and thought he was doing the right thing.
“Our society like to make sense of it that it was a psychotic break of some distinction, but actually the way we need to understand these things is these men feel justified.
“The assumption is they are out of control when they are doing these things, but they’re not. Our father, in the days running up to the murders, was carefully writing his murder note.
“He was going shopping and buying a second-hand fridge. He even purchased a parking ticket 20 minutes before killing mum and Charlotte and killing himself. He was almost following a to-do list in the run-up to the murders.
“We like to pretend they are either monsters - which is actually quite rare - or they’ve had a breakdown and something’s gone wrong. What we need to understand is this capacity for evil is something which exists in all of us. We all have a choice to do these things or not, and we need to genuinely attempt to understand why someone did this, and felt justified to do so, and not ‘why was he pushed, why was he triggered’. That’s where we go wrong at the beginning.”
For more on Luke and Ryan’s work tackling domestic abuse, visit: https://www.cocoawareness.co.uk/.
Help and support for anyone experiencing domestic abuse can be found by visiting: https://www.cambsdasv.org.uk/website/home.