Author Archives: 00katieglass00

The Sunday Times: Killer Teens: The 14-year-old couple who committed murder — twice

The names of Britain’s youngest double murderers, Kim Edwards and Lucas Markham, were released this month. Katie Glass charts how two 14-year-old lovers descended into savagery.

The defendants were so young that the court took the unusual decision to refer to them only by their first names: Lucas and Kim. The barristers and judge dispensed with their usual wigs and gowns. The baby-faced killers sat in the secure dock behind Perspex screens, separated by two security guards.

Kim, smooth-faced with fine blonde hair and a slight frame, wore a cardigan and leggings. She showed little emotion during the trial except when the verdict was read and she sobbed. Lucas never looked her way. Soft-mouthed, with sandy hair and a round, stubble-free face, he looked even more childlike than she did. The youngest couple ever convicted of double murder in Britain, they were 14 when they plotted and killed Kim’s mother and little sister.

The evidence was harrowing. Over five days last October, Nottingham Crown Court heard how, that April, Kim had watched as her boyfriend, Lucas, stabbed to death her mother, Elizabeth Edwards, 49, and her 13-year-old sister, Katie, as they slept. How blood splattered the walls and covered the floor and the beds. How they had planned for him to target their voice boxes, so they could not scream out. How Lucas had entered his girlfriend’s mother’s room and, kneeling astride her, pinning her down, held a pillow over her face and stabbed her through the neck. Cut marks that the pathologist found on Elizabeth’s hands showed how she had struggled to defend herself.

Next, Lucas crept into Katie’s room. Kim later told police how she had listened as her sister screamed “Get off me!” in a strange, frightening voice, sounding croaky. And “I can’t …” — but she couldn’t say the word “breathe”. Lucas had cut her vocal cords. Afterwards, Kim and Lucas shared a bath and watched the Twilight films. They were found two days later, when police broke into the house.

In October, Lucas and Kim were ordered to serve a minimum of 20 years in prison each, later reduced to 17½ years. Handing out the sentences, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said the case had “few parallels in modern criminal history”. “They should lock them up and throw away the key,” said one neighbour from their home town of Spalding.

Spalding sits in the low flats of Lincolnshire, cut through by the River Welland. The fields here once bloomed so brightly that Spalding’s Flower Parade attracted thousands of day trippers. Now mainly eastern European migrants come seeking agricultural work. The town centre is a mix of Polish shops and cheap high-street stores. What remains of the town’s grand history are the red-brick townhouses bordering the riverside walk, where in summer blue-and-white water taxis sail under weeping willows.

At the eastern edge of Spalding lies another stretch of water. The Coronation Channel hugs the Royce Road estate. In winter, its muddy banks are deserted save for the occasional dog walker and rusting beer cans. The odd Union Jack flutters from windows nearby. The Edwards family had lived nearby on Dawson Avenue for more than 10 years in an unassuming two-up, two-down. It is a neighbourhood where sofas slump in front gardens and kids play on the street. “It is a not a well-to-do area,” says the Rev Mike Chesher, former vicar of St Paul’s, the nearby church , “but it’s quite tightly knit. I liked the people because they were straight and unpretentious.”

Neighbours knew Elizabeth — or Liz — well. She volunteered at a charity shop and with the church’s children’s choir and theatre. She “got very enthusiastic about it — so much so that sometimes I had to rein her in a bit”, Chesher jokes. “She would just laugh and get on with things.” Liz was “committed” and “a person of integrity”, he adds. “She was a mother and her maternal instincts enabled her to understand when a child was under the weather and needed support or reassurance.”

He recalls how her youngest daughter, Katie, had appeared in the church production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and how One More Step Along the World I Go was Katie’s favourite hymn. They played it at her funeral.

Liz had been with her partner, Graham Green, for 10 months when she died. Every week, he drove from his home in Rugby to see her and they would go to the Sunday service at St Paul’s. He comes to the door bleary-eyed when I call. A truck driver who works nights, he planned to marry Liz and move in with her. The Christmas before her death they had bought a puppy, Bebe. “She was my rock and I was her ‘grumpy Graham’,” he has said.

Liz’s favourite colour was purple. She got dimples when she laughed. There’s a video of her in the kitchen at Dawson Avenue, dancing to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in a Christmas apron. It was taken four months before she was killed.

“Liz was a really nice, happy lady — we’d always have a laugh and a joke,” says the family’s neighbour Jane Blandford as we sit in her kitchen. “She was very kind. If she could help you, she would.” Jane often saw Liz with her daughters. “I called them Midget [Katie] and K [Kim]. Midget was a gorgeous child.” Katie, almost two years younger than Kim, had wavy gold hair and a smile nobody forgot.

Available: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/killer-teens-why-did-this-girl-and-her-boyfriend-murder-her-mum-and-sister-n680wvb0g

 

The Sunday Times: St Martin: the French Caribbean island with a party vibe

It’s French, it’s fun — and it’s now home to the Caribbean’s coolest music festival. J’adore, says our writer, as she orders croissants and a passion-fruit rum.

I’d never been to the Caribbean before, and my assumption that it would be something like a Malibu ad turned out not to be entirely wrong. There were, as expected, bright-coloured buildings under blinding sunlight. There were milk-powder beaches with dazzling blue seas, and the tin drum of reggae on streets lined with mango trees. There was the easy attitude and the ubiquitous smell of frying plantain and weed.

Yet what was this? A restaurant filled with slim waiting staff gliding between white tablecloths, serving foie gras, Roquefort and veal chops, pouring chilled Chablis and calling me mademoiselle. St Martin is the French Caribbean, which is a brilliant combination. It’s as beautiful as the Côte d’Azur, but nobody is rude to you.

It doesn’t feel particulièrement French when you land on St Martin, mind you. That’s because the airport is in Sint Maarten, the southern, Dutch half of the island. The first thing you notice about St Martin/Sint Maarten is the sea, which is full-on brochure cliché: cerulean at its depth, cyan in the shallows. You can’t help but notice it, because it feels as if your plane is going to splash right into it on the sharp descent to the runway, narrowly missing the sunbathers on Maho Beach below.

This hellish final approach has given rise to the island’s unofficial adrenaline sport, jet-blasting, which involves people clinging to the fences surrounding the runway to feel the rush of the planes’ engines. The tourist board allegedly once tried to ban it, but they’ve only managed to get as far as putting up some warning signs that everybody ignores. Instead, people gather at the Sunset Beach Bar, where waitresses wear skintight pink T-shirts, the Delta Airlines pizza costs £10 and arrival times are listed on a giant surfboard. As the planes come in, spring-breaking Americans put down their frozen margaritas, rush across the beach and cling to the airport’s fence for dear life as the backdraught sweeps them off their feet.

Jet-blasting feels typical of the Dutch side of the island. But you’re not stuck here. You can drive round both territories in an hour, and you don’t need a passport to travel across the border — though phoning over requires an international dialling code, and you’ll need a different plug adapter and different currency. I mistakenly withdrew guilders at the airport; everyone on the French side looked at them blankly. (They take euros.)

The most startling difference between the two sides, though, is the atmosphere: the difference between an afternoon in Toulouse and a night out in Amsterdam. In Sint Maarten, Yank tourists roll off cruise ships to visit white plastic stores on sanitised streets, casinos and Captain Morgan cafes. I couldn’t walk five paces without being asked: “You want your hair in braids, beautiful? You need a beach chair? Hey, baby, you got an island boyfriend?” I spent approximately two hours enduring Sint Maarten, then fled to St Martin and never looked back.

The French Caribbean is as wonderful as France could be without the French, an intoxicating mix of Gallic chic and West Indian warmth. So you can buy perfect millefeuille and tarte aux pommes, then eat them on a flour-soft beach. You can order a glass of sauvignon blanc, then float in warm sea the colour of a Tiffany bag. You can shop at serene boutiques, while outside a carnival howls down the street. You can pass lime-green houses springing with pink bougainvillea like a rainbow-splashed Nice, on streets where Buffalo Soldier plays on repeat. It is the Creole Riviera, with all the elegance and the sparkling sea of France’s south coast — but none of the arrogance.

Available: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/st-martin-the-french-caribbean-island-with-a-party-vibe-m672w836r

The Sunday Times: Book review: You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Princesses, Trainwrecks and Other Man-Made Women by Carina Chocano

A film critic takes aim at the poor diet of female role models we have been fed.

How do the “girls” in pop culture influence the women we become? This is the question the former LA Times film critic Carina Chocano takes on in her study of how women have been portrayed in the media over the past four or five decades.

Although it’s billed as “part memoir”, You Play the Girl doesn’t, in fact, contain many personal details. Instead, Chocano, who wrote the book after becoming concerned about the role models that were influencing her daughter Kira, uses her own life as a way of analysing the fictional women who affected her coming-of-age. The result takes in everything from the dumb Bunnies that she saw as a child in her grandfather’s copies of Playboy; via Bewitched’s Samantha, who has her magical powers suppressed by her husband; to Flashdance, Pretty Woman, and Chocano’s more recent frustration with the self-imposed limits of Amy Schumer’s film Trainwreck.

You can’t fault much of her snappy criticism. At her best, Chocano draws out brilliant insights from across the decades — exploring, for example, how The Stepford Wives morphed into Desperate Housewives, then into modern reality shows such as The Real Housewives and The Bachelor.

Her essays are generally witty and sharp, too, and she weaves her observations into a fascinating history of women’s economic and social progress. But, natty as the writing is, at times it can all feel a bit predictable. Is there anybody, for instance, who doesn’t know by now that Hollywood has a woman problem? Who didn’t realise that the women in Playboy were objectified, or that Eat Pray Love is a terrible film?

In particular, Chocano never satisfactorily addresses what seems to be a blind spot: the fact that some women still find their idols in pop culture’s girls, despite their obvious flaws. At one point, she finds herself watching Pretty Woman with several women who are enjoying the film. Chocano is not, and she explains that she couldn’t sit back and enjoy it because she “couldn’t un-see the message of Pretty Woman. I couldn’t un-know what I knew.”

This is remarkably patronising. Her assumption is that whatever she knows about Pretty Woman, the women enjoying it don’t. I think she is wrong. I suspect that many women see the same sexism that she does, but deliberately choose a different reading. Whatever a film’s “official” message, and however sexist its characters and reductive its plot, most women are more than capable of skimming the details and enjoying a chick-flick just for fun, or even reshaping a character’s qualities into an acceptable role model. Such alternative readings are especially easy in an age where we dissect shows and films on Twitter as we watch.

Available: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/review-you-play-girl-carina-chocano-3k5cdnps2

The Sunday Times: Baiting: the sexual cyber-bullying that targets teenage girls

Victims are being named and sexually humiliated online.

The girl in one of the photographs cannot be much more than 13 years old. She smiles self-consciously at the camera, blonde hair loose, casual in a vest top. Beneath the image — posted on Instagram — is a caption too explicit to repeat in this newspaper claiming she has been sexually promiscuous.

“I was in school when it happened,” the girl told me. “I was 13 or 14 at the time. Nothing written about me on that account was true.”

Other photographs posted on similar accounts show teenage girls in their underwear. Beneath these images the full names of the girls are shown with links to their social media accounts. Overwhelmingly the teenagers in the photographs are girls and aged 13-16. The most explicit material constitutes child pornography.

The name for this insidious new trend — a combination of cyber-bullying, revenge porn and creepshots — is “baiting” or “baiting out”. It involves pictures of teenagers being put on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram without their knowledge or consent in a deliberate attempt to humiliate them sexually.

Some of the images uploaded are of a sexual nature. Some are selfies — taken from teenage girls’ Facebook accounts — with captions making sexually degrading claims about them. As the term baiting suggests, the intent is to harass. The people photographed are deliberately not kept anonymous — “naming and shaming” is encouraged.

“Want revenge on an ex or just a slag?” one account asks, suggesting that viewers send in photographs and “tag” or link them to the social media accounts of the girls who are pictured.

Baiting accounts are often very localised so you can see people who live, go to school or work in a neighbourhood. On Twitter there have been accounts with names such as “Essex Bait Slags” and “Baitout Bath”. On Instagram there is “Baitout Holyhead” and “Baitout Birmingham”. This makes it intentionally easier to identify the young women pictured.

On YouTube, young “presenters” make videos in which they take to the streets where they live, asking others to name and shame people who they think are promiscuous. Some shout initials at the camera; others give the full names of girls they call “skets”, which is slang for “slut”. The videos, filmed primarily in London, Telford and Birmingham, have had hundreds of thousands of views.

One girl, who asked not to be named, was called a sket in a baiting video when she was 19. She said: “People were messaging me about it before I even saw it. It went around my college and everywhere else. I was worried what my friends would think initially. I was lucky enough that everyone that knew me knew it wasn’t true.

“I didn’t understand what I’d done to deserve it. It’s embarrassing and humiliating. I was victimised out of spite.”

Lauren Seager-Smith, chief executive of the children’s anti-bullying charity Kidscape, said: “The extent of this issue is difficult to measure because many young people aren’t willing to admit that it’s happened to them. From talking to young people, however, it’s apparent that most of them know someone who has experienced it.”

In a way, baiting is the millennial version of playground bullying, she added: “When I was in school in the 1980s and 1990s you’d get gossip about people having done something at a party but it would fizzle out.

“The difference now is this constant 24-hour churn of comment, information and the potential to reach a very large group very quickly. And there’s the ability to share images and videos.

“Also the difference with online content is it stays available for a long time.”

Rhiannon Sawyer, a service manager at the Children’s Society, works with young people facing harassment from baiting sites. “The act itself is horrific and the impact on the child can be very far-reaching,” she said.

“Not just their entire school, but their entire community might know about it. They can endure people in the street, who they don’t know, shouting at them for months, maybe years. The bullying to which children are subjected after this kind of incident is appalling. They might be bullied sexually by people saying: she’s a slut. It can lead them to self-harm, take drugs, go missing or even commit suicide.”

Children affected — boys as well as girls — often avoid school and become isolated. The impact of online sexual shaming was explored in the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, which told the story of Hannah, who takes her own life after bullying which starts as a result of this kind of sexual exposure.

Baiting can leave children at risk of further sexual violence. “One of the really shocking things that can happen is in other people’s eyes the child-victim’s boundaries become blurred,” Sawyer explained.

She worked in one school where a girl aged 14 or 15 had a sexually explicit photograph of her uploaded online. “Everyone at the school was aware. You can’t imagine the extent of the bullying.”

Other pupils continually made sexual comments to the girl. Any reference to sex in the classroom was brought back to her: “It was constant bullying and comments of a sexual nature. You can imagine the impact on her.”

Later Sawyer became aware that the girl was targeted by an older man who coerced her into a sexually exploitative relationship with him. “It’s often the case that although the original baiting image or account is set up by a child, there are adult perpetrators who will take advantage of it,” she said.

“The children doing it probably don’t realise that risk or the impact it can have. There have been suicides linked to this kind of cyber-bullying.”

Seager-Smith said: “A lot of the discussion is around what to do if this happens but we don’t hear enough about the emotional fallout for the children involved. It can be catastrophic.”

Something that an adult might be able to cope with can prove “overwhelming” for a child.

Available: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/baiting-the-sexual-cyber-bullying-that-targets-teenage-girls-968pbbcq8

The Sunday Times: Need to boost your profile? Say ‘I do’ again

In our social media age, remarriage is the perfect partner for the fame hungry.

As the nine-times-wed queen of the revolving-door marriage Zsa Zsa Gabor once declared, perhaps while jangling a diamond-encrusted paw: “A girl must marry for love, and keep on marrying until she finds it.” One can only speculate if this gem of a quote is what resonated with Millie Mackintosh — she of the slashie career: Instagrammer/model/former Made in Chelsea star — as she revealed last week that she was marrying for the second time before her 30th year.

Just 15 months after divorcing rapper Professor Green, real name Stephen Manderson, perma-glow lifestyle warrior Mackintosh, 28, is engaged again. This time the Quality Street heiress’s intended is Hugo Taylor. He is a shiny, 31-year-old loafers-with-no-socks toff, whom you can find on Mackintosh’s Instagram posing with a cushion that reads: “Harrovians are not perfect but parts of them are excellent.” Fnarr fnarr.

They seem a beautiful match. Mackintosh revealed her engagement by flashing her giant rock on Instagram, between bikini snaps.

The much-married celebrity is not a new phenomenon. Brigitte Bardot had been divorced twice by 28, Demi Moore by 38. Drew Barrymore had been twice married by 26, Cheryl Cole twice and counting at 31. Britney Spears married twice at 23. Her first marriage lasted only 55 hours.

For celebrities the extravagance of having a wedding every other year brings its benefits. Why not, when every “I do” means a lucrative Hello! spread. The glitterati love a knees-up — not to mention an “exclusive” — and for yonks getting married has been a shoo-in for both. A whole industry has been built on the celebrity wedding.

Remember Posh and Becks’s matching thrones? Tying the knot is a profitable business for celebrities with brands to promote. Who can forget how lucky couple Anthea Turner and Grant Bovey got a chocolate-bar advertisement out of the happiest day of their lives. They divorced in 2015.

Katie Price never lets a marriage pass unnoticed. She arrived at her first nuptials, to Peter Andre, in a pink diamanté puff crammed into a Cinderella-style coach. “I didn’t enjoy the day,” she’s since confessed. “We did it for a magazine shoot.” Now Price plans to renew her vows with current husband Kieran Hayler for the third time — yet another wedding celebration after she vowed “till death us do part” to Peter Andre twice, before promising herself for eternity to cage fighter Alex Reid in 2010, then embarking on another lifetime of happiness with Hayler in 2013.

Is it cynical to suggest that in this social media age, for the fame-hungry multiple marriages (however genuine they are) might hold particular appeal? Especially when your brand depends on flogging your life in online status updates. When you’ve already taken this year’s 50th bikini shot and done your 20th yoga pose, getting hitched is a great way to keep your Instagram fresh, and keep you relevant for at least a month.

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding picture attracted more than 2m “likes”. No doubt people wanted to get their congratulations in quickly: Kardashian’s second marriage, to basketball player Kris Humphries, lasted 72 days.

The first time she married, Mackintosh’s snap of her kissing Green under a rose-and-snowdrop arch on the stone steps of trendy Somerset country club Babington House earned her 108,304 likes on Instagram. Fingers crossed she will get even more this time.

Of course, us mere mortals can become marriage addicts too. Despite marriage generally declining in popularity, second nuptials are budding. Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that while the number of single men marrying single women has plummeted, the number of single men marrying divorced women has risen (from 17,094 in 1970 to 20,129 in 2014). The number of single women marrying divorced men has also increased (from 19,353 in 1970 to 22,579 in 2014).

Available: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/need-to-boost-your-profile-say-i-do-again-0p56ss86g

The Sunday Times: Spalding murder: girl and boyfriend killed mother after she tried to separate them

Elizabeth Edwards, who was stabbed to death by her 14-year-old daughter’s boyfriend at her home in Lincolnshire last year, had tried to separate the couple.

This weekend, after judges lifted a ban on naming Britain’s youngest double-killers, their complex relationship can be revealed.

Kim Edwards and Lucas Markham were both 14 when they killed Edwards, 49, and Kim’s sister Katie, 13, at the family home in Spalding.

Lucas slashed their throats as they slept. Then he and Kim bathed to wash off the blood and watched Twilight vampire films.

Edwards had been concerned from the outset by Kim’s relationship with Lucas, who had been excluded from school.

“Kim’s grades were suffering,” said Jane Blandford, a friend. Edwards grounded Kim and banned Lucas from the house. In defiance, the couple ran away in 2015 for almost a week.

During another row, days before the murders, Kim and Lucas had barricaded themselves in his bedroom.

In court, psychiatrist Dr Philip Joseph said the pair had killed because they felt Kim’s mother was trying to split them up. He compared the teenagers to “Bonnie and Clyde”, but they seem to have seen themselves as Edward Cullen and Bella Swan, characters from Twilight, whose parents disapproved of their relationship.

Kim, with a history of self-harm and attempted suicide, told police the relationship made her “happy for once . . . It was the closest I’ve ever felt to anyone”.

She held a grudge after her mother hit her in the face when she was eight.

Kim was also jealous of the relationship her younger sister Katie, “the angel”, had with her mother.

 

Available: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/spalding-murder-girl-and-boyfriend-killed-mother-after-she-tried-to-separate-them-tn2zc0ssn

The Sunday Times: What has become of the Season?

Once bastions of gentility and the preserve of toffs, the likes of Royal Ascot and Henley Regatta are now a free-for-all. Katie Glass goes on a riotous safari to learn the new rules of society.

On the dancefloor, men in shiny Moss Bros waistcoats and tight white jeans are dancing the funky chicken, sockless in tassled loafers, to the refrains of Dizzee Rascal. Beside them, girls with fake St Tropez tans and plasticky fascinators affixed to Rapunzelesque hair extensions are swigging champagne from the bottle.

In an exclusive marquee on the banks of the Thames at Henley Regatta, the party started at 3pm. Within an hour it has erupted into a scene that looks like the Towie cast remaking Brideshead Revisited. I pass girls in nylon body-con dresses with tattoos visible, then I notice some men in white linen man-from-Del Monte suits with Stewards’ Enclosure badges, and I am reminded why we are here — for a 150-year-old boat race that was once the preserve of the upper classes, the height of decorum and the apex of summer’s smart society .

I have come to Henley today as part of an investigative safari into the English Season. For the uninitiated, the “Season” is the merry-go-round of social events that evolved in the 17th and 18th centuries as an aristocratic celebration of elitism, privilege and gentility. Today, it includes such events as the Chelsea Flower Show, Royal Ascot, Henley Royal Regatta, the Cartier Queen’s Cup polo and the Glyndebourne Festival.

It was pictures I’d seen of last year’s Ladies’ Day at Ascot — dubbed Chavscot — that first made me curious about what the Season had become. Looking through snaps of ladies in stripper heels and diamante-flecked dresses, drinking, snogging, cavorting and generally having unbridled fun made me wonder if this reflected a fundamental change in English society. Could it be that the Season was now accessible to everyone? And if so, was that proof that the class hierarchies that have divided and defined Britain for so long were finally disappearing?

Available: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/class-ascot-glyndebourne-the-season-katie-glass-wrh5w3mfh