Free as in Speech, not as in Beer.
*Criminal* charges. Riiiiiight. Sorry, I read that headline ALL wrong...
Chatroom users who watched a man hang himself live via webcam in March will not face any charges, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has confirmed. The BBC reports that police evidence handed to prosecutors did not amount to a criminal offence in the suicide of Kevin Whitrick, 42, from Wellington, Shropshire. Mr Whitrick had …
Either it was suicide, in which case no other person can bear any blame than the dead guy, or if others bear some burden of responsibility it was murder (or manslaughter). You can't have it both ways. Anyway, any other chatters can always say they reasonably assumed he was just pissing about.
The crime that would have been considered is aiding and abbeting/incitement. It is a crime to encourage someone to do something illegal, in the UK (even if they don't actually go ahead and do it).Suicide is illegal - hence encouraging someone to commit suicide is illegal.
However, criminal intent would have had to be shown, which is probably why the CPS would probably have given up on securing a conviction; generally one wouldn't expect a prosecution to be succesful unless someone actually profitted (i.e. there would have had to be a motive, other than chatroom boredom).
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I hate it when these sorts of stories come up. If you're the sort of person who gets easily provoked by comments on the internet into committing suicide, then you are surely just as likely to do it elsewhere too. I don't think it makes a difference who is watching. As for "goaded Mr Whitrick into taking his own life", maybe I just don't hang around in the right sort of chatrooms, because I just don't see how a normal person could be "goaded" into doing such a thing.
"Anyway, any other chatters can always say they reasonably assumed he was just pissing about."
Especially since it's very common to do so - I've known people personally who have gone online just to do that, telling a bunch of people about how he's gonna kill himself, purely for the ammusement of it. He showed me the chat log laughing about it, and all I could think was that I've seen essentially the exact same lines before verbatim from other dickheads on the internet.
Some people love attention, and some people have seen the gag enough times not to bother and even sarcastically encourage just to shut them up - to say "No! We don't care that you're an attention whore, go cry wolf elsewhere!"
And I guess on rare occasion someone actually DOES it...
Assuming they were just watching, and not telling him what to do, how could they be charged with anything at all?
It's not like they could really do anything by the time they'd realised he was serious. I mean, do you think the guy had his monitor positioned so he could read it from the noose? And it's not like the viewers could call an ambulance for his IP address.
Hm... I just wonder if you are successful, just *how* are you going to do jail time?
Will your corpse go to jail? Or is it assumed it is punishable by death? Heh, in the latter case, it seems you've already executed yourself.
Sheesh, now someone suiciding on live webcam feed, that's sick. And as some other person commented ... it isn't like you're about to dial 999 and say
"Help! dude_5432 just hanged himself!"
"999: What's the address where this is ocurring?"
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