Animal Aid

Violence Breeds Violence

Posted 20 February 2007

Research from around the world suggests that people who deliberately harm animals are more likely to harm people, too. Many infamous killers, including Mary Bell, Ian Brady and Dunblane murderer Thomas Hamilton, started out by deliberately hurting animals. But it's not just high profile killers whose violence can be traced back to 'practise runs' on animals; perpetrators of domestic violence and other assaults may also have begun by inflicting pain on animals.

Research to date has examined the link between the illegal harming of animals and people, while the impact that killing animals legally may have on a person has not been explored. Slaughtermen, butchers and gamekeepers, for example, routinely make use of equipment that can kill people. And those who did not possess a propensity for killing when first entering their profession may have developed this along the way. At the very least, they are likely to become desensitised to the suffering of sentient beings. These legally-sanctioned animal killers harmed people, too.

  • Gary Galbraith, a butcher from Galashiels, was convicted of slashing two men in the street with a knife and jailed for 30 months in February 2007.
  • Muhammed Arshad, a butcher from Crumpsall, Manchester murdered his mother-in-law with a meat cleaver and was jailed for 24 years in December 2004.
  • John McGrady, a former butcher, was sentenced to life for the murder and mutilation of a 15-year old girl, in Catford, London in May 2006.
  • Multiple murderer Fred West worked as a butcher in a slaughterhouse. Author of The Corpse Garden wrote that 'evidence suggests that necrophilia and desire to mutilate corpses began during his period as a butcher'.
  • Somerset gamekeeper Peter O'Hare shot his wife, her child and then himself in 2002.
  • Slaughterman Paul Harry Smith beat up his pregnant girlfriend and was jailed for 12 months at Burnley Crown Court in November 2001.
  • Former slaughterman, Paul Weedon, slit the throat of a 91 year-old man and was sentenced to life in 2003.
  • Infamous killer, Denis Nilsen, was convicted of ten counts of murder and two of attempted murder in the US in 1983. He was a trained butcher.
  • Australian John Travers sodomised, killed and butchered animals before raping and murdering a woman in 1986.
  • One theory about the identity of Jack the Ripper is that he was a butcher. The knife used to kill the women was expertly used.

Last month, Robert Pickton, a pork butcher was arrested for the murder of 49 women in Canada. It is alleged that he butchered his victims and fed them to the pigs.

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