Unlawful Killings

Unlawful Killings

Life, Love and Murder: Trials at the Old Bailey

Summary

'Lifts the lid on what it's like to dispense justice ... a gripping insight ... beautifully crafted ... grim tales lifted by humour and honesty.' The Times

Wendy Joseph's gripping account of the law at work reads like a cliffhanger.' Sunday Times

'Absolutely superb. 5 stars for sheer readability alone. Her Honour entertains as she educates us about murder, about the law and about how we human beings are shaped as we create the culture we live with.' PHILIPPA PERRY, author of THE BOOK YOU WISH YOUR PARENTS HAD READ

'Her writing is characterized by analytical precision, but it is also a book of great empathy and urgency... A fine book.'' TLS

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'Every day in the UK lives are suddenly, brutally, wickedly taken away. Victims are shot or stabbed. Less often they are strangled or suffocated or beaten to death. Rarely they are poisoned, pushed off high buildings, drowned or set alight. Then there are the many who are killed by dangerous drivers, or corporate gross negligence. There are a lot of ways you can kill someone. I know because I've seen most of them at close quarters.'


High-profile murder cases all too often grab our attention in dramatic media headlines - for every unlawful death tells a story. But, unlike most of us, a judge doesn't get to turn the page and move on. Nor does the defendant, or the family of the victim, nor the many other people who populate the court room.

And yet, each of us has a vested interest in what happens there. And while most people have only the sketchiest idea of what happens inside a Crown Court, any one of us could end up in the witness-box or even in the dock.

With breath-taking skill and deep compassion, the author describes how cases unfold and illustrates exactly what it's like to be a murder trial judge and a witness to human good and bad. Sometimes very bad.

The fracture lines that run through our society are becoming harder and harder to ignore. From a unique vantage point, the author warns that we do so at our peril.
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'The most exceptional book I have read in a long time.' CLARE MACKINTOSH

'A very rare gem. written with authority, humility and compassion. Compellingly clever and sharply honest.' PROFESSOR DAME SUE BLACK, author of ALL THAT REMAINS

'Riveting, thought-provoking, and very, very entertaining. I loved it.' RODDY DOYLE

'Will make you question all the fundamentals that you've come to take for granted about offenders, the crimes that they commit - especially murder - and the punishment they deserve. A page turner that will leave you wanting to know more.' EMERITUS PROFESSOR DAVID WILSON, author of MY LIFE WITH MURDERERS

Reviews

  • Fresh, compelling, well-written and unflinchingly authentic.
    Emily Penninck, the i newspaper

About the author

Her Honour Wendy Joseph QC

Until March 2022 Her Honour Wendy Joseph QC was a judge at the Old Bailey, sitting on criminal cases, trying mainly allegations of murder and other homicide. She read English and Law at Cambridge, was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn in 1975, became a QC in 1998 and sat as a full-time judge from 2007 to 2022. When she moved to the Old Bailey in 2012 she was the only woman amongst sixteen judges, and only the third woman ever to hold a permanent position there. She was also a Diversity and Community Relations Judge, working to promote understanding between the judiciary and many different sectors of our community, particularly those from less privileged and minority groups. She mentors young people, from a variety of backgrounds, who hope for a career in law and has a special interest in helping women. Unlawful Killings is her first book.
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