Early Saturday 14th April 2013 Scarborough Town was locked down with all roads and footpaths leading to the Seafront heavily guarded by Police. I remember it well. It was the first bright sunny morning for a long time. A few early morning workers had gathered beyond the police cordon. The police were silent. The only comment from them being " a very serious incident". Whispers of two bodies, teenagers, a boy and a girl. Hacked to death. Instinctively I reached for my phone to desperately call my teenager 'answer the fucking phone' I gasped, and despite the early hour, did. 'thank God'. 'Are you OK?' 'Yes'. .... 'Where were you last night?' 'I stayed in. I know all about it. **** told me. It's all over facebook.' 'stay indoors, do not leave the house, so long as you are alright. Talk later. ' I was one of the lucky ones. I could breathe again. I had looked into a nearby policemans frozen eyes and immediately felt very selfish. Not so far away were the possible bodies of someone elses children. More whispers, it had started in Town, two gangs, where were the police? A running half hour battle with teenagers off their faces on drink and drugs. One dead, one fighting for their life. That sort of thing doesn't happen here, what the fuck is wrong with this town? And after about an hour of standing and waiting for news amongst the stunned silent small crowd, the realisation this 'incident' was not going to dissolve and with the police maintaining their grim silence, I went home and counted my blessings.
"They tried to hack off his head, put him in a wheeley bin, to take his body out to sea." (was one of the worse reported scenarios). "They were off their faces on drink and drugs" (but not the illegal drugs) Zombies, bath salts from Leeds. Eight boys, two girls. All teenagers. And as a parent of a 'troublesome' teenager, and on the fringe, I listened intently to the reports and rumours coming in. "It was barbaric, they were likened to a pack of animals." I also heard deep anxiety and fear in the voices. Our Town's teenage community was in turmoil as the shockwave rippled out. The fear of reprisal attacks. I insisted my teenager came home. 'I need to be with my friends'. It's too horrible, I can't talk about it anymore, we've been up all night, ***** was there. I heard exhaustion and the plunging of emotion into a numb depth.
Over the next few days, it emerged that a young man was dead, had been killed, another seriously injured and that ten local teenagers, many under 16, had been arrested and were being interviewed. Ten families shattered and devastated. A Town's teenage community in tatters. A statement from the police, or from someone in authority was needed to reassure the community. Nothing. Vague reports by the SN. Nothing else. Was the enormity of this being hushed up? This had to be the worst and most henious incident to have ever happened in our home town.
It is almost a year later when I write this, very little has been said other than the reporting of the trials by various media. Last September a 17 year old boy was tried and convicted of a murder he had committed when he was 16. It was reportedly started on Facebook, of former friends that had fallen out. Not about the taunting of his relationship with his 15 year old 'girlfriend'. The SEN reported the trial and imprisonment of six more. Are these trials over, is now a good time to talk and listen? I don't know. There may never be a good time. Certainly for those people directly involved the wounds are doubtless still very open and raw and may never heal. Do the 'trials' and convictions offer only a band-aid for some far deeper and darker issues that lie at the heart of our society and community? Here on the fringe of this tragic story .... and yes there are boundarys and deeply sensitive private issues belonging to only those people much closer to this tragedy. I certainly won't pretend to understand nor even try to imagine the horrors that these people have endured. All I know is 'our' town's teenagers habits have changed. The 'quiet', the detachment from this tragedy, the withdrawal from the old teenage haunting grounds, Chav Alley (between McD's & The Library, Manor Road Park. North Bay Beech and The Crescent Gardens is slowly creeping back. As time elapses, they are coming out again. But where to? Is our town lapsing back into the 'bubble' of 'small town' and a small community that could burst with a similar horror again. They used to say, things like that don't happen here. It did.
Many local teenagers related to that tragic event will not talk about it. One or two left town until after the trial. There are whispers. There is much said about the dead victim. Some of the other 'victims' are gathering the strength to tell the truth about how the police and CPS pushed aside vital evidence, key witness statements were excluded from the trial, how the defence barristers and crown prosecution services were overhead deciding amongst themselves the fates of the 'other' victims.
The truth will come out. But not now. Not today.