Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Another video game accused of murder

The print edition of today's Daily Mail contains a story with the headline 'Video game axe killer'. It reveals how 17 year old James Callaghan went on a rampage which ended with the brutal murder of a 65 year old widow.

Here are some excerpts from the Mail's story:

A schizophrenic teenager killed a grandmother with an axe when he went on a drunken rampage...

After drinking a bottle of vodka, James Callaghan, 17, stormed out of his home in a rage armed with an axe and a long-bladed knife.

He threatened to attack two girls, struck a passer-by on the head with the axe, terrified a cyclist and tried to smash his way into a couple's flat...

After his arrest Callaghan was diagnosed as being a paranoid schizophrenic. He told psychiatrists that for several months he had been hearing voices in his head urging him to kill and had seen a man 'with horns on his head'. He said he began drinking heavily to cope with these visions.

He was known by his friends to be violent after drinking alcohol.

As a six-year-old he had threatened his mother with a kitchen knife...

While a young child Callaghan had been referred to the community psychiatric nurse on three occasions as his mother struggled to control his behaviour.

So a schizophrenic teenager with a history of violence and psychiatric problems gets drunk and goes on the rampage with an axe.

And yet this is the fault of a video game? Oh yes. According to the Mail:

In the hours before the rampage, Callaghan lost three consecutive games of Fifa 2008, playing at home against his younger brother and a friend. He also played the computer game Grand Theft Auto, which sends the player's character on a violent crime spree.

Even the online version of the story, which has a different headline, implies a link between the games and the murder:

Teenager killed widow with axe in drink-fuelled rage after losing a computer game to his brother

And the Mail wasn't the only one to blame the game either:

Yob killed widow after losing computer game (Express)
Crazed teen's game rampage (Sun)
Murder after teen loses video game (Mirror)

Yet neither the BBC, nor the local paper mentions video games, choosing instead to stick to the facts.

On Saturday, the Mail was pinning a murder on Reservoir Dogs. Now this. Why not report crime and mental health issues seriously rather than lazily using a game or film as an easy scapegoat?

And despite the schizophrenia this teenager was suffering from, the majority of people leaving comments on the story want him executed:

Why are we concentrating on this scum who should be turned into manure and spread on fields?
Mozza, Telford, 26/10/2009 18:00


  1. Hang on? They want to feed paranoid schizophrenics to cows?

  2. Jesus, when will someone think of the children & ban Fifa 2008???

  3. Young man kills old woman with an axe? How many more have to die before we ban Dostoevsky...


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