Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Special Kay (slight return)

The contemporary reporting of the John Kay case is oddly muted. The Times carried a news in brief paragraph on 12 September 1977, stating that Sun chief reporter Kay was to stand trial for the murder of his wife, but that's it as far as the nation's journal of record goes. For a bit more background, we must turn to page 4 of the Guardian of 13 December 1977, and a report headlined "'Torment' of reporter who killed wife".

The Grauniad reports Kay's QC Daniel Hollis as saying that "Mr Kay was cracking up at the prospect of taking over as the Sun's industrial editor - a job he did not feel able to hold down". Kay himself claimed to be "taken over by voices. I seemed possessed. It was an utter nightmare".

Then the report comes to the details of what happened on the night in question. Having despatched his Japanese wife Harue in a swift and efficient manner "by strangling and drowning her", Kay then "tried repeatedly to kill himself". The paragraph listing Kay's attempts bears repeating in full:

"He slashed his wrists with razor blades but did not inflict serious injury; he flung himself head first out of a window, but a plastic dustbin broke his fall; he tried to gas himself but an automatic lighting device on the cooker prevented him; he tried to hang himself with flex but could not get into the right position; and then he drove to a bridge over the Stevenage bypass but found it was too low to fling himself over. In his final attempt he drove his car into the back of a parked car at 80 mph, but 'miraculously' survived with relatively minor injuries."

Sober, sensitive reporting, as you'd expect from the 1977-vintage Guardian. Can you imagine how The Sun would have reported this case, had it not involved a valued member of the paper's own staff? Do I hear the word 'loony'? Meanwhile, I'm wondering if the creators of Viz read this report and remembered it when creating the hapless Suicidal Syd?

1 comment:

allsurrogate said...

Is it bad to be reminded of