And one day his world of BMX bikes and mates and school and Mum and Dad collided with another world. Daniel was hunted down - precisely because of his blue eyes, blond hair and mischievous smile - abducted, ferociously abused, terrorised and strangled by two men, who had planned it all in advance.
To any parent, that other world, the world of Brett Tyler and Timothy Morss, is utterly terrifying. Both convicted paedophiles, they met in prison and became lovers. On release they inhabited the wild outskirts of society, observing from afar other people's families and communities. It was a world of alcohol abuse, of drugs, of pornography, of trips to countries where children were available for their sexual use. One where the appalling is gradually made to seem normal.
Together, each fed the other's fantasies, strengthening the sense that their desires were acceptable. And so what started as a wicked fantasy ended up as an act of almost unbelievable cruelty.
"Are you going to kill me?", asked the buggered, bloody nine-year-old, as he was being driven to his execution. "No," they told him.
When they had finished and were on the run, Morss's other lover paid for him to escape to the Philippines, an act of paedophile solidarity. Solidarity among some of the most cunning, and exploitative predators in the human jungle; many of whom lack even the most basic empathy with their victims. Under the cover of "love" they destroy it.
So what do we do, we parents of blond-haired, blue-eyed children, we grandparents of dark-haired, black-skinned children? Construct a register? Stamp out sex tourism? Clean up the Internet? Set up more clinics, exchange more information, separate paedophiles in prison? All these things. Look out for each other's kids? We can start doing that today.
David AaronovitchReuse content