Dunblane 'copycat' theory divides experts

Experts were divided yesterday over claims that the Tasmanian massacre may have been triggered by global TV and radio coverage of the Dunblane shootings in March.

Dr Guy Cumberbatch, senior lecturer in applied psychology at Aston University, described as "uninformed and disgraceful" the suggestion by the FBI's chief psychiatrist, Dr Park Deitz, that Martin Bryant's murder spree was a copycat killing.

"To state that TV coverage of Dunblane is behind what happened in Tasmania is absolute nonsense. This man is simply speculating on what was going on in the mind of Martin Bryant. He doesn't know.

"There is no place for this kind of psychiatry," said Dr Cumberbatch, an expert on violence and the media.

However, Dr Deitz's remarks, were supported by Dr Harry Jacobs, executive officer for the Society of Clinical Psychiatrists. He said: "People are very suggestible. This kind of TV coverage puts shooting in everybody's mind, in your mind, in my mind. If one is a bit paranoid the idea is implanted."

He said he would like to see less "instant sensationalism" in the reporting of such events and a more sober approach.

Dr Deitz put forward his controversial theory in the United States, suggesting that Bryant may even have been consciously trying to beat the number of victims killed by Thomas Hamilton in Dunblane.

In a parallel argument, critics in the US also claim that the cult movie Natural Born Killers has triggered a number of copycat murders.

Dr Deitz said: "Presumably what happened was this man was sitting in Australia watching the emotional television pictures from Dunblane and more than the mourning parents he saw people vowing to change policy and ban dangerous weapons."

"He probably thought to himself, 'I am as powerful as he is. The world needs to know my suffering and feel my rage'."

Consultant clinical psychologist Susan Hope-Borland said she believed there could be a link between TV coverage and later killings. "If something is brought to someone's attention then it becomes more salient in their mind - it increases their range of options."

However, Dr Cumberbatch said that while the link between TV coverage and later killings was theoretically possible, there was simply no evidence of the "clusters" of massacres which such a connection would cause.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future