Letter: My violent childhood made me 'hard' enough to murder

HOW much I agree with Geraldine Bedell ('The death of innocence', 28 November). Though my crime of murder was committed when I was an adult, it was because of my upbringing as a child that I acted as I did.

My stepfather had always threatened that if I were to ever come home from a fight in which I'd lost, he'd beat me and send me back to fight again. He wasn't shy to use a leather belt on me either. Nor to punch me or to kick me, as the mood took him. 'Hardening me up,' he called it.

To back down from anyone was to stop being a man. Foolishly, I took this belief into adulthood. Only in the past years, in which I've had time to think, have I made the connection between my upbringing and eventual crime.

I killed a man in what I believe to have been self-defence. But it could have been avoided. Had I been brought up differently, I may never have started arguing with him in the first instant. I would have backed down and ignored him and his friends; would have not known how to fight; wouldn't have wanted to fight; would have been able to control the situation as opposed to helping it get out of hand.

The only thing we can give the Bulger family is our sympathy. For I'm sure the whole country feels as though it's in mourning. But to the two young boys who killed him, we have to look to reasoning. To an understanding. But you may not find that understanding until they themselves have found it.

The tragedy is that it has taken the death of an innocent child in order for us to look at the innocence of children. And how that innocence can be abused at a very young age.

A lifer

HMP Kingston