I had no sooner finished reading Craig Ball’s article Mobile to the Mainstream (I wrote about that here), when the Times published the report [£] of the trial of participants in an alleged murder attempt last year. The trial continues, so read everything below as if the word “alleged” recurs throughout.
The reported facts seem peculiar enough. Mrs Weatherall, her lover Mr Pollard, and Pollard’s daughter Heather (“who calls herself Arthur”), plot to kill Mr Weatherall, but he survives when a bullet passed through his right cheek and out through the other side of his face.
Texts were exchanged. Mrs Weatherall sent Mr Pollard a message saying “They didn’t do a very good job did they? He’s still here.” A few days earlier, the daughter had texted her father saying “Not sure I can get through all brambles, will try another route but maybe think of another option.”. She also carried out web searches including “techniques of silent killing”, “creative ways to kill someone”, “insulin shock”, “sepsis”, “cyanide poisoning” and “how to kill someone via a wound.” A rifle was found at Pollard’s house.
The husband, already suffering from terminal brain cancer, seems lucky to be alive – a log burner exploded in his face last year, and Mrs Weatherall planned to give him an overdose of insulin; she apparently told police of an aborted plan to push him overboard during a fishing trip but too many people were around.
The alleged three participants deny conspiracy to murder, and there may be perfectly sensible explanations for the texts. If you are thinking of engaging in such a plot, you may want to find some other way of communicating with your acquaintances.
If you are responsible for unearthing evidence in civil or criminal proceedings, the story may encourage you to realise that there is almost nothing that people won’t communicate via messaging apps.