<by Dr Adam Lynes, Lecturer in Criminology at Birmingham City University

As suggested last week, it was highly unlikely that Rob was going to be the killer, despite his apparent motivation to kill the “knife wielding drug addict” who murdered the young couple in the first episode, and the practical manner in which he assisted in the hiding of his body.

As revealed in this fourth and final episode, he was in fact trying to protect his girlfriend who he suspected may have been the killer. While this is often seen in crime-related films and television shows, this particular reason to accept the charge of murder is a very rare one in real life – especially when faced with a life sentence.

As with any good murder-mystery television show, the twist as to who the real killer is, and the motivation behind their murders, was well-crafted and surprising if rather improbable (though not impossible).

It was revealed that Bill, a devoutly religious man and the father of Grace (the young woman killed in the first episode), discovered that he had Parkinson’s and, as such, undertook DNA testing of his children in order to see if they too may have it. Unfortunately for Bill it was revealed that Grace was not his biological daughter, and that Adam’s (the young man married to Grace) father Peter had an affair with his wife – the young couple were in fact brother and sister.

As such, Bill – seeing Grace’s and Adam’s union as sinful – paid the drug addict to kill Adam in effort to keep his daughter “innocent”. With this in mind, the “knife wielding drug addict” was acting as a hitman for Bill, with the former being motivated by money and the latter by religious beliefs.

Here we can consider that this knife wielding, drug addicted habitual offender is a ‘novice’ contract killer (Macintyre et al, 2014).  The characteristic novice hitman should not be overlooked as someone who is unable to execute the ‘hit’, for as Wilson and Rahman (2015) observe, the hitman – irrespective of skillset neutralises “their intended victims as ‘targets’ and reframe their actions as ‘just money’” (2015: 14).

Whilst it may be easy to dismiss Bill’s religious motivations as something only a TV show could make up, there are similar instances that have occurred in real-life. Here we refer to the work of Jack Katz and his concept of “righteous slaughter”, in which the would-be-killer interprets that the victim is attacking what he regards as an eternal human value and that they must defend what they believe is “good” (Katz, 2008). In Bill’s case, it was the belief that Grace having sexual relations with her half-brother was sinful. Where Bill differs from Katz’s concept of “righteous slaughter”, though, is his apparent actions to avoid getting caught (framing Rob, for example). Katz argued that, given their rather unique motivations, such offenders ultimately make no attempt to escape justice or hide their actions.

Another key distinction is the use of another to do the killing. For the “righteous killer” the source of their motivation is a very emotional one and through the act of violence the killer defines and defends his values and respectability – something that would be difficult to achieve if another does the act for you.

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