Sunday, 8 November 2009

A shattered life

I know it's a cliché to say something symbolises what's wrong with Britain, but in this case I think it's true. It's the story of a 74 year old man called Vincent Adcock.

Vincent was a confident, independent soul who lived on his own in Manchester. He had several good friends and a devoted Alsatian, Prince.

Then his house was burgled. Not once but five times, relentlessly. After the fifth burglary, having lost cash, various valuables, an £800 watch, a coat and hundreds of CDs and DVDs, his confidence and well-being were shattered.

He had reported all the burglaries to the police but nothing came of it.

Vincent told his close friend Margaret Boswell, "I give up. I just can't take any more. I've not done any harm to anybody, so why are they doing that to me?"

He locked himself in his house, stopped eating and died a few days later from malnutrition and kidney failure. Prince was so distressed he had to be put down.

This story just says so much about the state of the country. Not just that he could be burgled five times, that he couldn't feel safe in his own home, that the police were no help to him.

Nobody else helped him either, or so it seems. Not the neighbours, not the social services, not victim support schemes, not the Samaritans, not pensioners' groups. This vulnerable man, battered and defeated by other people's cruelty and ruthlessness, could depend on nobody to come to his aid, punish those responsible and restore his well-being.

He was left to himself, as so many similar victims are, to pick up the pieces and carry on with the wreckage of his life.

But it was all too much for him and he decided he'd had enough. Our supposedly civilised, enlightened society had failed him miserably.

May you now rest in peace, Vincent Adcock.

19 comments:

Baino said...

Terrible story Nick. I'm not sure how the police can help him but neighbours certainly could have. I think we've lost that over the fence sticky beak mentality and tend to mind our own business. So often you hear of elderly people dying or falling and nobody finding them for days. Very sad

Grannymar said...

I bet if Vincent Adcock had mistreated his dog the whole neighbourhood would have been up in arms and he would have been charged with cruelty!

Unfortunately nowadays if you commit the crime of growing old and dare to live alone you are considered fair game for any young thug. The world has gone mad!

Wisewebwoman said...

I found this particularly upsetting Nick as my elderly aunt was a victim of a burglary while she was at Mass and it completely destroyed her independence and confidence. It was sickening.
She had to be put in a home and died there, traumatized.
I get so enraged when I hear of similar cases.
My heart breaks for his man and his dog. Intolerable.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

Baino - I guess the police could have made more of an effort to catch the burglars. Or put him in touch with victim support. Or helped him to make his house burglar-proof. Or kept a closer eye on the house. Quite a few things, actually.

Grannymar - How very true, if the dog had been abused he would have been rescued pretty damn quick.

www - That's a terrible story about your aunt. Unfortunately that sort of episode is so common nowadays. Decadent seems a strong word, but that's what Britain has become.

Los Angelista said...

Oh this is so sad. I know I live in sue-happy California but can't the police be held more accountable for not doing more to help him?

Nick said...

Liz - Unfortunately suing the police is usually unsuccessful, the police have huge resources on their side to deter their critics. The case of Jean Charles De Menezes, the supposed terrorist shot dead by the police, is a case in point. No individual police officer was ever prosecuted.

Suburbia said...

So very, very sad Nick. How could we have failed? If only we could just all care a little bit more for each other, teach our children to care too, learning kindness is one of the most important lessons we can learn.

Nick said...

Suburbia - Immensely sad. But it makes me angry too that our wretched society is unable to help someone in such desperate need. Yes, we must teach all our children compassion and kindness and a connection to the whole community.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

"Supposedly civilized" says it all. This is one of the most heartbreaking stories I have heard, but until we as a global society begin to really care about one another and not just give lip service to the concept, there will be many more Vincent Adcocks. Nobody who has lived a good and harmless life deserves to have it end like that. So very sad.

Nick said...

Heart - Exactly, nobody who has lived a decent life should see it finish up like that. What's the point of this huge network of public services if they aren't around when they're really needed?

Cinnamon said...

Yes, I know an elderly man who was burgled and knocked to the ground in the event. It has totally knocked his confidence- he no longer believes he is worth anything.

It's a sad society we live in. You make some good points here Nick.

Megan said...

I read the linked article. Interesting that almost all the comments were complaints about the government.

It's a terrible story. It sounds like he was targeted over and over because the burglars knew there was still more to be got, and little risk of capture.

Nick said...

Cinnamon - I see these elderly folk on TV, knocked black and blue by some thug, and I just wonder how anyone can do that to another human being.

Megan - The "Labour" government has been a huge disappointment to most of those who voted for them. They just don't seem to care very much about the people at the bottom of the heap.

Rummuser said...

Words fail me. I had close relatives killed by burglars for resisting and can relate to the incident that you write about.

Nick said...

Ramana - Sorry to hear your own relatives had such a nasty experience. In fact it's shocking how many people have been burgled or know someone who was burgled. Luckily it hasn't happened to me as yet.

Brighid said...

It's WE that need to be taking care of the less fortunate/elderly. We are or should be responsible for them. Governments are not designed to be caregivers. The blame lies on Our shoulders: family, friends, neighbors, community. WE have failed too many, and WE need to do better at looking beyond ourselves to see what needs doing.

Nick said...

Brighid - Well, certainly the whole community should be keeping an eye on people like Vincent, but only the authorities can deal with burglars and give people a sense of safety and security. And cities are often very anonymous places where people don't even know who their neighbours are, never mind looking after them. It's a big problem.

Brighid said...

Do you not think that if a friend or neighbor had stood up for him with the authorities that they might have done more?

Nick said...

Brighid - Good point. I'm sure that would have made a big difference. It often helps to have a sympathetic and determined advocate when the authorities are not doing their job.