One of the worst things than can happen to a child is for one of their parents to be killed. It must be especially hard for that parent to not only be murdered, but to not even have a body to bury for closure. This is what Tracy Richardson, whose mom was murdered in 2004, is still going through to this day. And, while her mom’s murderer may know perfectly well where the body is, Tracy is barred from asking him, because the courts fear it would infringe on HIS human rights.
Martin Stafford was finally convicted in 2012 of the murder of Michelle Gunson, of Manchester, UK, in 2004 after facing earlier charges in Ireland. He not only murdered Gunson, but also reportedly raped and tortured her. He was finally extradited from Ireland in 2012, and under the terms of extradition, HE has to give authorities consent to ask HIM where Gunson is buried. This apparently pertains to Tracy as well, because the jail where Stafford is being kept has refused to give him any letters written by Tracy, citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I didn’t realize that reading a letter from a victim’s child was up there with waterboarding, but I guess you learn something new every day.
According to news reports, the only way Tracy would be able to ask Stafford about the body would be to secure a visitation order and ask him face to face. Who does she have to go through to get a visitation order, you ask? Stafford himself. Because that makes total sense. According to Tracy:
“He should have lost his human rights the second he decided to commit those evil crimes. He’s not a human in my eyes, he’s a monster. All I want is to lay Mum to rest and give her the dignity she deserves. But I have no hope of doing that unless someone gets Stafford to admit where she is.”
Just days after Gunson’s murder, Strafford fled to Ireland, where he had 23 previous convictions, including various sex offenses. In 2005 he was convicted of another rape (classy guy, right?) and in 2007 the DNA from that rape helped to tie him to Gunson’s The police issued a European arrest warrant and he was finally extradited after finishing his seven year rape sentence. But under the terms of that extradition, Stafford can’t be questions at all about the Gunson case. As in nothing whatsoever. So while the DNA still managed to convict him, many of the details of the case remain a mystery.
If this sounds utterly ridiculous to you, then you’re not alone. Many people in the UK, including Tracy, think that the murderer’s rights are coming before the victims and that things need to change. But according to Det. Insp. Astle, of West Midlands CID, everything is on the up and up:
“Martin Stafford was brought back to the UK on a European Arrest Warrant. We cannot interview extradited individuals unless they request it. Mr Stafford continues to deny involvement in Michelle’s disappearance.”
To be honest, even if Tracy is finally allowed to speak to or write to Stafford, I doubt he will give anything up. Even though the DNA evidence is more than damning, he insists to this day that he had nothing to do with Gunson’s disappearance. So either he is still hopeful that his case will be turned over, or he’s just a heartless bastard. Or both. Probably both. But something about this case just seems wrong. I am all for protecting human rights, even the rights of prisoners (yes, even the rights of convicted killers) but to not even be able to question him? This is wrong.