Our first response must be one of prayer: for the repose of his soul, of course, but also for the pardon and healing of his murderers.
Beyond that, however, there is always talk of the lessons to be learned. Yet again, the 'agencies' involved will be castigated for their failures, and perhaps some improvements will be made.
But it seems to me that there is a potential blind spot in the public examination of this and other cases. I heard on the Today Programme, this morning, for example, the comment that he had been killed by his parents.
That is not true.
As is clear from the more detailed reports, he was killed by his mother, and a man who was not his father who was living with his mother at the time.
Whilst that has been noted in passing, it is not the subject of any comment. I find that worrying, as I think we should look at such data. And this is by no means the first case featuring such non-nuclear family relationships.
But the media do not want to do so. Co-habitees are given a free ride. To see what I mean, imagine if this were the second or third case where the murdering male was a member of the EDL or the BNP or had some other identity of which the media disapproves. It would certainly not simply be mentioned in passing. Or imagine if it was the second or third time a home-schooling traditional Catholic was guilty, come to that...
But because our societal norm (or at least the one desired by the ever-wonderful BBC and most journalists) is one in which the myth that consensual sexual behaviour, temporary relationships and so on, are healthy and have no adverse consequences, these questions will never be asked:
- Is there a disproportionate frequency of abuse and murder of women and children by men living with women who have children by previous relationships?
- If so, is there a causative link between such patterns of relationship and abuse, or is it merely a co-factor of other determinants (eg chaotic life style, educational levels, deprivation, poverty)?
I don't know the definitive answer to these questions, though I have a strong intuition about them... But what is scary is that they are not even being asked.