Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Colin Ireland

The Story

Colin Ireland at approximately 7 years (AP)
Colin Ireland at
approximately 7
years (AP)

They spent three months there until, unable to stand it any longer, Colin and his mother returned to her parents at Myrtle Road. By the next year, in 1961, they were again ready to move out. This time things were more hopeful, as Colin's mother had a new partner, and together the three of them moved to Farnol Road, in Dartford, where they would remain for the next three years. The couple were soon married, and Colin's surname was changed from his mother's maiden name of Ireland to his new stepfather's name, Saker. Ireland remembers him with a mixture of fondness and exasperation: "My first step-father was a harmless man... He was humorous and unaggressive." Unfortunately, however, "He had little idea of responsibility and though he would treat me well, he would also walk out leaving us penniless." Although Colin's stepfather was an electrician by trade, he only worked sporadically and was irresponsible with money, and the years with him were, Colin Ireland tells me, "financially, very unstable ...we were poor."

Due to the family's constant changes of address, Colin never settled into school life. Between the ages of five and ten, he attended six primary schools, all in different parts of Kent.

"I would not say I enjoyed school. It was a chore. As to why not, I would say I was not given a chance. My primary education was a mess, unstructured is too nice a term. Disjointed an understatement. My secondary education was, I feel, hampered by my not going through primary education - with the boys. My start was also delayed, I walked into a class of boys who were half way through a class. They had been together for some time, several weeks at least. My 'new boy' status was duplicated. It went down hill from there."

Everywhere he went he was the 'new boy', the odd-one-out, who even looked different from the other boys. He was, he told the police after his arrest, a "thin, lanky little runt - always getting the worst of it." He remembers how, at school:

"I was subjected to verbal abuse. Serious physical abuse was very rare. The abuse would be due to my appearance, both physical and my clothing, its general state equalled my school report: could do better! Physically I was very thin, though tall. My parents would supply me with school clothes, I just wore them out quicker than they could afford to buy them... I can also remember being bow-legged and my mother telling me not to stand with my legs crossed."

To avoid bullying by the other children Colin would frequently be absent from school. When he did go, he was nearly always late. He remembers that:

"My absenteeism would take the shape of me asking not to go to school and it sometimes being allowed. I was never absent in a deceitful way. Not that I can remember anyway. The punishment for lateness, repeated lateness, was the cane and I'm surprised that I grew up to be a sadist and not a masochist."

But of course, it is often the case that those who have lacked power earlier in life seek the chance to grasp it later on. They identify with the aggressor, and abandon the role of victim.

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