Murder #14, Anthony Bates, Vauxhall
Anthony Bates, 36, was tortured to death at a squat in Vauxhall, south London, on January 31, 2011. He was burned with a hot poker, scalded with hot syrup, stabbed in the neck with an apple skewer and beaten with a broom handle. Police found his mutilated body in the kitchen of a house in Fentiman Road at 5.30am the next day. Gary Speight was charged with murder on February 3. On April 28, Dean Swift and his girlfriend Corina Lowe, were charged with murder. They went on trial at the Old Bailey on November 8, 2011. The prosecution claimed Speight killed Mr Bates for having an affair with his girlfriend while he was in jail. It was claimed Swift and Lowe joined in the attack. On December 21, 2011, Speight and Swift were convicted of murder. Lowe was cleared of the charge.
Fentiman Road is a long road and I wasn’t sure which end I should go to first. I chose the south end and got off at Oval Station on the Tube. Facing me across the street was St. Mark’s Church, which was once the site of the Surrey County Gallows. I walked west down the A3 past the usual array shops that are everywhere in London and turned right into Fentiman. Suddenly I knew I was on a well to do street of large victorian houses. I walked slowly looking for signs of a police presence as I was sure the forensic teams had finished their work. I stopped at a small council block of flats betraying my own prejudices that thought this must be the place. I asked a passerby if he knew the scene of the crime and he directed me to keep going north. I found the murder site which was across from Vauxhall Park. Traffic cones and discarded forensic clothing littered the front of the house. The windows to the front room and door were smashed betraying what must have been a very violent crime scene. The street was unusually free of traffic and I set up my camera and tripod in the middle of the road. Soon many local residents started coming up to me explaining that the house was a squat and that people of the sordid type came and went. I was told lots of negative things about Anthony Bates and it was clear that I was being told that the murder was not surprising. No one expressed any sadness. I doubt if any knew at the time of the horrific death that Mr. Bates had suffered. He had been tortured to death. Of course I did not know that at the time either and my notes clearly state that I was inclined to believe the stories I was being told. I headed back to Oval Station and stopped to stare at St. Mark’s Church. It’s a beautiful building. It was hard to believe that this was the site of an execution place, where men were hung and tortured, their hearts thrown into fires. Cruelty, Death and Murder, all things i just could not comprehend.