Murder #22, Pat Jobson, Downham
Pat Jobson, 86, was found battered to death at her home in Downham, south London, on February 20, 2011. Police forced entry to the house in Oakridge Road after being contacted by worried relatives. It is thought she was attacked two days earlier during the night of February 18. A postmortem gave the cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head. On March 7, police charged Karen Williamson, 45, with murder. Williamson had worked for the victim as a gardener. Williamson battered Mrs Jobson to death with a hammer and a glass jug during a row. She then pawned the victim’s jewellery, an earring, a locket and her husband’s ring on a chain, all for just £61.
I dont know why my abiding memory of going to Downham was the long walk and how poor the area looked as I walked through it. The closest I had been to the area was Bromley. I was desperate to get to the murder site. I had been away for 3 weeks in Afghanistan and I was playing catch up with my project. I was worried that too much time had passed between the time of the murder and me photographing the scene. Maybe I was still suffering from culture shock as I had only been back in the UK for a day and yet I could not help thinking how poor Downham seemed. I always tell people that Afghanistan is a very beautiful place and maybe it was this contrast that I was experiencing. Downham seemed so dreary, and bleak. It was a strange feeling to have after returning from one of the poorest countries in the world.
When I finally found the house where Pat Jobson had been killed I was surprised that the police tape still draped the gate to her front garden. Flowers still lined the front of the house, worse for wear, but still there. The new metal door now prevented anyone from entering the property but I could not imagine who would want to go in. I focused on the metal door as it seemed to say “Beyond me something terrible has happened”. Those metal doors would become familiar to me over the course of the project. Unmistakable in their symbol of tragedy. Before to me they were a symbol of an abandoned property, a repossession , an obstacle to squatters.
The pavement was narrow and many people stepped over me while I photographed. Most seemed not to care what I was doing and a few gave me disapproving glances. Only a couple who were neighbours stopped to tell me what a nice lady Pat Jobson was. Months later I would find out that the murderer was an aspiring actress who had appeared on Eastenders and other TV shows but had fallen into crack addiction. The scourge of drug addiction and the drug trade would be prevalent throughout my project. To me visible symptoms of the disease of poverty. And Pat Jobson was an unlucky to have been caught in its wake.