The killers of Daniel Pelka, 4, identified as his mother and stepfather, were jailed for life last week; all that was left to contemplate was pages of newsprint detailing his torture. There is an accepted convention in such cases. Strangers erupt with terror and fury; photographs of the haunted child, now so remote, are circulated; relatives swear ignorance or revenge; the dismantling of a civilised criminal justice system seems, briefly, attractive, the better to punish the monsters in our midst; social workers, too often slammed for over-interference, are damned for the opposite, and chased away from their vocation like perpetrators; the local MP calls, inevitably, for resignations.

© Guardian News & Media Ltd

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