Bishop's prayers for victims' families

SUFFOLK'S most senior cleric - who has gone through the heartache of losing a child - has said it is important for families of the murdered prostitutes to remember the good things about the young women.

By John Howard

SUFFOLK'S most senior cleric - who has gone through the heartache of losing a child - has said it is important for families of the murdered prostitutes to remember the good things about the young women.

The Rt Rev Richard Lewis, bishop of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, spoke of his shock at the developments and offered words of support to the bereaved families.

Nine years ago, the bishop's son, Peter, died on his 27th birthday after a sado-masochistic game with his occult-loving fiancé, Justine Cummings, went wrong.


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He was stabbed through the heart and had to be cut free from handcuffs before paramedics could begin their battle to save him.

Cummings, then 26, was sent to Broadmoor secure hospital after admitting his manslaughter.

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Bishop Richard said: “I have seen something of what it is like to lose an adult child - that it is very hard for families.

“It's very important to hold on to all the good things about the person they have lost and to value them. To hold on to the real person, to what they really were, and not allow them to be caricatured as a prostitute.

“For most people it is important to be able to talk to someone, whether a family member or other helpers. It will be very hard for them given that it is likely there will be a delay before there are any funerals, they are left in limbo and that is no-one's fault, it's the legitimate process.”

He added: “There clearly is empathy from the general public and there's no sense at all that in any way this was their own fault. People are just horrified by what has happened and people are not being judgemental.

“They are recognising that the women are daughters, mothers, have brothers and sisters, families like everyone else.”

Bishop Richard said the disturbing events appear to have shocked people out of celebrating Christmas.

“A lot of people say they cannot think about Christmas with all this going on. It is presumed to be a very joyful time, a celebration but, for a lot of people, it's absolute hell,” he said.

“We have found that something of ordinary life has bubbled through - not the fact of people being killed all the time, but that dreadful things happen all the time to vulnerable people. It's something of what lies underneath, bubbling through.

“If anything good can come out of this it might be a wake-up call that there are people in society who are incredibly vulnerable and that they do need defending.”

The bishop praised the police's handling of the murders to date, the force's openness about the situation, and the public's reaction, saying that this was Suffolk at its best.

john.howard@eadt.co.uk

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