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Friday, April 28, 2006 

Mary-Ann and the Sun.

On the day that the killers of Mary-Ann Leneghan were sentenced to either 23 or 27 years in prison, the Guardian has printed a somewhat fuller background of her life in Reading.

When Obsolete wrote the attack on the Sun after their use of the photo of Mary-Ann as a young girl and described her as "trusting", it knew that in some way doing down the image of Mary-Ann as entirely innocent was in a way incredibly unfair on her family and her friends who suffered as a result of the violence which ended her life. What today's Guardian article shows is that Mary-Ann was stuck in a world of drugs, truancy and had gone very much off the rails. This in no way excuses her murderers, who should serve the rest of their lives in prison for what they did, but it does further show the hypocrisy of the Sun newspaper in this case. To the Sun, Mary-Ann otherwise would have been one of the out of control feral youths which it screams about in its editorals. She became a drugs courier for the man who would eventually be involved in her death. All it took, as the article states, was for that man to suspect that she and her friend had betrayed him for the most brutal revenge to be arranged.

It goes without saying that Mary-Ann didn't deserve it. Most teenagers go through bad, rebellious patches, and there's everything to suggest that she was starting to realise just how egregious those mistakes she had made were. Simply put, she was naive. The last thing she now deserves as she cannot speak out for herself is to be used by the Sun to demand endless crackdowns on "anti-social behaviour", along with its treatment of all youth apart from those who become victims like Mary-Ann as yobs or "feral". Her mother, devastated by the death of her daughter, has set up a fund to try and help her get over her loss and move on with her life. The Sun should donate some money to her if it really means what it says. After all, it paid £30,000 to the wife of one of the 7/7 bombers, a decision that it would have bellowed about had another tabloid made it.

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