Wednesday 7 December 2016

Gene Kerrigan: A sensational and startling case in a time of innocence

As Malcolm Macarthur is released from jail, Gene Kerrigan explains why we remember his crimes so vividly

Published 23/09/2012 | 05:00

Malcolm Macarthur was an appalling person who killed two people because he couldn't think of anything better to do. He had a plan, it was a stupid plan -- and the killings derived not from some inbred desire to kill but from a willingness to do whatever was necessary to get what he wanted.

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The reason we of the older generation remember him so vividly is that the Macarthur case was a sensation at a time of relative innocence. The scandals that would undermine so much of public life hadn't yet been found out. The circumstances of Macarthur's arrest made the case startling -- although the crimes themselves were quite straightforward. The reasons he murdered two people were shatteringly banal.

Malcolm MacArthur was from a wealthy background and had inherited a large amount of money in the Seventies and had grown used to a life of leisure. He liked swanning around Dublin, drinking pints and portraying himself as a "character". Complete with bow-tie and an air of what he seemed to believe was sophistication.

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