The Real Baying Mob

Sadly, on Saturday, a man in his forties fell to his death from the new car park at Southwater. This is clearly a terribly sad event for family, friends and relations.  It’s also turned into a Telford hate-fest, thanks to the sensationalist and ghoulish media coverage, fuelled by social media.

On the Saturday as events unfolded, three photos appeared on my twitter timeline.  Two from someone on their way to work and one from someone at work.  These were the only photos I saw, and I follow 5000 Telford people and search twitter for mentions of Telford. The person running the Shropshire Star account asked for permission to use the pics in public, and these photos (cropped) have been seen on lots of websites.  I do not blame the photographer for sharing these, at the time it was just a traffic problem and guy on top of the car park was a tiny group of pixels, not identifiable at all.

I reported the events as they happened on Twitter and Facebook. I didn’t use any pics but did retweet the three I saw right at the start of the event.

As soon as the Shropshire Star posted their short, factual news item to Facebook on Sunday, the comments started.  The main thrust was anger at people taking photos on their phones. Out of the 100+comments, two people claimed to have seen onlookers shouting.  This prompted the Star to run the second piece.

Shropshire Star “Telford car park tragedy: Police could prosecute over social media posts

Action will be taken against people who posted photos of a man who fell to his death from the roof of a multi-storey car park, police have warned.

At this point, the national papers, ITV and media organisations got hold of the story and focused on the ‘goading’ aspect.

Daily Mail “Police condemn jeering crowd who took selfies and goaded suicidal man to ‘get on with it and jump’ from a multi-storey car park minutes before he plunged to his death”

Daily Mirror “Jeering crowd urges suicidal man to ‘jump’ before he plunges to his death from multi-storey car park”

Cue social media then get into a frenzy about Telford and the people who live here. This is where I start getting defensive and set about trying to find the cold facts about what happened on the ground on Saturday.

I started with an article that someone sent to me on twitter.  Don’t know which paper, but it has a quote from soneone in Telford.  The name looked familiar, yes it was a Shropshire Star facebook commenter. One of the people who commented about the ‘goading’ on Sunday posted a contradictory status on their own timeline on the Saturday night that the event took place “And to hear people were recording it with their phones and yelling at him to jump…..”.  Did she hear it or did she hear that someone else heard it?  Either way the status was carefully snipped to miss out the ‘And to hear’ so this now looks like a a nailed on fact.

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Throughout the media frenzy, one phrase which The Mirror reporter claimed came from an onlooker stuck in my head.  An odd turn of phrase, which you would not expect to hear.  ‘How far can you bounce?”  I was sure I’d heard it before, so I googled it and found this story from the Mirror in 2008. Coincidence?

I’m starting to piece this together, and wondering if the Jeering Mob or Baying Crowd is just something being whipped up on Facebook, so I asked folks who were actually there, what they saw.  The answer came back, not much.

Karen:I walked past there at around 1.45 on Saturday, we had come through the shopping centre and we’re going to cineworld. I’m not the most observant person, but I had my 3 children, ones nearly 12 and others early teens. None of us saw or heard anything, and I stood outside cineworld finishing my lunch for about 10 mins. We were amazed when we left cinema and everywhere taped off!”

“Well, police supposed to have been called at 1.10 and he didn’t fall until 3.40, we came out cinema at around 4. But there was no ‘baying crowd’ at 1.45, so they weren’t there long, if at all.”

“Yes (at 4pm) it was still taped off and loads of police there. I wanted to go back into shopping centre then asda. We didn’t get back into the shopping centre, and were asked to walk round back of cinema, through car parks to get to Asda, which we did.”

So loads of police around.  If there were police on the ground, you’d have thought they might have heard the ‘Baying Mob’, no?

David: “I was there briefly and yes there were people ( mainly teenagers ) stood watching and filming with their phones. I would judge their mood as excited. I did hear a scruffy looking sod in about his mid 50s say quite audibly ” I don’t know why he doesn’t just jump”! It still echoes in my head. I felt like shaking the ignorant shit of a human.”

So a few people with phones and an ignorant middle-ages shit. He might have said it out loud, but ‘baying mob’?

Amy: “Came out of cineworld at 3:30, everywhere was taped off and few people were hanging around to find out what was going on however I didn’t hear anyone shouting around. Couldn’t get past barriers of police so went to mimosa to eat”

No mob, lots of police, 10 mins before he so tragically fell. Not a goad in earshot.

Take a look yourself at the full thread: https://www.facebook.com/TelfordLive

So who is the real baying mob?

We’ve seen how people can get whipped up into a stupor over social media. Only last week West Mercia Police issued a public statement over a guy who was leafleting an area to buy gold.  Someone posted his pic and suggested he was stealing dogs for baiting.  All cobblers, of course. You just expect a bit better from professionals.

 UPDATE: 18/03/2015
I’ve been contacted by Rosie: The Daily mail and the Mirror took my comment from the Shropshire Star facebook page which started with “To the people who were goading…” And changed it to “people were goading” also implying I was a witness when I was no were near Telford that day & making up my age! Lazy journalism and gutter press at it’s finest!
UPDATE: 19/03/2015
The man has been named and a fundraising page has been set up.  Take a look & donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/Ian-Lam/
Were you actually there? Post a comment.

30 thoughts on “The Real Baying Mob

  • March 17, 2015 at 10:43 pm
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    I saw the man before his death but I refused to watch. As I left the area and had heard that he had fallen and died a horrible woman walked past me ranting on about how he had interrupted her shopping trip. She was using foul language to describe the man and it completely angered me. I decided to speak to her and tell her to stop speaking the way that she was in a public place with others around as it was upsetting for many including myself and she was rude to me. Eventually I got moved away from her. It is disgusting that even grown adults cannot be mature enough to understand situations like this let alone teenagers. It still angers me now and I hope the people that were posting videos and photos and the people that provoked him in any way get prosecuted.

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  • March 17, 2015 at 11:11 pm
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    As David has previously stated there were crowds around and they were mainly teenagers taking pictures and videos.
    I work directly opposite the south water carpark I finished work at 2pm and there were big crowds of people spectating, and generally saying “why doesn’t he just jump already” by 2.15pm the town centre had closed off the exit to the south water development and wouldn’t let people exit to go outside. They were told to go another way around.
    A little while later the doors were reopened. So yes by this point the big crowds of people were moved along and people swiftly told to be on their way
    At approx 3.35pm town centre security staff had came into my work place and asked for all customers to be removed. None of which were allowed anywhere near the multistory.
    Obvious reason being the unfortunate event that had taken place.

    Overall the town centre staff and security had handled the situation the best they could along with all police and other services involved. There was goading from the crowd watching in the early day however I am unsure wether the man involved would have been able to hear so. If he did. It wasn’t between the two intervals that I was near that part of telford town centre.

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  • March 17, 2015 at 11:30 pm
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    I was heading towards the Southwater Costa from the Southwater entrance of the Town Centre just before they shut doors to the way through. I ran into a witness, a friend, he said a man had jumped off the car park but here’s the thing, they literally only just shut the entrance as I passed the hair dressers. He mentioned no mobs, no jeering, he was shaken but that’s it. I was forced to go around.
    I can only think of him, his family and his friends at this terrible time. Us Telfordians will get through this.

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  • March 18, 2015 at 12:57 am
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    Myself my sister and my 82year old mother were there that day, we had just left MImosa after lunch, which was about 3pm heading back towards the entrance into town to go back to my car and when we approached, the whole area was taped off and there was Police presence in each area of it. The area was completely empty of public and there was no baying crowd within the cordoned off area or anywhere near where the gentleman was. Media has made our town of Telford a target.

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  • March 18, 2015 at 1:06 am
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    I was going to get some food at around 3:30 and I could see a group watching something. It wasn’t until I had got closer I could see what they were looking at.
    Yes: I did see people filming it (which I don’t think was right)
    No: I didn’t hear anyone shouting from where I was. There were a couple of people saying to each other how they “don’t think he will do it” but nothing loud enough for him to of heard.

    I also saw the other mirror article about a 17 year old boy asking “asking how far can you bounce?” and I instantly thought the same. But on the other hand why would anyone with an iq believe anything in the mirror?

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  • March 18, 2015 at 3:13 am
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    So a man dies and all you’re preoccupied about is Telford’s public image?

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    • March 18, 2015 at 9:00 am
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      Partly. Also because I really didn’t want friends and family of this man to think that his last moments were on top of a car park roof with a baying mob underneath. Thanks for your comment.

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  • March 18, 2015 at 7:53 am
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    I was unfortunately there that day. I came out of the cinema and finding the area to the left taped off walked around the back of the cinema with my children. Once I reached the car park you could clearly see the man who at this point was sitting down, dangling his legs down. This was around 3.30pm. I saw quite a few people filming him on their mobiles and a few taking pictures. People were stood with their young children watching which as a parent I still cannot get my head around. I made every effort to shield my children from seeing it which I managed. I did not hear anyone in the car park shouting.

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  • March 18, 2015 at 8:05 am
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    I would like to see your proof both about the guy selling gold (stealing dogs) can you prove he wasnt ?? and can you prove people werent shouting for this poor guy to jump . so far it seems like all your doing is trying to remove any bad press Telford gets . I lived in Telford for many years and can tell you right now its not a nice place at all . before posting crap like this provide proof cause like u try to say about hear say that is same crap your using

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    • March 18, 2015 at 8:59 am
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      Thanks for your comment. The Police stopped the van, interviewed the driver and were happy. They then released a statement saying so. If you have information otherwise, I suggest you call 101 and get a tinfoil hat.

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    • March 18, 2015 at 1:20 pm
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      “its (sic) not a nice place at all” is absolute bunkum.

      Maybe the bit you lived in wasn’t very nice? Perhaps the people you lived with weren’t very nice? Perhaps you’re not very nice? – You’re certainly not very good at written English.

      There are lots and lots of us who are more than happy to live here, we’re not blind to its faults but we’re also not happy just to criticise the place without reason.

      What Telford Live is trying to do here, isn’t to remove the bad press Telford gets, but make sure it’s accurate and not sensationalised to the degree that this particular sad incident has seen.

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  • March 18, 2015 at 8:08 am
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    You didn’t mention that 8500 people in this town have signed a petition in protest of the events of that day.

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    • March 18, 2015 at 8:57 am
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      Hi Ceri, Thanks for your comment. I saw the petition that you created and as it stands I don’t support it. The petition calls for the police to actually do their job, and as they were there, by the cordons, if they had evidence they would have acted. As there doesn’t appear to have been a baying mob, I guess the petition is redundant.

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    • March 18, 2015 at 10:24 am
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      Were you there Ceri?

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      • March 18, 2015 at 10:55 am
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        Your time and your passion would be better spent organising a vigil for the poor man and mental health in general with the 8,000 people that signed the petition whilst letting the proper investigative organisations look at the facts of the sad incident in a non judgmental way. Taking the fact that a suicide threat had taken place at Southwater before why did the public have access to the top of car park in the first place? I won’t be signing your petition because I wasn’t there and if there are going to be arrests then I hope that it is extended to the people in charge of health & safety for ignoring the risks. I fear planners who wanted to push Southwater through so much have got their legacy for the heart of Telford with the media reports and your petition.

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  • March 18, 2015 at 9:10 am
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    How do we know, that if any shouting, jeering occurred that those people were from Telford – a lot of visitors from all over the country make the journey to the town centre on a daily basis. Either way if any goading took place, it is s disgrace on the human race wherever they are from.

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  • March 18, 2015 at 10:44 am
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    Unfortunately I came out of work at 3pm and headed towards the brown elm car park , where there were at least 50 people standing around watching the poor man. I saw 2 people shouting to the man to jump and there were at least 10 people taking photos on there phones. I actually spoke to the man a couple of hours before while at work, so to hear he was on the car park was very sad. That sadness turned to anger when I witnessed the behaviour of those people in the car park.

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  • March 18, 2015 at 11:21 am
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    I was at the town centre on Saturday and was walking back to the Cherry Pink car park at around 3.30pm – the man was clearly still on the roof of the centre as was (I’m assuming) a trained negotiator. Yes there were people looking and pointing but more out of concern for the poor man. There were certainly no baying crowds at that point – the doors to the Southwater complex had been reopened as I had just come from that way – the traffic was still moving around the ring road (albeit much slower than normal) and the emergency services were clearly in standby at that point. The media will always sensationalise a story otherwise its not news is it? Shame on the press for the distress they are clearly causing for the poor family who are at the very centre of this tragedy and who seemed to have been forgotten in all of this. Rest in peace to the poor man who felt his life wasnt worth living and I hope that his family and friends can somehow find the strength to get through this.

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  • March 18, 2015 at 11:31 am
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    Just like any journalism, you can find the ‘evidence’ to show the baying mobs that were jeering for him to jump as much as you can find the ‘evidence’ to show the more humane people. But should it really come as such a shock or surprise, which ever is the fact, journalism will accentuate whichever aspect for their purpose. Also, whether it was a ‘mob’, a handful of people or just one person enticing the person to jump surly that’s unacceptable and the actual volume of people conducting the act is minor compared to the act itself. I for one do hope the police prosecute such idiots (or idiot). Another point about journalism, it seems ‘easy’ and very lazy journalism to create articles scraped from social media, as it seems many are these days. I’m sure it’s cheaper to not send a reporter to the site, but It’s certainly lazy and also leave it open to question of accuracy if they are not at an incident themselves.

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  • March 18, 2015 at 3:14 pm
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    I was there walking past with my four children and husband. Coming from the cinema at 2:40 I know this exactly as I had somewhere I needed to be. I was drawn to a group of late teens sat outside of pizza express taking videos laughing pointing and shouting jump I know this as a fact! There was about 8 of them had noticed a crowd of people but was preoccupied with watching my children were all with me and if it wasn’t for the teens shouting and pointing my children wouldn’t have needed to see that! My next move was to get my kids out of there as quickly as possible as my daughter was very upset age 9 not understanding why people would be saying that. So yes we can say they are teenagers but a 9 year old knows its wrong! The idea of people standing there with their children pointing letting them watch that is highly disturbing. (Yes that is factual too) the things I heard from people laughing making fun of it as I squeezed past them to remove my children from the scene will haunt me forever! Rip poor man

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    • March 18, 2015 at 3:18 pm
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      Thank you for your comment. Pizza Express is quite a way from where the man was. Do you think the man would have heard or even seen these teenagers?

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      • March 18, 2015 at 3:27 pm
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        I really hope not but I saw and heard them through a group of people and my noisy children from approx walking outside of the harvester as they were drawing attention to themselves jumping standing on chairs and messing about from where they were u could just see the man at the corner of the building. I really would like to think peoples words and thoughtless actions did not result in that mans death.

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        • March 18, 2015 at 3:36 pm
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          Can I just say the lady picked out on so many newspapers kelly-anne taylor is my sister and was in town having her hair cut at the time so what she was commenting on was what I had told her when we met in town just after I had walked past as I was clearly upset!

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  • March 18, 2015 at 9:33 pm
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    Whatever happened that day and whoever said what is not gonna change the fact that a highly depressed man took his life. If ANYONE was shouting things at him i hope they live the rest of their lives with deep regret. Rip thinking of your poor family and wish u could of got the help u so needed.

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  • March 19, 2015 at 9:30 am
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    From what I can gather, if it does turn out that, there was a small minority of people videoing his final moments & shouting at him to jump, even if it turns out to be a couple of people, then they should be held to account & shown that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated, I think we all know that the Newspapers will put a spin on the reporting of the story, it’s what they do best, looking at it from both sides of the coin, Telford-Live don’t want the Press dragging Telfords name through the mud & Ceri’s petition highlights that the People of Telford do not condone this sort of behaviout & that the Vast Majority of People in Telford are Decent People with Morals, therefore both have the good reputation of Telford in mind.

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    • March 20, 2015 at 9:34 am
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      It would have been more supportive to the family to get the petitioners to hold a peaceful vigil rather than supporting the inaccurate media trash in a world wide campaign. Maybe this could be arranged with shops closing to show their respect whilst highlighting one of the biggest killers for men under 50.

      Reply
  • March 21, 2015 at 10:44 am
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    Am not from Telford so I entered in to reading this article in a neutral frame of mind. Two comments I would like to make:

    1. It seems that the writer and many people walking past did not hear anything. HOWEVER, there are such a high number of people commenting here who have said that people were calling out to him to jump, these seem to range from middle-aged men to groups of teenagers. If you were that suicidal man and you look down to see sections of the crowd calling for you to jump – it doesn’t matter if it’s only 20% of the crowd – THAT IS A BAYING MOB. So I am sorry, there are enough people here who have contradicted the writer for me to think otherwise.

    2. Does this make Telford any worse than anywhere else? No. I’d bet the same thing would happen and does happen in 99% of places around the country. We are still living in the dark ages.

    All my best – just please put your hand up and admit that you’ve called it wrong. If there was no baying mob, why do so many people here say they were witnesses to many people shouting at him to jump?

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    • March 21, 2015 at 5:41 pm
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      Thanks for your comments. I think you’ve made your mind up and you are welcome to your opinion. As you can see, I’m not moderating the comments to fit my version of things how I see them.

      I think people are reading the comments attributed to eyewitnesses by the press. As you can see by Kellys & Rosies comments, they have not been portrayed accurately so I feel that the volume of comments saying there was a crowd has been amplified.

      The other aspect is the geography of the area. The car park is a long way from where people were viewing. I was there yesterday. The car park is about a football pitch long, and then half as much again to the restaurant area where people were watching from. There is no way, in my view, he could look down and see people shouting up at him. You can see from the picture in the Daily Mirror how far away people are standing.

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      • March 21, 2015 at 11:27 pm
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        Thank you for the reply – I think we agree to disagree, although I accept you have superior knowledge of the area. 🙂

        I just think attitudes towards mental health the world over and including the UK are backward which is why it wouldn’t surprise me that there would be baying mobs in these situations. In fact, I’d put money on it.

        Reply
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