C4 releases documentary that features Edinburgh murder

4 mins read

Channel 4 released a new documentary this week that gives a harrowing insight into the lives of people who have had their worlds torn apart by homicide in the UK.

Directed by filmmaker Ben Anthony, the documentary begins with the murder of Shaun Woodburn, Edinburgh dad-of-one, which took place on New Years Eve in 2016. Despite the fact it was an unprovoked, senseless and evil attack, Shaun’s killer only got four years in prison. An unbelievable sentence that has just furthered the family’s grief and suffering.

They state, “since the start of the millennium the number and pattern of homicides in the UK has stayed strikingly similar.” This is so common to hear nowadays. It can be difficult to understand the grief these people are going through. For a stranger life moves on,  A Year of British Murder gives a chilling and candid view into the lives behind the statistics.

The powerful documentary focused on 2017, where 768 murders occurred across the UK. Each story was introduced by a statistic. For example, ‘children under one have the highest homicide rate in Britain’ or ‘for 17% of those murdered there is no motif.’ These seemed a little insensitive, but at the same time gave the spectators a snapshot into the really gritty details of these people’s lives, something that is hard to imagine just from hearing a statistic.

From A Year of British Murder. Credit: Channel 4

The minimal style of the film really pulls you in, there is more or less no narration apart from the families and friends answering questions. Each segment is introduced with a number of close-ups and extra long shots of the city or town where the homicide took place, allowing the viewer to create their own image of the location. It grips you into each story.

Overwhelming to watch, it reflects the stories of 11 families across all different places around Britain, each with their own loss. One case was deeply devastating when the film portrayed the Romanian 21 year-old, Razvan Sirbu’s grieving mother, as she went through the process with a translator to collect his bloody and ripped clothes. The only thing left of her son who was beaten to death for ‘kicks’ by a couple of teenagers in Maidstone.

The most shocking thing was the number of murders that happened just because the victim was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The majority that take place are not planned, just vicious and careless attacks which makes the situation more terrifying. highlighting how easy these individuals find it to take a life. More attention and education must be placed on knife crime and domestic violence.

It is a really important film to have made, and shows the public a different side to homicides across the UK today. The film is available on All4 for the next month. Definitely worth a watch while it is still available.


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Film Media and Journalism student at the University of Stirling. Editor in Chief at Brig Newspaper. Edinburgh / Stirling

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