Marks, Kathy. Trouble in Paradise
This meticulously detailed account of Kathy Marks’s six weeks on the Pitcairn island in 2004 is as she says in her Prologue to the book ‘a cautionary tale.’ She first read about the investigation in 2000, when as Asia-Pacific Correspondent for The Independent she read about about the 13 men charged with 96 offences dating back to the 1960s. She was accepted for membership of the media team reporting on the trials that followed, reporting ‘on one of the most bizarre court cases imaginable.’ The Pitcairners themselves were almost universally hostile to the enquiry, the offenders appealing to ‘every court up to the Privvy Council in London.’ It seemed that paedophilia, far from being a hated crime was almost a way of life for almost every man on the island, whose population was numbered at a maximum of 50 people, the island of roughly two square miles, not even having an airstrip, being over 3000 miles from New Zealand and Chile.
The book (nearly 400 pages) after relating stories of murder and mayhem on the island, ends on a vaguely optimistic note, for Kathy tells of her encounter with Isobel, an abused child who managed to flee from the ‘Paradise’ that to her was absolute hell. Despite scores of appeals against their sentences the men were eventually convicted and imprisoned, but for Isobel ‘the jail out there, to me it feels like a mockery … that’s paradise, what they’re in, they’re laughing.’ But when told that as convicted rapists the men will never be able to enter New Zealand or Australia, Isobel beams and rejoices: ‘So they’re stuck on Pitcairn? That’s brilliant. That’s a real prison sentence for all of them.’