Boys Burn House To Hide Murder

Three teenagers were sentenced on November 24, 1972, at the Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey) to terms of detention in connection with the murder of Maxwell Confait, 26, at his home: a bed-sitter in Doggett Road, Catford, SE6.

Mr. Richard du Cann, prosecuting, described the events as a “truly appalling crime.’ Mr Du Cann said that the three youths had broken into the house in the early hours of April 22, 1972, their motive being to rob or steal. Confait had discovered them shortly after they had broken in.

The court heard that 14-year-old schoolboy Ahmet Salih, of Nelgarde Road, Catford SE6 was a witness to the killing, by strangulation, of Confait.

Dead Man Was A Homosexual

Confait was said to be a homosexual who liked to dress in women’s clothing and was well-known in the locality. In the gay circles in which he circulated he was called ‘Michelle’.

After two of them had killed him all three of the youths set fire to the house, the rest of which was occupied by a Mr and Mrs Goode, and their five children. They awoke at 1.15am to discover smoke and flames coming from the basement. The fire was apparently started to “cover their traces”.

Colin George Latimore, 18, unemployed, of Nelgarde Road, Catford, was said to have strangled Confait by twisting some white electric flex around his neck. Lattimore was acquitted of murder, but found guilty of manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility and of arson. Said to have a mental age of 10, he was ordered to be detained under security conditions in a mental hospital without limit of time. In a statement he was alleged to have described the death of Confait as “an accident”.

Ronald William Leighton, 16, unemployed, who lived in the same road as the dead man, was described in reports as being “on the borderline of the subnormal”. Convicted of murder and arson, he was ordered by Mr Justice Chapman to be detained during Her Majesty’s pleasure (ie without limit of time) in such a place and under such conditions as the Secretary of State may direct.

Ahmet Salih, 14, schoolboy, also of Nelgarde Road, was convicted of setting fire to the house, with intent to endanger life; he was ordered to be detained for not less than four years in a place to be directed by the Home Secretary.

The police did not have to look far from the scene of the crime to find the accused. One of them lived in the same street as ‘Michelle’, the others just one street away.

Paul Goodman Dies In US

Banned from teaching by several universities and colleges in the ’40’s, Paul Goodman never ceased to fight for gay civil rights and equality.

Much regret will be felt by the gay community at the passing of this writer, teacher and social critic, who died on 3rd August, 1972, aged 60, of a coronary, at his farm in North Stratford, New Hampshire.

Born in New York’s famous/infamous Greenwich Village, Goodman was brought up in poverty (his father having deserted the family soon after Paul’s birth). He surmounted the struggle to educate himself with the same zeal that was to characterise his lifelong attitudes.

After graduating from New York City College in 1931, he could not afford to enroll at Columbia University, so he cycled there day after day and by devious means contrived to attend the philosophy lectures of Richard McKeon. Later, he hitchhiked to attend free classes at Harvard.

Some while after, McKeon, his former teacher, and by now Dean of the University of Chicago, invited Goodman to lecture on English literature. In 1940, however, Goodman was fired from this post because of his freely-admitted homosexuality; later this also cost him a teaching job at Black Mountain.

“I don’t think that people’s sexual lives are any business of the State,” he said. “To licence sex is absurd.”

In spite of being gay, Paul and Sally, his wife, lived together for some 30 years, producing two children in the process. They were however, never formally married.

Propounder of the most extreme solutions to mundane problems, Goodman has been described variously as poet, psychologist, anarchist, iconoclast, novelist. His most famous book, Growing Up Absurd, made him a sort of youth-cult figure in the years following its publication in 1960. Of this book, Colin McInnes has written:

‘His readers were of all generations, and he had an undercover readership both of students who dogmatically rejected literacy and of educationalists alarmed by change. Despite the mockery of its analyses, Growing up Absurd remains a cheerful book – optimistic, and its satire positive and revealing.’

One of the most elusive and yet most daunting talents of his generation, Goodman combined prophetic vision with rebellious despair.

In connection with his gay tendencies, amongst other things, Goodman underwent psychotherapy both in the late ’40’s and early 50s; this experience led him to become a lay psychotherapist.

In spite of this, his later years were filled with despair. Despite having published more than a dozen books and countless articles, he wrote:

‘I am continually tormented by not being published… I guess I’m the least-known author of my ability in America. This has made me bitter enough at times, yet I also take it as a good sign, that what I stand for is important and resisted.’

Condemning society and the educational system, he said, in Growing up Absurd:

‘It corrupts the fine arts. It shackles science. It dampens animal ardour. It dims the sense that there is a Creation.’

It is typical of his indomitable courage that, until his death he insisted on following – despite two heart attacks – a daily routine of gardening on his North Stratford farm. He also visited friends and was in the process of writing both a book on religion and a collection of poems.

“He wasn’t a man to follow prescriptions.” his doctor said, “He had too much to do.”

Arrant Nonsense

I am writing in outrage at the recent item from the “Evening News”. It appeared in the column of the (?noble) Lord Arran.

I have in my time read a not inconsiderable amount of material concerning “our” world and could fairly say that this particular jeremiad on the emergence of the gay scene is only describable as ArranT (sic) nonsense.

For years gay people have been harried and hassled; in the past by blackmailers, and currently by certain elements in the police.

As regards the latter, of course, the practice of entrapment (inducing someone to commit an unlawful act, and then arresting him for it) is far less rampant in the UK than elsewhere (viz. USA). It’s just unfortunate that certain cottages in London seem presently to be the nightly haunt of those fuzz who delight in ‘nicking’ gays.

THE EDITOR of a “gay” magazine sends me a copy. He says rather pathetically “I don’t expect you will approve.” I don’t. But you could say it was all my fault.

One nostalgic piece from an elderly gentleman is revealing. He writes “We ... looked forward to the day we would be legal just like the Jews await the Messiah”

“Now it is all legal, gay plays, gay films, gay Lib. I sometimes wonder are we really any better off? Perhaps it is just distance lending enchantment, but those were the days my friends ...” 

This bears out what people have told me that some of the homosexuals used positively to enjoy the risks. Some perhaps, certainly not all.

However, to return to my original theme, the noble Lord seeks to condemn – in just a few scanty paragraphs – the fact that gays are coming out, and not skulking furtively in the shadows of a limited number of “gay bars” He wonders if we are really better off in these times of gay plays, films, etc. Well, why should an individual not be liberated? Just because I prefer to go to bed with a boy rather than a girl, why should that make me — or any of us – unacceptable to society at large?

Arran quotes the reaction of an “elderly gentleman”; is this really valid in regard to the gay scene as a whole today? There always have been, and will be, closet queens: if they choose to be so that is up to them.

The article concludes by stating yet again that old, old (oh, so very old) chestnut about some gays “used positively to enjoy the risks” (ie prior to the 1967 Act).

Apart from a very minor few masochistic types who thrive vicariously on possible danger, such a statement is lamentable only by its crass stupidity. Not only that, it also displays a fundamental lack of knowledge of how most gays think, of how they wish to be integrated into society and not treated as outcasts or different.

Take two boys walking down the street holding hands. OK, I know not everyone wants to do this. But even so, one has always at the back of one’s mind the thought of reactions.

I am in the process of producing a detailed study on the “International Times” case, which I hope to present to “Gay News” when it has been completed and considered by a barrister.

Just one little quote relating to my comments re holding hands (which apply equally to kissing or any displays of affection) arising out of my researches into the I.T. case. In a House of Commons debate on 2nd August, 1972, on the subject of the I.T. prosecution, Mr William Hamling who had raised the matter, quoted (*) from the book by Lord Devlin ‘The Enforcement of Morals’ as follows:-

“If. . . two men were to be similarly charged with flaunting their relationship in public, a jury might be expected … to convict.”

I can only conclude by saying that, according to legal advice which I have very recently received, the above quotation still applies today, here and now, 1967 Act notwithstanding.

Let us try to do something to alter this unhealthy state of affairs.

Love to all – gay IS good,

Stevie Williams

(*) Hansard (Commons) Vol. 842: No 170, at c. 922