truth detector – Sion Jenkins on the ropes

Sionjenkins1 Today I listened to On the ropes on Radio 4and John Humphreys interview Sion Jenkins who has been tried 3 times and finally acquitted of murdering his step daughter with a hammer. Fascinating because his conviction wasn’t quashed – but that 2 juries failed to come to a verdict. So its not at all clear whether he did it or he didn’t. Great opportunity for some amateur sleuthing. How can you tell if someone is lying telling the truth?  Bear in mind that he has been through thousands of hours of cross examination and testimony so his version of events must be pretty fixed now. Discourse and conversation analysis is a way of looking at how people speak – what they say and what they don’t say. The words and metaphors chosen. And I’d be the first to say I’m bit trained in discourse analysis. When I use it in research I bring in an expert like Gill Ereaut to work alongside me. Jenkins’ delivery was hesitant (giving time for thought) and dispassionate. But I did notice this: that he tended to choose statements which were matters of fact where his listeners (those who thought him a murderer and those who thought him innocent) would agree with him.  He avoided statements expressing feelings which would be controversial to his listeners. Which might just make him overrehearsed as a witness. But made me wonder if this is how liars avoid getting caught.  Try it yourselves. The programme is in the Listen again section for a week or so.

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