National holiday hysteria: What is it about celebratory days that make law students commit crimes?

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By Katie King on

Christmas time seems to be the worst

Last year, I noticed something pretty strange: there are a hell of a lot of law student beauty queens.

I wrote a feature about five of them and thought that would be the end of it, but come 2017 there are now law students competing in both Miss England and Miss Wales. The list keeps growing, yet when I’ve spoken to these law student beauty queens no one can quite put their finger on why the pageant world appeals so much to them and their aspiring lawyer peers. The trend is so far unexplainable.

And here’s another, one that’s more sinister.

Aspiring lawyers are generally a very well behaved bunch who rarely commit crimes, hence why we’re so fascinated by the law students who break the mould and, well, fuck up. We dedicated a whole Facebook livestream (embedded below) to the topic, though the show was almost entirely stolen by the funny T-shirt Tom was wearing that day.

Weirdly, however, there seems to be a common theme emerging among these law student criminals. Bad grades? Troubled childhoods? Unstable finances? No: of the law-breaking law student stories that we have covered, a disproportionate number seem to take place on national holidays.

Bizarre I know, but read these examples to see what I mean:

Valentine’s Day

This spring, a Russell Group university student was sentenced to six years in prison for the manslaughter of a 49-year-old father-of-ten. Ryan Cooper, 21, was in the second year of his University of Southampton law degree when he punched Gary Stacey in the face in the early hours of Valentine’s Day. Stacey fell backwards, slammed his head on the side of the road and later died in hospital from severe head injuries.


A time for chocolate eggs and roast lamb for many, aspiring barrister Mulazim Khan chose to spend his 2016 Easter Sunday stabbing someone on a Megabus. Aged 20 at the time of the offence, the University of Gloucestershire LLB-er knifed his victim at the back of the budget bus, causing a collapsed lung and wounds to the face. He was sentenced to five years and four months in prison.


Recently, Legal Cheek reported that a 20-year-old University of Bradford student had been convicted of burgling a family home on Boxing Day 2016. Approximately £1,600 worth of goods was nicked during the heist, which saw Usmaan Rashid landed with a suspended sentence.

Further 2016 Christmas madness came from Peter Gillanders, a 29-year-old Open University law student who stole a church’s Christmas charity collection, totalling £1,750. Given a suspended sentence at Blackfriars Crown Court, the judge told him stealing charitable donations was particularly “mean-minded”.

It is also probably worth mentioning Carl Langdell here. He was last year sentenced to 26 years in prison for the 2015 Christmas Eve murder of a young teacher. The killer met his victim on a dating website, and ended up strangling her and dumping her in a bush. Langdell purported himself to be a Graduate Diploma in law (GDL) student at BPP University both on his LinkedIn profile and to his victim. However, when Legal Cheek contacted BPP for comment, the law school categorically denied that Langdell was, or ever had been, a student there.

Any insight into why national holidays seem to be the time for law student-led crimes? Let us know, please.

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