Monsters and Dust

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Carroll’s parents were overwhelmed with poverty when he was born, and when he was eighteen months old his father was jailed for attempted murder after stabbing a coworker and his wife. His mother, a teenaged factory employee, married a series of men who abused Michael. He was out of control as a child, unable to learn because of his untreated ADD and dyslexia, and he assaulted his schoolteachers, recalling one particularly helpful one whom he hit with a chair. He was considered a nuisance and a public threat throughout his life, and that didn’t change when his status as nouveau riche did. Michael Carroll, for all his unpredictability, was consistent in two fundamental ways: his self-image and pathological criminality.

When he suddenly acquired the means to go anywhere, he immediately expressed his loyalty to the family and community that had offered him so little. He gave his aunt, mother, and sister about a million pounds each, and bought a mansion and some land in Suffolk. He began his frenzied spending fueled by the cocaine, crack, mushrooms and ecstasy he admits having prolifically used, and he destroyed nearly everything in his path, in many cases literally. He indulged his freeloading friends with perpetual house parties catered with troves of drugs and enough tall boys to reach the moon and back if you stacked them end-to-end, and he wasn’t uptight about his new place, evidenced in by the complaints filed with local police about the trash strewn across his rolling front lawn.

His spending spree, apart from the hundreds of thousands of dollars his friends say he spent on drugs, showed little variation on typical chav regalia: gold chains, gaudy diamond jewelry, Burberry scarves, obvious designer logos, tattoos, leather jackets and sports gear, flashy drug paraphernalia, all accoutrements that imply a lack of taste and an insecure desire to wear one’s wealth.