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CategoryInfamous/When Life Means Life

“The Beast of Jersey”

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One of the masks worn by the “Beast of Jersey”

When one tends to picture the Channel island of Jersey, the first things off the top of the head used to be that it was the setting for the 1980’s TV series “Bergerac”; of Jersey cows, or how the island was German occupied during the Second World War. More recently, however, it may be the horrific allegations of physical and sexual child abuse that stretch back for many years, and that concern a former children’s home on the island, Haut de la Garenne. These allegations have led to Jersey police recording claims of abuse from more than 100 people who have recounted tales of physical and sexual assaults they had suffered both at the home, and at the hands of people connected with the home. Even famous names, such as notorious paedophile Jimmy Saville and the late actor Wilfred Brambell have been posthumously accused of attacks on people there in decades gone by. The allegations in this ongoing enquiry are horrific enough, but are not the first such evil to have blighted the island of Jersey.

The reign of terror began for islanders in 1957. In November, a 29 year old nurse waiting for a bus in the Monte a L’abbe area was attacked by a man wearing some kind of covering over his face and affecting an “Irish” accent, and was dragged into a field and sexually assaulted. She was quite severely injured and left with wounds that needed many stitches. The following year, in March, a 20 year old woman walking home from a bus stop was attacked in the parish of Trinity and had a rope put around her neck. She too – in what was to become a signature of the attacker – was dragged into a field and raped. Then in July that year, a 31 year old woman, again walking home from a bus stop, was attacked in what was by now the signature fashion of the offender. Rope around the neck, dragged into a field, raped or indecently assaulted. The same happened to a young girl walking home in the parish of Grouville in August 1959, and to a 28 year old woman attacked in the parish of St Martin’s in October 1959. The latter, although indecently assaulted by the man, was able to fight him off quickly enough for him to flee startled. The former was not so lucky.

Detectives noticed several recurring themes throughout each description of the attacker given by each victim, and when pooled this led them to believe that they were all committed by the same man. Each victim agreed that the man was aged about early to mid 40’s; was about 5″6 tall, and affected an “Irish” accent. Some of the victims described the attacker as wearing a rope or a cord around his waist, and he often restrained the victim by tying their hands together. All of them described the attacker as smelling “musty”. Coupled together with the pattern of placing a rope around the victim’s neck and using the location of a field for the assault, detectives suspected a serial attacker, who became known as the “Beast of Jersey”.

In 1960, the attacker added  sinister twists to his modus operandi; he attacked indoors, he also changed his preference of victim – and the attacks increased in both frequency and ferocity. In the early hours of Valentine’s day 1960, a 12 year old boy asleep at home in the region of Grands Vaux was awoken by a man who had climbed through his bedroom window. The boy had a rope placed around his neck, and was then led outside and indecently assaulted. Then the following month, a 25 year old woman walking to a bus stop in St Brelade was offered a lift in a Rover car by a man claiming to be a doctor on his way “to pick up his wife”. She accepted, and during the journey noticed him wearing a cap and duffle coat and gloves, but could not make out his features due to the darkness. He drove the car into a field and overpowered the woman, punching her, threatening to kill her and tying her hands behind her head. She was then dragged out into the field and raped, then placed back into the car and driven away. However, she managed to escape from the vehicle and scream for help, but the attacker managed to get away.

In March 1960, a 43 year old mother and 14 year old daughter in a fairly isolated cottage in the St Martin parish underwent a horrific experience. The mother was awoken at about 12:30am by the telephone ringing downstairs. She went down to answer it, but when she lifted the receiver heard nothing but a click and then the dialling tone. She went back to bed but was awakened about an hour later by a sound downstairs. She started downstairs to investigate, but as she reached the bottom of the staircase the lights abruptly went out and she heard someone in the living room moving about. In the dark, she made for the telephone to call for the police – but the phone lines had been wrenched out. Then, she was confronted by the figure of a man who grabbed her and demanded money. He was very rough with her and threatened to kill her, but left the woman immediately when he heard the daughter coming down to investigate the commotion. The woman took the chance to flee and raise the alarm at a nearby farmhouse, and upon returning to the cottage found her daughter – she was still alive but had been horrifically raped in the now familiar signature. In April, a 14 year old girl in La Roque awoke in her bedroom to find a man wearing a strange looking mask, though he took off when the child screamed. And in July of that year, an 8 year old boy was abducted from his home by a man wearing a raincoat who indecently assaulted him, then led him home and left him on the doorstep. The attacks stopped for the rest of the year, but began again in February 1961. There was an attack on a 12 year old boy in the Mont Cochon area in the now familiar fashion; an attack on an 11 year old boy in the parish of St Saviour in March of the same year, and a brutal rape of an 11 year old girl in St Martin’s in April.

By now the “Beast of Jersey” had been at large for over three years, and the Jersey police investigations had got no nearer to catching him. Feeling pressure from the press and the scared public, Jersey police had summoned help from Scotland Yard. It came in the form of a celebrated member of Scotland Yard’s murder squad, Detective Superintendent Jack Mannings. One of his first actions was to appeal to all islanders to “turn detective”, and the press were issued with a verbal identikit of the “Beast”.

This went as follows: “The Beast” always struck at night, and up to that point had only struck on moonlit week-ends between the hours of 10pm to 3am. He appeared to have an intimate knowledge of the Island, particularly the eastern areas. He was described as being about 40 to 45 years old, about 5″6 tall, with a moustache and of medium build. He was usually described as wearing a low, thigh length jacket or raincoat which gave off a distinct “musty” smell, a peaked cap and gloves. His face was always covered, either with a facemask or a scarf covering the lower part of it. He carried a torch with him during the attacks, and his methods followed a distinct pattern: his victims were selected carefully, and the usual method of entry was a bedroom window. Once inside, the man  was fast and silent, and usually blindfolded and tied up the victim’s hands. In each case a rope was placed around the victims necks, and they were then taken to a nearby field and suffered a sexual assault, then returned home. The assailant spoke lots during the attacks, with a voice that was described as “soft”, in an “Irish” accent. He had mentioned at various times a wife, a dead mother who had died of drink, that he had killed before, and often made a point of saying that he had dropped either his cigarettes or his lighter. Jersey is not a large island, indeed is only less than 46 square miles in total, and it stands to reason that someone would have known or at least suspected someone who matched at least part this description. Every possible man was looked at, all men with a criminal record were questioned and interviewed. But “The Beast” was still not found.

The intervention of Scotland Yard was effective in that there were no more attacks for two years – “The Beast” had gone to ground. But in April 1963 he returned, attacking a 9 year old boy in St Saviour in his familiar MO. Another attack in St Saviour in November 1963 on an 11 year old boy followed, then he went to ground again. But he was back in 1964, attacking a 10 year old girl in Trinity parish in July. An attack on a 16 year old boy followed  in August 1964 in Grouville parish, and then “The Beast” again went to ground. There were no more attacks for two years, and the hunt died down.

In 1966, Jersey police received a strange letter from an author claiming to be the “Beast Of Jersey”. It is reproduced as follows (SIC)

My Dear Sir,

                I think that it is just the time to tell you that you are just wasting your time, as every time I have done wat I always intended to do and remember it will not stop at this, but I will be fair to you and give you a chance. I have never had much out of this life but I intend to get everything I can now…..I have always wanted to do the perfect crime. I have done this, but this time let the moon shine very britte in September because this time it must be perfect, not one but two. I am not a maniac by a long shot but I like to play with you people. You will hear from me before September and I will give you all the clues. Just to see if you can catch me.

                                                                                                Yours very sincerely

                                                                                                                Wait and See

Was the author The Beast? It seemed likely, because there was a savage rape on a 15 year old girl in Trinity parish in August 1966 – as the letter had promised. The attack mirrored the previous ones, the method and description was of signature of “The Beast” but this time there was a new detail to the attack. Strange long scratches, regularly spaced and always parallel, were found on the victim’s torso for the first time in the series. Following this attack, there then remained the longest lull in the series, for there were no more reported attacks for the remainder of the decade.

But he was back in August 1970, when a 13 year old boy was awakened at his home in Vallee Des Vaux by a torch shining in his face. The Beast  made the boy get out of bed and took him to a field at the rear of the house. He then placed his raincoat on the ground, made the boy remove his pyjamas, and then indecently assaulted him. The boy then was returned home and raised the alarm the following morning at 8am, having been threatened by the assailant to remain quiet “because if you don’t someone will harm your mother and father”. The boy was very distressed and dishevelled, and offered a description of what had happened that was now all too common. This time, the assailant had “black spiky hair” and a terrifying mask on. The boy also had the same scratches on his face and body as found on the victim in the 1966 attack. Again, the majority of the island was interviewed (nearly 30,000 people in all were spoken to in the hunt for the Beast) but he wasn’t caught.

Police didn’t know at the time, but the man who had terrorised Jersey for so long had less than a year of freedom left.

The night of 10th July 1971 had started as a routine nightshift for Jersey police officers John Riseborough and Tom Mcginn, out on mobile patrol duties focused around the St Helier area. At 11:45pm, they had pulled up at some traffic lights when a small Morris 1100 saloon car shot past them at high speed, jumping the lights and driving in a very erratic manner. The officers immediately gave pursuit in their car, and chased the Morris at high speeds for a number of miles. During the pursuit, the Morris car sideswiped several vehicles, drove on the wrong side of the road, and even drove down footpaths at high speed in an attempt to shake off the police. Finally, the Morris crashed through a hedge and came to rest in the middle of a tomato field. The two police officers, who wrote off their own patrol car as a result of the pursuit, gave chase to the fleeing driver of the Morris on foot and managed to catch him after one of the officers got him in a low rugby tackle. The driver struggled wildly, but was ultimately arrested and taken back to police headquarters.

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A mannequin depicts the attire worn by the “Beast of Jersey”

It was only when they got the suspect back to the police station did they fully appreciate just how much of a normal arrest that this hadn’t been, when in the light of the police station they saw clearly how the man looked and how he was dressed.  The man was wearing an old raincoat, one that smelled musty as struck both the officers. The raincoat had 1″ nails protruding from both shoulders and the lapels of the coat, and he was wearing cloth bands around each wrist that again had protruding 1″ nails. He was wearing old trousers tucked into socks, carpet slippers, and woollen gloves. A strange sight as you can imagine, but when the suspect emptied the pockets of the coat – it got even stranger. Removed from the raincoat was a torch with black tape covering the front to provide only a narrow shaft of light; two lengths of sash cord; a peaked woollen cap; several empty cigarette packets; rolls of adhesive tape, and a black wig with stiff spiky hair. With mounting suspicion that they had at last found the “Beast of Jersey”, the suspicion became overwhelming when they removed the final item from the raincoat. It was a homemade, horrific facemask.

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Edward John Louis Paisnel – the “Beast of Jersey” unmasked.

The man was Edward John Louis Paisnel, a native Jerseyman who came from an affluent family. He was 46 years old, and was a building contractor well known throughout the island, married with a daughter and two step-children. The only skirt with a criminal record he had was when he served a month’s imprisonment during the German occupation of the island in the Second World War for stealing food to distribute to starving families. His wife, Joan, had run a foster home for children called La Preference, and met Paisnel when he helped out as a handyman there. The children knew him as “Uncle Ted”, who always had sweets and gifts for them, played with them and dressed up as Santa Claus every year to distribute presents to the children at the home. Paisnel had married Joan in 1959, but the marriage was punctuated with frequent rows, until shortly after the birth of the couple’s daughter when they lived as man and wife in name alone. Following the separation, Paisnel built an annexe onto the house where the couple lived, consisting of an office and a large sitting room and took himself to live there. He was considered overall as a kind and considerate man who was good with children, but one who had never let go of the roaming spirit that he had had since childhood, keeping irregular hours and often going out fishing or for walks at night. Sexually, his wife considered him to be normal and if anything to have had a very low sex drive, although at the time of his arrest Paisnel had at least one mistress.

When questioned about his strange apparel and asked to explain his actions on the night he was arrested, Paisnel gave strange answers. He said he had been on his way to an orgy and had borrowed the car to get there to avoid anyone seeing him and identifying him on the way there. The nails in the clothing, he said, were as a defence against anyone using martial arts to attack him. He refused to say anything about the mask and wig, but it was noticed that he had adhesive tape marks on his face that matched tape inside the mask, meaning he had clearly worn it at some point that night. He was locked up for the night, and police set out to search his home, by now quietly convinced that they had the “Beast of Jersey” under arrest. What they found there astounded them . In Paisnel’s bedroom was found a locked “secret” room that he had built. Opening it, it immediately struck police that it smelt musty. Inside the room hung several items of old clothing including a blue tracksuit and an old fawn raincoat, home -made wigs and hats, and false eyebrows . There was a camera hanging on a hook and several photographs of various houses. There was also several items of black magic paraphernalia, a home -made altar, a sizeable library about the occult and black magic rituals, and a very large curved wooden sword hanging on the wall. There was no doubting in police minds now – the “Beast of Jersey” had been caught.

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A police officer demonstrates the horror of the facemask worn by Paisnel to inflict terror.

Paisnel was eventually charged on 13 counts including rape, indecent assault and sodomy against 6 victims, with all but one being a minor. His trial in November 1971 revealed an obsession with black magic and with one of the most evil men in history, Gilles de Rais, and how Paisnel had claimed himself to be a distant descendent of him. Perhaps the crimes of Paisnel were in some way an attempt to emulate the actions of Gilles de Rais himself, and only stopped short of murder. Paisnel had never explained what motivated him to go out and commit the terrifying and savage attacks that he did, indeed, when questioned about anything he gave evasive and babbling answers and descended into talk of curses, covens and hints at black magic involvement. Otherwise, he just point blank refused to answer any questions or told police to “prove it”.

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Press coverage of the trial – note the nails sticking up through the coat

There was no question of an insanity defence – it was revealed just how cunning Paisnel was and how pre planned his attacks were. He photographed houses that he had earmarked as targets to attack children – sometimes years in advance. This explained how he knew exactly which room to go to and how not to disturb the occupants, and also how to access and egress the property. Paisnel then kept these photographs as trophies of his crimes. He affected an Irish accent whilst committing attacks, dropped cigarette packets and gave random misleading details about himself to his victims. In reality, these were all red herrings to lead police away from his trail – he was a native of Jersey, and was a non smoker. He was proud of his crimes and boastful, having wrote the letter to police (which was confirmed as being in his handwriting by Paisnel’s wife). The mask was designed not only to disguise him, but to inflict terror on his victims also. The nails in the raincoat were placed in such positions as to injure someone grabbing him – they were designed to help him get away if possibly interrupted. Definitely bad, but in no way mad. It also emerged that Paisnel had been one of just thirteen men on the island who had refused to give any fingerprints during the search for the Beast, as was the right of a Jersey resident at that time.

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Paisnel arrives at court during his trial.

On 29th November 1971, it took just 38 minutes for a guilty verdict to be reached against Paisnel on all charges, and he was taken away to await sentencing. He stood in the same court two weeks later, and stood impassive as he was sentenced to thirty years imprisonment for his monstrous crimes. He was then taken away to Winchester prison to begin his sentence. Paisnel appealed his conviction and sentence in September 1972, but his appeal was unsuccessful and he was returned to prison to serve out his sentence. He was released in 1991 after being a model prisoner and returned to Jersey, albeit briefly. However, local feeling was still so strong by islanders who remembered Paisnel’s reign of terror, and he eventually was hounded out and moved to the Isle of Wight, where he died of a heart attack in 1994.

Since his death, there have been unsubstantiated reports that Paisnel was involved in child abuse concerned with the notorious Haut de la Garenne children’s home. Papers that were released during the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry revealed him to be a regular visitor there, and had previously heard evidence that he prowled the halls and rooms of The La Preference home, which was run by his mother in law and Joan, during the 1960’s in his terrifying mask. A former resident of the home in the 1960’s, known only as “Mr D” gave evidence saying that Paisnel had on numerous occasions crept into the home at night through the windows dressed in a raincoat and gloves, and that he had used chloroform to drug children and remove them from beds to abuse in his signature fashion.

“One night I was asleep and I felt a presence in there and it was Paisnel stood staring at me. He had some kind of mask on him. The Paisnel’s house was so eerie. When we were doing the outer building you would see cats strung up and you would actually see him strangling cats. I just couldn’t stay there any longer. I always sensed that Paisnel was evil – you just sensed that something pure evil was going on in that place” – “Mr D”

However, despite any allegations made against Paisnel in relation to abuse at Haut de la Garenne, he was not included in the initial enquiry looking at historic sexual abuse at the home, Operation Rectangle.
The police file stated that was “no firm evidence to hand in the investigation that Paisnel was responsible for any abuse that falls within the parameters of the investigation”.

Yet it would appear likely that Paisnel had committed many more crimes than he was charged with and tried for. The attacks that led to the charges Paisnel was tried and imprisoned for are the ones that have been detailed here, and who knows just how many more unrecognised victims of this monster are out there. Yes, Paisnel is long dead now, but the memory of the terror of the “Beast of Jersey” will never be forgotten. Not by police who searched for him for more than a decade, not by long-time residents of Jersey, and certainly not by his victims.

 

The True Crime Enthusiast

When Life Means Life – The “Four Of Hearts”Murders

“It was the most brutal act of slaughter I have ever seen. It is all the more chilling when you realise that he must have spent at least half an hour inflicting those terrible wounds” – (Ret’d) Det Insp Bob Meek – South Yorkshire Police describing the scene of the Raymond Ford murder

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Anthony Paul Arkwright

Anthony Paul Arkwright wanted nothing more than to become infamous. In the belief that he had found the most successful way to do this, over the space of 56 hours in the summer of 1988, Arkwright killed four people in what are some of the most horrific and bloodthirsty crimes in British criminal history. He has spent nearly 30 years behind bars for these crimes, and has been told that he will die in prison. Yet the name Anthony Arkwright is not largely known, and he has never gained the notoriety that he so craved and that cost four people their lives. He does remain a monstrously evil killer, and his story is worth telling.

An extremely disturbed young man, Arkwright was the product of a broken home, and had had several spells in children’s homes and care from a very early age. This dysfunctional childhood led to his eventual expulsion from school, and after drifting into criminality, by the age of 21 Arkwright was well known to police as a prolific petty criminal. He was a violent bully and a habitual burglar who had spent several spells in Borstal, young offenders institutions, and ultimately prison. Throughout his many spells in custody, he used to while away time in the various prison libraries reading as much as he could about serial killers. Arkwright idolised Peter Sutcliffe and Jack The Ripper, and used to boast to whoever would listen that one day he would emulate their crimes, and one day become as infamous as them.

When he was released from his latest incarceration, Arkwright lived in a council flat on Denman Road in the town of Wath, South Yorkshire, where he had been born and raised. Arkwright fancied himself as a bit of a survival fanatic, but this didn’t extend any further than building a series of dens around the area. Arming himself with a hunting knife, Arkwright would then spend hours sat in these hideouts fantasising about people who he wanted to hurt or kill. Arkwright did work- albeit  periodically, and 1988 found him doing menial labour at a scrapyard in nearby Mexborough. But on the 26th August 1988 he was sacked from his job for appalling attendance and bad attitude.

It was the trigger for one of the most horrific killing sprees in British criminal history, one that eventually earned Arkwright a whole life tariff.

After being sacked from his job, Arkwright took his severance pay and went on a drinking spree that afternoon in a nearby pub. By 4:15pm, he was very drunk, and his fantasies of killing were about to make the leap from fantasy to reality. One of the people Arkwright had most fantasised about killing was his maternal grandfather, 68 year old Lithuanian born Stasys Puidokis, whom Arkwright (incorrectly) believed was actually his father and that he (Arkwright)was the product of an incestuous relationship between Mr Puidokis and Arkwright’s own mother. That afternoon, Arkwright headed to his grandfather’s home in Ruskin Drive, Mexborough, but found no-one home. He then headed to his grandfathers allotment a mile away, and found the old man there tending his vegetable patch. Turning to greet his grandson, Stasys was stabbed with such ferocity in the neck that his spinal cord was severed, and was instantly paralysed. Arkwright then dragged his grandfather inside his small shed, and proceeded to embed a large axe into the old man’s chest. He then smashed his skull to pieces with repeated blows from a 14lb lump hammer. He then locked the body inside the shed and went back to his grandfather’s house to steal his life savings of £3000.

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The body of Stasys Puidokis
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Elsa Konradite

Finding his grandfather’s housekeeper at the house, 72 year old Elsa Konradite, Arkwright smashed her skull in with an axe and left her dead in the kitchen.

Arkwright spent the evening drinking in several pubs in the area, deliberately drawing attention to himself by dropping hints about his crime, and attempting to pick fights with several people. People remarked later that they remembered the “wild eyed weirdo”, demonstrating this craving for recognition and attention.

“It’s been murder on the allotment today” – Anthony Arkwright (to a barman that evening)

By 3am on the morning of Saturday 27th August, Arkwright was back at his home in Wath – and was ready to kill again.

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Raymond Ford

A favourite target of Arkwright’s to terrorise was his neighbour, 45 year old ex-teacher Raymond Ford. Ford was a severely depressed and ill heavy drinker who lived in near squalor, rarely venturing out except to buy more cheap cider and The Guardian. Often, Arkwright would smash his windows for fun and force dog faeces through his letterbox, and just a few days previously had broken into his home and stolen a valuable antique clock and a microwave oven. Mr Ford had reported this to the police, and had named Arkwright as the likely perpetrator. In Arkwright’s eyes, this signed Mr Ford’s death warrant.

When Arkwright returned home at 3am, he stripped naked and put on a “Prince Of Darkness” devil mask. He then entered Mr Ford’s home through a broken window, which Arkwright himself had broken a few days previously when he had thrown a dustbin through it. Finding Mr Ford slumped in an armchair, heavily drunk, Arkwright then unleashed his full sadistic nature on the defenceless man. In scenes that sickened hardened detectives who later saw the scene, Arkwright stabbed Mr Ford more than 250 times in every part of his body. Some accounts put the figure as nearer to 500 times. Such was the ferocity of the attack, and the extent of Arkwright’s bloodlust, that one of the knives broke off and was left in the wound. Arkwright then fetched another knife and continued stabbing him. Finally, Ford was then gutted and disembowelled, and his entrails and organs were draped and scattered around his bungalow. Police officers at the scene described it as the most horrific crime scene they had ever encountered.

After spending about an hour mutilating Ford, Arkwright went home and showered the blood off himself, then went to bed. At 8:00am that Saturday morning, police knocked on his door and arrested him on suspicion of the burglary earlier in the week at Mr Ford’s house. He was detained for a few hours before being released on bail to attend court the next week. Arkwright would make it to court, but on a much more serious and horrific charge.

When he was released, Arkwright spent the Saturday evening drinking around several pubs, again in Mexborough. In the early hours of Sunday 28th August 1988, he found himself back at home and in an almost carbon copy of what had transpired just 24 hours before, Arkwright again targeted another of his neighbours to kill.

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Marcus Law

25 year old Marcus Law lived across from Arkwright in a specially adapted bungalow that catered for his wheelchair, having become paralysed in a motorcycle accident some years previously. Arkwright broke into Marcus’ home and slaughtered and mutilated him, beginning with stabbing him over 70 times. When an attempt to disembowel Marcus failed, one of his own crutches was rammed into a large wound in his stomach. What sickened police called to the scene more than anything was that Arkwright had gouged out Marcus’ eyes, and had placed unlit cigarettes in the empty sockets, into the victim’s ears and nostrils, and into his mouth.

Obscenely, the following morning Arkwright had a chance meeting with the mother of Marcus Law, and smirked as he told her:

“Sorry about poor old Marcus – he’s killed himself” – Anthony Arkwright to Mrs Law

Mrs Law hurried around to her son’s bungalow, and made the horrific discovery.

Arkwright was arrested a few hours later on suspicion of the murder of Marcus Law, and the interview that followed is as bizarre as it is macabre. Arkwright had a pack of playing cards with him, and shuffled through them as detectives attempted to question him about Marcus’ killing. Stopping when he got to the four of hearts card, Arkwright said:

“I can read the future from these cards. This is the master card – it means you have four bodies and a madman on the loose. I can see Marcus Law, but the others are indescribable. They are just too horrible to describe” – Anthony Arkwright to detectives.

Were there four murders? Police didn’t know, because he wouldn’t say any more than give cryptic ramblings. He revelled in being the centre of attention, but wouldn’t expand on anything more, just that he denied killing Marcus. Police had little evidence against Arkwright, but with him as their prime suspect in mind, they held him in custody whilst they set about making enquiries in the Denham Road area. Upon learning that Arkwright was due to appear in court on the burglary charge, they went to speak to Raymond Ford, and PC David Winter discovered a sight that he would never forget. Seeing the broken window, PC Winter made his way into Ford’s flat. On the floor in the corridor were several items, bits and pieces – including a Prince of Darkness Devil mask. The television was on, and the central heating, and it was then that PC Winter noticed deep bloodstaining to the entirety of the flat. When the unmistakeable stench of decomposition led PC Winter to the bedroom, he discovered the remains of Raymond Ford.

“All the bits and pieces in the hallway, that were his internal organs. He’d removed practically every internal organ in his body” – PC David Winter(upon discovering the body of Raymond Ford)

Police had found the second body – and knew that Arkwright was telling the truth.

Attempts were then made to trace friends and acquaintances of Arkwright, in an attempt to try to identify anybody missing. Six days after they had both been murdered, the bodies of Stasys and Elsa were discovered. Arkwright soon confessed to the murders of his grandfather, Raymond Ford, and Marcus Law. He stopped short of actually confessing to the murder of Elsa, but went as far to say that he had stood over her body with the axe in his hand. He was charged, and was incarcerated at Hull prison whilst awaiting trial. Not being content with being out of the limelight, Arkwright “invented” a fifth victim, which led police on a wild goose chase searching a nearby lake and drainage ditch. It was simply to gain attention, and this continued whilst he was awaiting trial. Arkwright was angered at what he deemed was a lack of respect and recognition, and regularly staged “dirty protests”, smearing his cell walls with excrement. When this failed to gain him the notoriety he craved, Arkwright then changed tack and managed to convince prison doctors that he was insane. Transferred to Rampton Secure Hospital in Merseyside, detailed examinations found this to be a ruse, and that he was fit to plead.

“He is the sanest man in the building” – Psychiatrist at Rampton Secure Hospital

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A smirking Arkwright at his trial in 1989

In July 1989, Anthony Arkwright came to trial for the murders he had committed. After an adjournment requested by his legal representation, Arkwright changed his not guilty plea to that of guilty of the murders of his grandfather, Raymond Ford, and Marcus Law. He maintained a plea of not guilty to the murder of Elsa Konradite, and that charge was ordered by Mr Justice Boreham, the presiding judge, to be left on file. Anthony Arkwright was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a recommendation that he serve at least 25 years. In 1990, the then Home Secretary Jack Straw declared this term as too lenient and increased the term to that of a whole life tariff.

Why then, did Arkwright kill? It was established that he had a deprived upbringing, and at his trial his defence portrayed a picture of a young man suffering from severe personality damage and disorder. Did he brood and brood until one day, the trigger for his killing spree was being fired from his job? More likely is that Arkwright craved infamy, so many of his actions show this. The choice of victims – all that could be easily traced back to him. The bragging and making jokes and quips about his having committed murder. The macabre act with the playing cards, the dirty protests in prison, the creation of a fifth victim and the ruse to convince doctors that he was insane. All the evidence points to a deeply disturbed individual that craved attention and would have loved nothing more than to have been one of Britain’s best known and most reviled killers.

But for all his horrific crimes, the name of Anthony Arkwright has never made it into the public consciousness like either of the Ripper’s that he so desperately wanted to emulate. Instead, he serves his time in prison with no possible chance of release. He has never expressed any emotion, or remorse, or explanations for his actions. The closest he has ever come to doing so is to claim that he killed Marcus Law because he was fed up of him asking Arkwright for cigarettes! The name of Anthony Arkwright is hardly remembered, indeed, even largely unknown. But the families of Arkwright’s victims will never forget what he has done, and even years later his horrific actions still caused tragic ripples. 14 years after his son’s horrific murder, Marcus Law’s father Tony committed suicide by gassing himself in his car. He had never got over his son’s horrific death.

A retired police officer who worked on the inquiry into Arkwright’s crimes was supportive of the sentence that Arkwright received.

“From the day we brought him in for the Marcus Law murder to the day he was jailed, Arkwright seemed genuinely proud of what he had done. He expected everyone to revere him, to be fascinated by him. He was a messed up kid, desperate for attention. In his defected mind he chose murder to get the attention he craved. He’s the most dangerous person I ever met in 25 years on the job – he should never get out”. – (Ret’d) Det Insp Bob Meek – South Yorkshire Police

 

 

The True Crime Enthusiast

When Life Means Life – The Cambridge Rapist

From mid October 1974, the university city of Cambridge was held in the grip of fear. A vicious sex attacker was at large, attacking the female students of the city. For eight months, a man dubbed “The Cambridge Rapist” avoided capture, and was finally caught not by detective work, but by chance.

The rapists reign of terror began on 18th October 1974. A young student was alone in the house that she shared on Springfield Road with four other students, and had just got out of the bath. She put on some music and began to get dried, but just as she began to do so the lights went out and the music stopped. The terrified young woman then heard the sound of footsteps on the floorboards outside her room, and the sound of a key being inserted into the lock. Suddenly, a stocky man burst through the door and roughly pushed her to the floor. He tied her wrists together with a blouse from the young woman’s wardrobe and then said to her chillingly:

“I came to rob you, but I think I’ll rape you instead”

The young woman was then savagely raped. After robbing her of £12 from her purse, the rapist fled.

Less than two weeks later, in nearby Abbey Road, the rapist struck again in an almost carbon copy attack. Another young woman was laying in the bath, alone at home, when the lights suddenly went out. As she got out of the bath and went to the top of the stairs to call out, she heard someone running up the stairs and was overpowered by a short, stocky man. He forced an ether soaked pad over her face, and pushed her into the bedroom. Tying her hands behind her back with a pair of tights, she was then brutally raped. When she cried out that the man was hurting her, the rapist replied “That’s good, that’s good”. He then fled, leaving the weeping woman bruised and shaken.

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Students pass by a poster of the wanted man in Cambridge in 1974

Police investigating the first attack now realised they were looking for a serial rapist.

A bizarre incident then occurred on the 11th November 1974, in a house on Huntingdon Road. Another young woman was alone ironing in her shared house when she heard what sounded like somebody climbing over the back garden fence. There was nobody there when she looked out, so she thought nothing of it. About 30 minutes later, the front doorbell rang, and when she went to answer it, she was confronted with a strange sight. A man was stood at the door, with a scarf around the lower part of his face and wearing a long blonde wig. He was wearing a black leather jacket, but was otherwise naked. He lunged at her through the door, but this time he was fought off. After being kicked and hit with the iron the woman had been using, the man fled in pain. It was clear that the woman was the intended third victim.

Just two days later, the rapist struck again, more viciously and terrifying than before.

A young music student was in one of the soundproofed music rooms of Homerton Ladies College in Cambridge, when the now familiar signature of the power being cut occurred. In the frightening silent blackness, the young woman was grabbed and a pad soaked in ether was placed across her nose and mouth. The frightened girl struggled and screamed, and was told that she was going to be murdered. Placing a sack over her head, she was dragged out of the block of music rooms and across a field to a shed, where she was repeatedly raped. During her ordeal, she heard the following:

“I am not a murderer. I am the Cambridge Rapist”

Three and a half weeks later, the rapist struck again. On the 8th December 1974, a 21 year old student was asleep in bed in her house on Owlstone Road, when she was woken by a bright light being shined in her eyes. She was dragged roughly from her bed and taken down stairs and outside, where she was pushed onto the lawn and tied up with a pair of tights taken from the washing line. But this attack yielded two important bits of information that would prove to be ultimately accurate about the rapist. As she was being raped, the rapist used the victim’s boyfriends name. Was he researching his victims? The student also said that when the rapist had fled, there was no sound of a car being driven away, but she had heard what sounded like a bicycle being ridden away.

One week later, the rapist committed rape for the fifth time, and returned to the scene of his third attack, the house in Huntingdon Road. A 21 year old woman in an upstairs flat was awoken in the now signature method; an ether soaked pad was placed over her nose and mouth and a torch shone in her eyes. More savagely this time, after being tied up and raped, the woman had her body slashed by the attacker. The wound required twenty stitches.

By this time, the hunt for the rapist had become one of the biggest in British criminal history. Hundreds of officers were involved in looking for a man that they knew very little about, and only had a vague description of. About five feet tall, young, stocky, possibly bearded. They knew that the rapist talked to his victims during the assaults, and that his voice sounded local. They knew that they were probably looking for a local man, possibly an experienced burglar. At nights, more than a hundred plainclothes detectives roamed Cambridge streets, looking for anyone acting furtively. And the scope of potential victims was massive.  Cambridge is a massively populated university town, with thousands of female students living in halls of residence, bedsits and shared houses. Any of them could be the rapists next victim. The police had forensic evidence from the rapist – semen swabbed from his victims that revealed his blood group as an O secretor. It also revealed that the man they were looking for was sterile. Police invited all men over five feet in height from Cambridge and nearby Newmarket to come and give saliva samples to eliminate themselves, and 1,644 did – but the rapist was not found. Perhaps the hunt had gotten too close, because suddenly, the attacks stopped.

During the next couple of months graffiti began to appear on walls near to the scene of the attacks. Chillingly, it said “The rapist is back”. And there were a few reports from women who had discovered frightening messages written on their windows in pink lipstick, saying “Sleep tight – The Rapist”. But there were no more reports of attacks.

But on the 13th April 1975, the Cambridge Rapist returned with a vengeance.

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The terrifying leather hood worn by the Cambridge Rapist

That night, a young woman alone in a house in a street close to the scene of the previous attacks heard a key being tried in her door lock. Because of the attacks the previous year, the woman had had a security chain fitted to the door – and this held. But the power to her house had been cut – and there was no telephone to call for help. The petrified woman got into bed and about twenty minutes later noticed a torch beam appear at her bedroom window. Suddenly, she heard the terrifying sound of the front door crashing open as the attacker threw himself at it, breaking the chain. She heard the sound of someone running upstairs, and in the dark she was restrained as per what was now the chilling signature. But this time, there was added terror.

When the woman’s eyes adjusted to the eerie half light, she saw a terrifying sight. Before her stood a man dressed completely in black leather. He wore a hideous, terrifying leather mask a zip across the mouth and two eye slits. Across the forehead was painted the word “RAPIST”. From underneath the mask the woman could make out a straggly beard. Before she was horrifically attacked, the attacker pulled back the mouth zip and said to the woman:

“Do you know who I am? I am the Cambridge Rapist”.

The police now obviously feared that the rapist would go on to kill someone. He had changed tactics and become bolder and more violent. All the police could do was intensify the hunt – more patrols, more enquiries, more investigations. But the rapist remained at large.

The 6th of May 1975 brought another attack – this time in broad daylight. A young female student on her lunch break had returned home to collect some notes when she was attacked in her own home by the masked rapist. He threatened her with a knife and actually stabbed her in the stomach, then forced himself upon her and raped her. As he had done in previous attacks, the rapist displayed some knowledge of his victim, using her boyfriend’s name during the assault. He then left the traumatised woman bleeding on her living room floor and fled.

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The scene of the final attack

The rapist’s reign of terror came to an end in the early hours of Sunday 8th June 1975. A 28 year old Canadian exchange student asleep in bed in Owlstone Croft Hostel was awakened by footsteps in the corridor outside her room. When she opened the door to see who was there, the rapist lunged at her but her screams disturbed him and he fled. Two anglers night fishing on the nearby River Cam heard the woman’s screams and ran towards the hostel, one of them contacting the police. An urgent radio message contacted every undercover unit who were still patrolling the streets searching for the rapist, telling them to stop everything or anything that moved. This was their best chance of catching the man who had brought fear to Cambridge.

In nearby Selwyn Road, Detective Constable Terry Edwards had just received the radio message at 2:35 am when he heard the sound of a bicycle coming towards him. He looked up and saw a woman with long brown hair pedalling swiftly towards him. The bike was an ancient ladies model with a front basket, and was being ridden in an erratic manner. It had several shopping bags slung from the handlebars, and was being ridden with no lights even though it was pitch black. DC Edwards challenged the cyclist to stop, but she swerved around him and carried on pedalling. As DC Edwards made a grab for the woman’s hair, it came off in his hand. The cyclist crashed to the ground, unbalanced by the lunge. Accompanied by local residents who had come out to see what all the fuss was about, DC Edwards ran over to where the figure lay, and restrained her. The prone figure wore a red coat and a pleated skirt, and underneath these revealed a short, stocky man with close cropped hair. He was arrested, and along with the items in the carrier bags and the wig, was taken to the nearest police station and locked in a cell. It was only when police searched the carrier bags that they realised that they had just caught the Cambridge Rapist. His reign of terror was over.

In one of the bags, police found a jemmy, a torch, a knife, a home-made device for fusing lights, assorted housebreaking equipment, a bottle of Ether and a cloth pad. The other revealed a black leather jacket and trousers, women’s lipstick, and the hideous “RAPIST” mask.

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Peter Samuel Cook – The Cambridge Rapist

The rapist was revealed to be 47 year old delivery driver and part time handyman Peter Samuel Cook. Cook had a long history of being in trouble with the police, and had a large number of convictions, usually for theft or burglary. In the 1960’s, he had spent much time in prison as well as serving time in Broadmoor Secure Hospital. He was known as a serial absconder and had escaped from many approved schools, borstals and prisons. However, he had married in 1968 and since then had seemingly kept his nose clean. He and his wife lived in a caravan in the village of Hardwick, about five miles from the heart of the rapist’s hunting ground of Cambridge. Cook had actually been questioned early on in the hunt for the rapist, as he had a criminal record and was of similar height to the rapist’s description. He managed to provide convincing alibis for the times of the attacks, and although he had no history of any sexual offences, police did notice that Cook had a large quantity of hardcore pornography in his home. When he had been questioned early on in the manhunt, Cook had refused to give a saliva sample, claiming an infringement of his civil liberties. He also claimed to not match the description given by victims, and the police had no evidence to pursue him as a suspect any further.

After his arrest, Cook quickly admitted being the Cambridge Rapist in light of the wealth of evidence against him. He gave no explanation to detectives as to why he had gravitated to being a sex attacker, saying only:

“I came to rob, but decided to rape instead” – Peter Cook

Detectives learned just how cunning the Cook was, and why he was so difficult to capture. The hooded “RAPIST” mask had false hair glued to the inside of it, to give the impression that the rapist was long haired and bearded. Cook was clean shaven and had a short, crew cut hairstyle. He would travel to and from the scene of the attacks disguised as a woman, then dress into his chilling rapist attire once near the scene. Detectives surmised that he had passed them on a number of occasions, unnoticed because he was dismissed as a female cyclist in a city where bicycles outnumbered cars three to one at that time.

A search of Cook’s caravan and his father’s nearby workshop revealed a large collection of women’s clothing that Cook had stolen from his many burglaries. There was also a large collection of long haired wigs, and whilst searching a workbench police found hidden inside 87 sets of keys that he had had copied of the doors to several women’s hostels, along with notebooks detailing the movements of at least two of the victims. Cook had simply picked a female at random, and stalked them for a period of time, which explained how he was able to always choose a house where there was a lone female. His job as a delivery driver gave him ample opportunity to watch bedsits and learn the movements of female students. By learning their movements, Cook had often broken in to their bedsits or flats when they were out, and stolen underwear and items of personal mail. This was also how he came to know intimate details of their lives, such as their boyfriends names. This meticulous planning made him bolder, and police were in no doubt that he would have killed a victim sooner rather than later if he hadn’t been stopped.

Peter Samuel Cook appeared at Norwich Crown Court on 3rd October 1975, charged with seven rapes and two woundings. He pleaded guilty to all the charges against him, and received two life sentences. The judge, Mr Justice Melford Stevenson, told Cook whilst passing sentencing:

“In your case, I am recommending that life in prison means exactly that” – Mr Justice Melford Stevenson

Apart from the obvious lasting effect on his victims, the name Peter Samuel Cook and the case of the Cambridge Rapist is largely forgotten by the British public. The only time his name resurfaced was in 1995, when moves were made to have Cook released either on parole or moved to open prison conditions. Cambridge MP Anne Campbell, a Cambridgeshire woman who had lived in the city throughout Cook’s reign of terror, was quick to object to and oppose these moves in Parliament. She described firsthand the fear that Cambridge was held in by Cook’s actions, claimed that Cook was still a massive danger to the public, and he remained as a Category A prisoner until his death. The following year, he applied for permission to receive a sex change, hoping that a new gender would increase his chances of release. This was denied, and Cook seemingly accepted that he would spend the remainder of his life in prison. Cook himself died in HMP Winchester on 09 January 2004, aged 75. He had served nearly 30 years for his horrific crimes, and had never expressed any remorse for his crimes, nor offered any explanation.

A macabre postscript to the story of the Cambridge Rapist, is that for many years, a t-shirt depicting the chilling leather hood worn by Cook was a very popular design and was worn by many in the punk era. Despite the uproar and controversy of the t shirt, it remained a very popular seller for many years.

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The True Crime Enthusiast

The “Monster Of Worcester”

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David Mcgreavy, pictured in 1973

The name of one of the most reviled killers in Britain will not be one that is at the forefront of the mind of any reader of true crime. He has served 43 years in prison for his monstrous crimes, and has applied for release on at least nine separate occasions. However, this has been refused each time due to the wave of public hatred that still to this day remains against him. His crimes rank up alongside the crimes of the Moors Murders in horror, yet until recently his name was relatively unknown and largely forgotten, bar within the locality of where they were committed. His name is David Mcgreavy, or as his is dubbed by the press and the British public, “The Monster Of Worcester”, or “The Real Friday the 13th Killer”.

David Anthony Mcgreavy was born in Southport in 1951, the second eldest of six children born to Bella and Thomas Mcgreavy. The Mcgreavy family were a forces family, and often moved around depending on where Thomas, a Sergeant  serving in the Royal Signals, was posted to. This is often hard on children, uprooting all of a sudden and having to make new friends and go to new schools. However, millions of children do the same without any lasting damage, and there is nothing in Mcgreavy’s early years to suggest that the constant moves had caused any underlying problems. After his arrest, his mother was interviewed and said that David was at his happiest when the family was stationed in Germany. She further said that the only ever instance concerning Mcgreavy that gave cause for concern was when the then teenaged Mcgreavy stole her shopping money, left the family home (which at the time was in Cardiff), and went off on a day trip to Liverpool.

Aged 15 in 1967, Mcgreavy left school and achieved his lifelong ambition by enlisting in the Royal Navy. It was in the Navy, however, that Mcgreavy’s first developed problems with alcohol. When drinking, he was known to be surly and to have a violent temper that could flare up without warning or with minor provocation. At his first Naval posting, HMS Eagle in Portsmouth, colleagues of Mcgreavy were struck by the arrogance and cockiness of the young rating, and he was frequently subject to disciplinary measures. The defining incident of his naval career occurred in the late 1960’s when he was stationed at RNAS Brawdy in Pembrokeshire, when he was sentenced to 90 days detention for negligence. One night, Mcgreavy had turned up for his duty watch drunk and agitated. Whilst on watch, he broke into an officers ward room and started a fire in a waste paper bin, then raised the alarm, claiming he was not responsible, but a sole eye witness. The Navy, however, did not believe this fallacy and court-martialed him. He escaped being charged with arson, but the negligence charge spelt the beginning of the end of his naval career. Whilst in detention, his commanding officer ordered that he undergo psychiatric evaluation. The results of this evaluation was never relayed to Mcgreavy’s parents, nor has ever been made public in the aftermath of his crimes.

In January 1971, Mcgreavy began writing to, and quickly became besotted with, a young woman named Mary, the sister of a fellow seaman. By April 1971, Mcgreavy had proposed to her just a short week after meeting her for the first time. Mary had many debilitating health issues and was not liked by Mcgreavy’s parents, but the arrogant young man would listen to nobody but himself and threw himself enthusiastically into the relationship. In August of that year, he was finally discharged from the Navy. This devastated him, and with nowhere else to go he returned to his parent’s home in Worcester. Thus began a cycle of drifting from job to job, where he was inevitably sacked for his arrogance, attitude and often, his affection for alcohol. He lost jobs as a chef and as a labourer in quick succession because of this. Despairing, he threw himself into his relationship with Mary, and his infatuation intensified – to the point where despite being unemployed and poor, he had a lavish wedding all planned out for Christmas 1971. However, this infatuation served only to make Mary become uncomfortable with the relationship, and on New Year’s Eve 1971 she broke off their engagement.

January 1972 found Mcgreavy still living at his parent’s house, devastated from losing Mary, and effectively living as a wastrel. He did not actively seek work, would not help around the house and was still abusing alcohol often. His parents finally had had enough and threw him out later that year.

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The only surviving photograph of Elsie Ralph, and from left to right, Paul, Samantha and Dawn

By mid 1972, Mcgreavy had moved in as a lodger of an old school friend called Clive Ralph. Clive lived in a two bedroom house on Gillam Street, Worcester, with his young wife Elsie, who was heavily pregnant with the couple’s third child. They already had four year old Paul and one year old Dawn, and in September 1972 Elsie gave birth to Samantha. Mcgreavy paid the couple £6 a week rent and shared a room with the four year old Paul. He regularly helped out with the children or by cooking meals and doing chores around the house when Clive was away working as a long distance lorry driver. Despite his fondness for alcohol, Mcgreavy was holding down a factory job and when in March 1973 Elsie found work as a barmaid in the PunchBowl Tavern a couple of miles from the Ralph’s home, he spent more and more time looking after the children. Locals remember him as being a man who loved children and was always playing with them, and acting in the concerned father figure role.

By all accounts the time Mcgreavy spent lodging with the Ralph’s seems a period of stability in Mcgreavy’s life. Until Friday 13th April 1973, that is.

Elsie normally worked until closing time at the PunchBowl Tavern, and the practice was for Clive to come to pick her up late, help her closing up and tidying up, and have a last orders pint. Mcgreavy would be at home looking after the Ralph children. That evening, Clive did the same as usual, leaving the sleeping children under the supervision of Mcgreavy. As usual, Mcgreavy had been drinking. He had been drinking with a friend in the Buck’s Hill pub in Worcester since early evening, and had drunk between 5 to 7 pints of beer. The evening had soured somewhat when Mcgreavy had been involved in a small altercation with his friend after he put out a cigarette in his friend’s pint. As they were having words outside, Clive arrived to collect Mcgreavy and brought him home to look after the three children, while he went to collect Elsie.

What followed that evening are some of the most horrific and unexplained crimes ever committed in Britain.

At a time never made clear, but sometime between 10:15pm and 11:15pm, a still drunk Mcgreavy lost his temper with the Ralph children. Seven month old Samantha awoke and began crying for her bottle, so Mcgreavy began shouting back at her. This of course had no effect in stopping a seven month old child from crying, so Mcgreavy placed his hand over her mouth and strangled her. When Samantha had stopped breathing, Mcgreavy went into the bathroom and returned with a razor. He then went on to use the razor to mutilate the seven month old child, and caused a fatal compound fracture of her skull by beating her severely. He then turned his attention to the other two children, both of whom were sound asleep. Two year old Dawn was strangled in her bed, and finally died when Mcgreavy slit her throat with the razor. The eldest child, Paul, was strangled with curtain wire as he slept. Already the stuff of unimaginable nightmares, worse was yet to follow.

After killing the three children, Mcgreavy mutilated each of their bodies with the razor. Not satisfied with this, Mcgreavy next went down to the basement of the house and returned upstairs with a pickaxe. He then used the tool to further and horrifically mutilate the three children. But it was his final act that caused hardened detectives to be left sick and shaken, and that has helped the name David Mcgreavy to remain reviled for the past 43 years. Before leaving the house, Mcgreavy carried the children, one by one, out into the back garden. He then impaled each child on the wrought iron pointed spikes of the next door neighbours fence.

Concerned neighbours had heard several bangs and the sound of Samantha crying, and noticed a succession of lights in the house being turned on, then off again. The bedroom, then the next bedroom. The bathroom. Finally, the basement…..It caused enough concern for the police to be contacted, and a patrol car was despatched to the scene. Finding no answer, the officers tried around the back of the house, and it was there by torchlight that they made the most unimaginable discovery ever. One experienced officer even vomited, and all officers on the scene were left sickened and shaken.

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A policeman stands guard at the doorstep of the Ralph house on Gillam Street.
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The white canopy hides the horrific scene of where the children’s bodies were discovered.
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Closer view of the railings.

The search was on for the children’s parents, and when Clive and Elsie arrived back home they were denied access to their house. They were never to return to it. They were taken to the police station and questioned, and when it became clear that they had had nothing to do with their children’s deaths, the Ralph’s were told what had happened:

“This is when they’d told us that there had been a murder, that there was an investigation going on. And that’s as far as I can really remember properly because there was a doctor there at the time because I went hysterical, which you would, and he gave me an injection, and I don’t really…I never ever went back to the house. I wasn’t allowed because I was screaming saying that I wanted to go and see my children and…they said we couldn’t do that…I wasn’t allowed to go to the mortuary” – Elsie Urry (interviewed in 2013)

The focus of a police manhunt began for the one person from the Ralph household who was unaccounted for: David Mcgreavy. Mcgreavy was located just a scant few hours later in a nearby road to the murder scene. He was arrested, exclaiming “What’s this all about?” as he was. Several hours after his arrest, the normally arrogant and cocksure young man broke down during questioning, and admitted to killing the three children.

“It was all too bloody gruesome. It was me but it wasn’t me. How could I do it?” – David Mcgreavy (during questioning after his arrest in 1973)

Mcgreavy then went on to describe the children’s deaths in lucid detail:

“On Paul I used the wire. Everything just seemed to cave in. I picked up the pickaxe and used it on all of them. Then I went outside and put them on the railings. All I can hear is kids, kids, fucking kids” – Mcgreavy during questioning

He then explained how Samantha would not stop crying:

“I cut off her breath, and then went into the bathroom and picked up the razor blade and used it on her. I did the same to Dawn and then used a piece of curtain wire on Paul” – Mcgreavy during questioning.

It was impossible to find a motive for the senseless killings. Everyone who knew Mcgreavy claimed of his love for children, and there was never any hint of Mcgreavy having committed sexual abuse of children, or a perverted lust for children in his past. Elsie Ralph could not begin to understand just why Mcgreavy had committed such a horrific act of slaughter, recalling how he loved to bounce the children up and down on his knee, would spend hours playing with them and had once even scolded her for her chastising of Paul, the eldest child. A motive for the children’s deaths has still never been explained to this day. Mcgreavy himself, when asked why he had committed the murders, said simply:

“That is what I have been trying to figure out”

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One of Mcgreavy’s remand appearances at Worcester Magistrates Court.

On Monday the 16th of April 1973, Mcgreavy made the first of ten remand appearances at Worcester Magistrates Court, where in a ten minute hearing he was charged with the murders of the three Ralph children. Local gossip had spread like wildfire, and the public gallery of the court was packed, unusually for the time with a predominantly female audience. One reporter covering the story claimed at the time there was a definite atmosphere in the court and if any of the women could have gotten at Mcgreavy, they would have lynched him. Mcgreavy cut a pathetic figure in all of his court appearances, barely looking up and around the court as he was remanded in custody.

It was just ten weeks after the brutal murders that the trial of David Mcgreavy began with him entering a guilty plea. Some of the injuries inflicted on the children were so horrific that the prosecution did not detail them in their case. As Mcgreavy had offered no plea, no motive and no claim of diminished responsibility, the trial lasted just eight scant minutes. On Monday 30 July 1973, David Mcgreavy was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of the three Ralph children. Due to the nature of the “exceptionally horrific crimes”, the judge, Mr Justice Simon, set the minimum time served at no less than twenty years before Mcgreavy could even be considered for release.

 

As a child killer, Mcgreavy has been the subject of much hatred whilst serving his sentence, and has been attacked and assaulted on several occasions. His cell has been regularly trashed and smashed up, his possessions covered with urine and excrement. He has spent a large chunk of his prison years living under the protection of Rule 43, which caters for those prisoners deemed vulnerable or those that need protection for their own safety. But on several occasions over the years, he has been placed in general population or open prison conditions. However, this has always been revoked after an attack, or when fellow prisoners have learned of the extent of Mcgreavy’s crimes. But at other times, Mcgreavy is said to have revelled in his notoriety, even reportedly once challenging Moors Murderer Ian Brady to a fight to prove which of them was the most notorious killer in Britain.

Since being incarcerated, Mcgreavy has applied for parole on at least nine separate occasions, and each time has been denied. In 2006, Mcgreavy was however being prepared for parole due to the amount of time he had served, and was staying at a bail hostel in Liverpool. It was leaked to the national press that Mcgreavy had been allowed to walk around Liverpool unsupervised in preparation for release, and his photograph appeared in the local and national newspapers.

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Newspapers report of Mcgreavy’s unsupervised freedom

As his name was once again in the news, knowing the feelings and public outrage that his crimes could still stir up, Mcgreavy was sent back to prison, under closed conditions. In 2009, Mcgreavy tried again in a bid to be moved back to open conditions, this time using human rights laws in an attempt to claim anonymity. This anonymity order was granted, and he was only ever referred to as Prisoner M. However, he was told that he would have to remain in closed conditions, but would not be named to protect him from the very real likelihood of attack. It also meant that the press were not allowed to report on his applications for parole. This order lasted four years, but was quashed in 2013. By this time, Mcgreavy had served 40 years in prison, twice his original recommended minimum sentence. When the order was lifted on 22 May 2013, and his identity became known, Mcgreavy’s bed was urinated on and human excrement was smeared on his cell walls. He was immediately transferred to closed conditions in a vulnerable prisoner’s unit in HMP Warren Hill, in Suffolk, where he remains to this day.

The horrific nature of Mcgreavy’s crimes meant that the ripples were, and still are, felt far and wide. Clive and Elsie Ralph divorced not long after the murders, the horror that Mcgreavy had inflicted upon their lives being too much for them to take. Of Clive there is no record. Interviewed 40 years later, Elsie (who since remarried and changed her name), still reflected upon her feelings towards Mcgreavy, and how much the “Monster of Worcester” still haunts her every waking moment:

“He doesn’t deserve human rights, he’s not even human…..I think about what he did every minute of every day because he took my life away. I can’t go to family parties anymore, I can’t celebrate anything..I can’t and will never move on. For what he did to my three children and me he deserves the same treatment that they got – death. He applied again for parole in 2009 and it was denied but every time he goes for it I’m terrified they’re going to let him out. I won’t find peace until he is dead and I am laid to rest with my babies.” – Elsie Urry (interviewed in 2013)

Newspaper reporters who covered the crimes in 1973 are still haunted by the horror of what they saw. One, Tony Bishop, says all he can think of is:

“We saw these railings, these horrible railings. And the blood was congealed upon the railings” – Tony Bishop (former Worcester News reporter)

It is unknown when, indeed if, David Mcgreavy will ever be released from custody. But even if he is, the life sentence for those affected by the crimes of the Monster Of Worcester remains never-ending.

 

The True Crime Enthusiast

When life means life – The Dore Massacre

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Arthur Hutchinson

One of the most notorious and brutal killers in British criminal history is Arthur Hutchinson. Now approaching 76 years old, he has spent the past 32 years of his life caged for the horrific murders of three members of a wealthy Sheffield family. Solicitor Basil Laitner, his wife Avril, and their son Richard all met a bloody end at the hands of Hutchinson. He also brutally repeatedly raped their youngest daughter, 18 year old Nicola. If that wasn’t horrific enough, Hutchinson had slaughtered the family on what should have been one of the happiest days of their lives. On the day they died, the Laitner family had celebrated the wedding of their eldest daughter.

Arthur Hutchinson, or “The Fox” as he came to be known (and somewhat largely self styled) was born in Hartlepool in 1941. Raised on the outskirts of Hartlepool’s sprawling Owton Manor estate, Hutchinson came from a family of 6 children, and from a young age developed a taste from extreme violence. Aged just seven years old, he seriously stabbed one of his sisters with a pair of scissors. This was followed by several incidents of bullying and assaults on younger children, and by 11 years of age, Hutchinson was facing his first appearance before a juvenile court, on a charge of indecent assault. What followed was a pattern of petty crime and a further 19 appearances before a court – including four times for having sex with underage girls.

At age 18, Hutchinson married a neighbour, Margaret Dover, who was pregnant with his child. He proved himself to be a serial adulterer that would openly brag about his conquests with women, of which he seemed to be strangely attractive to. He was also extremely violent and suffered mood swings, so much so that the slightest provocation could turn him into a raging monster. This marriage lasted for 3 years, after which the couple separated. Hutchinson was then imprisoned throughout the early 1960’s for having sex with an underage girl, and then met his second wife, Hannelore, at a Christmas party in 1968. The courtship was swift and the couple were married just 5 months later. But this marriage proved to be the same as his previous marriage, with the violence and philandering ever present.

Hutchinson’s life and activities throughout the 1970’s are poorly documented. It is known that from 1971 onwards, Hutchinson was convicted of a number of sexual assaults. He also served more than 5 years in prison for firearms offences and for attempting to shoot dead his half brother, Dino Reardon. He had not long been released from this sentence when he again found himself in custody, this time on charges of theft, burglary, and for a brutal rape. By now, it was 1983. Hutchinson was however, never to face trial for these crimes. On 23 September 1983 he was at Selby Magistrates Court in North Yorkshire to appear in front of the magistrate in connection with the offences he was charged with. It was then that the cunning mind of Hutchinson put into action the plan that he had been formulating. Whilst there he asked to go to the toilet, and was released from handcuffs to do so. Instead of going, he sprinted upstairs and entered Court No 1, which was closed for redecoration that day. Passing a startled decorator, he climbed onto the press bench and dived headfirst through a window. Hutchinson severely cut his knee on the glass as he did so, and landed on a barbed wire fence below. Managing to work his way free, he managed to escape and lose himself in the crowds of Selby.

Skip forward now to nearly a month later. Dore is an affluent village in South Yorkshire, loved by locals and tourists alike, and nearly 50 miles from Selby. Late in the evening of October 22, 1983, respected and wealthy solicitor Basil Laitner, 59, and his doctor wife, Avril, 55, were winding down after a busy but very happy day. A huge marquee had been erected in the garden of the Laitner’s £150,000 home in Dore Road, where more than 250 guests had helped celebrate the Laitner’s eldest  daughter Suzanne’s wedding to Glaswegian optician Ivor Wolfe just a few hours earlier. Along with their son Richard and younger daughter Nicola, Basil and Avril had made a start at clearing up after the celebrations, and were preparing to settle down for the night after their busy day of jubilation.

Just before midnight, however, the Laitner’s had another, more unwelcome guest: Arthur Hutchinson.

Hutchinson, for reasons never clearly explained, had found himself in Dore. He was unshaven, filthy, and still being troubled by the severe wound he had received whilst escaping. He had entered the Laitner house through a faulty patio door, possibly with the intention to commit an armed robbery. His doing so heralded some of the most shocking crimes in British criminal history.

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Basil Laitner
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From left, Suzanne, Richard and Avril Laitner

The slaughter began with Richard Laitner. The 28 year old, who had harboured dreams of becoming a doctor, had been attacked in his upstairs bedroom. He had been stabbed repeatedly in the chest and neck, and was left half on and half off his bed. Hearing the commotion, Basil Laitner had got up to investigate and had been attacked at the top of the stairs. He had been stabbed three times, and his body slumped down the stairs. The most frenzied attack was directed at Avril Laitner however, who was stabbed twenty-six times in her downstairs bedroom. She had put up a struggle for her life, and had defence wounds to the palms of her hands and fingers that were so deep that they exposed the bone. Not satisfied with such carnage, Hutchinson then returned upstairs and turned his attentions towards the younger daughter, Nicola.

Hutchinson flashed a torch in the petrified girl’s face, and told her that if she screamed she would be killed. He then savagely raped the traumatised girl at knifepoint, before walking her downstairs to where the marquee was still stood. On the way down, the girl was made to walk past the body of her father, through a pool of his blood. Once in the marquee, she was made to sit on a chair and handcuffed. Whilst here, she was raped again and forced to listen to Hutchinson boasting about how he had killed everyone in the entire house. After being blindfolded, she had to listen as Hutchinson ate and drank from leftover food from the wedding buffet. Nicola was then taken back upstairs to her bedroom and raped for a third time. As dawn broke, Hutchinson left the weeping girl bound hand and foot, after callously telling her to take care and not to suffocate herself. Her foot was caked in her father’s blood, and her nightdress was stained with her mother’s blood, from Hutchinson’s blood-stained hands. Why Hutchinson chose to leave the girl alive has never been revealed, or explained.

Two workmen who had come to the house to dismantle the wedding marquee discovered the scene of carnage the early the next morning. A murder investigation was quickly launched, with Detective Chief Inspector Mick Burdis leading the hunt for the killer. The most crucial evidence had to come from Nicola, the only eyewitness to the massacre. But after suffering the trauma of losing nearly her entire family in such horrific circumstances, and coupled with the multiple rapes, Nicola was in a state of near total psychological collapse. However, just three days later, Nicola was able to provide information and a description of the killer to a police sketch artist.

The sketch that was produced shows a thin featured man with curly hair and a slightly bent, protruding nose. So police had a likeness of the man they were searching for, and they were also to find a wealth of forensic evidence from the scene. There was a bloodstain on one of Nicola’s bed sheets that had come from the killer, left there as he raped Nicola. Nicola also informed police that whilst in the marquee, the killer had taken a bite from some cheese and had swigged from a bottle of champagne leftover from the day’s celebrations. So police were able to recover a sample of the killer’s blood, a palm print from the champagne bottle, and a dental impression from the piece of cheese. These would form important items of forensic evidence that would be used to help secure a conviction – but would only be of use if detectives had a suspect. Then a colleague from North Yorkshire police provided the breakthrough. He contacted DI Burdis and informed him that the sketch was a likeness for the escaped prisoner Arthur Hutchinson. When Hutchinson’s prints were compared to the palm print gleaned from the champagne bottle, there was an exact match. Detectives now knew the identity of the man they were looking for, and a picture of the wanted man was released to the nation. The hunt was on.

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The WANTED picture of Arthur Hutchinson issued to the nation

Where were police to start? The manhunt, at the time, was the biggest that Britain had seen since the hunt for Peter Sutcliffe. But by now, Hutchinson had crossed the county border and was on the run. Immediately after leaving the Laitner house, Hutchinson had calmly hailed a taxi to nearby Worksop. Rather than go to ground, Hutchinson apparently moved around in disguise, staying in guesthouses and pubs throughout the North. He is believed to have travelled cross country, from place to place including Barnsley, Nottinghamshire, Manchester, York, and Scarborough. When he couldn’t manage a place to stay for the night, he indulged his love and passion for the countryside and slept rough in dens and shelters. Hutchinson foraged food from people’s allotments, and even ate dandelions to survive.

 “This man is on the run and we believe he is quite clearly capable of killing if cornered.”– Sgt Tom Walton, North Yorkshire Police

Hutchinson had escalated overnight to being Britain’s most wanted man, but instead of hiding, he seemed to revel in the notoriety. Believing himself to be a cunning survival expert, he styled himself “The Fox”, and wrote a mocking letter to the press that even started, “I, the Fox…” In the letter, he goaded the police hunting him, denied the Dore crimes and warned the media to stop reporting on the nationwide hunt for him.  But Hutchinson was not satisfied with just writing letters. He then rang the offices of the Yorkshire Post newspaper, and spoke to a journalist there. In this conversation, Hutchinson boasted of his survival expertise, and attempted to portray himself as some kind of criminal mastermind. He claimed to have been in and out of the search areas on numerous occasions, and that he had avoided detection by being a master of disguise. He also claimed that he was too smart to be caught, and that he would never willingly give himself up. A sample of Hutchinson’s voice from this conversation was played on Radio Sheffield.

“I sleep by day, and I travel at night. So I’m not going to give myself up” – Arthur Hutchinson to a Yorkshire Post reporter.

By the time November had arrived, the manhunt for Hutchinson had no less intensified – but he still hadn’t been caught. Police had had to follow up over 1500 possible sightings of him, but had an idea of where he would possibly (indeed, likely) end up. Ever since police knew the identity of the man they were looking for, surveillance had been placed upon his mother’s house in Hartlepool. It had been common practice for Hutchinson to gravitate back to his mother’s house whenever he was in times of trouble, and police were counting on this being no exception. As a result, police had tapped her phone and had covert surveillance surrounding the area, waiting for “The Fox” to make his move. They were confident that Hutchinson would try to contact her, or numerous female friends and as a result had placed 24-hour watches on nine homes in the area.

The police hunch proved to be right, as at 4:00am on 04 November, Hutchinson first contacted an unnamed woman before then calling his mother, Louise Reardon, at her home in the Kelso Grove area of Owton Manor. He told his mother he was “coming home”. The call was traced to a nearby phone box, and Hutchinson was not long afterwards sighted heading towards the nearby Brierton Lane area. He remained at large overnight and at first light on 05 November 1983, the manhunt for Hutchinson entered its final stages. More than 400 police officers and dog handlers began combing an eight- mile square area of land that covered the Greatham, Dalton Piercy, Elwick, High Tunstall and Brierton areas of Hartlepool. Throughout all of this, the arrogant nature of Hutchinson could not resist further showing off and taunting police. Suspecting that they would be listening, he again contacted the unnamed woman he had rang before the phone call to his mother. He then proceeded to mock police for not catching him, even going so far as to call them “Boy Scouts”.

Eventually, Hutchinson was spotted at 3:45pm that day in a turnip field near Middle Stotfold Farm, between the A19 and Dalton Piercy back road. Hutchinson was now cornered, but made a final break for freedom before being brought down by a police dog. He was quickly overpowered, and disarmed of the large Bowie type knife he had threatened police with. Not before Hutchinson had managed to stab himself with it, albeit only superficially. Under a massive police guard, he was taken to hospital for treatment on this, and the wound he had received to the knee when he escaped over a month before.

“The Fox” was caught.

“I’m not a murderer. I should’ve stayed down my foxhole, shouldn’t i?” – Hutchinson to arresting officers

After Hutchinson’s arrest, police discovered a cassette tape in a Darlington guest house, one of several places Hutchinson had stayed while he was at large. He had even the audacity to sign himself in the guest book under the name “A.Fox”! Extracts from the tape, published in the media after Hutchinson’s trial and conviction, are as follows and show the extent of Hutchinson’s arrogance:

“Because I was able to get this tape recorder, transistor, I’ve been able to listen to everything that’s been going on. Where they have been waiting for me, where they have been looking for me, so I knew exactly which way to head out of the way from ‘em. Like playing cat and mouse, or should I say fox on the trot.

I’m making no comments on the triple killings. Let the police do what they want. I’m saying nowt. I’m not telling anybody nothing about that business. Mebbes I’m a bit daft in the head like people think I am. Let them think what they want – I am still free, that’s the main fucking thing.

However crackers I might be, I’ve walked past them several times and they haven’t even noticed me. Like I say, I’m a master of disguise(laughs).”

Describing his escape from Selby Magistrate’s Court, Hutchinson says:

“I hurled myself through an upper window, crashing into a barbed wire net, ripping my leg to pieces. I ran four miles barely stopping, then stopped in the bushes for hours then I see the helicopter hunt. So I drag myself into the gutter, crawl along the gutter and forced myself into bramble bushes and stayed there until it got dark”

He then says he spent four nights on the run before going to hospital in Doncaster for treatment to his knee wound:

“Trousers were at this stage covered in blood but I kept on going. I got my treatment, left and walked another three to four miles back into the wilderness. You just have to keep continuing sometimes. I just had to live day by day but I won’t give in. I’ll never give in – even when they shoot me, else finish me off.”

Unsurprisingly, Hutchinson denied killing 3 members of the Laitner family, and repeatedly raping their 18 year old daughter. He was charged on all counts based on the overwhelming evidence suggesting his guilt, and remanded in custody until his trial for these crimes in Durham Crown Court in September 1984. His murder trial is notable as it was the first time in a murder trial in the UK that a police video of the crime scene was shown to the jury. The 7 minute video shook the jury as it gave first hand visual recreation of the slaughter that had happened at the Laitner house.

Hutchinson entered a plea of not guilty on all counts, and denied even being at the house. He changed his story, however, when he realised the extent of the forensic evidence that tied him to being at the Laitner house that fateful night. Hutchinson has a rare blood group that is unique to only one in 50,000 people. A forensic scientist gave compelling evidence that showed the jury that blood of this type – an exact match for Hutchinson’s blood – had been found all over Nicola’s bed sheets. Blood that had come from the knee wound obtained from escaping from Selby Magistrate’s Court. Also, forensic odontologist Dr Geoffrey Craig testified that bite marks found in a piece of cheese from the buffet in the wedding marquee exactly matched Hutchinson’s bite marks, an impression of which was taken after his arrest. And then there was the evidence of Hutchinson’s palm prints being found on a bottle of champagne in the marquee itself. Faced with this evidence, “The Fox” attempted to use some of his cunning.

Hutchinson concocted a story that after all, he had in fact been to the house, after being invited the night before by Nicola. He claimed they had met in a pub in Sheffield, and she had invited him to go to the house the next night. He claimed that she had said she would leave the patio door unlocked for him, and that he would find a bottle of champagne waiting for him when he arrived. He went further to say that they had had consensual sexual intercourse, and that he had left and that “others” must have come and killed the rest of the Laitner family. Because he had pleaded not guilty, Nicola was forced to undergo cross examination from Hutchinson’s defence counsel. She proved to be unshakeable, and impressed the jury with her sincerity. Visibly shaking and upset, she denied Hutchinson’s claims steadfastly. She had not invited him to the house, she had not left the patio door open for him, and she had not willingly consented to sex with him. The court heard from Nicola how she had pretended, out of fear for her life, to enjoy the sex with Hutchinson. The jury further learned of Hutchinson’s cunning nature when Nicola told them how he had affected a Scottish accent throughout the entire ordeal. She was an impressive witness, proving to be unshakeable and impressing the jury with her sincerity. With his web of lies in tatters, Hutchinson, reveling in the attention that he was being given, changed tack.

Hutchinson next claimed, quite ludicrously, that a reporter from the Sunday Mirror, Mike Barron, had been the one who committed the murders. He even pointed to him in court, saying “That’s your killer there”. He explained his prints had been on the champagne bottle because he had picked it up to use as a weapon to defend himself against Mr Barron. Hutchinson claimed that the media had had a vendetta against him, and that:

“Every week for the last 10 months, that man there has been going to my mother’s house threatening her. I was frightened for her and wanted to get the truth out. There’s your killer.”- Arthur Hutchinson

He could not clearly, however, explain why Mr Barron had even been at the house at the time. This absurd story did not sway the jury, and they were not out deliberating for long. After just 4 hours deliberation, on 14th September 1984, Hutchinson was found guilty of all three murders of the Laitner family and repeated rapes of 18 year old Nicola Laitner. He showed no emotion as the trial judge, Mr Justice Mcneill, sentenced him to multiple life sentences with a minimum tariff of 18 years to serve. Ten months after he was jailed, Hutchinson failed in an appeal against his conviction. He was left to serve his sentence in Wakefield prison, where he was feared by fellow inmates and described by officers as being “like a bomb about to reach the end of its fuse”.

After his conviction, the then Home Secretary, Leon Brittan, ruled that Hutchinson’s crimes demanded that his be extended to a whole life tariff, effecting Hutchinson to die in jail. He has consistently challenged this decision, and has appealed several times against it. In 2008, long after serving the minimum term imposed upon him at his trial, Hutchinson went to the High Court to challenge his whole life term. The imposed whole life tariff was reviewed by High Court judge Mr Justice Tugendhat, who ruled that Hutchinson must never be set free. Undeterred, he appealed this decision later the same year in the Court of Appeal. But his bid for freedom was shattered when the court’s three judges ruled that his crimes were so despicable, that life must mean life. All three judges were to describe his case as the most heinous crimes they had ever dealt with.

Hutchinson was again in the news in 2013. He became the first British prisoner to challenge the sentence after a controversial ruling by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in July ruled that whole-life tariffs are a breach of human rights. It was held that there had been a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights – which relates to inhuman and degrading treatment. This violation was on the basis that whole-life tariffs were not “reducible”. Relying on Article 3, Hutchinson claimed that his whole life sentence amounted to “inhuman and degrading treatment” as he has no hope of release. He has, as of writing, not been released after spending 32 years behind bars for his horrific crimes, and is likely to die in prison. He is now 75 years old, and the name Arthur Hutchinson still conjures up revulsion at his crimes whenever it is mentioned. If he was ever successful in appealing his whole life tariff, it could be the gateway for many of Britain’s other most reviled killers to do the same and make bids for freedom. The surviving members of the Dore massacre have long since moved away under new identities, hoping to be free of the media spotlight and to put the tragic event behind them as much as possible. It is fitting to conclude here by showing just how fresh a hell they are put through whenever Hutchinson is mentioned in the press as appealing his sentence.

“Whenever even the name Arthur Hutchinson rears its ugly head, it does nothing but create fear and cause distress to the victims of this heinous crime. Let the Human Rights judiciary members be thrust into our position for just a day, and maybe they would understand this” – spokesman for the surviving Laitner family members

Powerful words.

 

The True Crime Enthusiast