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Dangerous People, Dangerous Places

Edition: HB

Author: Norman Parker

ISBN: 9781844544509

Publishers: John Blake Publishing

Price: £17.99

Publication Date: Jul 2007

Release Date: Publisher’s Title Information

There are places in the world where few dare to tread, where gangsters, guerilla groups and members of the highest echelons of the criminal underworld live by their own terrifying code. Those outsiders who do choose to enter infiltrated territories often come back unwilling to discuss what they have experienced. Norman Parker is the exception… After spending nearly three decades in prison for murder, and having used his time inside to educate himslef and gain a degree, Norman Parker emerged to become a bestselling author with his Parkhurst Tales books, which reveal the secret world of Britain's toughest jails. He went on to become a journalist for several newspapers and magazines, this book collects his most incredible stories from around the world. Always on the lookout for adventure, Norman had by turns been in search of the most notorious criminals, the most extreme gangs and the most dangerous organisations at large in the world today. From the inner sanctum of the IRA, to meeting the most notorious killers, to gaining entry to the darkest secrets of the Colombian drug empires and the Guerrilla forces operating within them, Norman has fearlessly accepted journalistic assignments that many would shy away from. The result is a fascinating document of intrigue, violence, and corruption both at home and abroad, told with the insight of a man who has fraternised with some of the toughest criminals in the country during his years behind bars. Written with compelling frankness and intelligence, this is a must read for anyone intrigued by the truth about the most fearsome people and places on earth…

About the Author

Norman Parker was released from priosn after 24 continuous years. During this time he gained a masters degree in criminology and, on emerging, renounced crime to embark on a career in writing and journalism. Author of several books, including the bestselling Parkhurst Tales series, his journalism has been published in many newspapers and magazines including the Daily Express.  Norman now lives and works in Spain.


Norman Parker will be familiar to readers as the author of the bestselling 'Parkhurst Tales' also published by John Blake. Although those collections of prison anecdotes and memories established a very readable style and seemed to some to label him as being in a well-defined genre, he has made a new departure with his new book.
The collection of journalistic pieces, some from 'Loaded', the lads' magazine, is not really what it seems at a cursory glance. There is more substance in this writing than at first appears, and one reason for this is that Parker includes reflections on his own growth as a writer, and is unusually candid. There are no creative pretensions and he writes of himself as a working writer, looking for assignments as any freelance Journalist. But the fact that he has served a very long stretch as a guest of Her Majesty adds another dimension to what might otherwise be a series of glamorous snippets of playful investigative journalism.
Parker loves writing. He builds an easy but welcoming style, brings the reader into his world of humour and self-denigration, while at the same time he informs and entertains without any noticeable effort. That is a sign of a natural documentarist, and in the end, it is the mix of that with the honest and explicit autobiography, which makes this book a success.
The writer takes us into a cocaine factory and on a trip to jungle-thick Colombia to meet the fighters for FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia). He wanders into trouble like a tourist, but somehow emerges without too much in the way of threat to sanity or bodily health. It is fun following him into the crumbling third world, taking in new moralities or even places where there is an absence of any morality. In the end, it is in his long account of 'Dave the Rave', back in his prison-writing territory that Parker really excels.
This is a lengthy and dramatic account of life inside, with an escape attempt as the centrepiece. Here the reader learns about the intricate strategies and allegiances of life inside, down to the telling detail such as close descriptions of the key systems and to the provincial and regional affiliations of the 'chaps' on the landings. In fact, in the writing about what he calls 'The Chaps' we have something that the general public, with their tabloid- created images of 'the nick', should read and think about. I say this because it is in this that the reader learns about the moral values and the workable code of behaviour and honour among career-criminals. That sounds a little academic and pompous, but parker's writing has none of that quality.
He writes with the confidence and ease of a master of his craft, and one feels that in this genre he has found his natural writing persona; I can't wait for the next assignments, and to travel with a man who would be a good companion, even on a journey to a war.
Stephen Wade

Face to Face With - Serial Killers

Edition: paperback

Author: Christopher Berry-Dee

ISBN: 9781844543670

Publishers: John Blake Publishing

Price: £7.99

Publication Date: Apr 2007

Publisher’s Title Information

We have all heard so much about the killers who grab the front pages, the ones whose crimes are so appalling that they exert a strange fascination on many people. But we rarely get to hear about what these people are like behind the headlines. Until now that is. Criminologist Christopher Berry-Dee goes behind the bars to get the last word from some of the worst criminals in the world. They speak of their violence and shocking deeds in their own words, from within some of the hardest prisons on earth. These interviews have been collated into this disturbing and unflinching analysis of the criminal mind. Here is what happens when you meet the people most of us know only from our nightmares and newspaper headlines. These are the killers' stories, in their words. Be prepared for a journey into the darkest possible side of human nature.

The Author

Christopher Berry-Dee is a renowned investigative criminologist, and the editor of The New Criminologist magazine. He visits prisons to interview some of the most disturbed murderers who are behind bars, gaining their trust and delving into the depths of their minds.


Christopher Berry-Dee is no stranger to criminals. He has written several books about such characters and in "Face to Face with Serial Killers" he explores the life of three Americans and one Britain found guilty of murder.

In his introduction the author states that over 90 percent of such people are white males and most have experienced a traumatic childhood often having been abused psychologically, physically or sexually. These comments apply in a variety of ways to all four of the subjects: John Wayne Michael Gacy, Kenneth Alessio Bianchi, William George Heirens and John David Guise Cannan. It should be added there is a fifth person, a female, Patricia Wright, who does not easily fit into the same brackets as the previous four.

Gacy was physically abused by his father who on one occasion killed his pet dog: he claimed a male later sexually assaulted him. Bianchi was fostered out and "farmed out” and a report indicated he had "many phobias”. Heirens was described as a loner and when his parents argued about money he left home and it was then he began committing burglaries. Cannon was an exception in that he was sent to a private school and soon appreciated he had a "magnetic personality” that attracted females. He was said to be exceedingly good looking, dressed well and became a "lady killer” without any effort.

Perhaps being British the chapter about John Cannan is the most interesting especially as he was linked to the Suzy Lamplugh mystery. The author devotes a chapter on this subject detailing the police investigation, forensic evidence, suspects interviewed etc. Cannon was convicted for the murder of Shirley Banks and, in the words of the author: "the only things he retains are his dreadful secrets and, perhaps, the key to the whereabouts of Suzy Lamplugh’s remains."

Berry-Dee interviewed all his subjects and corresponded with them. He also received the co-operation of relevant police forces and detectives involved in the cases. The result is a fascinating and readable book into the life and background of the killers. The author is described as a criminologist and not a psychologist: hence there are no unnecessary "ology" words that are so common in their books and are a constant irritation to non-ology readers.

There is one additional person described at the end of the book who does not easily slot into the same category as the others: Patricia Wright. The interest in this case is that it took fifteen years for her to come to trial. She married and took out two insurance policies covering her husband’s life. She claimed he merely disappeared and when the body was discovered many years later a post-mortem revealed he had been terminally ill from cancer. There were sixteen stab wounds to his body and despite having been convicted of the murder there are still a number of person convinced she was innocent.

Although the last case mentioned is not in a similar vein to the others it is nonetheless a fascinating example of a murder (these days described as a cold-case) that took several years to come to notice, be investigated and for a suspect to appear in court.

Christopher Berry-Dee has his own opinions (and candidly expresses them) about the individuals he has researched; also the police investigations.  All too often authors are so prejudiced that one has doubts about the accuracy of the information being supplied. But in this book the author takes a middle course throughout which enables the reader to absorb the facts and decide for himself whether or not to agree with the writer’s assessments. Generally speaking I think they will.


Justice For Jill

Edition: Paperback, John Blake Publishing

Author: Scott Lomax

ISBN: 9781844544042



Publication Date: Jun 2007

Publisher’s Title Information

Did Barry George kill Jill Dando? By 1999, Jill Dando was at the height of her career. In her role on Crimewatch she was Britain's best-loved television presenter, about to marry the love of her life and destined for even greater things. She'd come a long way since her early years in Weston-super-Mare and her humble start in journalism on the Western Mercury. In April that year it all came to a brutal end when she was gunned down in an execution-style hit outside her own front door in West London.The country was stunned and the police were baffled for years.  But in July 2001, they were convinced they'd got their man and Barry George was convicted of the murder.  He was sentenced to life imprisonment, having been told that he was 'unpredictable and dangerous'.  The evidence against George was described as 'compelling', yet his case remains one of the most controversial in British criminal history.  Justice for Jill brins the case up to date, based upon extensive research and discussion with those who know him.  If it turns out that it wasn't him - the who did kill Jill Dando?

The Author

Scott Lomax is a 24- year-old true crime writer and archaeologist.  A former student of the University of Sheffield, he graduated with a degree in Archaeology and Prehistory in July 2004.  Scott has campaigned for several victims of miscarriages of justice, having helped secure the release of two men wrongly convicted of conspiring to commit armed robbery.  However, he is most concerned with the conviction of Barry George who he believes to be the victim of the greatest miscarriage of justice in recent decades.


Most readers of fiction have one or more favourite authors but non-fiction readers are generally more concerned with the subject matter and the background of the writers is of consequence: what are their qualifications for writing on a particular subject? This is particularly important with controversial matters so it was disappointing not to discover any background information about Scott Lomax, the author of "Justice for Jill".  However a quick glance at his website revealed that while this was not the first book he had written about the murder of Jill Dando, the reason for the publication of this paperback is explained on page 2: "the sole purpose of this book is to prove George’s innocence".  He later admits to being involved in another case concerning "two innocent men being convicted of conspiring to commit armed robbery".

The background to this crime is simple.  In 1999 Jill Dando who worked for the BBC TV as a presenter was shot, while about to open the front door of her home.  The murderer appears to have walked calmly away and it took two years before the police arrested Barry George who was subsequently convicted of the crime.

The book explores the police investigation before George became a suspect, the subsequent investigation of George and the evidence against him.  Controversial comments are submitted to suggest that George was innocent, followed by further chapters enlarging on the arguments.

This book has undoubtedly been extremely well researched and compelling points submitted to prove George is innocent, so it seems curious to include what can best be described as inappropriate and irrelevant comments.  For example it is stated that because of the number of detectives appointed to the investigation, another murder enquiry suffered although that case was later solved.  Also "the shooting of Jill Dando had to be solved as quickly as possible, so that work on other cases could continue.  Someone had to be held to account to satisfy statistics".   It is also intimated that the police officer who interviewed George was six foot tall and an "imposing, if not intimidating, figure".   In addition, not only is the cost of surveillance queried, but also that the murder squad "must have asked themselves how much longer it would take to get sufficient evidence to prove George’s guilt, and what would be the cost financially."  Are readers really intended to believe that police officers involved in murder investigations would unnecessarily wish to delay enquiries or be concerned about financial costs?

These comments apart, each piece of evidence is quoted, analysed and subjected to extreme scrutiny.  It is alleged the prosecution implied all the witnesses saw the accused which, is "laughably inadequate".  Other matters of concern were forensic evidence, "lies" said to have been told by George, his previous convictions, etc.  But two important points are also worth considering.  Firstly, while police are responsible for investigating murders, it is for professional Queen’s Counsel acting for the Crown Prosecution Service to consider all available evidence before undertaking a prosecution. Secondly the defence was led by Michael Mansfield QC, who is known for his thoroughness in cross-examinations. Surely with all his experience he would not have overlooked many - if not all - the points raised in the book?

The Jill Dando case is one that will fascinate many readers and while the author has undoubtedly researched the subject and produced a readable book, superfluous criticism of police and the prosecution tend to reduce the authenticity of the work.


Kenny Noye: Public Enemy Number 1

Edition: paperback

Author: Wensley Clarkson

ISBN: 9781844541935

Publishers: John Blake Publishing

Price: £6.99

Publication Date: Feb 2006

Publisher’s Title Information

Kenny Noye is one of England's most notorious men. Found guilty of participating in Britain's biggest heist, the Brink's Mat gold buillion robbery, he went on to commit the savage murder of Steven Cameron in a road rage incident and financed the gang of drug dealers who supplied Leah Betts with her fatal dose of Ecstasy.
This classic biography traces Noye's development from a five-year-old, stuffing stolen ten-shilling notes down his boots, to the criminal mastermind who ran a multi-million pound crime ring.
Kenny Noye's life reads like a blockbuster gangster movie: action packed, brutally shocking and totally absorbing to the last page.

The Author

Wensley Clarkson is an investigative journalist who has written numerous non-fiction books, screenplays and television documentaries. His books have sold more than a million copies in severnteen countries worldwide.


"Public Enemy Number 1" is the story of Kenneth Noye, now sixty years of age. Wensley Clarkson’s book about Kenneth Noye is divided into three parts, the first being on Noye’s background history, the second part on his crimes and the third part on his capture and conviction.

As is often the case with career criminals,Noye began acquiring his criminal record with petty crimes at a young age.  At page 25, the author states that Noye bought a Ford Cortina car and a scooter at the age of 18, yet none of his friends knew of the source of his 'earnings'.  He had become a 'Fence' and kept a double-barrelled shotgun in his car.  He then graduated to drug-dealing. Then he cleverly ingratiated himself among freemasons, which gave him access to police officers and business persons.  His crimes include theft, firearms offences, conspiracy, ATM bank card machine fraud, armed robbery, drug-dealing and murder.

The book tells us that as he progressed up his criminal career ladder, he became very security conscious.  After the incredible Brinks Mat gold bullion robbery of millions of pounds (sterling) worth of gold and whilst under police surveillance, killed a police detective carrying out the surveillance.  He was in Noye’s garden, when he was fatally wounded.  Noye was acquitted of this murder on the grounds of self-defence.

However, in May 1987, he was found guilty of conspiracy to handle stolen goods and conspiracy to avoid the paying of Value Added Tax. He was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment.  Whilst in prison, Noye continued his criminal activities and he controlled an organised drug-dealing operation in 1986, but he was released from prison in 1994.

In 2000, Kenneth Noye, represented by the barrister Mr di Stefano, was convicted of committing a 1996 road rage murder of Stephen Cameron.  It was the dogged determination of the police, whistleblowers, and the scrupulous examination of evidence that brought this successful conviction.

On the subject of organised criminals, the Kenneth Noye case illustrates how the organised gang involved in the gold bullion robbery all hailed from one small area around Kent.  It illustrates that organised criminals are ruthless and use murder when they think it necessary. Organised criminals are cunning, corrupting, corrupt, and avaricious.  Kenneth Noye is one of the top names of the United Kingdom’s criminal underworld. Noye, the career criminal, believed that he was impregnable to the forces of the law. He was brazen and violent. The saying goes that ‘a leopard does not change its spots’. All his criminal accomplices were also male. The mostly male, violent criminal fraternity has not changed much over the years.

As a final comment, beyond the scope of this book, Noye is at present challenging the decision by the Criminal Cases Review Commission for not referring his case to the Appeal Court.  Presumably, he is contesting police collaborative testimony, as it is widely known that courts in England and Wales are willing to accept the collaborative testimony of two or more police officers as being both reliable and fair, whilst refusing to accept collaborative testimony from civilian witnesses.

This book is a great read.  It gives a good perspective of organised crime, focussing on Kenneth Noye, someone who killed twice, as far as is known.

Sally Ramage

Pierrepoint A Family of Executioners

Edition: Hardback

Author: Steve Fielding

ISBN: 1844541924

Publishers: John Blake

Price: £17.99

Publication Date: 2006

Publisher’s Title Information

For fifty-five years, generations of the Pierrepoint family served as fearsome hangmen in England. The dynasty began in 1901 when Henry Pierrepoint decided to embark on the rather unique career path towards becoming an executioner. Inspired by the then notorious Official Executioner, James Billington, and eager to fulfil his ambition, Henry wrote to the Home Office with letters requesting that they consider him for the sinister profession. Keeping it in the family, he persuaded his brother, Thomas, to join him and then, in time, his son Albert also joined the family trade, going on to become Chief Executioner. Between them, they carried out an astonishing 800-plus executions.

Having only taken up the role a decade after his father's death, Albert Pierrepoint went on to become the most prolific and efficient hangman this country has ever known. He, like his father and uncle before him, was responsible for the execution of some of the most notorious criminals of the time.

In an era when capital punishment was legal, it was the executioners, not the loved ones, who were the last form of life and contact that the guilty were given. Henry, Thomas and Albert were faced with this unenviable task for many years. The Pierrepoint men executed murderers, spies and criminals the nation over before travelling to many countries including Egypt and post war Germany, where they hanged Nazi war criminals, gaining themselves a reputation as some of the most deadly men in the world.

Pierrepoint: A Family of Executioners recounts the intriguing lives of the three men and the effect that their macabre occupation had on their personal lives. This definitive guide is filled with curious and shocking inside tales of the executions and the victims from the official records and diaries kept by the Pierrepoint family. With revealing insights into the intense rivalry between fellow executioners, Pierrepoint: A Family of Executioners sheds new light on the menacing world of years gone by.

The Author

Steven Fielding is the author of several historical crime titles and has worked as the historical consultant of the Discovery Channel as well as contributiong to several specialist magazines.


"The judgment against a man or woman for felony of death", wrote Hawkins in his Pleas of the Crown (1716), "hath always been the same since the reign of Henry the First, viz., that he or she be hanged by the neck till dead, which in the Roll is shortly entered thus, 'sus per coll'."

This is the story of the Pierrepoint family, however it will probably be Albert that will be known to some.  The death penalty for murder was suspended in Britain in 1965, although a Manx court passed a death sentence in the Isle of Man on July 10, 1992.  This will probably be the last death sentence to be passed in Great Britain, since that week the Home Office received from the Island's Parliament a draft Bill to abolish the death penalty. Another off-shore­island, Jersey, abolished it in 1986.

Albert Pierrepoint and Harry Allen died within a month of each other in 1992.  Albert Pierrepoint, Britain's chief hangman from 1946 to 1956 died on the night of Friday, 10 July 1992.  He died peacefully in his sleep at the nursing home where he had lived for the last four years of his life. He was 87 years old.  His death brought an end to the Pierrepoint dynasty.  Harry Allen, Britain's last official chief hangman died in August 1992, aged 80. 

Following Albert's retirement, Harry Allen and Robert Leslie ‘Jock’ Stewart were promoted to chief executioners. The intention was that there would be no longer be a ‘number one’ hangman and that jobs would be shared between the two.  Harry Allen had been the first to gain promotion, having replaced Steve Wade, who was pensioned off in October 1955, and, as such, claimed seniority.  Jock Stewart was promoted following Albert's resignation, and between them they carried out 35 executions in the period 1957-64. On 13 August 1964, both were in action, hanging two young Preston dairymen for a brutal murder during the course of a theft.  Harry Allen was on duty at Manchester, while jock Stewart officiated at Liverpool. The dairymen were the last two men to be hanged for murder in Great Britain. Capital punishment was suspended the following year and finally abolished in 1969.

After working as an apprentice engineer and a lorry driver, Allen gained the job as hangman in 1938.  He had applied to be a prison officer but was offered the post of assistant executioner.  It is said he always wore a bowler hat and a suit for executions and would say, if asked, that he was a solicitor or doctor. 

The execution chamber usually adjoined the condemned cell. It was a small room, with the trap taking up most of the floor. This trap consisted of two hinged leaves held in position from below by bolts, which were withdrawn when a lever was pulled, allowing the leaves to drop on their hinges. Above it was a beam to which an adjustable chain was attached, and fastened to the chain was a rope of standard length.

The executioner and his assistant were told the weight and height of the prisoner and were allowed to see him/her at exercise or in the cell at some point without him/her seeing them. In the actual chamber, the rope was fitted to the chain and looped; the loop being secured by a piece of pack-thread which broke by the weight of the prisoner when he/she dropped. The execution was very quick; from cell to pulling the lever from 10 to 25 seconds. Pierrepoint was always conscious of the standards set by his father, "My father could dispatch a man in the time it took the prison clock to strike eight."

Albert Pierrepoint, when giving evidence to the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment which was set up in 1949, said, "the knot is the secret of it. We have to put it on the left lower jaw, and if we have it on that side, when he falls it finishes under the chin and throws the chin back; but if the knot is on the right-hand side, it would finish up behind his neck, and throw his neck forward, which would be strangulation. He might live on the rope for a quarter of an hour."

Albert Pierrepoint came from a line of hangmen. For the first 56 years of this century, three members of the Pierrepoint family, Albert's father Henry, his uncle Thomas and finally Albert himself, were, in succession, the official chief executioners of Great Britain.  In Albert's 24-year career, first as assistant and then as chief hangman, it is said he executed 433 then and 17 women, more than any other hangman this century. His reputation as a hangman was an international one.

The last woman to be executed was Ruth Ellis, on July 13, 1955 at Holloway.  According to the list given in this book Albert Executed her assisted by Royston Rickard.

Probably one of the most controversial hangings was that of Derek Bentley for the Murder of Sydney George Miles.  This matter came to a final conclusion when on July 29th 1993 he was granted a royal pardon in respect of the death sentence and execution.  (1998), The Times, July 31, Court of Appeal.

In Regina v Secretary of State for the Home Department, Ex parte Bentley on 8th July 1993, The court said that the Home Secretary should look again at the case of Derek Bentley, who was executed for murder in 1953 and examine whether it would be just to exercise the prerogative of mercy so as to give full recognition to the now generally accepted view that Bentley should have been reprieved.  The QBD Court so recommended on an application by Iris Bentley for judicial review of the Home Secretary's decision of October 1, 1992 not to recommend a posthumous free pardon for her brother, Derek Bentley.  Iris Bentley the sister of Derek Bentley who is now dead, began a campaign on the last day she saw her brother at Wandsworth prison, London.  On the eve of his execution, she promised to clear his name.  For 40 years she has been true to her word.  A broken marriage and a 20-year battle against cancer did not weaken her determination.  Her brother's execution on January 28, 1953, turned Iris Bentley, then 21, into a crusader.

On November 2, 1952, Craig, aged 16, armed with a knife, a revolver and ammunition, and Bentley, aged 19, who had knife and a knuckle-duster, went on a warehouse-breaking expedition. At about 9.15pm they were observed climbing into warehouse premises in Croydon and the police were called, arriving at the site at about 9.25pm.

The alleged words uttered.

DC Fairfax and PC Harrison, finding that the defendants had climbed on to the roof pursued them there and a third officer followed. DC Fairfax arrested Bentley who was then, on the three officers' evidence, heard to shout: "Let him have it, Chris". Craig fired at DC Fairfax, slightly injuring him. Bentley broke away, but that officer grabbed him and removed the knife and knuckle-duster, which he found in Bentley's pockets.

Thereafter, Bentley remained wholly docile beside the officer, offering no incitement and, on the police evidence, making various remarks, which showed concern for his and their safety. Craig continued firing, and shot dead a fourth officer, PC Miles, as that officer reached the roof, probably at a little before 9.57pm.

On the way to the police station Bentley was alleged to have said, "I knew he had a gun but I didn't think he'd use it" and his statement under caution recorded: "I did not know Chris had one until he shot”.

Following a two-day trial, he was convicted with the jury's recommendation to mercy.  He was sentenced to death, the only sentence then permitted, his appeal was dismissed on January 13, 1953 and he was executed on January 28.

It is difficult to place yourself in the position of that jury; what should be remembered is that both youths were engaged in a joint criminal venture, as a result of which a policeman was shot dead. The jury were told that Bentley knew Craig was armed that night. The jury were instructed as to the law as it then stood. Who are we to judge them now?

"It was natural that those charged with the maintenance of law and order should feel that every possible measure of protection should be given to officers of justice in the performance of their arduous duties, and for this purpose that should aim at striking terror into the mind of the malefactor..." Kenny's Outline of the Criminal Law.

Would the result have been any different today?  If it happened in 2007 armed police response would be swift: but in 1952 Craig and Bentley knew there was very little chance those officers would be armed.  Who will speak for PC Miles?  The above case facts are taken from the Law Report, see also

Pierrepoint resigned his post in 1956 over a dispute about his remuneration; thereafter he kept a pub in Oldham. His autobiography was published in 1974.  According to The Times, May 30, 1992, his previously unpublished execution record book was sold for £19,800 at Christie's on May 29.  It was reported that Sydney Dernley, an assistant executioner from 1949 to 1953, attended the sale.  Dernley's memoirs, The Hangman 's Tale, were published in 1989.

The ageing thoughts of these two men probably reflect public opinion; half for and half against. Pierrepoint wrote: "The fruit of my experience has this bitter after-taste: that I do not now believe that any one of the hundreds of executions I carried out has in any way acted as a deterrent against future murder. Capital punishment, in my view, achieved nothing except revenge."

Allen, on the other hand, a Christian, felt there was much value in the teaching of the Bible of all eye for an eye. He said: "since the rope was scrapped, discipline has gone right out the window."  He is said to have died without remorse.  In the last interview he gave at his home in Fleetwood, Lancashire lie said,  "I have always slept peacefully the night before and the night after a hanging."

This is a very full account of this family, however it is not recommended for reading in bed prior to putting out the light, unlike Pierrepoint and Allen you may not sleep peacefully.

Rob Jerrard

And Then The Darkness

Edition: Hardback

Author: Sue Williams

ISBN: 9781844542673

Publishers: John Blake Publishing

Price: £17.99

Publication Date: Jan 2006

Publisher’s Title Information

While driving through the Australian outback two young English tourists are flagged down by a predatory stranger. There's a single gunshot, and then the darkness....Peter Falconio's disappearance in 2001 sparked one of the biggest manhunts and mysteries in Australia's history. The only witness was Peter's girlfriend, Joanne Lees, who was found wandering the highway, her hands bound in front of her and tape matted in her hair. The only clue was a pool of blood found by police at the back of the couple's kombi. Joanne's account of her ordeal - the apparent murder of her partner, her binding and gagging, and her miraclous escape into the bush - provoked a frenzy of media interest and a huge police operation, but clues to the attacker's identity were scarce, and as police blunders mounted, doubts about Joanne's story began to surface. Was this seemingly innocent English backpacker teling the truth?

The Author

Award -winning journalist Sue Williams gives us a gripping account of Peter Falconio's disappearance in the Australian outback, Joanne Lee's traumatic escape and the trial of alleged murderer, Bradley Murdoch.


Last year I visited my sister in South Australia.  Had I read this book first, it may have made me think twice before going.  However, I did not venture into the ‘brutal heart of this beautiful country’ as the author describes it in her acknowledgement, where significantly she thanks everyone except Joanne Lees, who presumably did not contribute to this book.  You cannot condemn or blame her for that, she must feel that she has suffered and said enough already.

The Prologue reduces down to three pages, the entire nightmare story of two young backpackers travelling across Australia towards Darwin via Alice Springs, stopping to watch the sunset and smoking cannabis, then mystery fires, being flagged down and Peter Falconio at the rear of his vehicle – the sound of a shot and then darkness.

The book is a very absorbing read.  Once you begin the journey through all of the lives involved it is hard to put down.  The first few chapters give you the background of the people and what brought them all together?

The story jumps about a bit - to a certain extent this is inevitable and by Chapter 4 ‘A Bad Seed’ the murderer, Bradley Murdoch enters the scene.  Murdoch was from North hampton, north of Perth, however in 1980 he moved south to Albany.  The author’s description of Albany as still one of the most isolated settlements in Australia is interesting.  Your Reviewer was there in 1958 visiting in a Royal Navy frigate and I agree with her, it has the ‘lure of being a long, long way from anywhere…’.  However we were all adopted by a local family and looked after well.  Of course my generation did not go ‘backpacking’.  If you wanted to see the world you joined the Royal Navy.  From all accounts, and this book is just one of them, ‘backpacking’ can be very dangerous.  The book details many of the incidents in Australia, which bear out this statement.

We read a little of the nature of the man Murdoch the murderer on Page 43.  On 10 November 1995 he pleaded guilty to ‘Receiving stolen guns, and having them loaded in his possession whilst drunk and unlicensed and being armed in public in such a manner as to cause terror to people’.

This story has everything.  In January 2001 Sydney is the place to be, the best Olympic Games ever, record visitors, cheap air flights and much more.  Constant sunshine, spectacular golden beaches fabulous nightlife and endless opportunities.  Cheap booze, partying and casual sex.  How casual Joanne Lees’ affair with another British backpacker, Nick Ellis Reilly was, is hard to say.  However we are told she ‘wasn’t proud of what happened’.  Poor old Peter, seemed plodding, dependable and all too familiar and it was her last chance to have a fling.

When so many facts in the evidence did not fit and Police Officers thought she was concealing something she was forced to admit this affair, because she had a second E-Mail account and was in contact with ‘Steph’, who was in fact Nick Reilly.

I am of course reluctant to reveal too much of the story to any potential reader, the fact is your Review and his wife read it together.  Being both former Police Officers we found ourselves discussing very many of the vital issues as this very complex story unfolded.  There were times when it was possible to criticise the Police of the Northern Territories for the way certain aspects of the case were handled.  However, this was not Clapham Common.  You have to understand the remoteness of the scene.  However some statements do not make sense, Police Officers will find many.  Why would a senior officer need to be briefed every hour?  One wonders how he found time for anything else.  We have a Media Officer saying “that if you have a Press Conference at 9am the story has changed by 10am”.  So what, you run the investigation, not the Press!  A very large percentage of the book centres on the fact that Joanne Lees put the press offside by refusing to speak to them, maybe this was a bad decision.  Many of them believed that she had been instrumental in the murder.

DNA played an essential role in bringing this killer to justice.  It is not clear why, no identity parade was ever held.  Joanne Lees did select Murdoch from twelve photographs when shown then in Brighton, England.  Presubably it was too difficult to fly her back for an ID.

Bradley John Murdoch was finally convicted on all counts including murder.  There was no body, no murder weapon and apparently no motive, however there was certainly lots of circumstantial and DNA evidence.  Joanne when asked “Do you see the man in Court?” answered boldly “Yes, I am looking at him”.  There were 82 witnesses.  The killer who claimed he was framed got life imprisonment.

This is a book which will hold your attention all the way through.  There are many small errors, proof reading could have been better.  There are 42 black and white photographs.

This is not the end.  Peter Falconio has not been found and until he is there is no closure for a lot of people.

Rob Jerrard

Beyond Evil

Edition: Paperback

Author: Nathan Yates

ISBN: 9781844541423

Publishers: John Blake Publishing

Price: £7.99

Publication Date: Oct 2005

Publisher’s Title Information

The horrific murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman shocked and sickened the nation. The man found guilty of their murders is now one of the most reviled men in the country. As if his crime was not dreadful enough, he has recently admitted that he lied under oath about the circumstances of one of the murders. Nathan Yates has an exclusive source for contact with Ian Huntley and will have further revelations about how far Huntley has lied about what happened that tragic day.

The Author

Nathan Yates covered the Soham murders as a Daily Mirror staff reporter, from the day of the girls' disappearance. The in-depth reporting of these events won Nathan and his colleagues the title Team Reporters of the Year at the 2003 British Press Awards.

This is the story of a horrific crime that shocked and baffled a nation. When Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman disappeared in August 2002, there followed the biggest manhunt Britain had ever seen, which attracted unprecedented amounts of media coverage. As each day passed, the agony of the girls' friends and families increased as it became more and more unlikely that Holly and Jessica were alive.

Throughout all this, Ian Huntley stood on the sidelines, knowing that the fate of the girls had already been sealed and that they had been safety. The trial was closely murdered.  So callous was he that he even feigned concern for their safety.  The trial was closely watched as the nation prayed that justice would be served.

Huntley's admission from prison that he lied about how one of the girls died has drawn the public's attention to the case once more. Questions are raised as to how much more of the truth this man has concealed and for how much longer he will make the families of the victims suffer before he discloses what really happened that tragic day.

Written by a reporter who interviewed the couple and witnessed the murder hunt, this book tells the full story of the caretaker who killed and the teaching assistant who tried to shield him from justice. It examines in detail how Huntley came to inflict on the Wells and Chapman families what is, without doubt, every parent's worst nightmare.

If anything good came of this it would have to be the result of the Bichard Inquiry 'which focussed on possible weaknesses in the Police computer system and recommended shake-ups in the Police database suggesting that in future even those cleared of crime ought to have records against their names', Page 287. However, this is no comfort to the parents, families and friends of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.
Let me say at once, this isn't a book you read for pleasure. As is the case with all true crime books, I approached it from the point of view that I am commenting on the words of the author, I have not investigated further or looked into the actual facts of the case. I always feel in cases like this I would like to read the police files - the case papers. I know only what I have heard and read, which may not be the full or accurate truth. Since many facts were never established the author has assumed or accepted the Police version of what is thought happened and the Police can only come as near the truth as is possible, without Ian Huntley telling the truth, which clearly he is unlikely to do.
Ian Huntley is still an unknown factor. He said plenty before arrest, but very little since. What he has said are lies and everything has been calculated to gain something for himself out of the situation. Huntley has never apologised or accepted responsibility for what he did.
We are given a portrait of the killer and his girlfriend (Born Maxine Ann Capp) and their early turbulent lives. According to the author Huntley was a predator and liked younger girls. Presumably what we know of him is what the author has learned from interviewing former friends and acquaintances. He claims to have lost his virginity at fourteen. The author himself adds a caveat 'like all his statements this must be treated with caution'.
Huntley did not have a good start in life and his early years of employment were no different with him constantly moving jobs and residences, as we understood he often claimed he had a professional position. It cannot have helped his ego when his wife left him after only a few weeks of marriage and formed a relationship with his brother Wayne, whom she eventually married in 1999.
If the facts are true we get a glimpse of what may be part of his problem with one girlfriend describing sex with Huntley as 'unexceptional', 'swift' and 'ordinary', and 'he often had trouble getting an erection in the first place'. Indeed it points to the root of the trouble because she added, 'he seemed less interested in sex than being in control'.
Chapter 4 describes the early life of Maxine Ann Capp (Carr), 'The Making of a Desperate Woman'. Here we find another deeply troubled person who disliked her father so much she changed her name by Deed poll. So these two lonely failed souls came together in 1998. She met Huntley and they became 'the couple from Hell' and the classic scenario that all Police Officers encounter would be played out. He would beat her; she left home but always came back.
Thus these two people in 2001 moved to Soham and Huntley, or Ian Nixon as he was calling himself started work as a Caretaker. Here we encounter one of the big Whys? of the story. Pages 81 & 82 reveal that when he arrived, Huntley began work under the assumed name Ian Nixon, which he had been using for much of the time since his parents split up. Along with everyone else who worked in schools across the country, he was put through the Police checking system. The Police found no criminal record under the name Ian Nixon, or Ian Huntley or any history, which would suggest Huntley, was unsuitable for work with children. Older retired Police Officers will know what I mean when I say the old Collator system would have caught him here, a simple little card would have recorded all known material.
There are a number of other Whys? to this story and a great number of 'we don't knows'. Indeed, throughout the book the author gives his or perhaps the accepted version of what it is thought probably happened and that's how it will remain, unless Huntley comes clean with the actual facts.
The biggest 'Why' to my mind is why the large hangar building in the school grounds, where Huntley had stashed the girls' clothing was not searched. We are told 'WPC Burton noticed the white hangar building where Huntley had stashed the girls' clothing earlier that night. To the caretaker's terror, she asked, did he have the keys? Huntley, knowing his freedom was on a knife's edge, blurted out an on-the-spot lie. He claimed he didn't have the keys, even though they were dangling from his key ring. The falsehood was enough to earn him a reprieve for now'
Two weeks were to pass before the clothes were discovered, two weeks because a Police Officer, (or I should say The Police because a particular officer should have taken overall charge) failed to search EVERY school building.
Repeatedly in the book the author describes incidents and happenings that would, as a Police Officer automatically arouse my suspicion, Huntley frequently asked odd questions and his Partner Carr, when interviewed always referred to the girl's in the past tense. Why were the two 'Prime Suspects' not arrested earlier? We are told on page 208 that 'the police held back from arresting the pair partly because all they had on Huntley was a suspicion. A criminal record check under his name did not reveal any previous offences, as his file had been wiped clean after the charge of rape in 1998 had been dropped. Another reason why the couple were not arrested at this stage was that detectives still hoped the girls were alive somewhere. If Huntley and Carr had been holding Holly and Jessica captive, then at some point they might have led the police to where the girls were imprisoned.' There is no reason to question these decisions.
The author expresses surprise that the two suspects were arrested without fuss. A Daily Mirror colleague told him describing the scene: 'There were no police in uniform, squad cars, sirens or flashing blue lights. Instead, when Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr were driven away, there was nothing but an air of calm….There was no air of menace, desperation or rush. To the layman it looked like a plainclothes policeman had dropped round to check a fact or get a piece of information. But just minutes later Huntley and Carr were being gently escorted out to the unmarked cars outside. There was no struggle, no raised voices….It was only then that the penny dropped. As I'd watched police had made that vital breakthrough.'
No uniform, no flashing lights, no sirens. Heavens how boring - had the Police known the press wanted a dramatic scene perhaps they would have obliged! This wasn't in fact an arrest, because it seems later the Police swooped on Huntley and Carr in two separate operations and this time both were placed under arrest. Ironically hours after the arrest, the girls' bodies were found.
The book examines the trial process and how modern forensic scientific methods were still able to detect small traces of fibres, in spite of the excessive clean-up. Has justice been served? I do not think so. We continue to keep Ian Huntley at great expense to the state and Maxine Carr served only 1 year 9 months and is now protected by anonymity and if necessary will be given Police protection. As for Huntley, well the latest twist is he now seeks to blame much of it on Carr, whilst at the same time admitting one girl's death was an accident and the other a murder in panic.
It is worth looking on the Internet if you want more facts. Huntley continues to be in the news as a search of the Internet will reveal.

I am certain this will not be the last we hear of the matter and one hopes for the parents sake that they finally learn the truth however painful.

Rob Jerrard

Jack The Ripper - The 21st Century Investigation’

Author: Trevor Marriott

ISBN: 1844541037

Publishers: John Blake Publishing Ltd

Price £17.99 RRP UK

Publication Date: 2005

The 21st Century Investigation re-examines the evidence, but with hindsight and an awareness of modern scientific and investigative techniques, and produces a fresh class of suspects.

'Jack the Ripper - The 21st Century Investigation' examines a selection of the evidence given on oath at each of the inquest proceedings.  This gives the author the opportunity to comment, at the end of each chapter, on what issues modern procedures might have resolved and how the then lack of scientific advances and experience of homicide enquiries might have contributed to evidence being missed. 

The author does not accept the five canonical victims.  Elizabeth Stride, he says, was unlikely to have been killed by the same hand as Catherine Eddowes less than an hour later.  Further, Emma Smith, whose death preceded that of the canonical five, was not a 'Ripper' victim but Martha Tabram, also killed beforehand, might have been.  Similarly Alice McKenzie and Frances Coles might also have been ‘Ripper’ victims.

Mr Marriott also examines the rather unwise pronouncements of senior officers such as Melville Macnaghten and others.  These he places in their context of opinions made long after the events rather than considered evidential analysis.  He has a word to say on the more recent FBI profiles of the miscreant, being none too complimentary.  He implies, although not saying, that they amount to a blinding glimpse of the obvious, not much help and more likely to divert investigating officers from concentrating on the real facts.

The City of London Police, he says, to the delight of this reviewer, (and the books review editor) seemed to have made 'a better job' of their part in the investigation, making crime-scene drawings and taking photographs of Catherine Eddowes, and of Mary Kelly who was murdered outside their jurisdiction.  Perhaps a little unkind to our Metropolitan brothers!  The carefully prepared City Police inquest papers survived two world wars intact but their divisional and headquarters files did not.   Apart from the Home Office files, the surviving Metropolitan documents are far from complete so we cannot gauge how professionally, or otherwise, they were put together.  They seem to have suffered from the fact that most files either did not survive or went walk-about.  Some may have found their way into retiring officers’ personal effects while others were clearly purloined during the period between the files being open to the public at the PRO and their final removal to Kew.

So Trevor Marriott’s work is quite different. Trevor Marriott’s is taking the 'hard-nosed' line of treating everything said with suspicion unless it is corroborated.

Mr Marriot’s  shortlist of leading suspects for discussion are reduced, from a very long list, to eleven of the better known.  The latter are, in no particular order, Druitt, Cutbush, Kosminski, Chapman, Ostrog, Pizer, Tumblety, Barnett, Prince Albert Victor, Maybrick and Sickert.   Regrettably, the author does not share his thoughts with us on the 'Swanson Marginalia' seen as possible 'evidence' against Kosminski.

He examines the possibility of a link between the murders and the comings and goings of merchant shipping in the port of London.  Unfortunately he does not offer an opinion on the culpability of James Sadler, a ship’s fireman, who was, after all, arrested, charged and appeared at the inquest on Frances Coles.  He could be traced to being within minutes and yards of Coles at the time of her death!

This 2005 brings us another book on the trail of the same Whitechapel murderer.  This author clearly wanting further and better particulars to decide guilt!

(The reviewer, who prefers to remain anonymous, has never had the time or courage to go into print and endure the comments of others claiming to know better.  His interest in the murders began in 1952 when, as a wet-behind-the ears probationer, he was being shown around Mitre Square by an old hand and had ‘Rippers Corner’ pointed out to him.  It was probably meant to put the wind up him when patrolling alone but had the effect of kindling a lifelong interest in the murders.  He would claim to have read most original documents and most of what has been written on the subject over the last half century.  And he has no idea who did it either!)



"Internet Law Book Reviews" Copyright Rob Jerrard