Still At Large, a podcast series looking at unsolved British murder cases.
Jean Bradley - March 25th 1993
Jean Bradley – 25th March 1993
This episode is the last in an accidental trilogy. I didn’t set out with the idea of doing another mini-series on the senseless deaths of women of a similar status at the hands of another angry and violent man who is evading justice to this day, but they have all, at one time or another been tenuously linked by the popular press with each other.
Janice Weston was murdered changing a tyre by a roadside, near her car. Penny Bell was viciously murdered in her car. Both were successful thoroughly modern women whose murders had a connection involving a car. The Modus Operandi of the two attackers was quite different, although it seems likely that both women knew their own killer, but the car is not the linking feature, and the two cases ended up being disentangled in the press over the coming months, but some ideas linger, no matter how incorrect they are.
There is a striking difference between the linking of Janice and Penny, and that of Penny and the subject of today’s appeal. There’s even a suspect shared between them, but the suspect is stronger in today’s episode than the link to Penny’s murder. She, like Penny and Janice was a successful business woman high up in her field. Another woman killed by an angry man by her car.
A little house keeping. I’m going to have to take a small break, the unremitting wall of human effluent that is the stock and trade of true-crime can be a bit much, and my immune system is having one of its more active periods. In combination, this too much right now. Living with an autoimmune/autoinflammatory condition is a real pain in the neck, and my body needs a little recovery time. I’m hoping to be back by the start of December. When I come back, I’m hoping to begin including a few podcast promos for other shows. What would be the preferred place for them to go? Let me know below.
Thanks for listening, take care and keep sharing these appeals, please.
Ruth Penelope 'Penny' Bell - 6th June 1991
Ruth Penelope “Penny” Bell – 6th June 1991
Penny Bell, as most people will know her, was born in 1948. Her family life seems to have been a happy and healthy one. In 1981 she married her boyfriend, Alistair Bell. They had met in 1975. The marriage would be Penny’s second, the first ending in divorce some years earlier. Together Penny and Alistair would both become successful people employed at the director level. Alistair was a director of an estate agency, that’s a realtor for the American audience, and Penny was the director of a Human Resource agency with a specialism in the supply of high-quality catering staff. Her business was doing well with an annual turnover of around £3 million, and Penny was earning around £80,000 – good money for 1991 when there was a recession on.
At 12.15, metropolitan Police were called to the car park of the Gurnell Leisure Centre in Greenford, West London. A woman had been taken ill in the car park. An hour or so earlier, two other women using the facilities had seen the car, a powder-blue Jaguar XJS, parked in a bay with the hazard lights on and the windscreen wipers on. They had looked inside and saw a woman they thought was asleep, so went on to their exercise. Only when they returned an hour later did they check again, this time they saw a little more and the police were called. Carefully the attending officers opened the door to find a scene of utter horror. Penny Bell sat in the driver’s seat dead from massive blood loss caused by a savage attack with a bladed implement. The car-park was immediately sealed and became a crime scene that would be meticulously examined by forensic and uniformed officers.
Grief affects everyone differently and this poor family were torn apart by this man in their mothers car that June day in 1991.
Janice Carole Weston - 11th September 1983
Janice Carole Weston - 11th September 1983
In 1982 Janice and Tony were to end up as a couple. Two wealthy people with Janice being a leading solicitor, first with Herbert Oppenheimer, Nathan & Vandyke, immediately after college, and then Charles Russell and Co as a partner. Janis’ drive was monumental and as well as writing a book on the emerging computer data legal framework, she also helped to set-up a network for professional women in business and law. The neat and tidy child had become a force of nature.
By some odd quirk of fate, Janice experienced a puncture in the rear near-side wheel, the one with the spare on it. This was the reason she pulled in to the layby, the tyre needed changing. It was during this unscheduled and most likely unwelcomed stop, that Janice’s killer attacked her.
The killer didn’t bother to hide her body or make it look like a robbery as she was still wearing her gold watch and wedding ring. After killing her, the murderer simply got back in her car and drove away.
Lucy McHugh - 26th July 2018
Series 3, episode 6: Lucy McHugh – 26th July 2018
This week’s show deals with violence against children and is significantly different from most of the cases as this is still an active investigation and someone has been detained, but the Police, Hampshire Constabulary, are still appealing for information about the movements of the victim on the day she died and need to speak with any potential witnesses.
This is the tragic and active investigation in to the murder of thirteen-year-old Lucy McHugh, in Southampton on the 25th or 26th of July 2018.
Lucy was a smart, funny, friendly girl with a lot of friends. Her family love her with all their hearts. It was the start of the Summer Holiday season with Lucy’s school having broken for the Summer on Friday 20th July. Who can forget the delight at the start of the summer holidays and the summer of 2018 was a long and hot one. The promise of the summer with the cooling effect of the River Test and Southampton water would have made the prospects of the next six weeks of freedom seem especially exciting.
On Wednesday 25th at some time around or shortly before 9.00am, Lucy left her home. That morning Lucy had dressed in a white vest-top, camouflage or DPM leggings, mid-grey Jordan 23s basketball boots and a varsity jacket in black and white with the logo of the band Falling in Reverse on the front and RADKE 01 on the back. A varsity jacket for those who aren’t familiar with the term, are those seen in the various high-school-dramas that endlessly pour forth from the USA. They’re the white armed jackets seen adorning the team jocks. The name on the back, Radke, refers to the lead-singer Ronnie Radke. Falling in reverse are generally accepted to be a post-hardcore rap-rock band that is a fusion of straight up heavy metal in the style of Kreator and quite aggressive and nihilistic rap-style lyrics and the rather stilted bouncy armed hand-waving performance of rappers. It’s no more than interesting and helps to understand who Lucy was. A normal, healthy and slightly rebellious teen with the usual interests of teenagers caught in the hinterland between childhood and adulthood.
We have a fair idea of the route Lucy probably took from the CCTV that has since been gathered and analysed by Hampshire Police. The information relating to her movement from CCTV was released in order of discovery, so to keep the story as factual as possible and present the gaps in the known movements, I’m going to tell it as it happened, not as it was discovered.
Natalie Jane Pearman - 20th November 1992
1992 seems such a long time ago these days. Charles and Eddie were topping the charts with their falsetto filled soul/disco classic, “Would I lie to you”, the Church of England voted to allow women to become priests, and the Hoxne Hoard of late Roman Gold and Silver was discovered by a metal detectorist in Suffolk, but the most controversial news for the week beginning 16th November 1992, was the High Court decision to allow for the disconnection of feeding tubes to twenty-one-year-old Tony Bland who had been in a coma since the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. Such ethical debates around euthanasia and withdrawal of care often spark a lot of National introspection and discussion. When Tony Bland passed away he became the ninety-sixth victim of the needless and avoidable crush during a football game in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. By mid-morning of the twentieth of November almost all coverage washed away by the news that Windsor Castle, the oldest inhabited castle in the world, was on fire. The national news agencies focused all their attention to the burning Royal residence, so the death of a sixteen-year-old street girl with a troubled recent history, was virtually ignored. Her killer is yet to bought to book over her murder.
The age of consent for lawful sexual activity in the United Kingdom is sixteen, in 1992 for heterosexual couples, whilst the age of consent for homosexual sexual activity was still at twenty-one, although that isn’t important to this case, just context. Given that by the time Natalie’s life was so tragically taken by a stranger in the night, she had already been working as a prostitute since before she was of the legal age of consent, it appears that she had fallen into the hands of group of predators.
PC Keith Blakelock Part two
News of Pc Keith Blakelock’s murder spread rapidly across the Broadwater Farm Estate, and according to multiple sources, as word spread the intensity of the anger seemed to ebb away, the rioters thinned out and the police regained control of the streets at around 4:30 am.
Smoke still hung in the air as the injured officers of Shield Serial 502 were variously taken to hospital or were left to sit in their Sherpa Van in a state of dazed, terrified, shock. The van wasn’t an official van, it was a private hire that had been used to ferry the officers into the riot. There would be no special sessions with councillors or mental-health advocates, this was the mid-nineteen-eighties where psychological problems were regarded as weaknesses rather than the natural consequences of dreadfully traumatising events that need treatment much like any other injury. More than one member of Serial 502 was left to find their own way to and from hospital.
Throughout all of this, what cannot be forgotten is that a father of three went to work and never came home. He was set upon by a violent and bloody mob, and as yet, no successful prosecutions have convicted anyone of the crimes against Keith Blakelock.