Author Topic: Stephen Downing  (Read 31 times)

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Offline Real Justice

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Stephen Downing
« on: October 06, 2020, 01:00:PM »
Stephen has just recently brought book out Called

The Case of Stephen Downing: The Worst Miscarriage of Justice in British History, he spent 27 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.  Obviously Jeremy Bamber would surpass this if ever he won an appeal. 


12th Sept 1973
Stephen was seventeen years old when he got charged with the murder of Wendy Sewell in BAKEWELL Derbyshire, he was part of the churchyard grave digging team at the time and he happened to stumble on the body of Wendy. She wasn’t dead but breathing and unconscious,  He had a reading age of an eleven year old and was taken to the police station just as a witness, routine questioning, wasn’t offered a solicitor or told he didn’t need his parents because he was just a witness, 9 hours later he confessed to attacking her.  Later this changed to murder because Wendy died from her injuries, she had been beaten with a pick axe.

Following a very biased prosecution based three day trial during February 1974 Downing was found guilty by a jury, convicted and sentenced to what was eventually a full life sentence.

Just eight months later during October 1974 there followed an appeal with fresh evidence from an eye witness who saw Wendy Sewell alive after Downing left the cemetery for lunch, however the prosecution rubbished this evidence and the appeal failed.

In the many years which followed Downing’s incarceration he was moved from prison to prison, continuing to maintain his innocence and in doing so jeopardised any chance of parole as he was “In Denial Of Murder” until eventually his plight reached journalist Don Hale, whose tireless efforts eventually led to a Criminal Cases Review and appeal in which Downing was released as a middle aged man after some twenty-seven years, the longest miscarriage in the United Kingdom legal history.








Offline Real Justice

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Re: Stephen Downing
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2020, 01:09:PM »
Stephen has just recently brought book out Called

The Case of Stephen Downing: The Worst Miscarriage of Justice in British History, he spent 27 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.  Obviously Jeremy Bamber would surpass this if ever he won an appeal. 


12th Sept 1973
Stephen was seventeen years old when he got charged with the murder of Wendy Sewell in BAKEWELL Derbyshire, he was part of the churchyard grave digging team at the time and he happened to stumble on the body of Wendy. She wasn’t dead but breathing and unconscious,  He had a reading age of an eleven year old and was taken to the police station just as a witness, routine questioning, wasn’t offered a solicitor or told he didn’t need his parents because he was just a witness, 9 hours later he confessed to attacking her.  Later this changed to murder because Wendy died from her injuries, she had been beaten with a pick axe.

Following a very biased prosecution based three day trial during February 1974 Downing was found guilty by a jury, convicted and sentenced to what was eventually a full life sentence.

Just eight months later during October 1974 there followed an appeal with fresh evidence from an eye witness who saw Wendy Sewell alive after Downing left the cemetery for lunch, however the prosecution rubbished this evidence and the appeal failed.

In the many years which followed Downing’s incarceration he was moved from prison to prison, continuing to maintain his innocence and in doing so jeopardised any chance of parole as he was “In Denial Of Murder” until eventually his plight reached journalist Don Hale, whose tireless efforts eventually led to a Criminal Cases Review and appeal in which Downing was released as a middle aged man after some twenty-seven years, the longest miscarriage in the United Kingdom legal history.
There are several good podcasts on this case, one even now links the Yorkshire Ripper to the murder, personally I’m not sure, to me it doesn’t fit in with the normal Ripper attack and area?

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/true-crime-investigators-uk/id1510356582

Offline Real Justice

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Re: Stephen Downing
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2020, 01:38:PM »
There are several good podcasts on this case, one even now links the Yorkshire Ripper to the murder, personally I’m not sure, to me it doesn’t fit in with the normal Ripper attack and area?

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/true-crime-investigators-uk/id1510356582
There is another very good podcast and a series about this case.  If it hadn’t been for Don Hale, he still would have been locked up, although he could have had Parole, his denial stopped this happening.

Hale's work on the case eventually helped to force a change in both European and British law, allowing any prisoner, particularly in denial of murder (IDOM) and/or convicted of any serious offence, to be allowed to appeal for parole consideration directly to the Parole Board. Downing's case was one of three test cases originally presented to the European Court of Human Rights by barrister Edward Fitzgerald. After several years of debate and despite a late appeal from the British Government, the case went in Downing's favour and he received £500 in compensation. When the murder conviction was later quashed, Downing also received over £900,000 in compensation. Hale's book about the Stephen Downing appeal case, Town Without Pity, became a best-seller. It was adapted into a BBC TV drama starring Stephen Tompkinson and Caroline Catz called In Denial of Murder. In 2016 Judge Robert Rinder featured Hale's book and his quest for justice within a one-hour special on ITV 1 for Judge Rinder's Crime series. The show was repeated in July 2018. Taking part were Hale, Stephen Downing and a cold case detective Chris Clark, who believes Wendy Sewell, the victim in the Bakewell murder, for which Downing was eventually cleared, may have been another victim of the notorious Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe.

Awards   Edit
Hale was voted 2001 Man of the Year by The Observer newspaper, Journalist of the Year by What the Papers Say and was made an OBE for his efforts and campaigning journalism. He has also been national journalist of the year on three occasions, and his campaign to free Stephen Downing won the national campaign of the year award.[citation needed]


Offline Real Justice

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Re: Stephen Downing
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2020, 01:49:PM »
After being contacted by Downing's parents, Hale started his investigation by simply knocking on the doors of houses overlooking the graveyard and almost immediately struck gold - an old woman greeted him with open arms: 'I'm so glad someone is finally doing something about this,' she said, ushering him into the house.

She had seen a van parked outside the front of the graveyard at the time of the murder and had noted two men behaving in a unusual manner. She had written down the registration number and description of the men on the back of a cigarette packet and taken it to the police station but had been told to go away.

Hale asked her if she still had the notes taken on the day of the murder and unbelievably she opened a drawer full of clutter and pulled out the cigarette packet.

'It was beyond belief, 22 years she'd kept that box,' said Hale. 'It was yellowed and dusty but still completely legible - and damning to the police case.'

Hale had the registration number traced and found that it belonged to another man known to Sewell, the man she'd been on her way to meet that day.

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When Hale took the case back to court to ask for an appeal, he was turned down. But then came his second stroke of luck. In a village miles away, Jane Atkins, a young girl at the time of the murder who had run away from home shortly afterwards, happened to read about the case in a local paper left in a restaurant where she was waiting on tables.

She contacted Hale and revealed that on the day of the murder, she had entered the graveyard from the back just after the one o'clock news had ended and seen Downing leaving at the front - she had recognised his walk.

As she walked through the graveyard, she saw Sewell alive and well in the arms of her boyfriend, a well-known local businessman. She could prove that Sewell was alive and well long after Downing had left the scene of the crime.

Painstakingly combing over ground deep in the silt of the years, Hale uncovered more witnesses: local people who could prove Downing's innocence or at least throw doubt on the police case. Some of these people had approached the police and been turned away and others had covered their eyes and ears to Downing's plight.

As Hale dug, more scum rose to the surface. A man covered in blood had been seen by numerous witnesses running from the scene of the crime, identified by many at the time, but the police didn't want to know.

As Hale started peeling back the layers, certain people began to get nervous. Twice he narrowly escaped being run down by a car, then he received a phonecall from a man who said that was his last chance and that 'if you don't drop that story, you only have another couple of weeks to live'.

Hale said lightly: 'That's how I knew I was getting close.' He admitted, however, that when the phonecall was followed by a high-speed car chase by two lorries that slammed repeatedly into the back of his car forcing him to escape over open fields, he was seriously scared.

He moved house with his wife and went ex-directory. The police gave him a mirror on a stick to check the bottom of his car for bombs and suggested he drop the whole thing.

Downing, raped, tortured and bullied in jail, quite possibly owes his life to the fact that Hale didn't pay the slightest attention to the attempts on his life, and since Hale's final success on Wednesday the whole country knows it. On the day Downing's bail was granted, he gave 48 interviews and, in the days since, his mobile phone has barely stopped ringing.

Offline Real Justice

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Re: Stephen Downing
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2020, 01:57:PM »
Downing languished in jail for 17 years longer than his recommended sentence, simply because he maintained his innocence over the killing of 32-year-old legal secretary Wendy Sewell.

And the real murderer — who sexually assaulted and bludgeoned Wendy in a secluded cemetery in Bakewell, Derbys, during lunchtime on September 12, 1973 — has never been caught.

Now crusading journalist Don Hale, who campaigned for Stephen’s release, has looked back over the evidence and examined the other potential suspects in his new book Murder In The Graveyard.

And it is possible the killer struck more than once.


There are compelling links between the deaths of Wendy and two other young women in 1970.

Don, 66, tells The Sun: “The Wendy Sewell case is a murder mystery which could be linked to other unsolved murders.

“I have looked at different witnesses, timings and the possibilities for what could have happened in Bakewell graveyard.”

As Don dug deeper into the Sewell story, attempts were made on his life, including a lorry trying to ram his car off the road.

Don claims police threatened him with prison and obstructed his investigation, and that evidence went missing.

So even after Stephen was released in 2002, when appeal judges ruled his conviction was unsafe, the journalist wanted to understand why so many people had gone to such lengths to try to shut him up.

'COERCED BY OFFICERS'

Don, who was awarded an OBE for his campaigning journalism, has spoken to nine new witnesses and gone through case files with forensic experts for the new book.

The mystery started at around 1.25pm on September 12, 1973, when council worker Stephen raised the alarm after finding blood-soaked Wendy laying barely conscious in the cemetery.

The married woman, from nearby Middleton-by-Youlgreave, who had been known as the Bakewell Tart for her affairs, had been battered with a pickaxe handle. She died from her injuries two days later.

By this time Stephen had already confessed to attacking her after being questioned by detectives.

Having found Wendy, and with blood on his clothes, Stephen had become the prime suspect for police.

Later he retracted his admission of guilt, claiming he had been coerced by officers, and even though the trial judge raised questions about police procedure, the youngster was found guilty of murder.

He was sentenced to life, with a minimum term of ten years.

As the editor of the Matlock Mercury, Don started to dig into Stephen’s conviction in 1994 after being told by many locals that the wrong man was in jail.

What he learned only increased his curiosity.

The police had failed to find the “running man” who was seen fleeing the cemetery with blood on him shortly after Wendy had been attacked. A witness, not interviewed by the police, claimed he said, “What have I done?” When one local woman told an officer they knew the identity of the stranger, the policeman is said to have told her he was not interested.

CLUES COULD COLLAR KILLER

Don knows who the man is but has named him Mr Blue because his guilt cannot be proven.

Similarly, two other men possibly connected with Wendy’s death have been called Mr Orange and Mr Red to protect their identities.

Ex-con Mr Orange was placed at the scene of the crime by many witnesses and Don found evidence that the powerful Mr Red had forced men to give him a false alibi.

Both Mr Red and Mr Orange were reported to be Wendy’s former lovers. Don says: Mr Red “went to an awful lot of trouble to threaten people into giving him false alibis”. He added: “He was a thug and a bully. He had a lot of power and influence.”

One of the most shocking revelations the journalist discovered was that Mr Red was also questioned about a murder three years earlier.



The police spoke to him in connection with the death of Barbara Mayo, whose body had been found near Ault Hucknall, Derbys, in October 1970.

The 24-year-old trainee teacher had been sexually assaulted and strangled and had a wound to the back of her skull.

While Stephen was still in prison, the Home Office sent a file to Derbyshire police on other unsolved murders that could be linked to Wendy’s.

One of the possible cases is Jackie Ansell Lamb, who was discovered strangled in Cheshire in March 1970, after hitchhiking from London.

Don explains: “Barbara Mayo was murdered just 12 miles away from Bakewell. The victims were all choked, hit and garrotted. They were stripped, kicked and assaulted.”

Scott Lomax has also covered the Barbara Mayo killing, it’s very close to Scott’s area, I wonder if he links the Wendy Sewell murder to this?



« Last Edit: October 06, 2020, 02:00:PM by Real Justice »

Offline Steve_uk

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Re: Stephen Downing
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2020, 07:30:PM »
There's a video here on the case: https://youtu.be/YUtz5vHc7YY

Offline Real Justice

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Re: Stephen Downing
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2020, 07:42:PM »
There's a video here on the case: https://youtu.be/YUtz5vHc7YY
Yes, thanks Steve I will watch it later 👍