Author Topic: Torso in the Tank (early 'Rough Justice' BBC documentary)  (Read 4540 times)

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Rochford Dolly Peel

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I dont know whether anyone on here will remember this. The crime happened in my hometown (but before I lived here) and was featured on 'Rough Justice' in the 80's. But I cant find anything about the documentary on the internet.

Stumbling around in the darkness, Mick Mallenby and Eddie Dawson found two bags. One contained a blackened torso while inside the second was a head which had been bludgeoned with a hammer.

Pathologists identified the rotting remains as belonging to 17-year-old Eileen MacDougall, of South Shields, who had been missing for nine years.

Workers Mallenby and Dawson had been cleaning out a giant petrol storage tank on the Tyne when they made the gruesome discovery.

The case of the Torso in the Tank, as it became known, is one of the most infamous murders in North East history and a police operation led to the conviction and jailing of a man called Ernie Clarke in 1979


He got released some time after the documentary.

Rochford Dolly Peel

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Re: Torso in the Tank (early 'Rough Justice' BBC documentary)
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2011, 09:40:PM »
Byline: By Ray Marshall

Four workmen approached the petrol storage tank in South Shields ready to start cleaning it out.

They opened the hatch and immediately came across a polythene bag, which they thought contained a pile of oily rags and rubber gloves.

But closer examination revealed the full horror of the situation ( because the workmen had discovered the grisly remains of a murder victim.

In two plastic bags was a human torso and head.

One of the men said: "The arms were still attached but were twisted. The bag wasn't tied. The second bag contained a head with long hair."

A police murder inquiry was quickly under way, but there were problems.

First, what sex was the body and secondly, how long had it been there? The tank, belonging to Velva Liquids Ltd, had last been cleaned out in the 1960s. This was 1979.

An anonymous caller called our sister paper, The Journal, and said the torso had been there for 13 years and was one of Tyneside's gangland war killings.

A plea was issued to the public as detectives began searching through the missing persons file.

The victim was quickly identified as female but the torso was proving a hazard for pathologists because it was feared the petrol-soaked body could be explosive. For 20 days the mystery dragged on until on July 16, when a dramatic development took place. Ernest Adolphus Clarke from Hull was charged with the murder, although the body had still not been identified.

Eventually the victim was identified as Eileen McDougall. The 16-year-old had gone missing from her home in South Shields in 1970 and had died from severe head wounds.

In court Clarke pleaded not guilty but was convicted of murder.

It was said that Eileen and other girls had visited his flat.

Clarke was sentenced to life imprisonment. But that was not the end of the story.

In 1981 he sought leave to appeal against the verdict but was refused.

In 1983 the BBC's Rough Justice programme claimed to have turned up new evidence which cast doubt on the guilty verdict.

Former Attorney General Sam Silkin watched a preview of the programme and said: "I have no doubt whatsoever that if the whole of what I have seen had been in front of the jury at the trial they could not have conceivably convicted Mr Clarke."The programme was screened nationally and the BBC's verdict was that Ernest Clarke was innocent.

It was also claimed police withheld vital evidence. An appeal hearing opened in 1986.

Vital evidence which helped convict Clarke was thrown out, but the Appeal Court judges decided the weight of evidence was still such that Clarke was guilty.

In another development Clarke decided to get married while still behind bars. He was then 53 and his bride was Tynesider Mary Sands, who had been writing to him for a year.

In 1994 Clark was released from prison after serving 14 years. He was then 63, and described as in frail health.

On his release his wife said: "We have nothing to say."


Offline Janet (Formerly known as Takeshi)

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Re: Torso in the Tank (early 'Rough Justice' BBC documentary)
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2011, 01:50:PM »
I cannot find the actual documentary programme online but I have found a site where you can download the book from the series which more or less guides you through what would have been shown in the documentary. The book is called "More Rough Justice" by Tom Sargant, Peter Hill and Martin Young. These were the people who made the documentary series for the BBC.  Some other information from the case on there too:

http://www.raybrook.co.uk/library.htm


Hope this is useful.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2011, 01:54:PM by Takeshi »

Rochford Dolly Peel

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Re: Torso in the Tank (early 'Rough Justice' BBC documentary)
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2011, 11:02:PM »
That's an excellent link (with several options) Takeshi. Cheers for that. I'm halfway throught one of the options so far.  8)

Offline Janet (Formerly known as Takeshi)

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Re: Torso in the Tank (early 'Rough Justice' BBC documentary)
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2011, 05:49:PM »
Your welcome! I have read the case myself now. It was quite interesting. Even I thought he might be guilty because of the "jumper in the wax".

Just shows how wrong you can be and what a difference two seemingly small pieces of evidence can make.

And oh look, the police can be selective with disclosure when it suits them to be!

I might even go on to read some of the other cases. I think it might help me to look at the Bamber case from different angles.  :)

Offline Larry lurex

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Re: Torso in the Tank (early 'Rough Justice' BBC documentary)
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2013, 10:57:AM »
http://www.roughjusticetv.co.uk/clarkefilm.htm

His name is Ernie Clarke, Roch. This is a link to the documentary.
On Ilkley Moor Baht'at.

Offline Roch

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Re: Torso in the Tank (early 'Rough Justice' BBC documentary)
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2013, 06:34:PM »
http://www.roughjusticetv.co.uk/clarkefilm.htm

His name is Ernie Clarke, Roch. This is a link to the documentary.

Thanks very much for this Andrea.  I'm gonna download it as per instructions on the site coz it wont play in my browser.  Excellent work.