Murder of Carl Bridgewater
It was a case that shocked the nation. On September 19 1978 13-year-old Carl Bridgewater was nearing the end of his afternoon paper round when he delivered a newspaper at Yew Tree Farm near Stourbridge in Staffordshire. As the occupants were disabled he, as previously, opened the back door to drop the paper on the kitchen table. On this occasion the elderly couple who lived in the farmhouse were absent. It appears he disturbed a burglary. Dragged to the sitting room he was murdered, shot in the head at point-blank range.
The cold-blooded nature of the execution-style killing horrified all who heard about it. The police were under great public and political pressure to find the killer or killers. But that pressure led to wrongdoing by at least one police officer involved in the investigation, and a gross miscarriage of justice.
Following another similar burglary in the area Staffordshire Police rounded up four men, and after lengthy and allegedly violent interrogation one of them, petty crook Patrick Molloy, having been shown a confession by another of the gang, confessed himself, though he retracted his confession as soon as he was given access to a solicitor; nevertheless it was central to the conviction of Molloy and his three associates.
Scientific investigation of that first confession years later showed conclusively it had been fabricated, something one officer involved in the interrogations, the late DC John Perkins, was found in his subsequent career to have done on at least three other occasions. After various failed appeals, the surviving three members of the so-called Bridgewater Four were released in February 1997 pending a further appeal, their convictions quashed in July of that year.
Who really killed Carl Bridgewater is not yet known. Incredibly and tragically fingerprint evidence pointing to the presence of someone other than the Bridgewater Four at the crime scene – prints found on Carl’s bike which was hidden out of sight at the farm – was ignored at the time.
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