10 Crimes That Shook Britain

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Harold Shipman

Harold Shipman was a convicted serial killer whose crimes shook Britain.

A doctor by profession, Harold Shipman is among the most prolific serial killers in history with up to 218 murders been attributed to him, although many believe that actual number to be much higher.

In March 1998, Dr. Linda Reynolds expressed concerns to John Pollard, the coroner for the South Manchester District, about the high death rate among Harold Shipman's patients. In particular, she was concerned about the large number of cremation forms for elderly women that Shipman had needed countersigned. She suspected something was not right.

The matter was brought to the attention of the police who were unable to find sufficient evidence to bring charges against Shipman. Between 17th April 1988 when the police abandoned the investigation, and Shipman's eventual arrest, he killed three more people.

Shipman's last victim was Kathleen Grundy, who was found dead at her home on 24th June 1998. Harold Shipman was the last person to see her alive and had later signed her death certificate, recording "old age" as the cause of death.

Kathleen's daughter became concerned when her mother's solicitor informed her that a will had been made, apparently by her mother. The will excluded her and her children, but left £386,000 to Shipman. Alarm bells began to ring for Grundy's daughter.

Shipman was arrested on 7th September 1998 and was found to own a typewriter of the type that was used to make the forged will.

The police then went on to investigate other deaths that Shipman had certified, and created a list of 15 cases to investigate. They discovered an alarming pattern of Shipman administering lethal overdoses of diamorphine, signing patients' death certificates, and then forging medical records citing they had been in poor health.

In 1999 Harold Shipman was charged with the murders of 15 women, all of whom had died between 1995 and 1998.

Harold Shipman died on 13th January 2004, the eve of his 58th birthday, after hanging himself in his cell at Wakefield Prison, West Yorkshire.

Mary Bell

Mary Flora Bell was just eleven years old when she caused a sensation in 1968 for the murders of two small boys in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The two victims were aged just three and four and were discovered in May and July 1968.

The police launched an investigation that interviewed twelve hundred children. Two girls, Norma Joyce Bell and Mary Flora Bell (no relation to each other), both gave answers during questioning that were suspicious or evasive. Both girls were questioned several times and changed their stories twice.

Both girls eventually accused the other of "squeezing" one of the victims throat. Norma and Mary were arrested on 5th August 1968 and, when charged with murder, Mary Bell replied, "That's all right by me."

After spending eight years in young offenders institutes, Mary Bell was transferred to an open prison where she escaped with two boys in 1977. They were at large for only two days.

Mary Bell was released with a new identity in 1980.

Fred and Rose West

Fred and Rose West tortured and raped numerous young women and girls, murdering at least 12, including their own family members.

While still married to his first wife, Catherine Costello, 27 year old Fred met his next wife, Rosemary Letts on 29th November 1968, on her 15th birthday. On her 16th birthday, she moved in with him.

Rosemary West is believed to have killed Charmaine (Fred's step-daughter from his first marriage) shortly before Fred was released from prison for theft in June 1971. Charmaine disappeared in June, and Rosemary explained this by claiming that Costello had called and taken her back to Scotland. Costello turned up to collect Charmaine in late August, and she too disappeared.

In 1972 Fred and Rose were married in Gloucester. In June, Rose gave birth to their second daughter, Mae. Around this time, West also encouraged Rose to work as a prostitute. Rose eventually had seven children.

The family moved to 25 Cromwell Street where Fred converted the upper floor to bedsits, as well as a room that Rose would use for prostitution.

Heather Ann West, their 16 year old daughter became the focus of Fred's attentions after her sister Anne Marie left home at 15. Heather had complained about the abuse she suffered to her friends, and when news of this got back to Fred and Rose, they decided to kill her. In June 1987, Fred and Rose killed Heather. Heather's disappearance, Fred and Rose's changing stories about her whereabouts, and the threats to their other children that they would "end up under the patio like Heather" if they misbehaved led to the Wests' arrests in 1994.

On 6th August 1992, police began an investigation, eventually leading to Fred being charged with rape and Rose as an accomplice. The rape case against the Wests collapsed when the two main witnesses declined to testify at the court case in 1993.

After Fred's arrest, the police uncovered human bones at the house on 25 Cromwell Street. Fred confessed, retracted and then re-confessed to the murder of his daughter Heather, denying that Rose was involved. Rose was not arrested until April 1994.

Additional bodies were found on the property and, on 4th March 1994, Fred admitted that he had carried out nine more murders, including that of his first wife Costello, whose body was found on 10th April 1994.

Fred and Rose West were brought before a magistrates' court in 1994; he was charged with 11 murders and she with 10.

On 1st January 1995, Fred West hanged himself in his cell.

The evidence against Rose was circumstantial, as she never confessed. She was tried in October 1995 and was found guilty of all 10 murders and sentenced to life in prison. The judge recommended that Rose never be released.

Beverley Allitt

Beverley Allitt was a nurse who was given 13 life sentences in 1993 after being convicted of murdering four children, attempting to murder three other children, and causing grievous bodily harm to a further six children.

Allitt's crimes were committed over a period of 59 days between February and April 1991 in the children's ward at Grantham and Kesteven Hospital, where Allitt was employed as a nurse.

She administered large doses of insulin to at least two victims and a large air bubble was found in the body of another, but police were unable to establish how all the attacks were carried out.

In May 1993, Allitt received 13 life sentences for her crimes. The judge told Allitt she was "a serious danger" to others and was unlikely ever to be considered safe enough to be released.

It was only following the death of Allitt's last victim that medical staff became suspicious of the number of cardiac arrests on the children's ward and police were called in. It was discovered that Allitt had been the only nurse on duty for all of the attacks on the children and she also had access to the drugs.

On 6th December 2007, the High Court ruled that Allitt would have to wait until at least 2022 and the age of 54 before she could apply for parole.

Allitt's motives have never been fully explained.

Colin Ireland

Colin Ireland is a serial killer known as the 'Gay Slayer' as he specifically targeted gay men.

Ireland was a former soldier who had picked up convictions for burglary and robbery in his twenties. At the beginning of 1993, Ireland had decided to become a serial killer as part of his New Year resolution.

That year, while living in Southend, he started frequenting The Coleherne, a known gay pub in West London.

He would pick up his victims in the pub and would go back to the victim's home where he would kill them.

Following the murder of his first victim, Ireland thoroughly cleaned the flat and disposed of any items that could lead to him, in order to avoid detection. To avoid neighbourly attention, Ireland also did not leave the flat the same night, but stayed until the next morning and travelled home on the train with the rush hour commuters.

Two months later Ireland returned to The Coleherne pub to seek his next victim. Prior to killing his victim, Ireland demanded the personal identification number for his bank card in order to reimburse himself for expenses incurred.

Six days later, Ireland picked up another man at the pub. After the murder, Ireland once again carefully cleaned or removed anything in the flat which could incriminate him before leaving the next morning.

Ireland, angered that he had received no publicity even after three murders, killed again within three days. At the same pub he found his fourth victim. Ireland finally left a clue for the police: He put a condom in the victims mouth, just as he had done with his first victim, creating a visible link between the two murders.

After carrying out his post-murder ritual of cleaning and clearing the scene after killing his fifth victim, Ireland set fire to the flat and left. However, he had forgotten to wipe off one set of fingerprints he had left on the window. Police managed to connect all five killings and word quickly spread across London, of a serial killer who specifically targeted gay men and could strike again at any time.

Ireland was identified by CCTV video taken on the platform at Charing Cross station with his final victim. Ireland recognised himself and decided to tell police he was the man pictured with the victim, but that he wasn't the killer and claimed to have left the man in the flat with another male.

However, police had also found the fingerprints in the flat which matched those of Ireland.

When Ireland's case came to the Old Bailey on 20th December 1993, Ireland pleaded guilty to all charges and was given life sentences for each. The judge said he was "exceptionally frightening and dangerous", adding: "To take one human life is an outrage; to take five is carnage."

Raoul Moat

Raoul Moat became the centre of a major police operation that took place in the summer of 2010 in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland after he shot two people in two days.

Armed police officers were deployed to apprehend Moat, who was on the run after the shootings.

His victims were his ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart, her new partner Chris Brown, and police officer David Rathband.

Stobbart was hospitalised and Brown was killed, while Rathband remaind in hospital for nearly three weeks and was permanently blinded.

Moat, who had recently been released from Durham Prison, shot the three victims with a sawn-off shotgun, just two days after his release.

After six days on the run, Moat was recognised by police and contained in the open, leading to a standoff.

After nearly six hours of negotiation, Moat shot himself in the early hours of the following morning, and was later pronounced dead at Newcastle General Hospital.

Moat was believed to have a grudge against the police after Stobbart had lied to Moat about being in a relationship with a police officer.

Shortly after his release from prison, Moat posted threats to police and others on his Facebook profile.

Moat apparently targeted Rathband randomly, simply for being a police officer, although on an earlier occasion Rathband had confiscated Moat's van on the suspicion that it was not insured.

Moat also made threats, in two letters and several phone calls, that he would kill any officer who attempted to stop him.

The manhunt for Moat lasted almost seven days, and was the largest in modern British history, involving 160 armed officers and armed response vehicles, many seconded for the operation from other police forces.

Police also used sniper teams, helicopters, dogs, armoured anti-terrorist police vehicles from Northern Ireland, tracker Ray Mears, and even a Royal Air Force jet for reconnaissance.

Peter Sutcliffe

Peter Sutcliffe is a serial killer who was dubbed "The Yorkshire Ripper". In 1981, Sutcliffe was convicted of murdering thirteen women and attacking seven others.

Sutcliffe had regularly used prostitutes in Leeds and Bradford. His outbreak of violence towards them seems to have occurred because he was swindled out of money by a prostitute and her pimp, but he claimed when interviewed by authorities that the voice of God had sent him on a mission to kill prostitutes.

He carried out his murder spree over a five-year period, during which the public were especially shocked by the murders of some women who were not prostitutes. After his arrest in January 1981 for driving with false number plates, police questioned him about the killings and he confessed that he was the perpetrator.

At his trial, he pleaded not guilty to murder on grounds of diminished responsibility, owing to a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, but this defence was rejected by a majority of the jury. He is serving twenty concurrent sentences of life imprisonment, currently in Broadmoor Hospital.

The High Court dismissed an appeal made by Sutcliffe in 2010, confirming that he would serve a whole life tariff and would never be released from prison.

The Moors Murders

The Moors Murders were carried out by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley between July 1963 and October 1965, in and around what is now Greater Manchester.

The victims were five children aged between 10 and 17 - Pauline Reade, John Kilbride, Keith Bennett, Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans.

The murders are so named because two of the victims were discovered in graves dug on Saddleworth Moor; a third grave was discovered on the moor in 1987, more than 20 years after Brady and Hindley's trial in 1966.

The body of a fourth victim, Keith Bennett, is also suspected to be buried there, but despite repeated searches it still remains undiscovered.

The full extent of Brady and Hindley's crimes did not come to light until their confessions in 1985, as both had until then maintained their innocence.

Their first victim was 16-year-old Pauline Reade, a neighbour of Hindley's who disappeared on her way to a dance on 12th July 1963. That evening, Brady told Hundley that he wanted to "commit his perfect murder".

Brady and Hindley picked up Pauline in their van, as Hindley had asked if Pauline would mind helping to search for an expensive glove she had lost on Saddleworth Moor. Pauline agreed to help.

Hindley claimed Brady took Pauline onto the moor while Hindley waited in the van. After about 30 minutes Brady returned alone, and took Hindley to the spot where Pauline lay dying. Brady told Hindley to stay with Pauling while he fetched a spade he had hidden nearby on a previous visit to the moor.

Returning home from the moor in the van, Brady and Hindley passed Pauline's mother, Joan, accompanied by her son, Paul, searching the streets for Pauline.

Accompanied by Brady, Hindley approached 12-year-old John Kilbride in the early evening of 23rd November 1963, and offered him a lift home on the pretext that his parents would be worried about him being out so late.

Kilbride was also asked by Hindley to help her look for her missing glove that she had lost on the moor. Kilbride was strangled by Brady.

Twelve-year-old Keith Bennett vanished on his way to his grandmother's house during the early evening of 16th June 1964, four days after his birthday. Hindley lured him into her Mini pick-up - which Brady was sitting in the back of - by asking him to help her load some boxes, after which she said she would drive him home.

She drove to a lay-by on Saddleworth Moor as she and Brady had previously arranged, and Brady went off with Bennett, supposedly looking for the lost glove. After about 30 minutes or so Brady reappeared, alone and carrying a spade that he had hidden there earlier.

On 26th December 1964, Brady and Hindley lured 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey back to their home. Hindley maintained that she went to fill a bath for the child and found the girl dead (presumably killed by Brady) when she returned. The following morning Brady and Hindley drove with Downey's body to Saddleworth moor, where she was buried in a shallow grave.

On 6th October 1965, Brady met 17-year-old Edward Evans and invited him to his home, where Brady beat him to death with an axe.

The attack on Edward Evans was witnessed by Hindley's 17-year-old brother-in-law, David Smith. It was Smith's call to the police, telling them what he had seen, that led to Brady and Hindley's arrest.

Early on the morning of 7th October, shortly after Smith's call, police arrived at Brady and Hindley's house to find Evans body.

Hindley was allowed to go home after Brady was arrested as police had no evidence that she was involved in Evan's murder. On 11th October Hindley was charged as an accessory to the murder of Edward Evans.

On 6th May, after having deliberated for a little over two hours, the jury found Brady guilty of all three murders and Hindley guilty of the murders of Downey and Evans.

In his closing remarks Mr Justice Atkinson described the murders as a "truly horrible case" and condemned the accused as "two sadistic killers of the utmost depravity". He recommended that both Brady and Hindley spend "a very long time" in prison before being considered for parole but did not stipulate a tariff. He stated that Brady was "wicked beyond belief" and that he saw no reasonable possibility of reform.

Hindley died on 15th November 2002,

Steve Wright

Steven Wright is a serial killer also known as the "Suffolk Strangler" and the "Ipswich Ripper". He is currently serving life imprisonment for the murder of five women who worked as sex workers in Ipswich, Suffolk.

The Ipswich 2006 serial murders began during December 2006 when the bodies of five murdered women were discovered at different locations near Ipswich in Suffolk.

All the victims were prostitutes or sex workers working around the Ipswich area.

The body of a young woman was discovered in the water of Belstead Brook near Hintlesham by a member of the public on 2nd December 2006. She was later identified as 25-year-old Gemma Adams.

Six days later, on 8th December, the body of 19-year-old Tania Nicol, a friend of Gemma Adams, who had been missing since 30th October, was discovered in water at Copdock Mill just outside Ipswich.

On 10th December, a third victim was found by a member of the public in an area of woodland by the A14 road near Nacton and later identified as 24-year-old Anneli Alderton. According to a police statement, she had been asphyxiated and was around three-months-pregnant when she died.

On 12th December, Suffolk police announced that the bodies of two more women had been found. On 14th December, the police confirmed one of the bodies as 24-year-old Paula Clennell. Clennell had disappeared on 10th December and was last seen in Ipswich. According to police she had died from "compression of the throat".

On 15th December, the police confirmed that the other body was that of 29-year-old Annette Nicholls, who disappeared on 5th December. The bodies of Clennell and Nicholls were found in Nacton, close to where Alderton was found. A member of the public had seen one of the bodies six metres from the main road and police discovered a second body by helicopter whilst conducting initial investigations.

A forklift truck driver, Steve Wright, then aged 48, was arrested on suspicion of murder on 19th December 2006 and charged with the murders of all five women on 21st December 2006. The trial began on 14th January 2008 and Wright pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He was found guilty of all five murders on 21st February 2008 and was sentenced the following day to life imprisonment with a recommendation that life should mean life.

Robert Black

Robert Black was a Scottish serial killer and paedophile who was convicted of the kidnap, rape, sexual assault and murder of four girls aged between five and eleven in a series of killings committed between 1981 and 1986.

Black was described at his 1994 trial as being the perpetrator of "offences which are unlikely ever to be forgotten and which represent a man at his most vile".

Black was further convicted of the 1981 sexual assault and murder of nine-year-old Jennifer Cardy in 2011, and at the time of his 2016 death, was just weeks from being charged with the 1978 disappearance and murder of thirteen-year-old Genette Tate.

In addition to the disappearance and murder of Genette Tate, investigators had concluded in May 1994 that Black may be responsible for 12 other unsolved child murders committed throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland and continental Europe between 1969 and 1987.

The nationwide manhunt for Robert Black would prove to be one of the most exhaustive United Kingdom murder investigations of the 20th century.

The first murder for which Black was convicted was that of Jennifer Cardy, who was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered on 12th August 1981 - just two weeks after her 9th birthday.

Cardy was last seen by her mother at 1:40pm as she cycled from her house in the village of Ballinderry to play with a friend; when she didn't return home to watch Jackanory, her family telephoned her friend's parents, learning that Cardy had not arrived at their home.

Cardy's parents then reported her missing, and the police immediately implemented a search for the missing child.

Hours later, Cardy's bicycle - covered with branches and leaves - was discovered less than one mile from her home.

Six days after her disappearance, two duck hunters discovered her body in a dam alongside the dual carriageway, just 16 miles from her home. A full autopsy concluded she had died of drowning - most likely accompanied by ligature strangulation.

Black's second confirmed victim was 11-year-old Susan Maxwell, whom Black abducted on the afternoon of 30th July 1982. She was abducted as she walked home from a game of tennis.

A coroner's inquest would later conclude Susan Maxwell had died shortly after she had been abducted.

On 12th August. Maxwell's body was found by a lorry driver; her body was covered with undergrowth.

Five-year-old Caroline Hogg was Black's youngest known victim. She disappeared while playing outside her home in Edinburgh in the early evening of 8th July 1983.

On 18th July, Hogg's body was found discarded in a ditch close to the M1 motorway in the village of Twycross. The village was a distance of 310 miles from where she had been abducted.

On 26th March 1986, 10-year-old Sarah Harper disappeared, having left her home to purchase a loaf of bread just 100 yards from her home.

On the 19th April, Sarah's body was discovered floating in the River Trent, her cause of death had been drowning.

Black was arrested in the Scottish village of Stow on 14th July 1990 as he was in the process of kidnapping a six-year-old girl. Within minutes, six police vehicles had arrived in the village. One of the officers who raced to the scene of the abduction was the father of the abducted child.

En route to the police station, Black informed a Sergeant Ormiston: "It was a rush of blood to the head; I have always liked little girls since I was a lad. I tied her up because I wanted to keep her until I had dropped a parcel off. I was going to let her go."

Robert Black was brought to trial for the abduction and sexual assault of the Stow schoolgirl on 10th August 1990.

Sentencing Black to a term of life imprisonment for what was described by Judge Ross as a "horrific, appalling case." Judge Ross stated his decision for this term was greatly influenced by the opinion of both psychiatrists who had concluded that Black was, and would remain, an extreme danger to children.

At his sentencing, Black was informed that he would be at least 89 years old before he would be considered for release.

Robert Black died on 12th January 2016 in prison from a heart attack.

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