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Moorland grave reveals a terrible secret

1965 The Pennine moors gave up the secret of a little girl who had vanished at Christmas on October 17. The police thought that more lonely graves might be found. This was our report.

"POLICE last night named the child whose remains were found buried on the Pennine moors between Huddersfield and Manchester, as Lesley Ann Downey, aged 10. She vanished on Boxing Day last year.

She was last seen at a fairground five minutes walk from her home in Charnley Walk, Ancoats, Manchester. A massive search, carried out day after day, yielded no trace of her.

On Saturday night her body was found in a shallow grave 1,400ft up in the hills near the village of Greenfield on the borders of the West Riding of Yorkshire and Lancashire.

It was about 60 yards from the main Huddersfield-Manchester road which throbs with traffic. Searchlights were taken to the spot and digging continued in thick mist. Police who organised widespread searches of the Pennines all last week, believe they may find other bodies. They had been told of a man who boasted about burying people on the moors.

Lesley's body was taken to a mortuary at Upper Mill, near Oldham where Prof OJ Polson and Mr DJ Gee, of Leeds University, made a post mortem examination. Dr GB Manning, a Home Office pathologist, and Dr Barclay, director of the police laboratory at Harrogate, were present.

As the examination went on a car, with headlights blazing, was driven at speed into the mortuary yard and the gates were slammed shut behind it. About 10 minutes later the gates were reopened and the car was driven out, with detectives surrounding it to screen whoever was inside from view. The car, with its headlights still on, was driven away at top speed.

One of the passengers was believed to be Mrs Gertrude Ann Downey, Lesley's mother, who last Friday watched police searching the moors. Also there was Mrs Sheila Kilbride, mother of John Kilbride, 12, of Smallshaw Lane, Ashton, who disappeared in November 1963. Mrs Kilbride visited the moors again yesterday, but left after she heard that the body found had been that of a girl. Police have also studied the dossier of another missing child, Keith Bennett, 12, of Eaton Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester, and those of five other missing persons.

Blue-eyed, frail-looking Lesley Downey went to the fairground with her friend, Linda Clarke, aged eight, who said afterwards: "I had been told to come home when it got dark. We had come only a little way when Lesley said she was going back." When Lesley did not arrive home her mother thought she had gone to visit an aunt. She checked and later police were called in.

They sought two men they believed could help in their inquiries about the girl dressing in a tartan frock, pink cardigan, blue coat and red shoes. One was said to have boarded a bus at a stop near the fairground. He was described as about 40, 5ft 3in tall, thinly built and unkempt in appearance.

They were also trying to trace a man seen on the fairground on the evening of Boxing Day. He was about the same age as the other man, of similar build, and had dark hair brushed straight back and a small blemish on one side of his face.

The Downey family, Mrs Downey, aged 36, and her three sons, now live at Bowden Close, Hattersley Hide – 10 miles from where Lesley's body was found. Yesterday morning Det Chief Supt Arthur Benfield, of the Cheshire force, who was in charge of the hunt, held a conference with senior officers of Lancashire, Derbyshire, the West Riding and the Manchester City forces. All the senior police officers in the search visited the grave on the moorland plateau. Mr Eric Cunningham, head of the North West Regional Crime Squad, and Chief Supt S Cross of the West Riding Police, were among them. Prof Polson also went to the grave.

Hundreds of motorists out for a Sunday Afternoon run in the sunshine visited the scene and there long traffic jams with police officers trying to keep the cars moving. No civilians were allowed near the grave."

The pitiless careers of the "Moors murderers" Ian Brady and Myra Hindley had actually begun in July 1963, when Brady persuaded Hindley to lure 16-year-old Pauline Reade up to the moors. Pauline was killed, and Hindley helped Brady to bury her body. The pair seemed to set a new benchmark for evil. On May 6, 1966, at Chester Assizes, Hindley and Brady were jailed for life after a 15-day trial. They were convicted of the murders of Lesley Ann Downey, aged 10, in 1964, and Edward Evans, aged 17, in 1965. Brady was also convicted of the murder of 12-year-old John Kilbride, and Hindley was found guilty of being an accessory.

Lesley Ann Downey and John Kilbride were both strangled. Edward Evans was attacked with a hatchet and strangled. The case was made even more notorious by the tape-recording played to the trial of Lesley Ann Downey pleading for her life.

In 1987, Brady and Hindley confessed to two further murders – those of Pauline Reade, aged 16, and 12-year-old Keith Bennett. In 1987, Brady and Hindley helped police search the moors leading to the discovery of Pauline Reade's body. Keith Bennett's body was never found.

Hindley pursued a long campaign for parole, with the support of the late Lord Longford, who visited her frequently in prison. In 1998, Appeal Court judges upheld the decision by the former Home Secretary Jack Straw that Hindley should stay in prison until she died, unless there were "exceptional circumstances" to review the tariff. Hindley took her case to the House of Lords in 2000, but again failed. When she died on November 15, 2002, Hindley was Britain's longest serving woman prisoner, having spent 36 years in jail.

144 killed as mudslide engulfs village school

1966 On the morning of October 21, a precipitous mountain of coal slag, made unstable by heavy rains, suddenly slid into the village below. In Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, a generation of children was wiped out

It happened at 9.15, just as the pupils of Pantglas Junior School were about to begin lessons. Some children were still in the playground, others were filing in to classrooms ready for register. Dilys Pope, aged 10, said: "We heard a noise and we saw stuff flying about. The desks were falling over and the children were shouting and screaming."

In one classroom 14 bodies were found and outside mothers struggled deep in mud, clamouring to find their children. The deputy head teacher, Mr Beynon, was found dead. "He was clutching five children in his arms as if he had been protecting them," said a rescuer.

All told, 144 people were killed – 116 of them children. The last body was recovered nearly a week after the disaster happened. The Inquiry of Tribunal later found that the NCB was wholly to blame and should pay compensation for loss and personal injuries. But the NCB and Treasury refused to accept full financial responsibility for the tragedy so the Aberfan Disaster Fund had to contribute 150,000 towards removing the remaining tip that overlooked the village. This was finally repaid in 1997 on the insistence of Ron Davies, the then Secretary of State for Wales.

Fatal crash triggers chaos on railway system

2000 On October 18 we reported on the fatal derailment at Hatfield in Hertfordshire of the lunchtime express from King's Cross heading for Leeds.

"FOUR people were killed and 34 injured when a Yorkshire-bound passenger train derailed at high speed yesterday. The 12.10pm GNER service from London King's Cross came off the track at Hatfield, Herts, splitting the train in two and tearing a giant hole in the buffet car.

Three of the nine carriages ended up on their side, with four others derailed. Two first-class carriages and the rear locomotive separated from the main section of the train and screeched to a halt, leaving the buffet car, six standard-class coaches and the front locomotive careering a few hundred yards further up the track.

The buffet car toppled over and smashed into a trackside pylon which tore off its roof. Of the 200 passengers on board the train, four were pronounced dead at the scene and 34 were taken to local hospitals. The four dead were all in the buffet car. Police were expected to remove the bodies from the wreckage overnight.

Police last night ruled out an explosion being the cause of the disaster. Hertfordshire Chief Constable Paul Acres told a news conference: "We had investigated the potential that this was caused by an explosion – this has now been ruled out." He added: "There were early indications from witnesses that they heard the sound of an explosion, which we now believe was the sound of the impact, and there were two calls at the weekend suggesting bombs may have been placed on the line."

Industry experts named vandalism, wheel or track failure and speeding as possible causes. Inquiries may focus on a missing length of track which has not yet been found.

Last night four patients, aged between 30 and 67, including one woman from Wakefield and another from Harrogate, were undergoing treatment in hospital. Their injuries included a broken spine and leg, abdominal injuries and a ruptured lung, but doctors said they were progressing.

A further 29 passengers were treated in hospital for minor injuries and allowed home, many on buses which drove them north. Survivors described scenes of mayhem after the crash, with bodies by the track and people crying.

All the train's crew, including those working in the devastated buffet car, were based at GNER's Leeds depot, but it is understood none of them is among the dead.

A Railtrack spokeswoman said two coaches had derailed when the train, which was also due to stop at Peterborough, Grantham, Newark, Doncaster and Wakefield, was close to the line speed of 115mph for that section of track.

The electric locomotive at the front of the train and the following two carriages were not derailed, and last night there was speculation that a wheel or undercarriage fault in one of the latter carriages had caused the crash. Railtrack technicians were flown to the scene in three helicopters from the heli-centre at Leeds-Bradford airport.

Passengers, many of them in shock from their ordeal, spoke of their horror on the train. Dianne Hudson, 47, a local government officer with Leeds City Council, who lives in Leeds, said: "I was starting to think about when I was going to eat my sandwich. I was chatting to some bloke who was sitting nearby, and next thing I was literally flung out of my seat and ended up under a table."

Nick Sutch, 22, from Camberley, Surrey, a computer studies student at Hull University, said: "It was like the train hit something on the track. There was a bang and it seemed to turn over. I couldn't see into the restaurant car because the door seemed to have been crushed."

About 150 passengers were taken to a nearby conference centre, the University of Hertfordshire's Fielder Centre. Among the some 40 passengers on the coach to Leeds, were James Levey, 24, and his girlfriend Hannah Winburn, 22. They were returning to Alwoodley, Leeds, from holiday.

Mr Levey said: "We were sat in carriage E towards the middle of the train. We were sat at a table seat. I remember the tea and coffee trolley was just by the tableside. Suddenly I realised all the stuff off the top of the trolley was pouring on me, but I couldn't work out why.

"Suddenly people started screaming and saying 'What's going on?' The next thing I knew was that we were partly on our side. The carriage was tipping to about 45 degrees and we were just going through the gravel."

Allen Heath of the Rail Maritime Transport (RMT) union's north-east office confirmed it was a Leeds crew thought to have been travelling in the buffet car which had its roof ripped off in the derailment."

Investigations into the cause of the Hatfield crash found that the cause was a cracked rail. The discovery of the crack led Railtrack to embark on a huge programme of rail checks and replacement. Speed limits were imposed across the network to allow work to be carried out causing all timetables to be changed.

In 2001 the Government refused to continue to help Railtrack with its spiralling repair bill and, on the order of then Transport Secretary Stephen Byers, Railtrack went into administration. The High Court allowed Railtrack to be taken out of administration in 2002 so that Network Rail could take over.

Hawthorn clinches world title despite Moss's heroics

1958 With the great Fangio now retired, the good news from Casablanca was a great win for Stirling Moss on October 19; the bad news was that it was not sufficient to prevent him being the eternal runner-up. At least a Brit had secured the championship for the first time. This is our report.

"Mike Hawthorn, the 29-year-old racing driver, won the World Championship today by taking second place to Stirling Moss when Moss scored a brilliant victory in the Moroccan Grand Prix here. These two British drivers, who have been engaged in a duel for the championship left vacant by Juan Manuel Fangio, of the Argentine, were fighting a decider on the soft, seaside track. It is the first time that Britain has won the title since it was introduced in 1950. Hawthorn won by a single point. Moss's only hope was to win and also record the fastest lap, which would have given him the title if Hawthorn

had been placed lower than second.

For a time it looked as if Moss, in a Vanwall, would pull it off. He was first off the starting line and no one challenged him throughout the race. He broke the lap record with a lap at 119.334 mph and Hawthorn was lying sometimes third and sometimes second.

Towards the end of the race Moss was so far ahead that his pit signalled him to slow down. Hawthorn pulled past Phil Hill, his Ferrari team-mate, and from that time on he kept his position grimly.

 
 
 

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