30 years on, police re-examine brutal unsolved canalside murder

The violent murder of a newspaper employee in West Yorkshire is being re-examined by detectives, 30 years after his death.

William Smith
William Smith

William Bill Smith was walking along an unlit pathway at the back of Mirfield Memorial Park and the Calder Hebble Canal when he was brutally attacked on Saturday, October 25, 1986.

The 56-year-old, who was killed some time after 10.30pm, was found at the bottom of a neighbouring embankment, in shallow water at the edge of the canal.

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Police conducted enquiries across West Yorkshire at the time of his death, but his killer has never been caught.

Today, thirty years on, detectives are re-appealing for information to catch the person responsible.

West Yorkshire Police’s Major Investigation Review Team believe someone in the community holds the answers to the unsolved case.

Detective Inspector Paul Smith said: “West Yorkshire Police has made a key commitment that a case is never closed until it is resolved and this is one of a number of serious historic offences which we are reviewing.

“Bill Smith was murdered in a particularly brutal fashion exactly 30 years ago now and we believe the answer to his murder remains in local community.

“With the 30th anniversary of his murder now upon us I would ask persons who have information about the offence to examine their consciences.

“Someone will know who attacked Mr Smith and I can only presume having that knowledge and not sharing it must weigh increasingly heavily on them as the years pass.

“I would ask that if any person has information regarding William Smith’s death, they come forward to help us deliver justice for a good man who was well liked and respected in his community.”

William worked for the Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group in Dewsbury as a customer Liaison Executive.

He had lived in West Yorkshire with his wife and two sons for many years and moved to Mirfield from Savile Town one year prior to his death.

Detectives say he was a quiet man, who was well respected in the community and had no known enemies.

William had just returned from a working holiday in Jersey on the day he was murdered.

A post mortem examination determined he had been asphyxiated.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the review team via 101.

Information can also be given anonymously to the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.