Wrongly convicted man speaks from grave of murder ordeal

A MAN wrongly jailed for murder in one of Yorkshire's most notorious miscarriages of justice has broken his silence over the ordeal – almost two years after his death.

Even after his name was cleared, Anthony Steel never spoke publicly about his wrongful conviction for the 1977 murder of Bradford bakery worker Carol Wilkinson.

But a video in which he gives his account of how police persuaded him to sign a confession to the killing has now been put on the internet.

During the interview, thought to have been filmed at his home in Halifax between 1999 and 2001 while he was out of prison on licence, Mr Steel alleges that he was physically attacked during a lengthy interrogation by officers.

He said: "How much do people have to stand? People getting on at you all the time, not leaving you alone and hounding you – a person can only take so much.

"Now you could put me inside and kick me to death, but I would never sit there and sign a confession again.

"But I was young and I'd never had experience of being in custody or anything like that.

"That pressure builds up on you so much and there's only so much you can take, so to ease that pressure you do something to get them off your back and that's what I did.

"They kept intimidating me, telling me what I did that day, and I think I ended up believing what they were telling me."

Miss Wilkinson, who was 20 and lived in the Ravenscliffe area of Bradford, was killed as she walked to work in October 1977.

Mr Steel, a council-employed gardener thought to have worked nearby, was arrested 18 months later over her murder.

In the video, Mr Steel says: "They were saying 'We know you've done it. We've got the proof, we've got the evidence'...

"I think that, because the case had been going on that long, they were out to get somebody to get it off their books, to put somebody inside.

"It didn't matter who it was as long as it fitted in some way or they could make it fit in some way and they could put that person inside."

Mr Steel claims he was made to watch while police wrote out a statement for him.

"They promise you everything once you've signed it," he said. "'You'll get bail', 'You'll get to see your family' and all this.

"The next minute you're slung in the cells and you're sat there wondering what the hell's going on until the following day comes."

Mr Steel's confession was later found to contain many inaccuracies and evidence linking him to the crime scene was considered unreliable. Psychological evidence obtained while he was in prison showed that he was of low IQ, had learning difficulties and was easily led and suggestible.

The Court of Appeal eventually quashed his conviction as "unsafe" in 2003, but at the time of the video interview he was still fighting to have the case reviewed.

He says: "I've lost seeing my kids grow up. I've seen what effect it's had on my family over the years, especially my parents, with what they've gone through and what I still go through mentally myself.

"All I want to do is just put things right and clear my name."

Mr Steel received an official police apology and about 100,000 in compensation from the Government, but he was in poor health following his release from prison. He died from a heart attack aged 52 in September 2007.

The video was posted on the internet by TV producer Peter Hill, who made a documentary about Mr Steel's case during the 1980s.

Mr Hill said: "We did this interview with the idea that one day we would make it into a film, but he died two years ago and it didn't happen.

"I was talking to his partner Margaret a week ago and I started to feel bad that I hadn't made the film, so I sat down last week and I made it."

Mr Steel's family told the Yorkshire Post they did not wish to comment on the contents of the video.

A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Police said that, since Mr Steel's death, there had been no developments in the investigation into Miss Wilkinson's murder.

Notorious crime still unsolved

Carol Wilkinson's murder is one of Yorkshire's most notorious unsolved crimes.

She was bludgeoned with a stone as she walked to work in Bradford's Ravenscliffe estate on the morning of October 10,1977.

Mr Steel was arrested after it was claimed he had a keyring that was similar to one owned by Miss Wilkinson – evidence later ruled unsafe in court.

The case has striking similarities with that of Stefan Kiszko, a tax clerk wrongly convicted of the sexual assault and murder of 11-year-old Lesley Molseed in Rochdale in 1975.

Mr Kiszko, who had confessed following hours of police interrogation, was freed after evidence proved he could never have been the murderer.