Murder in the Graveyard: A Brutal Murder. A Wrongful Conviction. A 27-Year Fight for Justice.

Murder in the Graveyard: A Brutal Murder. A Wrongful Conviction. A 27-Year Fight for Justice.

by Don Hale


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A gripping true crime investigation into the longest miscarriage of justice in British legal history.

In September 1973, Stephen Downing was convicted and indefinitely sentenced for the murder of Wendy Sewell, a young legal secretary in the town of Bakewell in the Peak District. Wendy was attacked in broad daylight in Bakewell Cemetery. Stephen Downing, the 17-year-old groundskeeper with learning difficulties and a reading age of 11, was the primary suspect. He was immediately arrested, questioned for nine hours, without a solicitor present, and pressured into signing a confession full of words he did not understand.

21 years later, local newspaper editor Don Hale was thrust into the case. Determined to take it to appeal, as he investigated the details, he found himself inextricably linked to the narrative. He faced obstacles at every turn, and suffered several attempts on his life. All of this merely strengthened his resolve: why should anyone threaten him if Downing had committed the crime?

In 2002, Stephen Downing was finally acquitted, having served 27 years in prison.

Immerse yourself in this masterful account of Hale’s long, dedicated and often dangerous campaign to rescue a long-forgotten victim of the British legal system; the longest miscarriage of justice in British history.

‘An Extraordinary story of innocence and persecution, determination and grit … it had me rattling through the pages’ SOPHIE DRAPER

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780008348533
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Publication date: 06/18/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 728,400
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Don Hale is a British author and journalist known for his investigative work. He has been National Journalist of the Year on three occasions. His campaign to free Stephen Downing won the National Campaign of the Year Award and helped force a change in British and European law allowing any prisoner in denial of any offence the right to appeal for parole. In 2002 Don Hale was made an OBE for his efforts and campaigning journalism in this case. His OBE was nominated by Prime Minister Tony Blair and endorsed by the Queen and Prince Phillip. Following the Stephen Downing case, he was asked to help on several other high profile cases, including the re-trial of the Jill Dando case, which ultimately found Barry George innocent.

Table of Contents

Cast of Characters ix

Map of Bakewell Cemetery xii

Introduction 1

1 'Stephen Who?' 5

2 The Downings 12

3 What Ray Saw 23

4 The Confession 30

5 The Witnesses 39

6 Stephen's Version 47

7 Believing the Beebes 59

8 The Running Man 80

9 Persons of Interest: Mr Orange, Mr Oulsnam and Mr Red 90

10 Who Was Wendy Sewell? 105

11 Anatomy of a False Confession 118

12 On the Trail of Mr Orange 131

13 Walking with Witnesses 136

14 The Bombshell 158

15 The Smoking Gun 164

16 Getting to Know Stephen Downing 184

17 Face to Face at Last 199

18 Just Because You're Paranoid Doesn't Mean They're Not After You 210

19 Walking In Robert Ervin's Shadow 220

20 Clandestine Meetings 234

21 Battling Bureaucracy 244

22 The Tea and Cakes Department 258

23 The Cover-Up 265

24 Multiple Murders 274

25 The National Interest 280

26 The Waiting Game 286

27 The Longest Day 300

28 Face to Face Again 306

29 Welcome Home 316

30 Freedom 325

Epilogue 331

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