South Yorkshire ‘cold case’ investigators search again for justice

Det Sup Lisa Ray of South Yorkshire Police.

Photo: rossparry.co.uk / Tom Maddick

Det Sup Lisa Ray of South Yorkshire Police. Photo: rossparry.co.uk / Tom Maddick

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A specialist team being set up to review unsolved murders in South Yorkshire will be aiming to repeat the successes of its predecessor.

South Yorkshire’s cold case review team – which was axed two years ago to save cash – helped secure sentences totalling 107 years in its first three years after tracking down offenders including a murderer and nine rapists.

"The High Priest", formerly Robert Wilson, who has pleaded guilty to two sex attacks from the '80s following a cold case review by South Yorkshire Police.

"The High Priest", formerly Robert Wilson, who has pleaded guilty to two sex attacks from the '80s following a cold case review by South Yorkshire Police.

Using fresh pairs of eyes to review old files and taking advantage of advances in DNA technology, the team secured justice for victims and was referred to by the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown when he defended the retention of DNA taken from suspects arrested but never charged.

Notorious Dearne Valley ‘shoe rapist’ James Lloyd was one of those tracked down by the cold case review team two decades after he left women terrified following a series of sex attacks.

Evil Lloyd dragged women off the streets, tied them up with their tights and raped them before stealing their shoes as trophies.

The married dad, from Thurnscoe, was tracked down when a relative’s DNA profile on the national database was found to be a partial match to DNA found at his crime scenes.

Jeremiah Sheridan, pleaded guilty to raping a disabled woman in Deepcar in May 1991.

Jeremiah Sheridan, pleaded guilty to raping a disabled woman in Deepcar in May 1991.

When police officers raided his place of work they found a stash of around 100 shoes, including some belonging to his victims, hidden behind a trap door.

He admitted four rapes and two attempted rapes between 1983 and 1986 and was initially jailed for life in 2006 and ordered to serve a minimum of 14 years behind bars before his sentence was halved on appeal.

DNA technology also led to the conviction of Harry Musson for sex attacks carried out in the 1990s.

Musson, from Stairfoot, Barnsley, had evaded justice for 20 years after raping two South Yorkshire women whose homes he broke into in 1990 and 1996, until a review of DNA found at South Yorkshire crime scenes matched his profile on the national database.

Kevin Shaw

Kevin Shaw

He was jailed for a total of 16 years for his crimes.

The new team – which is now recruiting investigators – will be re-examining 26 unsolved murders on South Yorkshire Police’s books.

Temporary Detective Chief Superintendent Lisa Ray, Head of Crime at South Yorkshire Police, said: “I am confident the new team will be an invaluable addition over the next year and will assist greatly in reviewing a number of cases, to aid and progress non-recent homicide investigations, with the overall aim of achieving justice for the families.”

Neil Bowles, chairman of the South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation, said: “The return of a cold case review team is just another example of the blind budget cuts that South Yorkshire Police have undergone.

Daniel Grainger, 22, from Sheffield whose mum Pat's murder in 1997 has still not been solved.

Daniel Grainger, 22, from Sheffield whose mum Pat's murder in 1997 has still not been solved.

“No thought was given to the consequences of salami cuts, the threat and risk ignored.

“We welcome its return, because serious offenders have to be brought to justice, or else they may go on and commit further serious offences.”

Daniel Grainger, who was five when his 25-year-old mum Patricia was stabbed, sexually assaulted and strangled in Parson Cross, Sheffield, in 1997, said he was pleased the new team is to be set up.

The 23-year-old carer, from Lowedges, Sheffield, said: “It gives me more confidence knowing there will be a dedicated team looking at my mum’s case, looking for that vital bit of missing evidence which could solve the case.

“There is still a murderer out there somewhere and you just don’t know if they will do it again.

“I am hopeful now that with people looking at the case again with fresh pairs of eyes we may get the breakthrough we need to get justice.”

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