The Diary: Scott on the trail of brutal killers

Scott Lomax.
Scott Lomax.
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THEY are murders most horrid, and most mysterious too.

They include an Attercliffe draper strangled with her own stockings, a Barnsley gangster knifed in the guts and a fun-fair freak killed in a furious frenzy in Sheffield city centre.

And they all have one thing in common: none of these real life South Yorkshire slayings has ever been solved.

Step forward, Scott C Lomax – architect by day, writer by night, and seeker of truth and justice by his own appointment.

He’s just released a book, Unsolved Murders In South Yorkshire, charting the region’s most notorious cold cases.

And, while the blood, guts and police cock-ups come thick and fast, he hopes it will be more than just an interesting read for fans of true crime.

“In an ideal world, it would lead to at least one person being apprehended,” says the 30-year-old of Brimington, Chesterfield. “Of course, it’s meant to be good book. But some of the perpetrators of these crimes will almost certainly still be alive, and probably still living in South Yorkshire. I want them to know they should still be looking over their shoulders.”

Those murders, then? Look away now if you’re squeamish.

They range from the Victorian era (George Firth, shot in Dodworth in 1851, “possibly by his brother”) to the relatively recent – Terivia Cameron, who was strangled in 1981 during a robbery-gone-wrong in Upperthorpe.

The most notorious is perhaps the 1964 killing of Anne Dunwell, a 13-year-old of Whiston, Rotherham, who was snatched and dumped on a dung hill.

“Even a fresh investigation in 2002 failed to turn up anything conclusive,” says Scott. “There’s a suggestion the police have an idea who the killer was, though, and that he’s now dead.”

Also highlighted are the cases of John Wortley, an Arundel Gate car park attendant beaten to death in 1975, Barbara Young, a sex worker attacked in Doncaster town centre in 1977 and William Ratcliffe, known throughout Victorian Sheffield as the ‘Bearded Lady’.

His untimely demise came in 1893, and was probably an early hate crime.

“William used his effeminate characteristics to work as a bearded lady at fun-fairs,” explains Scott. “It probably didn’t make him popular with some people, He was found in a pool of blood at home in Boden Lane.

“Despite having serious head wounds, police said he may have fallen down. They probably weren’t too bothered about solving the case.”

The strangled Attercliffe draper, meanwhile, was Florence Hargreaves who met her maker in 1926; while the Barnsley gangster was Mark Scott, stabbed in 1931.

“Someone was arrested but not charged,” says Scott. “The victim was a nasty piece of work so few people came forward to help police.”

And now? After 12 months researching old newspapers and inquests, and speaking to relatives of the victims, Scott hopes some truth will out.

“Cold cases are constantly reviewed by police,” explains the Sheffield University graduate who helped with the campaign to quash the conviction of Barry George for Jill Dando’s murder. “If this book can help them solve one historic murder, I’d be delighted.”

Unsolved Murders In South Yorkshire (Wharncliffe Books) is in shops now.

Cold casework

THEY are known as the real- life New Tricks, after the fictional BBC detective series starring Dennis Waterman and James Bolam.

But the cold case team at South Yorkshire Police is there to deal with very real and very serious old crimes.

It is they who constantly work to crack the unsolved killings like those highlighted in Scott Lomax’s book.

The unit of six serving and retired detectives have 26 unsolved murders currently under review – including that of Anne Dunwell, John Wortley and Barbara Young.

The proceed by applying new scientific techniques to old evidence, re-interviewing old witnesses and searching out new ones and applying fresh eyes to relevant documents. Every case is on a two-year rota for review.

Above all else, the team uses painstaking detective work to look for any possible new clues which may shed light on wrongdoing.

“No undetected murder is ever closed no matter how old,” a spokesman for the team says in the tome.