Do you remember the shocking murders at Sheffield's Ughill Hall in 1986?
One of Sheffield’s most shocking murders of modern times took place nearly 35 years ago in 1986 at Ughill Hall – where a man shot and killed his lover and her three-year-old daughter.
Ian Wood also shot the woman’s five-year-old son twice in the head, but somehow the boy survived – staying alive without medical intervention for 21 hours until the police arrived.
Wood had been having an affair with Danielle Ledez, who was 10 weeks pregnant by him at the time of the killings.
Wood, a solicitor and former chairman of Sheffield Law Society, had rented Ughill Hall and left his wife and three children to move in with Danielle, a French teacher originally from Amiens who was in the process of divorcing her second husband and father of her two children.
Bizarrely, following the shootings Wood went on the run, calling police to tell them about the murders, and made a number of calls to a Sheffield journalist ‘to put his side of the story’.
Leaving the murder weapon with a single shot remaining on the kitchen table, he had changed clothes and, despite the massive manhunt that had been launched, calmly made his way to Dover in a rented car where he caught a ferry for France.
Believing Wood was still somewhere in Yorkshire, they were forced to involve the French authorities after a receptionist for the Automobile Association in Barnstaple reported a man matching Wood’s description applying for an international driving licence, and Interpol was called in.
He was finally apprehended taking part in a walking tour of Amiens Cathedral - just three miles from where Danielle was born - where he climbed over a parapet and clung to a gargoyle around 200 feet above the ground threatening to kill himself. It took French officers around six hours to talk him down.
Following his surrender, Wood was extradited back to the UK in November and remanded in custody to face trial. On December 1 he was formally charged with two counts of murder and one of attempted murder.
But Wood had one final card up his sleeve – claiming he and Danielle had entered into a suicide pact.
At his trial, which started early in 1987, he claimed that, under the terms of the pact, he had agreed to visit a French church and light candles for Danielle and her children; send a detailed explanation of the deaths to the press; kill Colin Lloyd, Danielle’s husband; ensure Ledez and her children were buried in a French village cemetery; and visit their graves and lay flowers before taking his own life.
In his defence, Wood’s doctor gave evidence, saying that he had appeared in a distressed state during an appointment in November of the previous year and had advised police to suspend his firearms licence, while Wood’s mother gave evidence saying that Danielle had confessed suicidal feelings.
But he was not believed and Wood was unanimously found guilty and sentenced to life behind bars. An appeal was also rejected two years later.