Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Mysterious Death of Hilda Murrell

The death of this elderly anti-nuclear campaigner still raises controversy almost thirty years after the event.  Was she the victim of a teenage killer, or was more sinister forces at work?  Hilda Murrell was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, on 3rd February 1906 to a family steeped in a tradition of Nurserymen, Seedsmen and Florists.  Her Grandfather, Edwin Murrell ran the highly successful Portland Nurseries from 1837 until his death in 1908.  Hilda was educated at Shrewsbury Girls High School, doing well enough to be enrolled at Newnham College from 1924-1927, gaining an MA in English & French literature, and Modern & Medieval Languages.

    Her father, Owen persuaded her to join the family business, working alongside her uncle Edwin.  In 1937, she became Director, and the business prospered until 1970.  Hilda became a world respected grower and authority on roses.  She helped design gardens for clients, her flowers won top prizes at Britain's` most prestigious flower shows, and her clients included the Queen Mother and the Churchill Family.  She then studied Botany extensively and became an advocate of Wildlife Preservation and preserving the natural countryside.

    This brought her into the pollution and energy issues, which, again with her drive to know everything on a subject, led her to produce an essay "What Price Nuclear Power?"  She then produced a report on Radioactive Waste Management entitled "An ordinary Citizens View on Radioactive Waste Management" to be presented at the beginnings of an inquiry on the Sizewell B Pressure Water Reactor project proposed for Suffolk.  She never got to deliver it.

    It was on March 21st 1984, that her home was burgled and some cash taken.  Hilda was driven away from her home in her Renault 5 car by a mystery man.  It was reported as being driven erratically.  It was found abandoned 5 miles away from her home.  There was no sign of Hilda.  West Mercia Police took three days to find her.  Her body was deposited in a copse.  She had been beaten and stabbed multiple times.  Hilda was cremated 5 months after her death and her ashes scattered at a chalet she had built at Maengwynedd.  Her nephew, Robert Green, a Royal Naval Intelligence Officer, believed there was a lot more to his aunt`s death than was admitted, and has fought to bring it to public attention since.  Labour MP Tam Dalyell believed the security services were involved.

    In 2005, in a cold case review, DNA tests were carried out on items at the home and fingerprints led Police to an individual named Andrew George, and so he was charged with her murder.  George was just sixteen at the time.  He was convicted and sentenced to a minimum of fifteen years.  The Court of Appeal upheld his conviction the following year.  Yet there were very troubling aspects of the case that made it too pat for Robert Green and others.  For instance, George could not drive, and he did not match the description of the man driving the Renault.  Others have pointed out the route to the car to the murder scene was much too difficult to have taken an elderly lady, particularly if you were just 16 and on your own.  Police say that George killed her in the copse on 21st, a wednesday, and she was found on the saturday.  Tam Dalyell pointed out that a farmer and his dog, did a search of the copse on the thursday, yet he found nothing.  In 2012, leading Barrister Michael Mansfield asked for a full enquiry into her death and discover how much information on her death is held by MI5. Former Crimewatch presenter Sue Cook, believes there was more to this case than has been admitted.  One of the first cases she presented on Crimewatch was the murder of Hilda Murrell.  There is a blog to this case with more information on.  Go to www.hildamurrell.org.