Monday, 31 March 2014

The Murder of Sally McGrath

  A brutal murder was solved after 30 years, and also proved was the assailants roles in a number of other sex attacks.  This was the murder in 1979 of 22 year old Sally McGrath, and the subsequent conviction 3 decades later of former soldier and predator Paul Taylor, a man suspected of the crimes back then. The story began on July 11th 1979, when Sally, who lived in Fowler Street, Peterborough, was seen in Cathedral Square at 2.45pm, where she told friends she was going to the Church Street Unemployment Office.  She was never seen alive again.  A huge search was set up by Police, operating from Thorpe Wood Police Station.  The size of the investigation was shown by more than 3000 people being interviewed and the taking of at least 10,000 statements.  This produced a suspect, Paul Taylor, but there was insufficient evidence against him.

    It was on 1st March 1980 that Gamekeeper Keith Dickenson made a grim discovery, whilst out hunting rabbits.  He found a very badly decomposed body in woodland known as Wild Boar Spinney, that was close to Castor and Ailsworth, a couple of miles outside Peterborough.  A post mortem revealed it to be Sally.  She had suffered blunt force trauma to the head.  The pathologist estimated that she had lain in the woods for three to six months.  Again, no progress could be made.  30 years later, Paul Taylor was charged with the murder of Sally, plus a number of other sex attacks, including 3 counts of rape, plus one count each of sexual assault and indecent assault.  He was charged on 9th October 2011, and appeared before Peterborough magistrates, the next day. 

    He had moved to Fareham in Hampshire, where he ran a fish & chip shop with his wife. These charges were the result of a painstaking 3 year investigation & cold case review of this crime and seven other sex attacks.  On 4th December 2012, Taylor was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to a minimum of 18 years.  In court, through his lawyer, Taylor claimed the sex attacks were either consensual or just plain lies.  The lawyer also read out some statements from people who knew Sally, making references to drug taking, and not being very security conscious when hitch-hiking.  What was this meant to convey?  That she was a victim waiting to happen?  It was her own fault?  A young woman was brutally murdered and that is very much wrong.  Full stop!  I hope the bastard dies in jail.