Saturday, 24 May 2014

The Unsolved Murder of John Welch

This 45 year old father of two was found bludgeoned to death in a hotel room in Newcastle on 26th November 1980, but there was no resolution to the case, which became known as the "Room 101 Murder" and now it goes through the cold case review teams every couple of years.  Mr Welch worked for a subsidiary of the Ladbrokes gaming empire, and was in town to wind up the Macau Casino.  He had travelled from his home in Lincoln and had booked into the Swallow Hotel, in Newgate Street.  Mr Welch was planning to meet some of his colleagues for dinner but failed to show.  Concerned, they phoned the hotel and staff made the gruesome discovery.  He had been battered to death, Police believed, after answering a knock on his door. His car was taken from the hotel car park and left at St. George`s Terrace, in Jesmond. Nobody had any ideas as to may have committed this act of brutality, all rooms in the hotel were occupied but nobody heard or saw anything, and now closure rests on these rolling reviews by Police.

    By 1985, they had interviewed 6,500 people and taken more than 3,200 statements, but in November 1990, there were dramatic developments when two men, one from Cheltenham and the other from Dyfed in Wales, were arrested, brought up to Newcastle and charged with murder.  They both admitted being in the hotel at the time Mr Welch was murdered but denied any involvement.  Then in March 1991, the CPS decided to drop the charges against the two men.

    The cop in charge of the review team expressed publicly that he was confident that given the advances in forensics, they will crack at least a dozen unsolved north east murders.  This declaration did receive a couple of raspberries from readers of one Tyneside newspaper, one saying it was all hot air, and another questioning as to why they were not solved in the first place.  Well, all murder investigations are not solved in an hour like on TV, and a percentage of crimes do go unsolved.  That is a fact of life.  If they can put the killers away, then it should be supported.  After all, there are families who have suffered murder and want justice.  It is not hard to fathom that out.