Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Heather Arnold - Double Killer

This was one of the murder cases that was not high profile at the time, back in the 80`s, but as with all murders, had a devastating effect on the families.  The motive was never very clear but one was put forward, but hardly justified the horrific murders.  Heather Arnold, 50, was a teacher at Kingsdown Comprehensive School in Warminster, but she had to go through a marriage breakdown and kind hearted fellow teacher Paul Sutcliffe and his wife Jeanette, gave her all the support they could.  This was not reciprocated when Jeanette, 39, and her 8 month old daughter, Heidi, were discovered with severe head injuries.  However, it was also discovered that their throats had been cut.  It was Wednesday 30th April 1986.

    Police quickly concluded that the murder weapon was an axe, and that the killer would try and dispose of it.  Four officers posed as refuse collectors and as they worked and watched for anything suspicious, they were at the home of Heather Arnold and she handed them a carrier bag.  Inside were three charred pieces of an axe handle.  She was arrested, and Police said she admitted the murders, but later recanted after advised to by a lawyer.  Her trial for double murder began on 1st April 1987.  She claimed to have found the axe in her garage, panicked and decided to destroy it but she kept the axe head, which still had trace evidence on it.  Red paint flecks from the handle were found on the body of Mrs Sutcliffe and also in the car of Arnold.  After a two week trial, she was found guilty and sentenced to life.  It was said that her motive was to be closer to Paul Sutcliffe.  She was committed to Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital.

    She was examined by a Consultant Psychiatrist who advised her to appeal her murder convictions on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but the Court of Appeal rejected it in February 1996.  The judges decided that as she had psychological tests before her trial and no abnormalities were detected, that she was intelligent and was able to make decisions over her defence and instruct counsel, that diminished responsibility did not come into it, and therefore they denied her appeal.  There are three victims here.  Jeanette, Heidi AND Paul Sutcliffe.  The wickedness of human nature never fails to astound me.