The murder of this young hotel worker on 7th September 1993 showed just how savage and brutal people can turn, often for no reason at all, other than for a display of bravado. Two young men, Gary Ward & James Docherty were charged with the murder of Mark, after his battered and stripped body was found on the beach by the Central pier. Ward admitted to murder and Docherty to manslaughter. Ward received life, whilst Docherty received ten years. Both were 19 years old at the time and worked as doormen in Blackpool. That was that it seemed. But for twenty years, Gary Ward has fought against his conviction, claiming that he thought he had killed a man in a fight, and not killed Mark White.
So what happened? Mark worked as a porter in a hotel and was walking back to his room, after having a few drinks. Hours later his badly beaten body was found by a couple walking on the beach. He was naked. A post mortem revealed extensive and numerous injuries, citing an extremely violent assault. Gary Ward pleaded guilty because he thought he had killed a Geordie in a brawl, and the murder the Police were questioning him about, was that one. He says he witnessed Docherty standing on the body of another man in the water, thinking that person was an associate of the man he fought. It was Mark White. Then, Gary Ward says, his pregnant girlfriend was threatened with harm by Docherty if he said anything about the drowned man. He further claims that Docherty threatened to harm his brother. Faced with these threats, Ward stood up in court and pleaded guilty to murder. Docherty pleaded guilty to manslaughter, though he put the bulk of the blame on Ward. They were jailed in May 1994. It seems that Mark White was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Docherty faced other charges of violence that when convicted, the sentences ran concurrent, so he only served seven years. Ward was said to be afraid of Docherty due to his extremely violent nature. Gary Ward has refused to admit his guilt, because he states he is innocent and so remains in prison. His brother runs a "Free Gary Ward" petition on line.
His brother also revealed that when released in 2001, Docherty killed again. This time his victim was 41 year old drug addict Nicholas Tyldesley. Apparently, Docherty had become an addict too. It was Christmas Eve 2001 when Docherty attacked Mr Tyldesley in his home in the Layton area of Blackpool, using physical violence. Convicted, the shaven headed Docherty received originally 18 years but his defence team argued it down to 15 years 7 months minimum term - this ruling can viewed on line - where the judge remarked on the similar violence between this attack and the one on Mark White. What is the truth here? Was Ward truly responsible for the death of Mark White? Was it Docherty as he claims? Did he cave in to intimidation out of fear for the safety of his brother and girlfriend? He claims the Geordie he fought was none other than Viv Graham! And he thought he had beaten him to death! My reservations on this are that Graham was a very renowned hard man doorman who had badly smashed the jaw of a 7 foot tall US Navy boxing champ, taken four men out built like him, in rapid succession, and had the nerve to quell a riot in Durham Prison, on top of the numerous fights with hard nut troublemakers that doormen have to deal with. But that is only my opinion. This case is covered extensively by author Steve Richards in his book "Viv & the Geordie Mafia" Read it and decide.