Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Killing of John Close.

Another case from County Armagh in the 1930`s.  This concerned the stabbing death of ten year old John Close in Killicomaine, Portadown.  The Close family lived in a gatehouse of a country estate but it was on 22nd September 1934, that John left the home to play.  Soon, he was rushing into the house, covered in blood.  He had a number of stab wounds in his chest and neck.  His parents had him rushed to the nearest hospital but tragically, young John died four hours later.  But he was able to name his attacker.  It was Henry Murray, a 20 year old worker on the estate.  He was arrested by Police who found on him a knife.  He was seen by other employees as being with John.  Murray went on trial at Derry Assizes a few months later.  The court heard that Murray was mentally retarded and was often seen playing with young children.  This particular day, Murray just started stabbing John, and then inexplicably, started digging a grave.  Then he ran away. 

    Since leaving school, Murray had been through a procession of menial jobs, but could not keep any of them due to his mental health.  It was inevitable that he would be deemed insane, which he subsequently was, and he was sent to a secure asylum.  But over in England, there were examples of people deemed insane by Psychiatrists but these diagnoses were over-ruled by opinions of ordinary prison doctors.  So maybe Murray was lucky not to have killed in England.  Whatever, the Close family had to live with the death of their ten year old son.