Murder by the Sea: Paul Longworth

Paul Longworth

Paul Longworth thought he had committed the perfect crime.

He strangled his wife, Tina, with a rope and left her dangling from the banisters. He then left the scene of the crime, their home. He went to Southport Sailing Club, where he was the commodore, to celebrate his 37th birthday party.

Back at home, he left his two young children asleep in their beds, while their dead mother was downstairs. No one at the party suspected he had just committed murder.

CBS Reality

On returning home, he called the police, alerted his neighbours to the death and told everyone Tina had committed suicide. At first detectives believed him.

As former detective – and role model for Prime Suspect‘s Jane Tennison – Jackie Malton says during the next edition of Murder by the Sea, ‘What makes this crime particularly unpleasant and horrific is that he risked that his two children could have got out of bed and found their mother, which would have traumatised them.’

The series, on CBS Reality, has so far dealt with psychopaths and gangsters. This episode is different. It explores a story of domestic abuse, about the darkness behind respectability and the cold-bloodedness of this killer.

Thought he was cleverer than the police

Like the other talking heads on this episode, I found it hard to work out how somebody, even a man in a failing marriage, could have had such a void of feelings inside.

I was filmed in a Cardiff boatyard for Murder by the Sea

‘He came across as very much an arrogant man, says Professor Mike Berry. ‘He thought he was cleverer than the police, he thought he was going to get away with it.’

To find out why he didn’t, watch Murder by the Sea on CBS Reality (Monday 18 June 10pm, Tuesday 19 June 2am, Sunday 24 June 9pm).

And for an insight into how devastating Longworth’s crime was, see this interview with his grown-up daughter in the Daily Mirror.

Murder by the Sea: Mathew Hardman

Mathew Hardman’s murder of his 90-year-old neighbour on Anglesey in 2001 was extremely disturbing.

Why? Because, as presenter Geoffrey Wansell says in tonight’s Murder by the Sea, it was so ‘unfathomable’. Hardman, aged 17, was an art student who had delivered newspapers to Mabel Leyshon, who lived up the road from him.

Hardman, of course, had his reasons, unfathomable as they are to us. He had become obsessed with vampires and latched onto the elderly pensioner to be his victim.

An ‘unheard of’ crime

He stabbed her 22 times and cut out her heart. He then drank her blood. Be warned, it is a horrific story and certainly one detectives found perplexing.

This is the second of the cases in this series that I was invited to appear on. Having studied this grim, depressing crime, I still found Hardman’s state of mind off-limits to my comprehension.

On the programme, however, there are some insights from the likes of clinical forensic psychologist Professor Mike Berry. ‘If I was faced with this case of a 90-year-old woman being stabbed 22 times, I would not have been looking for a fantasist who was into vampires,’ he says.

‘I would probably have thought more of either robbery or some sexual behaviour. Seventeen-year-olds don’t normally kill old people. They’re more likely to kill someone their own age and it’s likely to be impulsive or sexually based, that kind of stuff.

‘To kill somebody because you want their blood is extremely rare. For a 17-year-old, it’s unheard of. That made it difficult for the police.’ Continue reading

Murder by the Sea starts tonight on CBS Reality

Murder by the Sea

Murder by the Sea is presented by author Geoffrey Wansell

Just a quick reminder that Murder by the Sea begins on CBS Reality this evening (10pm).

I’m one of the talking heads on this episode, which is about the little-known serial killer Stephen Akinmurele. I think this is a strong opener to the series because of the strength of experts and witnesses the film team uncovered.

These include clinical forensic psychologist Profressor Mike Berry, who I met in February during filming of the Nude Murders documentary that the BBC is currently making. He is very knowledgeable about serial killers.

He talks about how unusual it was that such a young man – Akinmurele had killed five elderly people by his early twenties – should be active so early in life.

A sad and disturbing case that finally gets some attention in this revealing programme.

Murder by the Sea

I spent Good Friday working on a documentary being made for CBS Reality called Murder by the Sea. The setting was a chilly boatyard in Cardiff.

Murder by the Sea CBS Reality

Cardiff boatyard

The premise of this 12-part series is fascinating. It is about how the seaside has been the setting for a spectrum of homicides down the years.

Coastal towns can be quiet and idyllic, faded and in decline, or well-off and socially conservative. But they are often shaken by shocking crimes.

From Blackpool to Pembrokeshire

Blackpool is a pleasure resort that attracts holidaymakers, but also dodgy types. The high turnover of visitors makes it a transient destination – ideal for criminals or those with predatory designs on unsuspecting strangers.

Quiet resorts can also be exploited by the ruthless. Morecambe is a pleasant seaside town at the foot of the Lake District national park. Birdwatchers and hikers love the area. It was not prepared for a brutal double murder of Tony Marrocco and Paul Sandham that hit the town in 1995.

What is it about the seaside? Do these places have a feeling of anonymity? Or, as Murder by the Sea‘s opening sequence suggests, is it that some people associate them with the ‘end of the line’.

Serial killer John Cooper

So I found myself in a yard full of wooden boats, many antique, all being rebuilt or repaired. I’d been asked to comment on some of the cases being covered. These ranged from the Morecambe murders, committed by Terry Clifton, to a particularly chilling case on the Pembrokeshire coast.

John Cooper committed two double murders with a shotgun. The first was in 1985 when he raided the isolated farmhouse of siblings Richard and Helen Thomas, both in their 50s.

Four years later he ambushed Oxfordshire couple Peter and Gwenda Dixon on the coastal path. He forced Mr Dixon to give him his bank details, and brutally shot the couple. He later took about £300 from his victim’s account.

Life without parole

Cooper was a horrible man. He brutalised his young son, and later tried to implicate him

Documentary Murder by the Sea CBS Reality

The Pembrokeshire coastline

in his own crimes. He was suspected of having committed around 70 burglaries and sexually attacked two teenage girls when he pounced a group of youths in 1996.

While Cooper thrived on the reckless thrill of terrorising all those around him, he was also calculating and cunning.

He was finally arrested in 2009 and went to jail for life without parole in 2011. Continue reading