Graham Backhouse

Reign of terror: April 1984

Motive: Money

Crimes: Murder of Colyn Bedale-Taylor, Backhouse's 63 year old neighbour on 30th April, and the attempted murder of Margaret Backhouse, his wife.

Method: Backhouse attempted to kill his wife with a bomb that was planted in his car prior to her driving it. The bomb consisted two sections of metal pipe, threaded with a detonator. The powder of 12 shotgun shells had been used as the explosive and it had been packed with about 4,000 lead pellets. It had been aimed upward through the driving seat.

Bedale-Taylor was shot at point-blank range with a shotgun,in Backhouse's farmhouse in Horton, near Chipping Sodbury.

Sentence: Backhouse was found guilty of the murder of Bedale-Taylor and the attempted murder of his wife. He received two life sentences.

Interesting facts: Backhouse ad staged threats to himself and his family in the form of letters, and a decapitated head of a sheep with the sign "YOU NEXT" attached. The police had been informed and investigated the alleged threats. After his wife had been injured from the car bomb, Backhouse suggested it was a friend of his. The police questioned this man but let him go. Then he said it was Bedale-Taylor, who was also questioned and let go.

On the night of Bedale-Taylor's death, Backhouse claimed that the man ad entered the house and that they had had an argument. He claimed that Bedale-Taylor had attacked him with a Stanley knife and in the struggle Backhouse had grabbed his shotgun and shot his assailant. What really took place was a different story - Backhouse needed to continue is implication of Bedale-Taylor into the attempted murder of Mrs Backhouse, so he shot him in the chest at point-blank range. Then, to cover up his intent, he inflicted deep cuts to his face - from ear to chin - which later needed 80 stitches. He splattered blood around the house to make it look like there had been a struggle.

Much forensic evidence was used to prove Backhouse's guilt:

  • Examining pathologist Dr William Kennard, stated that if Backhouse's chest wound had been inflicted by someone else, he would have had to stand still, without resisting or protecting himself.

  • The knife had been left in Bedale-Taylor's hand - yet his own blood was all over his hand and not the knife, which would not have been the case if he had inflicted the wound before being shot.

  • The blood splatters all over the floor were of the wrong shape. If there had been a struggle, the blood would have fallen in a distinctive exclamation mark shape. however they were round splashes, suggesting that Backhouse had been standing still when the blood had dripped.

  • Some furniture had been knocked onto the floor, apparently during the struggle. But some of it had landed on top of the blood splatters. Also there was blood smeared on the top of one of these fallen chairs, apparently from Backhouse's hand, but there was no blood on the gun.
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