George Stephenson, George Daly and John Daly

Date of crime: 1 / 9 / 86

Motive: Revenge, jealousy and to steal the household guns.

Crimes: The murder of Joseph Cleaver, his disabled wife Hilda Cleaver, their son Tom Cleaver, his wife Wendy Cleaver and the family nurse Margaret Murphy at Joseph Cleaver's home - Burgate House, Fordingbridge in the New Forest. They also raped Wendy Cleaver.

Method: The gang entered the house while the family were having their evening meal. They went into the dining room wielding a gun and pickaxe handles and took them upstairs where they tied them up and gagged them. They then searched the house for things to steal, taking a television and video recorder, five guns and some ammunition and other bits and bobs. They were actually looking for a safe, but never found one. They then went upstairs and took it in turns to rape Wendy Cleaver. John Daly, under the instructions of George Stephenson, then turned her onto her front and strangled her with a length of black cloth. They then doused the others with petrol, lit a firelighter and threw it into the room, where they burnt to death.

Sentence: On the 28th October 1987, George Stephenson was sentenced to six life sentences with the recommendation that he not be released for 25 years. John Daly was given seven life sentences - he had pleaded guilty to the rape and robbery, but he was the one who killed Wendy Cleaver. George Daly was found not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter and was sentenced to 22 years imprisonment. The reason for this is that Stephenson had told him they were already dead when he told him to set light to the house, and so Daly did not know that he was killing them when he threw in the lit firelighter.

Interesting facts: George Stephenson and his wife had worked for the Cleavers in July of that year. However, Stephenson's wife left him because he was beating her, and Stephenson was given the sack, as the family did not approve. This is why it was this household that was chosen for the crime.

The gang did not need to break into the house. Due to Stephenson's previous employment, he knew that the Cleavers left the front door key in the porch so that they did not get disturbed whilst having dinner, which they had routinely at 8.00.

Stephenson wanted to steal the guns from Burgate House so that he could use them in an armed robbery of the wages office of a factory in Nuneaton. He knew that the Cleavers had an amount of guns and ammunition and decided to raid their house.

During the robbery the gang ransacked the house looking for things to steal. They were obviously looking for a safe as all the pictures bar one were skew-wiff. There was in fact a safe in the room they set fire to, but they never found it. When the post-mortem of Joseph Cleaver was being carried out, they found �700 cash stashed away in his false leg.

The robbers intended to burn the whole house down, thus hiding the evidence of murder from the investigators. However, the house that they presumed was made with wooden beams had been reinforced with concrete over the years, and so the fire was contained neatly in one room, leaving lots of evidence in the remainder of the house.