A spell-binding account of an appalling miscarriage of justice. Charged with the “Cranborne Road murder” of Wavertree widow Alice Rimmer, two Manchester youths were hastily condemned by a Liverpool jury on the police-orchestrated lies of a criminal and two malleable young prostitutes. George Skelly’s detailed account of the warped trial, predictable appeal result courtesy of ‘hanging judge’ Lord Goddard and the whitewash secret inquiry will enrage all who believe in justice. And if the men’s prison letters (including from the condemned cells) sometimes make you laugh, they will make you weep far longer.
Following his masterful exposé of injustice in the Cameo Cinema murder case in 1950s Liverpool described in his book The Cameo Conspiracy, George Skelly now reveals a second police conspiracy—two years later in the same city involving the same senior detective—which this time led to the execution of two young men. In 2011, faced with countless proven contradictions and errors plus substantial previously undisclosed evidence, the Criminal Cases Review Commission unbelievably side-stepped the opportunity to refer this gross injustice to the Court of Appeal. So until justice is finally done, Teddy Devlin and Alfie Burns still lie together beneath the staff car park at Walton Prison, their only trace a tiny plaque numbered 55.
‘Our late father Joseph Norton always believed that his client Alfred Burns was innocent of the murder of Alice Rimmer and did everything in his power to prevent a conviction on trumped-up charges. We grew up on the story of our father’s bitter frustration that sentence of death was carried out on the basis of such deeply flawed evidence. He would have rejoiced in the author’s meticulous research and his resolute pursuit of the facts which should by rights have led to Burns’ posthumous exoneration’: Joseph Norton’s daughters Sylvia, Diana and Maureen (2014).
‘A very powerful case of a miscarriage of justice‘: Former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith PC QC.
You can listen to George Skelly talking about the book with barrister Peter Harthan on peterharthan.com (external link, opens in new window/tab).
George Skelly is also the author of The Cameo Conspiracy (3rd edition Waterside Press, 2011) about an equally disturbing case where an innocent man was hanged in a famous miscarriage of justice.