Could in­fa­mous Val­ley ‘killer’ have been in­no­cent?

Rossendale Free Press - - Front Page - STU­ART PIKE freep­ress­news@men­ @rossfreepress

ABOOK re­leased 70 years af­ter a fa­mous Val­ley mur­der has placed ques­tion marks over the case.

Mar­garet Allen, who liked to be know as Bill, was ex­e­cuted af­ter con­fess­ing to mur­der­ing Nancy Ellen Chad­wick, in Au­gust 1948.

It was the first mur­der to be recorded in Rawten­stall and was no­to­ri­ous for sev­eral rea­sons, not least be­cause the bru­tal attack re­sulted in the vic­tim be­ing beaten about the head, leav­ing her skull party caved in.

Now a new book by re­searcher Denise Bed­dows claims to have un­earthed nu­mer­ous dis­crep­an­cies in the case, in­clud­ing ev­i­dence the po­lice seem­ingly dis­counted and never shared with the de­fence, and an al­ibi that was never de­bunked.

It poses the ques­tions ‘Would she have been treated dif­fer­ently had this case hap­pened to­day?’ and in­trigu­ingly ‘Was she in­deed guilty at all?’

Mar­garet, also known as Mag­gie, was trans­gen­der and dressed as a man.

Nancy’s body was dis­cov­ered on Bacup Road, Rawten­stall, in the early hours of Au­gust 29, 1948. Bloody drag marks could be seen lead­ing the few feet from Mag­gie’s home to where the body lay.

Just three days later Mag­gie gave a state­ment ad­mit­ting her guilt.

She said she at­tacked Nancy, a land­lady, and blood­stains were found inside Mag­gie’s Bacup Road house.

Denise, who now lives in Buck­ing­hamshire, was brought up in Manch­ester but used to visit the Rossendale Val­ley as a child and, like Mag­gie, her mother was a bus con­duc­tress dur­ing the war years.

She said: “The lack of any ap­par­ent mo­tive led me to in­ves­ti­gate the case fur­ther; how­ever my dis­cov­er­ies prompted more ques­tions than they pro­vided an­swers.”

Her book ‘Odd Man Out - A Mo­tive­less Mur­der?’ raises a num­ber of is­sues, in par­tic­u­lar whether the po­lice ac­cepted Mag­gie’s con­fes­sion too quickly.

Eight wit­nesses at­tested to see­ing the de­ceased alive af­ter the time Mag­gie claimed to have mur­dered her, while a fur­ther seven gave state­ments about Mag­gie’s where­abouts, which also con­tra­dicted her con­fes­sion.

On De­cem­ber 8, 1948 at her trial at Manch­ester As­size Court, she never took the wit­ness stand and a plea of in­san­ity was re­jected. A jury of nine men and three women took 15 min­utes to find her guilty and she was ex­e­cuted out­side Strange­ways in Manch­ester on Jan­uary 12, 1949 in front of a crowd of 2,000.

Po­lice in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mur­der scene af­ter Nancy was found dead

Mar­garet Allen, known as Bill, who con­fessed to mur­der­ing Nancy Ellen Chadwick in Au­gust 1948, the first mur­der to be recorded in Rawten­stall

Au­thor Denise Bed­dows has cast doubt on the ‘mur­derer’s’ guilt

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