Could infamous Valley ‘killer’ have been innocent?
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