Man’s death is still a mys­tery af­ter 30 years

Rochdale Observer - - FRONT PAGE - Da­mon.wilkin­ @Da­monWilkin­son6

THE jour­ney from Lau­rence Win­stan­ley’s lo­cal pub to his mum’s house would nor­mally take him just a few min­utes. But 30 years ago, on Oc­to­ber 2, 1988, the last time he was seen alive, why did that same jour­ney take him over an hour?

It’s just one of sev­eral cru­cial ques­tions de­tec­tives have wres­tled with ever since the 23-year-old me­chanic’s mu­ti­lated and partly burned body was found wrapped in a cur­tain and weighed down with a pick-axe head in Bait­ings Dam near Lit­tle­bor­ough .

Lau­rence had been shot once to the head. At the time, de­tec­tives said they be­lieved it was a gang­land ‘ex­e­cu­tion,’ but the killer has never been found.

Now on the 30th an­niver­sary of Lau­rence’s dis­ap­pear­ance, de­tec­tives have re­newed their ap­peal for in­for­ma­tion.

The car me­chanic moved with his fam­ily from Og­den, Rochdale, to a home on Cliff Hill Road in Shaw, about a year be­fore he was last seen.

Lau­rence left Roch Val­ley High School in Mil­nrow with seven O-lev­els and owned his own garage in Sholver, Old­ham at the time of his dis­ap­pear­ance.

On the night of Oc­to­ber 2, 1988, he went for a drink at his lo­cal, The Wind­sor, where he re­ceived a phone call which seemed to con­cern him.

Af­ter leav­ing the pub, he went to his mother’s house in Shaw.

The jour­ney would usu­ally take a few min­utes, but that night it took him more than an hour. De­tec­tives still do not know what de­layed him.

Later he went back to the pub, but was never seen alive again.

A cou­ple of days af­ter he went miss­ing, a man took Lau­rence’s red Ford Cortina es­tate car to a scrap mer­chant in the Old­ham area, and gave the name Bur­rows. He has never been traced.

Lau­rence’s mu­ti­lated body was dis­cov­ered al­most a year later on Septem­ber 26, 1989, in the reser­voir, just off the A58, on the out­skirts of Rip­pon­den, West York­shire.

The case fea­tured on Crime­watch in 1989 and more than 80 of­fi­cers swooped on homes in Rochdale and Lit­tle­bor­ough in Jan­uary 1990.

But Lau­rence’s mur­derer has never been found, de­spite his des­per­ate mother putting up £25,000 from her sav­ings as a re­ward for in­for­ma­tion in Oc­to­ber 2001 – and the po­lice putting up a £10,000 re­ward on the 20th an­niver­sary of his body be­ing dis­cov­ered.

In Jan­uary last year, the case made the head­lines again when po­lice divers searched a pond off Black­stone Edge Road in Lit­tle­bor­ough as part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

At the time, a West York­shire Po­lice spokesman said ‘in­quiries re­main on­go­ing’ and that the force had made a ‘key com­mit­ment that a case is never closed un­til it is re­solved.’

And Det Supt Jim Dunker­ley, from West York­shire Po­lice’s Homi­cide and Ma­jor En­quiry team, re­newed an ap­peal for mem­bers of the pub­lic to come for­ward with in­for­ma­tion.

He said: “It’s now 30 years since Lau­rence went miss­ing and his sub­se­quent mur­der.

“The amount of time that has passed in no way di­min­ishes our de­sire to achieve jus­tice for the vic­tim and his fam­ily.

“Lau­rence’s mur­der was a tar­geted at­tack, we be­lieve that his killer did not act alone. I would urge any­one who may hold any in­for­ma­tion to come for­ward and as­sist in bring­ing the killers to jus­tice.

“It’s pos­si­ble some­one had sus­pi­cions back then that they didn’t feel they could act on, but now feel dif­fer­ently.

“That per­son could hold the key to find­ing the an­swers we and the fam­ily are so des­per­ate for.

“Any small bit of in­for­ma­tion could help to un­lock the an­swers and bring some clo­sure for his fam­ily af­ter all th­ese years.”

Any­one with any in­for­ma­tion is asked to call the Cold Case Re­view Team quot­ing crime ref num­ber 13090263170 or Crimestop­pers, anony­mously, on 0800 555111.

Gra­ham Daw­son

●●The body of Lau­rence Win­stan­ley (in­set) was found in Bait­ings Dam in 1989

●●Vanessa Win­stan­ley, tLau­rence’s mother at a press con­fer­ence in 2009

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