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Revealed: The bloody truth which helped trap brutal thug who killed pensioner.


TOP forensic scientists will reveal in minute detail this week how they trapped an evil nephew of infamous Shankill Butcher Lenny Murphy for murder.

Brutal William Murphy kicked ailing pensioner Andrew Spence to death as he begged for his life in bed.

The thug showed no mercy to the 79-year-old widower and war veteran as he screamed for money.

But scheming Murphy, who was just 19 at the time, thought he was going to get away with the hideous crime.

When he realised evidence was mounting against him he confessed to being in the house in Battenberg Street, Belfast, to rob it - but three weeks earlier.

This would explain away any fingerprints or footprints that police found in the squalid house.

Gloating Murphy thought this was enough to shatter the police case against him.

But he had not accounted for the brilliant work of Northern Ireland's forensic scientists who were able to unravel the mystery of exactly what went on that brutal night in December 1996.

In RTE's Probable Cause documentary series, which is highlighting Northern Ireland's cutting edge forensic work, viewers see the actual evidence that the experts had to work with.

The sad story of Andrew Spence actually began nine years earlier when Murphy and pals tormented the pensioner by throwing stones at his window.

Murphy was dragged back to the house to apologise. But the next time he came to the back-to-back house in the loyalist Shankill Road area it was to kill.

Murphy broke in after coming from a party looking for money. Police believe he had been threatening the pensioner for money in the weeks up to the attack.

He surprised the old man fast asleep in bed and then tortured him with a knife demanding cash. Eventually he kicked him to death.

When Andrew didn't show up at his regular pensioners' lunch club the people who ran it came looking for him.

Even though they let themselves into the house, which was filled with rubbish, they didn't find him.

But a police search later discovered the old man dead on his bed covered in piles of clothes and newspapers.

The forensic team immediately swung into action and they found footprints on a bathroom house at the back of the house.

A small window in the bathroom where the intruder had gained entrance had been wiped clean.

Unfortunately for Murphy the walls in the house were bare plaster which allowed the detective team to use a new chemical treatment for porous services which highlights fingerprints.

Over the next few weeks they sprayed every wall in the house and uncovered a series of hand prints.

Meanwhile, working on a tip-off, police had arrested Murphy who denied all knowledge of the murder.

When he discovered his footprints and hand prints had been found in the house he changed his story to say he had been there three weeks earlier.

Andrew's body had been moved after the murder but police brought in a dummy to place in the exact position of the blood stains on the mattress.

Above its head on the wall they discovered palm prints where the attacker had leaned to balance himself as he kicked the old man in the face.

There was also a print to the side where he would have tried to steady himself standing on the soft mattress.

He had knelt down on his victim breaking his ribs while he punched him in the face - leaving more blood.

Getting off the bed he also left damning wall prints.

Although Murphy denied the murder in court he was convicted by a jury in less than two hours in February 1999.

It wasn't just the prints that proved all-important - it was the story told by their actual position which proved vital.

Probable Cause, RTE One, Tuesday 9.30pm.


MURDERERS: William Murphy, whose uncle Lenny (right) was one of the Shankill Butchers, denied killing. But forensic evidence showed State Pathologist Jack Crane the truth; KICKED TO DEATH: Pensioner Andrew Spence was killed in his bed
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jun 30, 2002
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