Unsolved Murders

Diana Maw

Age: 36

Sex: female

Date: 20 Jul 1988

Place: Stanley Court, Woodfield Road, Ealing, West London

Source: hillsborough.independent.gov.uk

Diana Maw was shot with a crossbow on the landing outside her second floor flat in Stanley Court, Woodfield Road in Ealing on Wednesday 20 July 1988.

She had been shot in the back of her head with a six-inch crossbow bolt and had died almost instantly after it severed her spinal cord.

No one heard anything which was partly because there was only one other flat connected to her second-floor landing which was a dead-end. Her flat was on Woodfield Road which was described as busy. There was a school and an old people's home nearby, but no one noticed anything.

Her body was found by her 15-year-old neighbour at 11.30am on 20 July 1988. He said, 'I will always be haunted by what I saw. I keep seeing her lying there with this arrow sticking out of the side of her head'.

She had been wearing a green suit and was found with her briefcase beside her and her lipstick and makeup in her hand.

A 35-year-old woman was charged with her murder but later discharged after Crown Prosecution lawyers said they did not have enough evidence to prosecute. It was said that the evidence against her was circumstantial.

The woman had been a design consultant and had lived in Aynhoe Road in West Kensington.

Diana Maw's handbag had been stolen when she was murdered and it was later found abandoned on a footpath behind her flat about a month later. The police said the finding of her handbag was significant as it indicated the route that her killer might have taken after the murder.

At about the same time an ice cream seller came forward to say that he had seen a man openly carrying a crossbow in the same street. He was described as:

  • Aged 19 to 20.
  • About 5ft 8in tall.
  • Cold hard eyes.

Diana Maw had been due to give a half-day training session on the Wednesday she was murdered and it was said that she had been such a meticulous worker that when she failed to attend the training session her colleagues became immediately concerned.

The crossbow bolt was an aluminium-shafted one with a steel tip which was thought to have been fired from a mini-crossbow. It was said that the mini-crossbow was probably a small one about 12 to 14 inches across that would have been readily concealable in a plastic bag or holdall or even beneath a coat or anorak. The police said that they thought that the crossbow used had been a Barnet Trident, noting that they thought it would have had a 75lb Magnum prod, making it one of the most powerful crossbows available on the market. The police said that the crossbow would have been readily purchased by mail order but also appealed for anyone that had had a crossbow stolen from them to come forward.

However, the police said that the mini-crossbow was not an accurate weapon, adding, 'It is not the sort of weapon that an intelligent man would use if he was planning a cold-blooded murder'.

The design consultant, whose ex-boyfriend Diana Maw had been seeing, was arrested and charged with her murder on 30 November 1988.

The design consultant had been seeing Diana Maw's boyfriend for several years before he left her for Diana Maw and it was said that she had been quite upset over the breakup.

The general timeline of events are:

  • February 1988: Diana Maw was said to have started seeing the design consultant's boyfriend.
  • May 1988: Diana Maw's boyfriend left the design consultant for Diana Maw.
  • 12 June 1988: Diana Maw's briefcase was stolen from outside her flat.
  • 20 July 1988: Diana Maw was shot in the head with a crossbow bolt outside her flat.
  • August 1988: The police released a photofit of a suspect that they said had been seen with a crossbow two days before the murder. He was described as being between 19 and 21 years old and about 5ft 8in tall.
  • 12 August 1988: Police report that they had narrowed their search down to five or six unidentified suspects.
  • 30 November 1988: The design consultant was charged with murder.
  • 2 December 1988: The design consultant was refused bail after it was claimed that there was a real risk that she might commit another crime and that three was 'a real fear for the safety of her ex-boyfriend at her hands'. It was also claimed that she might have tried to interfere with witnesses. It was also submitted that the design consultant might attempt to harm herself if given bail.
  • 20 April 1990: Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence at the design consultant's trial and she was acquitted.
  • 2am 25 June 1990: A fire broke out at the boyfriend’s home in Napier Avenue, Fulham. The police said that a forensic examination showed that inflammable substances had been used in several places to start the fire.
  • June 1990: The design consultant was charged with setting fire to her ex-boyfriends’ home. However, the arson charge was later dropped.
  • November 1990: The design consultant was charged with breaking into her ex-boyfriends’ yacht and stealing a diary.
  • March 1991: The design consultant was acquitted at a trial on the charge of stealing the diary from the yacht.

Diana Maw had been a recruitment consultant with the Industrial Society earning £25,000 a year and had lived in what was described as a luxury flat in Woodfield Court, Ealing, worth £130,000. The company that she worked for was described as a top head-hunting company.

She had strong ties to Dundee in Scotland.

Diana Maw had been educated at Cheltenham Ladies College, which was described as an exclusive establishment that cost £6,000 a year and she was described as having been a high achiever.

Following her murder, the police said that they first thought that she had been killed by a mugger. However, they later developed the theory that the design consultant had borne a jealous grudge and had been stalking her ex-boyfriend and Diana Maw which had culminated with the murder. It was claimed that the design consultant had become obsessed with Diana Maw after her boyfriend left her for Diana Maw.

In the period before her murder it was said that Diana Maw had been receiving anonymous phone calls which it was claimed at the trial the design consultant had made.

It was claimed that the design consultant had followed Diana Maw and her ex-boyfriend around and that she had once followed them to the theatre.

A few weeks before her murder Diana Maw had had her briefcase stolen from outside her flat and the police said that they were keen to trace it. The briefcase was described as an upmarket black leather briefcase with a grey velour lining and to have contained her personal information including her name and address. The briefcase was said to have cost over £150 and the police appealed for anyone that had come across it to let them know. The combination to the locks on the case was thought to have been 020851, which was a common number she used.

At the time of her murder she had been planning to move into a £325,000 house with her boyfriend.

It was noted that after the breakup of the design consultant and her boyfriend’s relationship that the design consultant was convinced to take a two week sailing holiday with friends in Corsica to help her get over her heartbreak, but that she didn't seem to enjoy it and seemed to have other things on her mind.

It was said that during the police investigation into the design consultant the police had taken statements from over 300 people, many of them friends or workmates of the design consultant and that in some cases details had been given concerning her bizarre actions, state of mind and personal relationships which were later submitted as reasons why she should not be given bail after her arrest in November 1988. It was also suggested at the time that she might try to contact some of the witnesses in an attempt to influence them with regard to the evidence that they had given.

When the design consultant was charged, she denied having had any part in the murder. However, she accepted having followed Diana Maw and her ex-boyfriend about, including going to the theatre when they were there and admitted having behaved in 'an undignified and shameful manner', but she said that she had never made any direct approach to either of them nor threatened either of them with violence.

When she was charged her defence said that the single event that had led to her appearance in court was an identification by a single witness who said that they had not seen a woman, but a man and who could not remember the precise date of the alleged sighting.

After she was acquitted at the magistrates hearing her lawyer said that the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case because of a 'gaping hole in police evidence'. The lawyer said, 'The police only had very thin circumstantial evidence based on he fact that she was the former girlfriend of Diana Maw's boyfriend. In fact, on her own admission she did behave badly by following the couple around after her split with him, but she was guilty of nothing more than being unlucky in love'.

Following the design consultant's acquittal, she was later arrested for setting fire to her boyfriends house in Fulham and also stealing from his yacht but was cleared of all charges. She later claimed that the police were fixated with her.

Diana Maw's murder brought about a national debate on the legality of owning crossbows and a call for their ban. It was said that the Home Office were looking at the various options which included a ban, or setting up a register off crossbow owners, and issuing crossbow certificates, similar to that required for the purchase of firearms. It was reported that MPs had been campaigning for stricter controls since the introduction of the 1987 Crossbow Act under which traders that sold crossbows to people under 17 years of age, which was illegal, could be jailed for up to six months or fined up to £2,000. It was further noted that over 100,000 crossbows were sold in Britain every year and that many of them had aggressive names. It was also noted that the crossbow was capable of firing a bolt at 135mph and with enough force to pass straight through a person’s body.


*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.


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see Hammersmith & Shepherds Bush Gazette - Friday 19 October 1990

see Staffordshire Sentinel - Wednesday 27 July 1988

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Thursday 20 April 1989

see Hammersmith & Shepherds Bush Gazette - Friday 21 April 1989

see Staffordshire Sentinel - Wednesday 27 July 1988

see Hammersmith & Shepherds Bush Gazette - Friday 28 April 1989

see Reading Evening Post - Thursday 28 June 1990

see Dundee Courier - Friday 02 December 1988

see Irish Independent - Friday 02 December 1988

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Thursday 20 April 1989

see Ealing Leader - Friday 12 August 1988

see Daily Mirror - Tuesday 26 July 1988

see Dundee Courier - Friday 02 December 1988

see Irish Independent - Saturday 02 March 1991

see Newcastle Journal - Saturday 23 July 1988

see Daily Mirror - Friday 21 April 1989

see Newcastle Journal - Monday 12 September 1988

see Ealing Leader - Friday 12 August 1988

see Dundee Courier - Thursday 01 December 1988

see Sandwell Evening Mail - Thursday 21 July 1988

see Dundee Courier - Friday 22 July 1988