Unsolved Murders

Abraham Cullen

Age: 53

Sex: male

Date: 20 Oct 1956

Place: C & A Modes Limited, Tib Street, Manchester

Abraham Cullen was murdered in the C&A Mode store in Tib Street, Manchester whilst on night watch on the night of 19/20 October 1956.

A woman was charged with his murder but the case was dropped at the magistrates court. It was claimed that she had been part of a gang of burglars that had gone to the store to steal clothes and that they had killed Abraham Cullen in the process.

His body was found in a pool of blood in a room on the first floor of a new gown store extension to the building at about 7.10am on 20 October 1956. The building had seven floors.

He was found lying on his back with two injuries, one at the back of his head and another to his chin, and his penis was found to have been protruding through his open flies.

The police said that there was no sign of a struggle in the room and thought that he had been taken by surprise.

He had been acting as night-watchman for a firm of building contractors who had been carrying out work on an extension for the existing C&A Mode store. The work was described as having been ongoing for some time.

It was thought that he had been murdered by a gang that had broken into the store to steal clothes and fur coats and evidence was found to indicate that they had broken a number of doors in doing so.

Key dates and times in the case are:

  • 20 October 1956, Thursday, 7am: Abraham Cullen's body found.
  • 24 October 1956: Police appeal for information regarding a gown salesman's van that was seen outside the store.
  • 28 October 1956, Sunday: Mary Philomena Nolan found murdered. It was suggested that she knew too much about Abraham Cullen's murder. Her murder is also unsolved.
  • 9 November 1956: 25-year-old woman was arrested and charged with Abraham Cullen's murder.
  • 29 November 1956, Thursday: Case against 25-year-old woman charged with Abraham Cullen's murder was dropped by the magistrate.

The C&A Mode store was between Tib Street and Oldham Street in Manchester. Tib Street was described as having been a narrow street off Market Street which was described as being Manchester's main shopping thoroughfare. At the time the new building was surrounded by wooden hoardings. C&A Modes Limited was described as a retailer of women's wear.

The woman that was charged with his murder, a 25-year-old woman, was charged on 9 November 1956, but when the case was brought before the magistrates on Thursday 29 November 1956 the stipendiary magistrate ruled that there was no case to answer.

It was heard that she had claimed that she and four men had gone 'nicking' at the store. In one of her statements she had said that one of the men that she had been with had said, 'I will shut his ---- mouth up'.

However, she later denied making the statement.

After her evidence was heard at the magistrates court, the stipendiary magistrate said, 'I am quite satisfied that no jury would or should convict the accused of murder merely because she followed a man who, in the course of a stealing expedition, says, with reference to the night-watchman, 'I will shut his ---- mouth up'.

Abraham Cullen was last seen drinking in the Unicorn Hotel, a public house within a short distance of the department store.

The room that his body was found in had been being used at the time as a mess-room by the workmen employed at the site and Abraham Cullen, who was employed by the builders, used it during the night.

Abraham Cullen was a widower and it was noted that he would often visit his father's house each day for food but would return to the City centre each day at about 4.15pm. It was noted that whilst working that he would regularly leave the site during the evenings to visit public houses in the area, usually the Unicorn Hotel.

On 24 October 1956 the police said that they were trying to trace a gown salesman's van that had been seen outside the store in Tib Street. The police said, 'This van and its driver are important clues in our investigations'. The van was described as being dark coloured and 15 to 20cwt in capacity and with two metal supports running at an angle from the bodywork above the windscreen to the wings. It was said that on the off-side there was a 12-inch deep strip which was thought might have been fixed to hide the name of the owners.

The police said that they thought that the van, which had been fitted internally with a coat hanger rail, had been being used to carry away coats and dresses by the gang that were responsible for Abraham Cullen's murder.

On 28 October Mary Philomena Nolan was found strangled on waste land off Denmark Road in Moss Side. It was later suggested that she had been murdered because she had known too much about Abraham Cullen's murder.

The 25-year-old woman, a prostitute, was arrested on 9 November 1956 at 11.25am and charged soon after at Bootle Street Police Station 'That during the night of the 19th October 1956, in the City of Manchester, with other persons not in custody, she murdered Abraham Cullen, against the Peace and Section 1 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861'. She appeared at Manchester City Magistrates' Court on Saturday 10 November 1956 and was remanded in custody until Friday 16 November 1956 when she was further remanded to 23 November 1956 but she was released after a magistrates hearing on 29 November 1956. She had lived in St Mary's Road in Crumpsall, Manchester.

Abraham Cullen had started work on Friday 19 October 1956 at about 5pm and later during the evening he had visited the Unicorn Hotel in Church Street, Manchester, later leaving at about 10.40pm with the watchman of an adjacent building. It was said that after leaving the Unicorn Hotel with the other watchman that they had gone together to the C&A Modes Limited site and that Abraham Cullen had entered the building and gone up to his room and then waved back down to the other man, it being said that Abraham Cullen had been afraid to enter the premises alone.

He was found dead the following morning at 7.10am by a boilerman employed by C&A Modes Limited who then caused the police to be informed after which a police sergeant arrived at 9am, joined shortly after by other officials including a Home Office pathologist, a forensic specialist from the North-Eastern Forensic Science Laboratory and the police photographer as well as other officers.

Abraham Cullen's body was found lying on the floor in the room face upwards, fully clothed and with his jacket lying across his legs. He was clothed in a shirt with the sleeves rolled up, a sleeveless cardigan, trousers, braces, bib and brace overalls, socks and heavy boots. It was noted that the bib of the overalls was turned down and the overall braces were underneath his body and legs. However, the flies on his overalls were found to be unbuttoned and when they were later removed it was found that the bottom fly buttons of his trousers underneath his overalls were also open and that his penis was protruding through the open flies.

A doctor later took a smear from the foreskin of Abraham Cullen's penis which was later found to be stained with semen.

It was noted that Abraham Cullen's head was near a combustion stove that was cold, the fire having died out some time before.

There was a small amount of blood in the ashes in front of the stove and a thin trail of blood about nine inches long led to a pool of blood in which his head was resting. There were also dried bloodstains running down both sides of his face from his mouth and nostrils.

It was noted that there were no injuries to his hands or arms.

His body lay partly on a dust sheet that was on the concrete floor and there were splashes of blood on an empty bucket near his head.

The room had two windows facing Tib Street and entry to the room was granted through a temporary wooden door that was not fitted with a lock. There was no door frame to the wall and the door opened inwards and outwards.

In the room where Abraham Cullen was found there were a number of workmen's tool chests, two tables and five forms and in the far right hand corner of the room on entering there was a pile of coke.

It was noted that when Abraham Cullen's was found in the room the one electric lightbulb in the room was illuminated.

One of the forms was found overturned and part of a broken skirting board lay across the leg of the form nearest the wall under which a raincoat which was subsequently identified as belonging to Abraham Cullen was found and over which lay a bloodstained workman's jacket. The other part of the broken skirting board was found on the table nearest the door.

It was noted that the two pieces of wood had originally been one and that both parts were bloodstained. It was further noted that prior to being broken the skirting board had been five feet long, six inches wide and one inch thick.

Some of Abraham Cullen's personal papers and some keys were found scattered on the floor near his body and it was found that a small wooden cupboard containing a telephone and secured by a padlock had been broken into, but there were no other obvious signs of a disturbance in any other part of the room, although it was however noted as otherwise being very untidy.

The police took photographs of the interior of the room before anything was moved.

The police took a number of things away for examination including:

  • Abraham Cullen's boots, overalls and jacket.
  • Smear from Abraham Cullen's foreskin.
  • Two pieces of broken skirting board.
  • Pieces of firewood.
  • A bucket.
  • Blood scrapings from the stove.
  • The wooden telephone box.
  • The bottom part of a section of wall.
  • A drop of blood found near Abraham Cullen's feet.
  • Blood from the ashes.
  • The staple, padlock and hasp from the telephone box.
  • Footprints that had been left in drying concrete.
  • A pane of glass from the room where Abraham Cullen was murdered which proved negative for fingerprints.

After the police carried out their initial examination of the scene they took Abraham Cullen's body to the Platt Lane Station Mortuary where Abraham Cullen's 75-year-old father identified his remains.

Abraham Cullen's post mortem was carried out the same day and his cause of death was given as being due to cerebral haemorrhage and other injuries to his head and neck following blows to his head, face and neck.

Other samples were also taken from Abraham Cullen's body including:

  • Samples of urine.
  • Stomach contents.
  • Anal swab.
  • Two hairs from under his foreskin.
  • Sample of blood.
  • Head hair.
  • Pubic hair.
  • Fingernail clippings.
  • Portion of skin from the left index finger.
  • His remaining clothing was also taken away for analysis.

The police report that detailed the items that were taken away for examination whilst Abraham Cullen was at the mortuary includes a note in the paragraph highlighting the finding of the two hairs found underneath Abraham Cullen's foreskin asking whether they had belonged to the prostitute who was later arrested on suspicion of Abraham Cullen's murder.

It was noted that it was known that on 19 October 1956 that Abraham Cullen had been carrying an old Ingersoll pocket watch and a metal watch chain but that when his body was found that they were missing . It was also noted that the two leather wallets that he was known to have possessed were also missing and were never traced.

It was also noted that Abraham Cullen had previously expressed his intention to buy another watch for £8 10s 0d on the Saturday 20 October 1956, the day after his murder, but that when he was found he only had 1s 5d on his body.

The police also found that two offices in a wooden hut at ground level that were used by the clerk of works and which were located withing the boundary of the site hoardings, had also been broken into on the night of the murder, but it was determined that only three padlock keys had been stolen, although it was noted that the contents of the offices had been disturbed.

It was noted that whilst the extension was being built that the main C&A store was still open but that the back of the original building was enclosed by temporary walls which after the extension was completed would be removed to form larger sales rooms. It was said that on the fourth floor of the old building in one of the temporary walls there was an opening which allowed access for workmen during the day. The opening led directly into a stock room that contained clothing and could only be reached from the new extension by crossing scaffolding and planks and which was ordinarily covered by a sheet of wood at night which was held in position by a spar of timber that was jammed against it.

However, the police report noted that enquiries showed that on the night of 19 October 1956 that the hole had not been covered.

It was said that C&A Modes Limited stock was so great that with the exception of the more expensive fur coats, that any loss of garments was only noticed at the periodical stock-takings. However, on Monday 22 October 1956 the manager of the store said that he noticed that three fur coats had been stolen from the stockroom and that he believed that they had been taken on the night of 19 October 1956.

However, the fur coats were later traced and a man was convicted for their theft, but the police report stated that they had no reason to suspect him of the murder of Abraham Cullen. The police said that following enquiries they arrested a steel erector that had been employed on the construction site and he later admitted to having stolen the fur coats and other garments during two visits that he had made to the stockroom between 5.40pm and 6pm on 19 October 1956. The police report noted that he further furnished an alibi for the remainder of the night and his movements were accounted for until 11.10pm 19 October 1956 at which time he arrived at his home in Bolton where his wife said that he spent the remainder of his night.

It was noted that the steel erector was later sentenced to six months' imprisonment for the theft of the fur coats.

However, the police report stated that it later became apparent during the police investigation that there had been large scale thefts from the C&A Modes Limited store, with access being gained through the new extension.

Later, on 7 November 1956 at 10.55pm the police arrested the prostitute that was later charged with Abraham Cullen's murder and her husband for being drunk and disorderly. It was noted that the prostitute had a long list of convictions.

When they were taken to Newton Street police station it was said that the prostitute said that she could tell who did the murder, and that upon hearing her say that her husband had shouted at her that she should not tell the police anything.

However, the prostitute was then taken to Whitworth Street Police Station where female prisoners were accommodated where she again said that she could tell all about the C&A watchman and that she knew who killed him. However, it was noted that she had said that she would only speak to a certain detective about it and so that detective was sent for.

When the police and the detective saw the prostitute later that night at 11.45pm she was still under the influence of alcohol and said that she would only tell the specific detective that she had called for about the murder and so she and the detective were left alone.

Whilst she was alone with the detective, she said that she and four men that she named had entered the new C&A Modes Limited extension so that they could access the old building in order to steal from it and that whilst they were there that someone heard them and that the fourth man of the group had gone down to the watchman's room and killed him. After hearing her story, the detective said that he pressed the prostitute to find out how she knew all of that and said that the prostitute then told him that she had been there and described how it happened.

After the detective arrived the interview went:

Prostitute: I'm glad you've come. I know I can trust you. You've always been good to me and my partner. I'll get cut up for what I'm going to tell you but I'll have to grass. I can't sleep'.

Detective: What is it that's so serious?

Prostitute: It's about that poor old man at C&A's (she covered her face with her hands) it's terrible.

Detective: Do you mean the watchman that was murdered?

Prostitute: Yes. I know all about it, I don't know whether I should tell you. It might have been my dad.

Detective: I think you ought to tell us about such a serious matter.

Prostitute: You know what it's like. Everybody will say I'm a grass. If I tell you don't tell my partner. He doesn't know anything about it.

Detective: I don't think people will call you a grass telling us about such a serious matter as murder.

Prostitute: Yes I think I'd better tell you. Oh! that poor man.

Detective: Do you realise how serious this is? Please tell me what you know about the murder of the watchman.

Prostitute: I know but I'm frightened. If I tell you, promise you'll not tell on me will you?

Detective: If you can help to find the murderer I think you should tell me what you know.

Prostitute: You won't tell my partner will you? Please promise. He told me to keep my mouth shut.

Detective: Do you know who's responsible for killing the watchman at C&A's?

Prostitute: I know, I know. I want to tell somebody. You’re the only one I can tell. They'll say I'm a grass.

Detective: Believe me, the best thing to do is to tell me what you know. Nobody is going to hurt you for telling the police about a murder.

Prostitute: You're right. It's the best thing to do. Oh! that poor old man. (she started to cry) I'm all right now. I've got to get it off my mind. They didn't mean to kill him you know.

Detective: Who didn't mean to kill him?

Prostitute: I'm a grass but it might have been my dad. You know they've all been in C&A's nicking things don't you?

Detective: We have been told so.

Prostitute: The team only went to nick some gear, it wasn't murder. He was only hit to keep him from telling who it was. If that poor old man had seen them he'd have known. He wasn't meant to be killed. You know I don't steal things.

Detective: Can you tell me who went into C&A's the night the watchman was murdered?

Prostitute: Yes I'll tell you who the team was. My partner told me not to but I'm going to. There was Deadeye and Chic.

Detective: Who do you mean by Deadeye and Chic?

Prostitute: You know Deadeye, that the little Scotsman. Chic's the other Scotsman.

Detective: Was there anybody else?

Prostitute: Oh yes, Bill Lyons and a Scotsman I don't know. I've known Bill Lyons for a long time, he's a seaman.

Detective: Do you know anything else?

Prostitute: Oh yes, Deadeye and Chic didn't do it.

Detective: What do you mean?

Prostitute: Deadeye and Chic didn't hit him. It was Bill Lyons, they were all drunk. Bill didn't mean to kill him so that's not murder. They only went to nick some gear.

Detective: Are you sure that you have told me the truth? It is very serious.

Prostitute: It's all true, the watchman heard a noise and Bill went to his room and hit him. (the prostitute started to cry) That poor old man, he didn't want to die.

Detective: Would you tell me again how the watchman was murdered?

Prostitute: Deadeye, Chic, Bill Lyons and another Scotsman were there. The watchman must have heard a noise because he said 'Who's there?' and Bill Lyons said, ''I'll shut his fucking mouth up' and went down to the watchman's room and hit him. Everybody ran out.

Detective: How can I be sure this is true. Is it gossip off Piccadilly?

Prostitute: It's true. I know it's true. I had a row with my partner that night and I left him at home and came down to Piccadilly. I told Graham I was going to my dad's. You know how I fall out with my partner. I wish I'd never come out that night. It was terrible.

Detective: You might have come to Piccadilly that night but how do I know you know these people you have told me about having murdered the watchman?

Prostitute: Oh, that poor old man. I wanted to help him but they wouldn't let me.

Detective: I don't quite understand. I asked you how you knew these people you have told me about who murdered the watchman?

Prostitute: It was Bill Lyons not the others that did it. I saw it happen that's how I know. (the prostitute then covered her face with her hands) I wanted to help him. Bill picked something up off the floor and hit him with it on the back of the head and he fell on his stomach and Bill hit him again like that. (The prostitute with her right hand, made a movement across her face).

At that point the detective left the room and then at 1.30am on 8 November 1956 he went back in with the Chief Inspector.

Chief Inspector: The detective has told me that you say you, Deadeye, Chic and a Bill Lyons were in C&A's that night and that you saw the watchman killed because he heard you. Bill Lyons hit him on the head.

Prostitute: The prostitute made no reply.

Chief Inspector: Do you realise the seriousness of what you have said?

Prostitute: Yes but I was there. I can show you where it happened.

Chief Inspector: Very well we'll go there and you can show us.

They then all went off to the C&A Modes Limited’s new building at 2am 8 November 1956 in a motor car.

When they arrived in Tib Street the prostitute led the police to some double doors in the hoardings surrounding the building, by which time it was noted that she was sober and quite composed in her manner. It was said that when they reached the double doors that the prostitute said, 'It’s got a lock on now'. It was noted that the door that Abraham Cullen used was 13 yards away. It was noted that when it was on the premises that it had been secured from the inside by a bolt.

The police report stated that after they arrived at the double doors with the prostitute that they then knocked for the watchman on duty who then opened the doors for them and that with the aid of a large hand lamp the prostitute then led them up to the first floor by the stairs near the space for the lift shaft where she then pointed to a wall and said that she said had not been there previously, a fact that was later confirmed by the Clerk of Works.

It was said that she then pointed beyond the wall and towards Tib Street and said that it happened over there.

The police report stated that there was a hole in the wall there at the time that was big enough for workmen to pass through and that there was scaffolding and a ramp that crossed the space there that had been left for the lift shaft. The report stated that there were spaces in the concrete stairs there and so they decided to return to the ground floor and to ascend via another set of stairs to get to the other side of the wall that the prostitute had previously brought them too. From there the woman then pointed to a series of electric lights that were illuminated and said that they were new, a fact that was also confirmed by the Clerk of Works.

The prostitute then pointed over the previously mentioned wall towards the flight of stairs rising from where they had previously been and said that she and the others had been up there when the watchman had been called out.

The prostitute then half turned and said that she had from that position then seen the light shining in the watchman's room and that she then went to the door and after some hesitation entered and then pointed towards the coke stove and said that he lay on his stomach there and that his head had been bleeding and that 'he' wouldn't let her help him. The police report stated then that at that moment the prostitute fainted and noted that at that time the new watchman was also in the room.

The police report stated that after the prostitute recovered they returned to Whitworth Street Police Station where the prostitute was placed in the matron's room.

The police then went to Newton Street Police Station to see the prostitutes husband who told them in effect that he knew nothing about the murder at the premises of C&A Modes Limited and that if she had said that she was there that it was up to her to 'get out of it', after which he went back to sleep.

The police then returned to Whitchurch Street Police Station where they found the prostitute asleep and said that at 4.45am they saw her again at which time she was composed in her manner and sober. They said that they told her that she was not obliged to say anything unless she wished to do so but that anything she said would be taken down in writing and might be given in evidence. It was said then that the prostitute then made a statement which she dictated to the police after which she read over and signed.

However, later that morning at 9.40am the prostitute called the police to her cell at the Manchester Magistrates Court and said that what she had told them the previous night was all lies, adding that they knew what she was like when she had been drinking.

Shortly after the prostitute and her husband both appeared at the Manchester City Magistrates Court on Thursday 8 November 1956 on the charge of being drunk and guilty of disorderly behaviour and were remanded for one day, the prostitute in custody and her husband on bail.

The prostitute and her husband then appeared at the same court the following morning 9 November 1956 where the prostitute pleaded guilty and the husband pleaded not guilty, but was convicted, after which they were each fined 10s 10d.

However, later the same day, at 11.25am, Friday 9 November 1956 the police said that they saw the prostitute again at Bootle Street Police Station where they told her that they intended to charge her with the murder of Abraham Cullen after which she said that she did not murder anybody.

The prostitute said, 'I didn't murder anybody, I wasn't there. About that statement I made, Dead Eye and Chick know nothing about it. I only said that because they're Scotsmen, and that Bill Lyons I made up the name'.

The police report stated that with regard to two of the men that she mentioned in her story, she said that they knew nothing about it and that she had only mentioned them because they were Scotsmen and that the last person that she had named, the murderer, did not exist.

The police said that when they interviewed the two Scotsmen, that they denied any knowledge of the murder and the police report stated that they were unable to find anything to connect them to the murder.

The police added that although they could not determine whether the fourth man had existed, they had determined that it was possible that he was a known criminal, but who, at the time could not be traced.

The police report noted that Abraham Cullen's successor, the nightwatchman that had been on duty when the police had gone to the C&A Modes store with the prostitute corroborated the fact that when they had gone into the nightwatchman's room that the prostitute had then gone towards the stove, pointed at the floor and had then said something that he did not hear.

It was further noted that with regards to the prostitutes statement that on the night of the murder that she had taken a taxi at a bus stop in Cheetham Hill Road and returned to town, that a taxi driver later made a statement stating that between 11.30pm and midnight on a Friday night, possibly 19 or 26 October 1956, that a woman answering the description of the prostitute had got in his taxi cab near to where the prostitute said that she had been picked up. He had also said that at about midnight he had seen the same woman run across Tib Street near C&A Modes Limited, but that he could not be sure of the date.

When the police interviewed the first of one of the two Scotsmen that she had referred to, known as 'Dead-Eye', he said that it was all lies and that he had never been in C&A Modes Limited and when he was asked who the third man was he replied that he didn't know him. He then gave an account of his movements for the night of Friday 19 October 1956, stating that he had been with a prostitute that he lived with from 7.30pm until 11pm in the Victoria Hotel in Hall Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock where they drank with two other men, noting that he remembered speaking to the pianist there. He said that after that he went to the Delhi Restaurant at 4 Rosamund Street West in Chorlton-on-Medlock where he had a meal and remained until 12.30am at which point he said that the proprietor's wife telephoned for a 'Luxicab' for him and then when it arrived he and his girlfriend went home, arriving at 12.45am, noting that he knew the taxi-driver, saying that he was the former manager of a second hand motor car company. He said that he then went to bed at 1.15am and stayed there until 10am on 20 October 1956.

The police noted that enquiries were made to verify the first Scotsman’s account of his movements. However, they said that the two men that he said he and his partner had been drinking with in the Victoria Hotel from 8.30pm until 10.45pm on 19 October 1956 said that they did not remember seeing the first Scotsman there although they said that he might have been in the public house at some time during the evening. Further, the police spoke to the pianist there and she two said that she did not recall seeing the first Scotsman. When the police next spoke to the taxi driver employed by the Luxicab Hire Service who knew the Scotsman quite well, he said that he was quite certain that he did not drive the first Scotsman on 19 October 1956 and further, it was determined that there was no record at the Luxicab Hire Service of any telephone call for one of their cabs to go to the Delhi Restaurant that night. Also, when the police spoke to the proprietor of the Delhi Restaurant and his wife, neither of them said that they were able to say whether the Scotsman had been in their restaurant and it was further determined that the proprietors wife, who was ordinarily frequently asked to make calls for customers could not recollect making a call for the first Scotsman that night. Further, when the police questioned the first Scotsman's partners mother who had been staying at his house on the night of 19 October 1956, she said that she had gone to bed at 11.30pm and had no idea what time her daughter or the first Scotsman got home. Also, when the police questioned the first Scotsman's partner she said that she had no recollection of where she and the first Scotsman had been on that night.

The police report concluded on the note that the first Scotsman was at that time wanted on a warrant on a charge of larceny and his whereabouts unknown, but it was thought that his partner had accompanied him.

The police said that when they questioned the second Scotsman he told them that the prostitute was a liar and that he had never been in C&A Modes Limited. When he was asked to account for his movements on the night of 19 October 1956 he said that he had been drinking in public houses in the City centre and did not remember where he had slept. The police report noted that they found that the second Scotsman on most evenings frequented public houses in the City centre and coffee stalls on Piccadilly until the early hours of the morning.

It was further noted that on 16 November 1956 that a man called the police to say that a certain woman could give them some information about the murder of Abraham Cullen, saying that the woman had just told him that the prostitute that had been charged with Abraham Cullen's murder had told her that she had seen the night-watchman murdered. The police said that they traced the woman that same evening and found her to be under the influence of alcohol and it was decided not to write down her statement until she was more sober. However, in the meantime she did write a note that she signed which read, 'I did see the prostitute upset, on the Highway called Piccadilly. She said to me I was with a man who hit the watchman with a crowbar. I ran away because I was afraid'.  The police later took her statement which expanded on her initial note saying that the prostitute told her that a man she was with had killed the watchman with a crowbar.

She said, 'I am unemployed at the present but was formerly a ward-orderly at Davyhulme Hospital, near Manchester. I know why you want to see me tonight. I want to tell you about the prostitute on the night the watchman was killed. I was on Piccadilly near to the first telephone box, that is Lewis's end of Piccadilly. I saw her crossing Piccadilly and she came towards me, she was upset and seemed dazed and shocked. I said to her, 'What’s the matter?'. She seemed to me to be so shocked she could hardly answer, but she did say after some difficulty, 'I've been with a man who hit a watchman with a crowbar, I ran away because I was afraid'. She also said that the man who hit the watchman had run away leaving her alone. I thought she had been drinking and imagining things and I told her to get a taxi and get off home. She didn't seem to understand what I was saying properly she seemed more shocked than anything so I took her to a taxi, it would be about midnight, but I'm not sure of the time. At the most she was only with me about ten minutes, I didn't notice anyone else about that I knew. She knows me very well, she has known me a long time, I'm not quite sure what she was wearing but it was something black. I heard about the murder at 'C&A' Modes but it was only when I saw the prostitutes photograph in the paper that I realised she had told me of the man who had done it. She is only little'.

Other witnesses that the police spoke to included a salesman that lived in Monton Street in Moss Side who said that he had known Abraham Cullen for about two months, having met him through the Unicorn Hotel in Church Street, Manchester where his wife worked. He said that he used to see him in there every evening except when his wife was off-duty and he was not in. He said that Abraham Cullen would get into the Unicorn Hotel generally at about 8.30pm and would be in most evenings, saying that he was a steady drinker and would probably have about six or seven pints during the evening.

He said that on the Friday evening, 19 October 1956, that he got to the Unicorn Hotel at about 9.40pm and that Abraham Cullen came in just after him, but noted that he could not say whether or not Abraham Cullen had been in earlier on in the evening, adding that he would often slip in and out of the pub for a few minutes before returning. He said that Abraham Cullen sat with him for a time and spoke with him and said that the conversation was in Abraham Cullen's usual strain in that he seemed obsessed with the idea that someone might break into his place of employment and hit him over the head, which he said Abraham Cullen often spoke about. He said that Abraham Cullen left the Unicorn Hotel at about 10.40pm by himself, but added that other people had also been leaving at the same time and that the watchman from Littlewoods opposite the C&A Modes Limited site might have been amongst the people leaving. He noted that when Abraham Cullen left he had shouted 'Good night' and had seemed quite capable, adding that in fact he had never seen Abraham Cullen the worse for drink and that that was the last time that he saw him.

A fitter/welder that lied in lodgings in Hardings Street in Oldham said that he had been working on the site of C&A Modes in Tib Street since about April 1956 and had known Abraham Cullen for about three months since he had started work there as a watchman on the site that he was working on and said that he used to see him in the Unicorn Hotel where he went regularly every Thursday and Friday nights after work, adding that he would also go in if he had been working on a Saturday or Sunday overtime and that when he did he would have a drink with Abraham Cullen.

He said that on the previous Sunday 14 October 1956 that he had seen Abraham Cullen in the basement of the building. He said that he knew that Abraham Cullen would be working later and so asked to borrow his torch and said that when he finished work at midnight that he went to the room where Abraham Cullen stayed on the first floor to give him his torch back. He said that he knocked on his door and shouted to him but said that he could not wake him up. He said that he then looked through a crack at the side of the door and saw a lot of tool boxes behind the door and didn't bother anymore and left the torch inside near the door.

The fitter/welder said that on Friday 19 October 1956 at about 6.30pm he finished work and went for a drink at the Unicorn Hotel with his foreman, sitting in the back room where they had about four pints each. He said that he didn't see Abraham Cullen come into the pub but said that as he was about to leave between 7pm and 7.30pm he saw him sitting in the bar but didn't know whether he was with anybody. He said that he asked Abraham Cullen to have a drink but said that Abraham Cullen told him that he couldn't as he had to put the lamps out on the site. However, he said that he left the barmaid 1/2d for a drink for Abraham Cullen and then left the pub at which time Abraham Cullen was still there and didn't see him again after he left the Unicorn Hotel at 7.30pm.

The fitter welder said that whenever he had been with Abraham Cullen he had known him to be a heavy drinker, by which he meant that he had seen him drink 5 or 6 pints of beer between 8pm and 10.30pm. He said that Abraham Cullen was very sociable and had many friends and that a lot of people took sympathy on him because he had been suffering with his chest. He said that Abraham Cullen didn't seem to bother with any one person in particular and that he had never seen him with any women.

He added that just before he had left work on Friday 19 October 1956 that Abraham Cullen had told him that he had been paid his wages the night before, Thursday, saying that he remembered it because Abraham Cullen had told him that he had been stopped a night's pay. He added that Abraham Cullen used to tell him that he was very frightened of being hit over the head and said that if he ever found anyone trying to get into C&A's that he wouldn't bother as he was only a watchman on Gerrard's site, the construction company.

Another 31-year-old prostitute who lived in Hewitt Street, Manchester gave a statement on 30 October 1956:

'I am a divorced woman. I have been on the game about 6 years and usually stand in Fountain Street, Manchester nearly every night, late on. About six weeks ago I came to know the nightwatchman at the building site in Tib Street, Manchester. He used to have a fire outside a hut in the street, and I used to speak to him when I passed him. About two months ago I saw him in the street, it was late on and I was on my own. I stopped to speak to him. He said, 'Did you finish', by that he meant did I finish intercourse with a client I'd just had, because a policeman had walked near, and I told him that I had. He told me that I was silly for doing it outside and said, 'Why don't you come in the works, as long as you are careful and quiet'. I knew what he meant because the policeman had been chasing us off the back streets. He then said, 'If you give me a couple of 'bob' it would help me out'. I agreed to this arrangement and then I left him. I should say that before I went away he said, 'Have you done anything tonight or has it been bad'. I told him that business was not too good. He then asked me if I knew a little fat girl that went round there and I told him that I didn’t. He said, 'I would like to fuck her'. Although I have used round there a lot since, I have never been in the works or paid him any money. On Friday, 19th, October, 1956 I picked up a fellow in Market Street and took him up Tib Street to a street opposite C&A Modes building, it would be about 10.30pm. I used the same street twice after this about 11pm and the last time about midnight. On the way back down Tib Street I saw a van parked in Tib Street outside the St James Club facing Market Street. It was a big van, a dirty green colour and was like a Police van but higher. It had two doors at the back. I took particular notice of it because I thought the 'D' might be using it. It was still there when I left Tib Street about 12.15am Saturday morning the 20th, October, 1965. I never saw the watchman that night but other times I have seen him a lot around 11pm. He had always had a drink when I met him'.

After the prostitute was cleared at the magistrates court, she said, 'I was never at C&A's. It was all drunken talk. Deadeye and Chick are friends, I don't remember telling the police about them. I invented everything, I should have been an actress'.

In January 1957 the police reported that they thought that Mary Nolan, who was murdered shortly after Abraham Cullen was murdered might have known Abraham Cullen.

They said that over the four months that they had questioned thousands of people and that they felt sure that the killers were being sheltered and that people that could give vital evidence were being silent, adding that they thought that the murderers were still in Manchester.

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

see www.truecrimelibrary.com

see National Archives - DPP 2/2609

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Friday 30 November 1956

see Bradford Observer - Wednesday 24 October 1956

see Belfast Telegraph - Wednesday 24 October 1956

see Shields Daily News - Tuesday 30 October 1956

see Sunday Independent (Dublin) - Sunday 02 April 1989

see Lancashire Evening Post - Monday 11 February 1957

see Daily Herald - Saturday 01 December 1956

see Liverpool Echo - Friday 08 February 1957