Date: 19 Feb 1990
Kevin Childerley was attacked in his bedroom by men wielding a chisel, axe and a knife.
He had been in bed with his wife at the time of the attack and it was thought that Kevin Childerley had been asleep when the first of seven heavy blows struck him.
Two men were charged with his murder but were acquitted at Nottingham Crown Court on 7 March 1991. It was heard that they were charged mainly on Kevin Childerley's wife's memory coming back to her ten months later, but at the trial it was heard that it was unlikely or impossible that her memories could have been real.
The police were alerted after Kevin Childerley was found by neighbours downstairs in a semi-conscious sate, moaning and covered with blood and with serious head and facial injuries.
His 32-year-old wife was also injured in the attack.
Kevin Childerley was found dead when the police arrived, and it was reported that his wife had certainly been left for dead.
They had had two small children who had been in the house at the time of the attack. A 16-year-old babysitter had also been in the house at the time of the attack.
The babysitter said that she was woken up by the sounds of Kevin Childerley's wife screaming and Kevin Childerley's moaning. She said that she heard Kevin Childerley's wife say, 'What have you come here for?' and 'Kev, help!'. She said that she then heard a noise like a body falling from the bed and then silence. However, she said that she thought nothing of it and went back to sleep.
Kevin Childerley's inquest concluded that he had died from severe head injuries. The pathologist said that the post-mortem examination found a blood-stained footprint on Kevin Childerley's back as well as extensive injuries to his forehead that he considered had been caused by an axe. He said that he also had a wound to his chin that he thought had been made with a tool such as a chisel. He said that the lack of defensive injuries indicated that Kevin Childerley had been asleep when he was attacked.
Kevin Childerley's wife was left blind in one eye from the attack. Her right eye was so badly damaged that it had to be removed.
They had lived in a terraced house in Sherwood Street, Mansfield Woodhouse.
The police said that they were interested in tracing a man that was seen running from the direction of their house in Sherwood Street at about 2am Monday 19 February 1990. The man was described as being aged between 25 and 30, about 6ft 2in tall and with a slim build. He had been wearing paint-stained decorator's overalls, a brown leather jacket and a dark pon-pon hat.
It was heard that Kevin Childerley's wife had received poisonous pen letters about Kevin Childerley three years earlier, but that they had later stopped and it was thought that they had no bearing on Kevin Childerley's murder. However, his wife said that she did recieve 'funny phone calls' on the weekend before the murder. She said that the caller hung up when she answered the phone.
At the trial, it was heard that one of the men tried had lied about an axe and a diary, but the court heard that that was not enough to convict him of murder. After the judge directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict on the 32-year-old man, the prosecution dropped their case against the other 27-year-old man and he was also acquitted. They were both also acquitted of the attempted murder of Kevin Childerley's wife.
The 32-year-old man was acquitted after the court heard evidence from a medical expert. After hearing the evidence the judge said 'I have come firmly to the view it is my duty to stop the case because no jury, properly directed by me, could possibly return any verdict other than a verdict of not guilty'. He went on to add that the only evidence linking the 21-year-old man to the murder was that of Kevin Childerley's wife and noted that the whole case hinged on her memory, stating that after recovering from her injuries, she had had no recollection of the events to enable her to identify her assailant or assailants, even if they were known to her. It was heard that her memory had come back to her ten months later after watching a Crimestoppers TV film and she had named the 32-year-old man as the assailant. The court also heard from a consultant neurologist who said that he knew of no other comparable case and said that in his view it could not be a genuine memory recall, even if Kevin Childerley's wife thought it was. He added that it was only an outside chance that she had suffered from psychogenic or emotionally-induced amnesia and that after having read all of her previous statements and hearing her describe her memory recall, the evidence did not agree with his experience or with relevant medical textbooks. He said, 'Having experience of people desperately trying to fill a gap, however much she may feel this a genuine memory, it isn't'. Kevin Childerley's wife had said that she remembered waking up to see the 32-year-old man with his hand over Kevin Childerley's mouth and striking out at him. She said that there was another person standing behind the 32-year-old man and that when she tried to sit up she was struck on the head.
Kevin Childerley's wife also said that her accusation that the 32-year-old man was the attacker was based on a 'gut feeling in my heart'. When she was accused of lying, she said, 'What am I going to gain by putting an innocent man down, because that means the real man is still about. I saw the 32-year-old man'.
The court also heard that Kevin Childerley's wife had a criminal record for theft and deception involving thousands of pounds over a ten-year period until 1987. However, she denied that she was prepared to lie about the 32-year-old man.
After hearing the medical evidence, the judge said that it would not be safe to convict the men.
The court also heard that a 30-year-old hairdresser said that the 27-year-old man had told him that the police had offered him £5,000 to say that he had driven the 32-year-old man to Kevin Childerley's house.
A man that had know both the 32-year old man and the 27-year-old man said that whilst they were in prison said that the 32-year-old man had told him that two men had come to his house looking for Kevin Childerley about two weeks before the murder armed with a cosh and that they had intimidated him and so he had shown the men where Kevin Childerley had lived.
However, it was also heard at the trial that the 27-year-old man had confessed to a woman that he had known for ten years, telling her that he had driven the 32-year-old man to Kevin Childerley's wife's house on the night of the murder. She said that they were both drug addicts and that the 27-year-old man had come to her house in late April 1991 in a nervous stating and looking for drugs. She said that she told him to go into the kitchen and to not panic, and added that he had seemed more frightened than anything else when he had told her.
It was heard that the 32-year-old man had bought the house that Kevin Childerley had formerly lived in in Stainforth Street in 1989 and that he had had a grudge over a cooker that should have been left behind and some faulty central heating.
It was also stated by the prosecution that the 27-year-old man had admitted playing a part in the murder and to having driven the 32-year-old man to Kevin Childerley's house in Sherwood Street.
It was heard that the 32-year-old man had also lied about a diary entry in which he had written the word 'bastards' next to Kevin Childerley's telephone number. He also admitted that he had initially lied to the police about an axe that his father had given him, which he said that he had lost before he moved into Stainforth Street.
However, the man denied that he held a grudge against Kevin Childerley or his wife.
It was also noted that Kevin Childerley's brother Vernon Childerley was himself also murdered in 1977 in Woodhouse Road, Mansfield although a man was convicted for that. The police noted that although the man that had killed Kevin Childerley's brother had been released from prison, they said that there was absolutely no connection between him and Kevin Childerley's murder.
Kevin Childerley was an ex-miner. He and his family had only lived in Sherwood Street for the previous five months.
see Mansfield & Sutton Recorder - Thursday 17 May 1990
see Mansfield & Sutton Recorder - Thursday 01 March 1990
see Mansfield & Sutton Recorder - Thursday 28 February 1991
see Mansfield & Sutton Recorder - Thursday 07 March 1991