Unsolved Murders

Rachel Soloman

Age: 18

Sex: female

Date: 27 Aug 1990

Place: Caribbean Festival, Harehills Avenue, Chapeltown, Leeds

Source: totalcrime.co.uk

Sedley Sullivan and Rachel Soloman were shot at the Leeds Carnival.

They had each been shot with a single round from a handgun.

Rachel Soloman was rushed to the hospital by her boyfriend after being shot, but she died shortly after emergency surgery.

They had been dancing with up to 1,000 other revellers in Harehills Avenue at about 1.30am on the Tuesday 27 August 1990 at the Leeds Carnival, a West Indian carnival held annually. The carnival had officially finished earlier in the day at 7.30pm, and had taken place about a mile away from Harehills Avenue but dancing continued late into the night at the street party in Harehills Avenue.

It was thought that Sedley Sullivan had been the target of the shots and that Rachel Soloman had been an innocent bystander, having been caught in the crossfire. A group of black and white youths had been seen arguing in the street shortly beforehand. It was thought that Sedley Sullivan had been involved in a fight shortly before he was shot and that there had been a row and some pushing before the gun went off.

Rachel Soloman's sister, who had been with Rachel Soloman at the time, said that she saw Rachel Soloman stagger towards her after being shot. She said, 'I saw blood coming from a wound in her back, but I don't know where the shot came from. I saw a puff of smoke coming from the middle of the gang. But I didn't see a gun'.

A woman that saw the shots said that there was a 'loud bang and a big blue spark' and that the other revellers all ran off in different directions in case they were in the firing line.

It was later suggested that the shooting had been drugs related and that the shooting was part of a drugs war between rival gangs from Manchester and Birmingham to gain control of the Leeds drugs market, although the police were said to have played down the idea. However, they were reported as saying, 'We cannot shut out eyes to the possibility that drugs could come into it'.

The police said that they were interested in tracing a white man that was seen getting into a red Ford Sierra, registration H390 EFC, with three Afro-Caribbean men in Chapeltown Road around the time. The car was later traced to a car rental company and was forensically examined.

A bullet was also found.

The police said that they ran into a wall of silence, even though they estimated that there must have been dozens of witnesses.

It was the 23rd Leeds Carnival which was described as being renowned as a peaceful and colourful event. It was said that there had been about 60,000 people who attended the event with only 65 police on duty over the weekend.

Sedley Sullivan and Rachel Soloman were both from Birmingham.

Sedley Sullivan was a painter and decorator from Erdington.

Rachel Soloman had lived in Linwood Road, Handsworth. Her boyfriend said that he had planned to ask her to marry him on the following Saturday, which would have been her 19th birthday.

A man who was questioned in relation to Sedley Sullivan's murder, Anthony Johnson, was later himself shot dead in the car park of the Penny Black Pub in Cheetham Hill on Friday 22 February 1991. The police said that they were probing possible gangland links between the murders, stating that there was a strong possibility that Sedley Sullivan and Anthony Johnson had known each other, having both come from Erdington. The police also said that there was a strong possibility that Anthony Johnson had known Sedley Sullivan but added that he never told them. Anthony Johnson's murder is also unsolved. Five were tried for Anthony Johnson's murder, including a man in a wheelchair, but they were all acquitted.

It was noted that another man, Frank Harris was also killed during the carnival. He had been stabbed about an hour after the carnival officially finished, and his murder is also unsolved, although a man was tried for his murder, but acquitted. It was said that he was stabbed in a row over unauthorised use of a sound system that he had used. He was murdered about 50 yards away from where Sedley Sullivan and Rachel Soloman were shot.


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


see Leeds Metropolitan Universit, A Short History Of The Leeds West Indian Carnival

see Sandwell Evening Mail - Wednesday 27 February 1991

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Thursday 30 August 1990

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Wednesday 29 August 1990

see Sandwell Evening Mail - Wednesday 29 August 1990

see Sandwell Evening Mail - Thursday 30 August 1990

see Sandwell Evening Mail - Friday 31 August 1990

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Wednesday 29 August 1990