Unsolved Murders

Derek Brann

Age: 49

Sex: male

Date: 6 Nov 1988

Place: M20, Sellinge, Kent

Derek Brann was found dead on the side of the M20 in Kent on 20 November 1988 having been killed with a sharp instrument.

He had been stabbed 34 times and his murder was described as having been violent and frenzied. It was thought that the motive was robbery and that between £50 and £60 was stolen from him.

He was working as a taxi-cab driver at the time and it was thought that he had been murdered by a person that he had picked up in Folkestone over the Guy Fawkes weekend, 5 to 6 November 1988.

His taxi cab was found by a member of the public at about 11.45am on Sunday 6 November 1988 at the bottom of Horn Street in Seabrook, Hythe and his body was found two weeks later on 20 November 1988 on the M20 near Sellinge on the London bound carriageway behind a crash barrier by a motorist that broke down on the hard shoulder.

However, Derek Brann's taxi had been seen by the barmaid from the Fountain public house which was at the bottom of Horn Street at 12.20am on Sunday 6 November 1988 as she went home. She said that she had been trying to get taxi-cabs for her customers all night and found that they were exceptionally busy because of Guy Fawkes night with 30 minute waits and that as she went home she saw Derek Brann's taxi in the layby where it was found later that day, empty, and noted the irony that all the while she had been trying to get a taxi-cab there had been one sat right outside.

His taxicab, a red Nissan Bluebird 2.0LX, registration C180 GKE, was covered with blood inside across the backseats and it was thought that his murderer would have also been covered in blood and the police appealed for anyone that knew of anyone coming home following bonfire night on 6 November 1988 with blood on their clothing to come forward.

It was noted that the forensic analysts had said that they had found two types of blood in Derek Brann's taxi and believed that the murderer had cut themselves in the frenzied attack.

Although the barmaid from the Fountain public house said she had seen Derek Brann's taxicab in the layby near the pub at 12.20am, it was also reported that Derek Brann had been flagged down in Beachborough Road, Folkestone, in the early hours of 6 November 1988 between 2am and 2.30am and called it in to his taxi controller saying that he was taking someone to St Martin's Plain to the west of Folkestone. As such, it was not known why Derek Brann had been dumped near Sellinge and the killer had then returned towards Folkestone to leave the car at the bottom of Horn Street where it was found the following day, and it was thought that the murderer might have lived nearby or known someone nearby.

When Derek Brann's taxi was found there was a £22.70 fare on the meter which the police said indicated that it had travelled about 31.5 miles.

The police also said that the front wheels were covered in mud and as such decided to search the Romney Marsh area first.

Before his body was found, on Friday 18 November 1988, the Daily Mirror published an article linking his disappearance with the murders of three other taxi drivers, John Landa in August 1982, Noel Smith in June 1988 and Sarfraz Ahmed in November 1988 and suggested that they had all been murdered by a maniac knifeman that bore a grudge against taxi-drivers. All three men had been stabbed to death in their cabs and the article stated that the police were linking Derek Brann's disappearance at the time to their murders.

Derek Brann was married with three sons. His main job was as an insurance salesman, but he had recently started driving taxi-cabs in the evenings and weekends to earn more money and had been doing it for about six weeks.

He had been working for the Folkestone Taxi company at the time of his murder and had been sharing his taxi-cab with two other drivers.

Derek Brann had started work on Saturday 5 November 1988 at about 1pm, taking over from one of the other drivers that had been driving the cab in the morning so that he could do the afternoon and evening shifts. It was said that it had been a quiet afternoon and Derek Brann had gone home at 8.30pm for his supper which he had with his wife. He told her that the afternoon had been quiet but that he expected the night to be busy and didn't expect to be getting home until about 3am Sunday 6 November 1988.

Derek Brann was later seen by another taxi-driver outside the Burstin Hotel at Folkestone Harbour waiting in the taxi-rank there at about 10pm.

It was thought that Derek Brann might have been seen next at 10.20pm by a security guard in Middleburg Square who said that he saw two men get into what he thought was Derek Brann's taxi.

The police said that they knew of no further sightings of Derek Brann, however, it was also reported that he had called into his office at between 2am and 2.30am on 6 November 1988 to say he had picked up a fare in St Martin's Plain for west of Folkestone, but that detail was omitted from other accounts of the case and contradicts the sighting of his cab at the bottom of Horn Street at 12.20am 6 November 1988 or other accounts of his taxi-cab being seen on the M20 near Sellinge.

The police suggested that it was possible that Derek Brann had been stabbed by a customer who had then determined to take him to a hospital, the nearest of which was in Ashford and had gone along the M20 to do so but that for some reason had then stopped and dumped his body before returning to the Folkestone area.

The police added that they did not think that Derek Brann would have driven his taxi out along the M20 as it was standard practice for him to call into his taxi office to say if he was leaving the Folkestone area and that as such they thought that it was safe to assume that the murderer had driven the taxi there.

The police said that they knew that Derek Brann's taxi had stopped where his body was dumped on the M20 because a couple that had driven past later said that they had seen it at about 10.30pm. One of them said that they had thought that it was the police, 'the old bill' and warned the driver but that the driver had corrected them by pointing out that it wasn't a police car but a taxi. They added that they later saw the taxi turn off at junction 10, about 5 miles further along the M20.

It was later noted that when Derek Brann's taxi was seen parked up on the hard shoulder of the M20 that a white van was also seen parked up very closely behind it, a matter of feet. The police appealed for the driver of the white van to come forward and suggested that he might have simply stopped after having seen the taxi-cab pulled over on the hard shoulder with its hazard lights on to see if they could assist.

It was noted that at about the same time witnesses saw a man walking along the M20 back towards the Folkestone area and the police said that they thought that Derek Brann had been attacked by multiple people and that the man seen walking along the M20 was one of the attackers who had got out of the taxi after they had dumped Derek Brann's body over the side, possibly having had a disagreement with the other assailants over what had happened and having wanted to immediately disassociate himself from what had taken place by getting out of the taxi-cab and walking home.

It was further noted that Derek Brann's was later seen in the Romney Marsh area shortly after 11pm. The person that saw it said that he drove about that area frequently and seldom saw other cars about at that time and thought to himself that it was really unusual to see a Folkestone taxi out on the Romney Marsh.

Derek Brann's taxi was next seen at about 11.15pm at the bottom of Horn Street. It was noticed as it had been driving along Seabrooke Road and had appeared to have missed the Horn Street junction and overshot it and so had reversed back so that it could turn into Horn Street where it was later found dumped. The person that saw Derek Brann's taxi overshoot Horn Street said that they got a very good look at the driver and a photofit of the suspect was released.

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