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Questions remain over 1994 Shropshire deaths

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In 1994 three Shropshire men died within seven months of each other. In 1994 three Shropshire men died within seven months of each other. Antiques dealer Trevor Bradley, from Ludlow, was found dead in his car in Melverley, near Oswestry. His car had been destroyed by fire and his body was found lying behind the front seats. Despite appeals throughout the last 16 years nobody had ever been charged in connection with his death until today. His family appealed for anyone hiding any answers to come forward. A mystery car stripped of its number plates was also found in the area nearby but was never traced to anyone. Six months later, 57-year-old recluse Brian Coles was found at his home in Whitchurch. He had suffered serious head and brain injuries and a murder probe was launched. But the case was closed when an inquest heard he had probably suffered the injuries after falling over at his home. Neighbours said he did not keep in touch with his family and never spoke to them. Then in November, 1994 36-year-old Bernard Czyzewska was reported missing by his family. His body was found into the River Severn in Shrewsbury. An inquest concluded he died from drowning after falling into the river after drinking. Last year detectives opened a cold case review into the death of Mr Bradley and new appeals were launched. A team of detectives have worked on the case since and it is understood Robin Ligus has been interviewed a number of times in prison since he was jailed in May 1996 for the murder of Robert Young. Read the full story in today's Shropshire Star

In 1994 three Shropshire men died within seven months of each other.

Antiques dealer Trevor Bradley, from Ludlow, was found dead in his car in Melverley, near Oswestry.

His car had been destroyed by fire and his body was found lying behind the front seats. Despite appeals throughout the last 16 years nobody had ever been charged in connection with his death until today.

His family appealed for anyone hiding any answers to come forward. A mystery car stripped of its number plates was also found in the area nearby but was never traced to anyone.

Six months later, 57-year-old recluse Brian Coles was found at his home in Whitchurch.

He had suffered serious head and brain injuries and a murder probe was launched. But the case was closed when an inquest heard he had probably suffered the injuries after falling over at his home.

Neighbours said he did not keep in touch with his family and never spoke to them.

Then in November, 1994 36-year-old Bernard Czyzewska was reported missing by his family. His body was found into the River Severn in Shrewsbury.

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An inquest concluded he died from drowning after falling into the river after drinking.

Last year detectives opened a cold case review into the death of Mr Bradley and new appeals were launched. A team of detectives have worked on the case since and it is understood Robin Ligus has been interviewed a number of times in prison since he was jailed in May 1996 for the murder of Robert Young.

Detectives had never named him as the prime suspect in Mr Bradley's death or revealed that the two other deaths were being treated as murder.

But this year the Shropshire Star exclusively named Ligus as a suspect in the antiques dealer's mystery death.

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The Crown Prosecution Service revealed it was considering a file in relation to Ligus but did not reveal it was considering three charges against him.

The day before Mr Bradley's death, the 53-year-old told his brother he would be back in 20 minutes for a cup of tea. He was found dead less than 24 hours later.

His body was found behind the front seats of his burnt out Vauxhall Nova car in Melverley, near Oswestry.

Remains

His remains were so badly destroyed he could not be identified.

But as news spread of the discovery Mr Bradley's family and neighbours reported him missing. They said he often travelled around the county and Mid Wales to see his family and to deal in antiques but he always returned to his home in Ludlow at night.

Mr Bradley was missing and a man's body matching his description was found in what police confirmed was his car.

But as the story of the mystery death gripped Shropshire, members of Mr Bradley's large family were adamant he was alive and denied claims from police that he was gay and often loitered outside toilets.

The last known sighting of Mr Bradley was outside toilets in Leominster after he visited the bingo hall.

The only way police could identify the body in the car was to compare bones from the skeleton to X-rays Mr Bradley had had taken three years before his death.

Neighbours revealed Mr Bradley had been the victim of a hate campaign in the months leading up to his death. His car tyres had been slashed, the aerial ripped off and doors kicked in before the car was found burned and without its number plates.

A second abandoned car, close to where Mr Bradley's was found, also remained a mystery for police. Two miles away in a field off a layby near the Royal Hill pub was an Austin Montego. That too had been stripped of its number plates.

The Montego had been stolen from Cannock more than two months before Mr Bradley died.

It is not known where Mr Bradley spent his final hours.

It is still unknown whether Mr Bradley was alive when the car was set on fire or whether he had already been killed.

Police do not know how he got to the field in Melverley - did he drive there himself and was then targeted? Or was he killed and the car used to transport the body before destroying any clues to identity?

Swindling

It is believed that Mr Bradley's "Lovejoy"-style antiques dealing often left him with more enemies than friends.

In the early 1980s he was convicted, with another man, of swindling an 84-year-old woman over four antique pieces.

Police initially treated Brian Coles's death at his Higher Heath bungalow as murder — but an inquest later ruled he had probably died as a result of a fall.

The 57-year-old was found dead with major head injuries in October 1994.

Officers broke in after they were alerted by concerned neighbours. A full-scale incident room was set up but nobody was ever charged. The subsequent inquest heard that Mr Coles had been a recluse and had lost touch with his family.

Home Office pathologist Dr Kenneth Scott told the inquest he initially believed that Mr Coles died from head and brain injuries, which were unlikely to have been caused accidentally. However, he said, following a second post mortem by another doctor he was satisfied that the injuries could have been sustained accidentally.

Shrewsbury man Bernard Czyzewska, was found near Porthill Bridge 11 days after he went missing in November 1994. He was last seen leaving the Elephant and Castle pub with his dog at around 9pm on November 19 and an inquest later ruled he died from drowning after falling into the river. A high level of alcohol had been found in Mr Czyzewska's blood.

His girlfriend, Miss Jacqueline Ann James, said he suffered from heart palpitations and had been on medicine for this. She said that on the day he went missing he had had a dizzy spell early in the afternoon, but was fine when he went to the Elephant and Castle with the dog at 6pm on November 19.

By Crime Correspondent Kirsty Smallman

Trevor Bradley

Trevor Bradley was a well-known antiques dealer in Ludlow who often travelled around the county and Mid Wales to see his family.

He was known locally for his "Lovejoy" style of antique dealing.

The 53-year-old had had a cup of tea at his brother Alf's the day before his death and then was last seen alive outside toilets in Leominster after he visited the town bingo hall.

Rumours spread that Mr Bradley was gay and often loitered outside toilets and he had been a victim of a hate campaign in the months leading up to his death.

It is unknown where Mr Bradley spent his final hours before his burnt out Vauxhall Nova car was found in Melverley - a remote area between Oswestry and Shrewsbury - on April 26, 1994.

The remains of his body were discovered lying behind the front seats of his car with his legs bent and arms crossed over his chest.

His body was so badly damaged by fire he could only be identified through X-ray records.

Brian Coles

Brian Coles, who was described by neighbours as a "recluse" and a loner, was found dead in his living room in Heathwood Road, Higher Heath, Whitchurch, in October 1994.

The 57-year-old bachelor reportedly "fell into pieces" after the death of his mother and had suffered mental health problems in the 10 years before his death.

His nearly-naked body was found on October 14, 1994 after police broke into his bungalow after neighbours raised concerns.

A murder inquiry was launched after he was found to have suffered two severe skull fractures caused by blows to the front and back of his head, cuts and bruises to his body and four fractured ribs, but the inquiry was closed after an inquest ruled he probably suffered them during a fall.

He died from head and brain injuries

Bernard Kim Czyzewska

Bernard Kim Czyzewska, of Lancaster Road, Harlescott, Shrewsbury, was a 36-year-old doorman, last seen alive leaving the Elephant and Castle pub in Mardol, Shrewsbury, on November 19, 1994. Police said he had been depressed and they feared he might take his own life.

His body was recovered from the River Severn near Porthill Bridge on November 30 after being spotted by a fisherman. An inquest recorded a misadventure verdict after hearing he probably fell in the river and drowned after drinking .

Mr Czyzewska, who worked on the door of a wine bar in the town, was understood to have taken his dog for a walk in the Quarry after leaving the pub. The inquest heard he might have fallen in the river or the dog might have pulled him in.

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