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New book casts doubt on Hilda Murrell conviction

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In 2005 Andrew George was convicted of the abduction and murder of elderly Shropshire rosegrower Hilda Murrell putting an end forever to the conspiracy theories which surrounded the killing ever since Hilda's body was discovered in a lonely spot in 1984.

In 2005 Andrew George was convicted of the abduction and murder of elderly Shropshire rosegrower Hilda Murrell putting an end forever to the conspiracy theories which surrounded the killing ever since Hilda's body was discovered in a lonely spot in 1984.

Right? Wrong. Robert Green, Hilda's nephew and next of kin, is claiming to have uncovered 'explosive' new evidence which he says proves the involvement of at least one other person, and would probably acquit George of the crime.

"There is an urgent need to release Andrew George – a petty thief who was known to be kind to old people, and unjustly incarcerated in a top security prison for hardened sex offenders," says Mr Green, who has outlined the case for a reopening of the affair in a new book, A Thorn In Their Side.

Hilda Murrell's murder became one of the most sensational British crimes in recent times, prompting questions in Parliament and allegations of involvement by the British Secret Service in her death.

The basic facts are that she was abducted from her home in Sutton Road, Shrewsbury, and found days later in a copse at Hunkington, in the shadow of Haughmond Hill, with her car abandoned and bogged down on a soft verge not far away.

Hilda had been stabbed, but the wounds were not fatal – a post mortem found she had died of hypothermia on March 21 or 22, 1984.

The conspiracy theories had two strands, claiming she was the target of British agents because she was planning to raise concerns about Britain's nuclear energy programme, and also to find out what she knew about Falklands War secrets – Green was at the time of the war serving in Royal Navy intelligence, working in the command bunker at Northwood in London.

Police, however, consistently favoured the 'burglary gone wrong' theory, and this appeared to have been vindicated when advances in DNA science led them to George who, at the time of the killing, had been a 16-year-old tearaway living in care at Besford House in Shrewsbury.

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DNA evidence placed him firmly in Hilda's house. He was convicted of the crime after a five-week trial.

After his failed appeal, George gave Mr Green permission to visit him in Parkhurst jail.

"Is it true," Mr Green asked him "that you told the police that when you went into Hilda's house, two men held guns to your head, warned you not to talk about what you saw, and promised you £60,000 if you kept your mouth shut?"

At this, Mr Green writes in his book, George nodded.

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In further conversation about the abduction route, George said: "She never was in the field – they took her somewhere else."

George added: "It was much bigger than the Shrewsbury police."

Mr Green: "So, in your trial, you had to say things which were not true to try to blame your brother?"

George nodded in reply, saying: "If I had murdered Miss Murrell, I would have topped myself."

In his book Mr Green, who now lives in New Zealand, puts forward a scenario in which George had entered the house to steal only to become unwittingly caught up in an Ulster-style State snatch operation. Troublesome Hilda was abducted and taken to a safe house in the Atcham area for interrogation, before being disposed of at Hunkington.

Green says in his book: "DNA evidence in possession of the police and forensic science service would probably acquit him.",

  • A Thorn In Their Side is published by Rata Books of New Zealand and is available through www.hildamurrell.org

Special Report by Toby Neal

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