“That’s him! That’s the man who did it to me!”
Surviving victim Julia Taylor shouting about Raymond Morris at this trial
(Alan Hayhurst, Staffordshire Murders)
In February 1969, Raymond Morris, once considered to be a respectable husband and father, is in court standing trial for the murder of a child. He pleads not guilty to the murder of Christine Darby and the attempted abduction of ten-year-old Margaret Aulton. He pleads guilty to indecent assault against his wife’s five-year-old niece.
After the national press coverage and horrors of the recent Moors Murders, there is huge public interest in the case. Hours before the trial begins there is a large queue of people trying to get into the public gallery of the court at Staffordshire Assizes.
As the trial begins Judge Ashworth is quoted as telling the jury,
“It was a hateful crime of lust and you will shortly have to look at some unpleasant photographs but you are here to judge calmly, dispassionately now whether it can be proved that it is the accused man, Raymond Leslie Morris, who is guilty.”
Many come forward to speak against Morris, including expert witnesses and members of the public. The pathologist from the Home Office, Dr Alan Usher, confirms Christine was killed by suffocation. Joseph Wilson, technical manager at Pirelli Ltd, states the tyre tracks left at Cannock Chase were from a family-sized saloon car, similar to the vehicle Morris drove. Many members of the public testify to having seen a man matching Morris’s description in the area and driving a grey car the day Christine was taken. In particular, prosecuting QC Brian Gibbens, provides two witnesses, Victor Whitehouse and Jean Rawlings, who give detailed accounts of Morris driving his grey Austin A55 through Cannock Chase.
Carol Morris did not originally contradict her husband’s claim that they were shopping together when Christine went missing around 2pm. But after she has seen the pornographic pictures that her husband took of her young niece, she retracts the statement she gave which provided him with an alibi. Instead she states that Morris didn’t come home until 4.30pm, explaining that she had previously provided an alibi because Morris had acted completely normally that day and it seemed impossible he was guilty of such a terrible crime.
From the public gallery, there is a cry from the now teenaged Julia Taylor, the 1964 abducted rape victim who only just survived: “That’s him! That’s the man who did it to me!” She is removed from court but none present can forget what she has said.
Morris continues to maintain his innocence but the pressure on him is mounting. He has an emotional breakdown in the dock, as he recounts how Scotland Yard’s Ian Forbes told him “You are on your own now son. Your wife has left you.”
His defence barrister, QC Kenneth Mynett, tells the jury that his client is disgusted with himself about the photographs he took and that if they believe his alibi to be correct he cannot be the man witnessed at 4.15pm on Cannock Chase.
On 18 February 1969 the jury reaches a unanimous guilty verdict. The 300 people crowded in anticipation outside the court hear that Morris is sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum term of 30 years because of the nature his crimes.
Morris shows no emotion as Judge Ashworth says,
“There must be many mothers whose hearts will beat more lightly as a result of this verdict.”
The judge praises both the public and press for their help in bringing Morris to justice.
While Morris is also widely considered to be guilty of the murders of Diane and Margaret in 1965, as well the attack on Julia Taylor, there is not enough evidence to charge him.