The Crimes

The night everything changed

It was me but it was not me.

David McGreavy

13 April 1973David begins drinking. He plays darts and cards with a friend in a Vauxhall pub. They have between five and seven pints. The session ends badly when David puts his cigarette out in his friend’s drink. There’s a small altercation between them.Clive comes to take him home. David looks after the children when Clive takes Elsie to and from her bar work. She works just two miles away at the Punchbowl in Ronkswood. When she leaves that night, she has no way of knowing that she will never, ever return.Neither Clive nor Elsie has any reason to be concerned over leaving their 21-year-old lodger in charge of their three children. David’s very good with them and they’d had many happy playtimes together. He’d often bounce Dawn and Samantha on his knees for hours at a time to amuse them:“He seemed just like a normal person really. He used to play with the children, with the elder two, torment them and play with them and things like that, just like any normal person would.”Elsie Urry, Children’s MotherClive likes to pop in for last orders at Elsie’s work and have a quick pint as she finishes up. So by the time he leaves home all the kids are tucked up in bed.

CHILD KILLING SPREEAt some point between quarter 10:15pm and 11:15pm, David, still worse for wear for drink, loses his temper.Samantha, just nine months old, won’t stop crying.So David McGreavy puts his hand over her mouth. Then he strangles her. When she stops breathing, he goes into the bathroom. He takes a razor and uses it on her. He inflicts a compound fracture on her skull.He then strangles Dawn – and cuts her throat with a razor.He strangles Paul with some curtain wire.McGreavy then mutilates their bodies.

“McGreavy...goes into the basement...He finds a pickaxe and with the pickaxe handle, he mutilates the bodies of the children even further. And yet that’s not the end. He then decides to put the bodies of the three children on the railings outside of the house.Now can you imagine that scene?Can you just think of the psychology of a person behaving in that way?...This is not someone who is ashamed of what he has done. He’s showing everybody what he has done. He’s not trying to conceal their bodies by burying them. He is putting their bodies up for display.”Professor David Wilson, CriminologistMcGreavy leaves their impaled bodies on the iron spiked railings of the next door neighbour’s house. He leaves.The police arrive.They cordon off the area. At first they can’t locate the children’s bodies. They then find them. The three siblings are in a row, impaled.“...I’m often can people kill small children? And...the thing that you’ve got to remember is that the most powerful person in any household is the child; but it’s also the physically weakest. It is the most powerful person in the household because it is the child’s timetable that dictates how that house will operate: the child wakes up, it has to be fed; the child has to have a nappy changed. And so it’s the child’s timetable that dominates how the adults have to behave. And some adults cannot cope with that responsibility. And it’s when the adult who cannot cope with that responsibility is placed in a position of power over a physically weaker human being that sometimes disastrous results happen.”Professor David Wilson