Category Archives: Talks

A Little-Known 18th Century English Polymath — Professor Alan Zinober — 15th June 2020

A poly­math is ‘a person of great and varied learn­ing’ and this cer­tainly described the Reverend John Michell ( 25 Dec 1742 — 12 April 1793).

Michell was a nat­ural philo­sopher and a cler­gy­man and seems to be almost unknown although he was:

  • The first person to sug­gest that earth­quakes are caused by move­ment of rocks beneath the Earth’s sur­face.
  • Someone who pro­duced cheap per­man­ent mag­nets.
  • The one who sug­ges­ted that the force between two mag­nets fol­lowed the inverse square law.
  • The first person to sug­gest that ‘Dark Stars’ (now called ‘Black Holes’) exist.

John Michell was edu­cated at Queens College.

He later became a Professor who taught Arithmetic, Theology, Geometry, Greek, Hebrew and Philosophy.

He had to relin­quish his lec­tur­ing post when he mar­ried because only single men were allowed to lec­ture at the col­lege.

He became Rector at a church near Leeds, but con­tin­ued his interest in Philosophy and Astronomy.

Michell the­or­ised that a very massive sun would have such a huge grav­it­a­tional field that its escape velo­city would be so large that light would not be able to escape from it.

Because of this it would not be vis­ible but it would affect the motion of a binary star nearby.

He called this type of body ‘a Dark Star’.

He knew Cavendish, Benjamin Franklin and Priestley, and he wrote to Cavendish about his ideas about the effect of grav­ity on light.

Michell was not a par­tic­u­larly out­go­ing person so he did not pub­lish his many ideas widely.

This is pos­sibly why he is not well known but is con­sidered by many to be the greatest unsung sci­ent­ist of all time.

Alan Zinober’s Zoom meet­ing con­tained much more inter­est­ing inform­a­tion and was some­thing com­pletely new to Stumperlowe Probus.  It was a wel­come treat for the many mem­bers that ‘atten­ded’.

Cosmic rays, pyramids, volcanoes and railway tunnels — an introduction to muon tomography.    Prof Lee Thompson. 16th March 2020 

Muons are like the big brother of elec­trons but they are heav­ier and much more pen­et­rat­ing.  About 1000 pass through the room every second. They are gen­er­ated when cosmic rays inter­act with atoms in the upper atmo­sphere to form sec­ond­ary rays called muons.

We all know that X-rays are used to look at body parts that are hidden in soft tissue.

  • A beam of X-rays is focused on an object
  • A detector (X-ray film) is placed on the other side of the object
  • Density dif­fer­ences between soft tis­sues and bones etc. enable the interior to be seen

Muon tomo­graphy (ima­ging with muons) uses an identical method (but muons are free and do not need expens­ive equip­ment to gen­er­ate them!)

Lee did not give details of the muon detector but said  that muons come from above and also some came from the sides.  They are even­tu­ally all absorbed by the soil and rocks until sev­eral hun­dred metres below the sur­face.

Tomography has been used to find hidden cham­bers in the Great Pyramid.

Muons coming from the side have been used to image magma cham­bers in vol­ca­noes. In this case images of the top of the magma column before and after an erup­tion were used to pre­dict fur­ther erup­tions.

On the rail­ways in the U.K. there are many tun­nels dating back to the Victorians. Often tun­nels were made by sink­ing shafts to the depth of where the tunnel was to be made. Then  crews dug hori­zont­ally in both dir­ec­tions until they met up with other sim­ilar parts of the tunnel.  In many cases these shafts were filled in (with rubble) or some were left open as air shafts.  Some of the shafts are not stable now and some tunnel roofs are in danger of col­lapse.  However, very few records of where these shafts were dug are avail­able.

The rail com­pan­ies have a pro­gramme to avoid more col­lapses but they cannot close tun­nels that are in use.  They send in teams of drillers on scaf­fold­ing to drill into the roofs of tun­nels.  This is a prob­lem because it takes lots of men, lots of time, only a few areas can be examined and the drilling may weaken the roofs.

Lee’s work is aimed at find­ing hidden shafts using muon tomo­graphy. British Rail is allow­ing his team to use muon tomo­graphy in Alfreton Old Tunnel, which is 760 metres long and dis­used.

The team have built a muon detector small enough to fit into a Transit van. They moved the van into the tunnel and took read­ings for 30 minutes then moved on 5 metres and took more read­ings for 30 minutes and so on.

The graph of the read­ings showed high read­ings before they entered the tunnel  then fell off at the tunnel entrance as the over­bur­den above the tunnel absorbed the muons.

The graph showed steady low read­ings for a length of tunnel then the read­ings rose slightly at one spot then dropped back for a length and then rose again and so on.

The rail com­pany had told Lee’s team where two shafts were but they found three areas where the read­ing rose.  Two were at the areas they expec­ted, but they found three pos­sible shafts.  The com­pany then admit­ted that they knew of the third shaft  80 metres into the tunnel, but they were test­ing the team to be sure their res­ults were genu­ine.

Lee’s team went back and did another more detailed survey of this tunnel and found that other “hot spots” gave inform­a­tion about shafts with only 5 metres of over­bur­den sug­gest­ing more part-filled, unknown shafts.

This method needs cooper­a­tion from a geo­lo­gical survey team. It is obvi­ous that,  if the sur­face of the over­bur­den land is not flat, then the over­bur­den will be thicker in some parts than others and will absorb more muons.  This has to be allowed for when inter­pret­ing the tomo­graphy res­ults.

Muon tomo­graphy can be used to detect smuggled nuc­lear mater­ial.  If a detector is placed under and around the sides of sus­pec­ted vehicles then uranium and plutonium will deflect muons but light mater­i­als will not and this will show up on the res­ults.

Nuclear waste from 1950 -60 is poorly doc­u­mented.  Canisters can be checked by muon tomo­graphy to find if they are full or if they have leaked.

There may be many other uses for muon tomo­graphy that will be developed in the future.

Lee’s team are still work­ing on it!

This was an extremely inter­est­ing talk for all, but espe­cially for this ex-Chemistry teacher.


Sheffield United: Folklore & Fables John Garrett 9th March 2020

Football is 60% abil­ity and 40% sur­vival”  —  Derek Dooley

 Earlier this season I tried to get tick­ets for a ‘Blades’ match to treat my eldest grand­son.  Not having the required vouch­ers, my attempt was declined.   So instead, we went to Chesterfield to watch the ‘Spirites’ play ‘my’ team Woking: a highly com­pet­it­ive 1–2 result in the National League played in front of 4000 (OAP ticket £12, child £5).  As far as I know, United have never played Woking, but they do have common bonds: by coin­cid­ence both clubs cel­eb­rate their 131st birth­days this year, both were ‘com­munity’ clubs and both share red, white and black as their team col­ours.

 Even if we rarely go to live foot­ball, it is funny how many of us retain our boy­hood interest in our ‘home’ team, even if cir­cum­stances have taken us else­where. By con­trast, our speaker this week, John Garrett, has stayed proudly put in his native city sup­port­ing ‘The Blades’ all his life.   He has worked for this famous club in vari­ous roles over 24 years and vis­ited 148 grounds in the pro­cess.  He is cur­rently work­ing as Heritage Manager , writ­ing reg­u­lar con­tri­bu­tion to match pro­grammes.  He has been the driv­ing force for set­ting up the ’Blades’ Museum.  To attract vis­it­ors, he thought the Council should be much more ima­gin­at­ive in pro­mot­ing the City’s foot­ball his­tory.  Starting on a ”low salary but with free admis­sion to matches”, John had seen the club from many angles: its downs and recent ups and these, in the form of facts, folk­lore and fables, he was to share in abund­ance.

John began his talk by recount­ing how foot­ball had been a tread in his family life over four gen­er­a­tions.  Anyone coming to Sheffield soon becomes aware of the strong rival­ries between avian owls and sharpened swords. Loyalties within work­places and fam­il­ies are often strained.  When, as a young lady, his mother’s family sup­por­ted the other city team, she hes­it­ated to fulfil a date. John’s father was kept wait­ing out­side ‘Cole’s corner’ for three hours! His family’s exper­i­ences reflect that rivalry.  But over the years there has, in fact, been much inter­change –play­ers, man­agers, nick­names and even owners -and cooper­a­tion between the clubs in such areas as shar­ing a ground and avoid­ing clashes of match dates.

Having writ­ten two books on the sub­ject, our speaker went on to out­line the City’s and Club’s foot­balling his­tory. The game has deep roots loc­ally and Sheffield can boast a number of soccer ‘firsts’.  Recognised as the oldest foot­ball club in the world Sheffield FC (who now play in Dronfield) was foun­ded in 1857, while Hallam FC, foun­ded in 1860, still play at the same ground in Crosspool.  It was sponsored by the now defunct “The Plough” Inn oppos­ite who provided chan­ging facil­it­ies.  Sheffield Wednesday began in 1867 and Sheffield United fol­lowed in 1889.   Both teams were to go on to be founder mem­bers of the Football league, United being a pion­eer in such areas as the pro­vi­sion of toi­lets, refresh­ment facil­it­ies, pneu­matic turn­stiles, fixed cross­bars, whistles and even flood­light­ing! (A ‘night’ match attrac­ted 20,000 in 1878, receipts £890).   Their record recor­ded attend­ance is 68000 in 1936 when Leeds United were the vis­it­ors. The ground has hosted cricket Test matches, the first foot­ball inter­na­tional and major non-sporting  events over the years ran­ging from  ‘ pop’ con­certs to Billy Graham. The Club was a leader in the for­mu­la­tion of the uni­ver­sally accep­ted rules of today, which had one time varied between cities and coun­tries.

As the city indus­tri­al­ised — espe­cially from about 1860 onwards- there was a grow­ing need for recre­ation and fresh air.  Both major clubs had their roots in attempts to remedy this. , As so often in Victorian times, it was Church and Temperance influ­ences, wealthy bene­fact­ors coupled with com­munity self- help that got things moving.  Another factor was the wish of the crick­et­ing fra­tern­ity to have a winter sport.  It fol­lowed that Sheffield United had its ori­gins in the Cricket club (foun­ded 1854) of the same name.  The inaug­ural meet­ing was at the Adelphi Hotel (on the site of the present Crucible Theatre) on 22nd March 1889, presided over by local soli­citor and former player Sir William Clegg (who is buried in Fulwood Churchyard). He was also President of ‘Wednesday FC’, the prefix ‘Sheffield’ being added in 1929.

In the earli­est years, United played their matches at nearby Sheaf House and Wednesday closeby at Olive Grove (now a Council Depot).  This is across the rail­way and almost oppos­ite the Earl of Arundel and Surrey pub on Queen’s Road (now a bike shop), where teams changed. The site, then on the south­ern edge of the town, was leased from the Duke of Norfolk but in the late 1890s was sold to provide space for the Midland Railway ‘widen­ings’, which quad­rupled tracks to Totley junc­tion after the tunnel was built.  For a time, the two clubs shared United’s ground at Bramhall Lane (also shared with the Cricket club) but fell out over gate receipts and rent.  Wednesday moved to their present Hillsborough ground in 1899.  ‘Derby’ matches, as now, some­times caused much fric­tion and on at least on one occa­sion troops had to be summoned to restore order!

John moved on to sketch through United’s play­ing his­tory. He reminded us that Blades, have not won a major trophy since 1925.  He thought that the club’s heyday was between 1895 and 1925 under man­ager John Nicholson.  They were League Champions 1897–8 and won the FA cup four times in 1899, 1902, 1915 and 1925, plus twice run­ners up. Since then, and des­pite pro­du­cing the likes of Tony Currie and Derek Dooley, the club had played in all four leagues and exper­i­enced a yo-yo of pro­mo­tions and releg­a­tions under vari­ous man­agers, the nadir period being 1975 to 1981.

Bringing us up to date, things began to change for the better around 2013. On September 13th of that year Saudi Prince Abdullah Bin Musa’ad bought a 50%  stake in United’s parent com­pany, Blade’s Leisure Ltd, for £1. The Prince has kept his prom­ise to provide ‘sub­stan­tial new cap­ital’ with a view to return­ing the club to the Premier League. There fol­lowed a series of legal dis­putes with past owners, now hope­fully resolved as suc­cess has begun to flow.  Since Chris Wilder was appoin­ted man­ager in 2016 the dream has been real­ised: the club has come back to life by secur­ing pro­mo­tion to the Premier League on 28th April 2019.  As I write, the ‘Blades’ sit in sixth pos­i­tion above the like of Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United and may qual­ify for European com­pet­i­tion next  season.

In foot­ball, the last ten minutes can be fren­etic as teams fight to seal the match.  As our speaker kept to exactly 45 minutes there was no need for the Chairman’s final whistle.   We were treated to ten minutes of extra time in the form of ques­tions stim­u­lated by an excel­lent present­a­tion given without notes or visual aids.  These ranged from the future of womens’ foot­ball (excel­lent, sup­port and media interest grow­ing rap­idly), why teams were made up of eleven play­ers (even number plus goal­keeper), Derek Dooley’s leg ampu­ta­tion, and how did Kevin Macabe com­pare with Alan Sugar?  There was no pitch inva­sion but it was quite a match and mem­bers left the ground buzz­ing.

It was sug­ges­ted after­wards that a visit might be arranged ‘behind the scenes’ at Bramhall Lane and to the Sheffield United Museum which John had done so much to develop.  All fol­lowed by lunch at the Blades Restaurant. I can vouch for the excel­lent roast beef!



The History of Water the Sheffield Reflection  Dr Jenny Stephenson — 2nd March 2020

Dr Jenny Stephenson is an active GP prac­tising  at Stannington and author of three local his­tory books cov­er­ing med­ical his­tory, phar­macy and now water gave us a most inter­est­ing talk this week.

The talk was based on a book writ­ten by Dr Jenny Stephenson,  (see pic­ture) recently pub­lished, which is an easily read­able account of the above and many other issues, fully illus­trated in colour with her own pho­to­graphs and paint­ings. This book is sold entirely for WaterAid and Cavendish Cancer Care. Twenty books at £13 each would, for example, raise enough money to build a toilet in a school in Ghana. It can be obtained dir­ectly from Jenny at or from Waterstones in Orchard Square as well as sev­eral out­lets in the city; also from Amazon on the link below:

Jenny star­ted her present­a­tion with a declar­a­tion of interest given that water forms approx­im­ately 70 % of an adult body which needs con­stant replen­ish­ing, chil­dren about 1.75 litres per day at 7years and up to 3.3 litres by age 18. Jenny’s interest is also enhanced by her runs around many of the reser­voirs that sur­round the city and provide fresh clean water not just for Sheffield but a much wider geo­graph­ical area includ­ing Manchester, Derby,Nottingham together with parts of South and West Yorkshire. Runs which whilst nor­mally a great enjoy­ment occa­sion­ally did not end well such as the time she fell at the water’s edge whilst watch­ing a sand­piper, a moment now marked by a stone cairn to act as a memorial.

Sheffield, Escafeld in old English,became famous from the early 12th cen­tury for its cut­lery and later steel indus­tries and developed over time due in large part to the avail­ab­il­ity of a good supply of run­ning water for mills, the seven rivers and springs also sup­ply­ing a source of drink­ing water. The expan­sion of the city, espe­cially during the indus­trial revolu­tion, put pres­sure on drink­ing water pro­vi­sion and the lack of proper san­it­a­tion almost inev­it­ably led to infect­ive con­sequences that were not at the time anti­cip­ated or acted upon. Cholera first struck in 1832 and again in 1849 with over 400 deaths includ­ing the Master Cutler John Blake. This was des­pite the earlier pro­vi­sion of clean water from dams con­struc­ted in the 18th cen­tury in Crookes and else­where with water being dis­trib­uted, around what was a small town of 40,000 in 1737, via hol­lowed out oak trees. The pop­u­la­tion remained fairly static until 1800 but over the next 100 years bal­looned to 400,000+ with par­tic­u­larly sewage treatment/disposal not keep­ing pace with the increased demand.

The build­ing of reser­voirs was a time con­sum­ing busi­ness with each requir­ing a sep­ar­ate Act of Parliament the reser­voirs at Redmires and Hatfield being con­struc­ted in 1833 and 1836. The Sheffield flood dis­aster fol­low­ing the col­lapse of Dale Dyke dam in 1864 which killed 264 local res­id­ents and dam­aged over 600 build­ings caused con­sid­er­able delay in improv­ing the city’s water infra­struc­ture whilst repar­a­tion works were com­pleted.

It took more than 22 years for the author­it­ies to react to the prob­lems fol­low­ing the enact­ment of the Public Health Act 1848 and research under­taken by John Snow who iden­ti­fied water as being the trans­mit­ter of chol­era and Robert Koch who estab­lished the pres­ence of the chol­era bac­teria in con­tam­in­ated water. It was not until 1886 that the first efflu­ent treat­ment plants were con­struc­ted in the Sheffield area des­pite the fact that sewer sys­tems were in place in 1840 in Liverpool thanks to James Newlands and in London cour­tesy of Joseph Bazelgette.

Jenny then gave us an insight into the devel­op­ment of san­it­ary ware as we know it today start­ing with the first valve flush toilet inven­ted by Joseph Bramah, a toilet which can be seen at Butcher Works on Arundel Street, though this is in private hands and not gen­er­ally open to the public. Jenny also was able to show us a pic­ture of the toilet in Westminster Abbey installed for Queen Victoria and designed by the ever famous Thomas Crapper and one of the first taps on a public water foun­tain in Nottingham designed by Thomas Hawksley.

Jenny then took a look to the future with ques­tions as to how do we main­tain clean sup­plies for an ever grow­ing and demand­ing pop­u­la­tion world­wide, what do we do regard­ing what seems to be a rising tide of micro­plastics and what are the pos­sible impacts or cli­mate change on water and sewage pro­vi­sion? As food for thought one litre of water in a plastic bottle res­ults in the same emis­sions as a car driv­ing one mile and the estim­ated emis­sion of CO2 in the pro­duc­tion and trans­port of bottled water is some three mil­lion tons annu­ally.

Jenny then fin­ished on a dis­turb­ing stat­istic that even today 790 chil­dren die every day from the effects of dirty water and it is there­fore incum­bent on the respons­ible author­it­ies around the world to do as much as they can to alle­vi­ate this issue.

Following ques­tions Jenny received a very warm round of appre­ci­ation for what was an illu­min­at­ing and enter­tain­ing present­a­tion.

Can your arteries tell your age? by Professor Gerald Meininger -24th February 2020

Gerry Meininger is an Emeritus Professor and Investigator at the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Centre at the University of Missouri – Columbia.  He is a very dis­tin­guished speaker who has had a large volume of work pub­lished and has lec­tured all over the world.  Now retired he lives in Sheffield.

The goals of his present­a­tion were to intro­duce his audi­ence to the Cardiovascular System with a little his­tory, a few fun facts and an explan­a­tion of big and little ves­sels.  Next to explain ageing and car­di­ovas­cu­lar change fol­lowed by some of the cur­rent research.  Luckily for the Probus Club, his present­a­tion is clearly struc­tured by many bril­liant PowerPoint slides that illus­trate his entire talk.

The earli­est writ­ings on the cir­cu­lat­ory system were in Egypt in 16th Century B.C. when it was thought that air breathed into the lungs then flows into the arter­ies.  The heart was the seat of emo­tions, wisdom and memory.  William Harvey (1578–1657) declared that the blood cir­cu­lates con­tinu­ously one way around the body.

The aver­age heart is the size of a fist in an adult and it beats 70 to 80 times per minute.  This equates to 115,000 times each day or 2.5 bil­lion times over 75 years.  The heart expels 4 litres per minute and there are only 5 litres of blood in the body.  The cir­cu­lat­ory system in our bodies stretches 66,000 miles.  Capillaries are tiny and are about a tenth the dia­meter of a human hair.

Gerry explained what is meant by large arter­ies are elastic, medium arter­ies are mus­cu­lar and the smal­lest arter­ies are arteri­oles.  He covered the aging effects on elastic arter­ies and on aortic stiff­en­ing and its impact on heart func­tion with enlar­ging the heart.


During ageing the large vas­cu­lar ves­sels get stiffer caus­ing hyper­ten­sion and dia­betes.  This effects 1 in 3 people glob­ally.  It also effects the elastic and res­ist­ance of ves­sels.  Aortic stiff­en­ing pre­cedes many med­ical con­di­tions and acts as a pre­dis­pos­ing factor.

Gerry explained the cur­rent hypo­theses about causes of aortic stiff­ness and his recent research into muscle cell ima­ging and topo­logy using atomic force and con­focal micro­scopy.

This was some talk and the Club was very priv­ileged to have enjoyed it.

A Life in Crime — Peter Stubbs — 17th Feb 2020

Peter Stubbs, who trav­elled from his home in Bakewell and was warmly wel­comed by an audi­ence of 48 mem­bers, is no stranger to Stumperlowe Probus Club. This was his fifth visit to us in just over two years.

Peter is a man of many parts, and tal­ents. On his first visit he man­aged to cram 900 years of legal his­tory into just over an hour. Then, after three talks on his other big pas­sion in life, naval his­tory, Peter rever­ted to the day job to enter­tain us with stor­ies of a selec­tion of the char­ac­ters — ran­ging from the col­our­ful to the scary — he rep­res­en­ted during his 35-year career as a crim­inal lawyer in Sheffield.

Peter Stubbs.            Photo ©

It was, as he poin­ted out in his intro­duc­tion, a story of his life in crime, not his life of crime. “My own crime record is modest,” he assured us. “I had a bit of a pen­chant for park­ing on yellow lines on shop­ping trips, and I also man­aged to pick up one or two speed­ing offences.

In my early 20s I was coming back from a night out in London, the fol­low­ing morn­ing, when an ‘Inspector Morse’ Jaguar over­took me and flagged me down, and in Sheffield many years later I was on Rivelin Valley Road when out jumped a police­man with a speed gun who told me I was doing 38mph just after the 40 limit had changed to 30.” The fact that he was on his way to work – in fact to York Crown Court — cut no ice with the zeal­ous officer.

Peter’s career began in 1978, and his prac­ti­cing cer­ti­fic­ate as a soli­citor was signed by Lord Denning, the Master of the Rolls for 20 years up to 1982 and one of the most famous names in British legal his­tory.

Although Peter’s prac­tice in Sheffield was a gen­eral one, a large pro­por­tion of his work was involved with crime. “It was inter­est­ing and at times excit­ing, and often quite fun,” he recalled. “But what I might think was fun was ser­i­ous busi­ness.”

Cases, per­haps not sur­pris­ingly in Sheffield, included hand­ling stolen scrap metal. Another reg­u­lar client had set up a bogus build­ing busi­ness and was caught steal­ing lead from the roof of a bay window. “It turned out they had done about 60 houses; he was found guilty and went to prison. He just accep­ted it as a hazard of the job.”

Petty crime often ran in fam­il­ies, who would be Peter’s cli­ents for ten years or more. He felt sorry for one lady, who was proud that one of her sons had reached the age of 16 without being ‘done,’ only to catch his broth­ers up with alarm­ing speed as he worked his way up the crim­inal ladder.

Today, all police inter­views must be recor­ded, with both sound and video, but it was not always the case. “In the old days, one of the officers would sit at the table taking notes, and it was not unknown for some of the evid­ence to be made up. Police are no dif­fer­ent to any­body else, and some­times they break the rules.”

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act has largely countered that, and today all evid­ence must be recor­ded.

Peter was acting for a man who had been accused of assault­ing a police officer one Friday night on Attercliffe Road, but for­tu­nately  for his client there were three people having an Indian meal by the window in a res­taur­ant who saw what happened and claimed that it was the police officer who assaul­ted the accused. They went to the police sta­tion, where the police did not take evid­ence but were obliged to pass the wit­nesses’ details on to Peter.

Peter recalled a lady called Violet, who would more appro­pri­ately have been called Violent, who lived in Attercliffe and was well known to police. She got into an argu­ment in a pub with a fellow cus­tomer who was not phys­ic­ally injured but dropped down dead with a heart attack. Violet was charged with threat­en­ing beha­viour, but later claimed that the invest­ig­at­ing officer had sexu­ally assaul­ted her. “I found that hard to believe, know­ing Violet, but she claimed to have evid­ence” (which turned out to be a sample of semen wrapped in cling film, which Peter felt duty bound to take home and store in his freezer).

The invest­ig­at­ing officer ran a defence of con­sent, which was accep­ted, although he was dis­missed because of unpro­fes­sional con­duct.”

Murder was all in a day’s work for Peter, and he gave us examples of some of his more mem­or­able cases. In the first, a hus­band had claimed that his wife had killed their daugh­ter and then tried to throw her­self under a bus. She was charged with murder, but an expert on pre-menstrual ten­sion gave evid­ence which res­ul­ted in the woman being com­mit­ted to a psy­chi­at­ric hos­pital.

Another client, a bus driver in Sheffield, had been arres­ted on sus­pi­cion of mur­der­ing his girl­friend, who was found dead with her throat cut on the floor of her flat at Park Hill. The only evid­ence against him was from the man’s aggrieved wife, who claimed that he had admit­ted to killing the victim. The accused was able to prove “beyond doubt,” accord­ing to Peter, that he was sev­eral miles away at the time of the murder, driv­ing his bus on the other side of Sheffield, but the jury found him guilty by 10 to two and he received a life sen­tence. The wife later admit­ted to Peter that she had lied, but an appeal was dis­missed and the bus driver died in prison four years later from a heart attack.

The last murder case involved a long stand­ing client, for whom Peter’s prac­tice had pre­vi­ously done con­vey­an­cing work, who told his part­ner that he had voices in his head telling him to kill people. She took him to hos­pital where they sought psy­chi­at­ric help, but they were sent on their way.

The fol­low­ing day the man con­fided to his wife: “Actually, the voices were telling me to kill you, but I didn’t want to tell you last night.” He later stabbed his part­ner 30 or 40 times and was charged with murder, although he offered a plea of man­slaughter which was accep­ted.

Peter roun­ded off his present­a­tion by taking ques­tions from the floor. One member asked if he watched TV detect­ive pro­grammes. “All the time,” he admit­ted. “I’m retired after 35 years, and I am watch­ing Inspector Morse! It’s ridicu­lous! But they are metic­u­lously done.”