The Disappearance & Murder of Dr Colin Shawcross — Paul Leonard — 14th December 2015.

Paul Leonard was a Major Crime Investigator with the South Yorkshire Serious Crime Unit having worked his way up the Force from join­ing at the age of 18 to his retire­ment. His grip­ping talk centred on the events in 2009 relat­ing to the Sheffield based doctor Colin Shawcross and Andrew Peter Hill of Woodall.

Colin Shawcross was estranged from his wife and living in a house at Ashley Grove, Rotherham and work­ing at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital. Andrew Hill worked for a firm under­tak­ing earth­work and at the time was involved with the laying of fibre optic cables below­ground. His wife Julie was a not an unat­tract­ive nurse at the Northern General Hospital. Colin was having an affair with Julie and Andrew Hill was a very jeal­ous man.

Late one Friday night, Colin Shawcross arranged to meet Julie at his house at 7.30 the next morn­ing. When she arrived on the Saturday morn­ing there was no Colin and a large pool of blood on the back patio. His car was on the drive with signs of blood in the boot and on the driver’s seat­belt.

The talk explained many of the pro­cesses Paul Leonard’s teams under­took to try to find Colin Shawcross or his body. Andrew Hill main­tained that he had not seen Colin and couldn’t remem­ber what he looked like. Paul explained the range of enquir­ies required to arrive at a “pre­sump­tion of death” when there is no body.

A major break­through occurred some four months later when Julie real­ised that the wheel­bar­row at the Hill’s house was miss­ing. The search for this wheel­bar­row led the Police to Loscar Wood. This is a 37-acre wood that could take up to 2 years to thor­oughly search but with a stroke of luck, dis­turbed twigs were spot­ted rel­at­ively quickly and Colin Shawcross’s body was found buried in a six foot deep hole.

Andrew Peter Hill was found guilty of murder after a 9 day trail and sen­tenced to a min­imum of 17 years in prison. Paul’s talk kept a large audi­ence spell­bound as the com­plex­ity of find­ing a body that had been so well hidden was explained.

At the end of his talk Paul hastened to add that we have a better chance of win­ning the lot­tery than get­ting murdered and that 97% of the hom­icides com­mit­ted do get solved.