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.