Murder of Leeds Poet 1978

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blackprince
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Murder of Leeds Poet 1978

Post by blackprince »

Hi,
John Riley 1937-78 was a modern British poet.
He was educated in Leeds, at West Leeds high school. After national service in the RAF , during which he learnt Russian, and Cambridge university he went into teaching and publishing poetry. He was quite a big fish in the rarefied world of modern British post-war poetry.
He retired to Leeds in 1970 but he was murdered in a robbery near his home, in Chapel Allerton, on the night of October 27-28, 1978.

I recently found this link
https://twitter.com/ianduhig/status/372258596265787393

which shows the crime scene being near the clock at Oakwood.
I wouldn't necessarily describe this location as being "near his home in Chapel Allerton", so this is a discrepancy in my mind

I wonder if any SL members , particularly retired police officers, recall this crime and can add any details.
My interest in this is that I have put together a short biopic of John Riley for another website which I contribute to.
It used to be said that the statue of the Black Prince had been placed in City Square , near the station, pointing South to tell all the southerners who've just got off the train to b****r off back down south!

iansmithofotley
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Re: Murder of Leeds Poet 1978

Post by iansmithofotley »

Hi blackprince,

I am sorry but I can't help on this topic. At the time of the murder I had just returned to my force after a two year (teaching) secondment elsewhere and I was working at Horsforth Police Station. I don't know why, but I have absolutely no recollection of this case. Strangely enough, I worked in the Vice Squad at Chapeltown Police Station from 1981 to 1983 and spent much of my time arresting male persons soliciting or importuning for immoral purposes in, or near, the gents public toilets at Oakwood, where the murder had apparently been committed. I am amazed that I know nothing about the case and was unaware of it until your post. I have no idea whether or not the case was detected or remains unsolved.

jma
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Re: Murder of Leeds Poet 1978

Post by jma »

I was a patrol sergeant at Chap in 1978 but I left on promotion on 20 September, posted to Garforth, which might as well have been on the other side of the moon and I have no memory of this.

As for Oakwood not being near Chapel Allerton, a lot depends where you are standing. From the perspective of somebody living in, say, London, they are just down the road from each other.

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tyke bhoy
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Re: Murder of Leeds Poet 1978

Post by tyke bhoy »

I suppose "near" usually means a few hundred yards when used in this context, but if you consider Chapel Allerton as starting on the west side of Gledhow Valley Road then the bottom of Gledhow Lane(Little Switzerland) is only several hundred yards(probably under a mile). It's all relative.

I'm taking it the retirement was from teaching and the Poetry was providing a steady income. 33 is very young to be able to retire.
living a stones throw from the Leeds MDC border at Lofthousehttp://tykebhoy.wordpress.com/

Jann
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Re: Murder of Leeds Poet 1978

Post by Jann »

Hi Blackprince there’s a page on Wikipedia about John Riley but no information about the circumstances of his death,it just says he was murdered and the date.

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blackprince
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Re: Murder of Leeds Poet 1978

Post by blackprince »

Thanks for all your responses and the points you made.

The person who first told me about Riley knew him from school and about his career as a poet but only knew that he died young . He was surprised to learn about the murder which I first came across in the Wikipedia article ( thanks Jann) which was my starting point. I have managed to flesh out the account of his life and works with a few more details , but surprisingly next to nothing about the murder
Ian and jma, it seems you were both otherwise engaged at the time of the murder. I have just found 2 references to the crime being carried out by "muggers" and " 2 muggers". I'm a bit surprised that a crime of this magnitude seems to have attracted so little attention . It makes me think that maybe it never went to a trial which would have been reported in the local and national press and left some account online.
Yes tyke bhoy, he retired from teaching to take up writing full time in Leeds. He was co-owner of a small printing press and published a poetry magazine. The distance is relative. My own feel for the distance involved is based on childhood familiarity with the area, when I would have been on foot, cycle , or bus.
John aka BP
It used to be said that the statue of the Black Prince had been placed in City Square , near the station, pointing South to tell all the southerners who've just got off the train to b****r off back down south!

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chemimike
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Re: Murder of Leeds Poet 1978

Post by chemimike »

Unfortunately the newspaper archives for the Post or the mail do not yet go past 1955. I am sure there is a report in them , as I can remember a number of headlines about that time about a murder there at Oakwood ( though admittedly I do not remember a name)

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chemimike
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Re: Murder of Leeds Poet 1978

Post by chemimike »

chemimike wrote:
Thu 02 Dec, 2021 12:34 am
Unfortunately the online newspaper archives for the Post or the mail do not yet go past 1955. I am sure there is a report in them , as I can remember a number of headlines about that time about a murder there at Oakwood ( though admittedly I do not remember a name)

iansmithofotley
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Re: Murder of Leeds Poet 1978

Post by iansmithofotley »

chemimike wrote:
Thu 02 Dec, 2021 12:34 am
Unfortunately the newspaper archives for the Post or the mail do not yet go past 1955. I am sure there is a report in them , as I can remember a number of headlines about that time about a murder there at Oakwood ( though admittedly I do not remember a name)
Hi chemimike,

Between 1969 and 1981, Peter Sutcliffe was active committing his murders and assaults in the Leeds area and elsewhere. In 1976, it is alleged that he assaulted Marcella Claxton near to Roundhay Park, and in 1977 he murdered Irene Richardson near to the Soldier’s Field (Military Field) at Oakwood/Roundhay. Possibly, these incidents are the ones you may be referring to. The Richardson murder was committed not far from Oakwood Clock and the public toilets.

jma
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Re: Murder of Leeds Poet 1978

Post by jma »

Part of the problem is that the little information there is all seems to be repeating the same information, without citing any sources. That's just the way to get duff gen but which is eventually treated as fact.

With the exception of cases which involved significant publicity, I'd struggle to remember the names of the deceased or suspects in any of the investigations I was involved with, either closely or on the periphery.

Among significant publicity I'd include Mary Judge, Annie Blenkarn and the murders now associated with Peter Sutcliffe. When I was at Ireland Wood CID, there seemed to be a cluster of unrelated violent deaths in the Spring of 1973, all seeming close to Hyde Park Corner. I can remember the nasty details of several but I couldn't remember any names.

On the subject of publicity, that's usually the lifeblood of a murder investigation and senior detectives go to some lengths to get cases into the public consciousness to try to elicit any information. One of the victims of one of the 1973 murders I mentioned was a single man with few known associates. Denis Hoban nick-named him "Lonely Jim" and an artist's impression was widely distributed on posters and news media. House-to-house enquiries covered a vast area of Leeds 6 and an attempt was also made to interview everybody employed by or studying at Leeds University. Somebody was eventually charged but acquitted. I wouldn't have a clue about the name of the suspect or the deceased, in spite of being involved in the investigation in various capacities working twelve hour shifts without days off for at least a month.

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