Monday, 28 April 2014

The Murder 0f Marie Wilks

This still unsolved murder was a notorious case that garnered national headlines.  What made it sickening was that the victim, Marie Wilks, 22, was seven months pregnant.  She was beaten and had her throat cut.  The man convicted of the crime, was released six years later, after it was discovered that Police had withheld evidence from the defence, and that there was no proper evidence linking him to the crime.  The case was supposed to have gone under a forensic review in 2008, hoping that advances in forensic technology may provide clues to the killer.

    Mrs Wilks was driving home to her family home after visiting her husband at a Territorial Army Camp.  The date was 18th June 1988.  She inadvertently found herself going onto the M50 motorway, where her car broke down.  With her was her 11 year old sister, and her 13 month old baby.  She had to walk some distance along the hard shoulder to an emergency phone, and was dealing with the operator when she stopped talking.  Her young sister eventually got out of the car, picking up the baby and then walked along the hard shoulder to look for her.  What is astonishing is that the sight of a very young girl carrying a baby along the motorway, did not cause any concern for the hundreds of drivers who passed her!  She was picked up by Police.  A search was organised using men, dogs and a helicopter, when the body was found.  Police issued a photofit of a blonde or light haired man seen nearby.  One person thought it resembled Edward Owen Browning, a nightclub bouncer.  

    Eddie Browning was arrested on 25th June at a social club in Pentre.  Three days later he was put on an ID parade, and the next day charged with the murder of Mrs Wilks.  He went on trial at Shrewsbury Crown Court on 3rd October 1989, and convicted on 10th November.  He said he had travelled up to Scotland and did not use the M50.  He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.  Naturally, the national media reported him as "The terror of the valleys."  Well, many doormen have extremely violent reputations, and do carry it over into their private lives.  But does this make them killers?  It was reported that Brownings` wife was also seven months pregnant at the time.  Eddie Browning lodged an appeal that was rejected in May 1991.  But exactly three years later, it was allowed and he was released, receiving more than £600,000 in compensation.  The appeal was allowed because Police had not given full disclosure of evidence.  Four days before Browning was arrested, a Police Inspector, Peter Clarke was said to have remembered details from being on that motorway at the time, under hypnosis.  The details did not match the car owned by Browning.  His car was a Renault Hatchback, with plastic bumpers and registration number C754VAD.  Inspector Clarke said it was a silver grey, non-metallic saloon, chrome bumpers and registration C856HFK.  Certainly no match there.  The case fell apart at the Court of Appeal.

    Some years later, a man claimed that Browning had "confessed" to him that he had committed the murder.  That particular man was facing a charge at the time of attacking Browning with an iron bar.  Saying "he told me he did it" is not proof.  There is no corroboration or evidence to support it, and as he was facing a charge......

    Twenty eight years on, this case is still unresolved.  Will it get continued rolling reviews which cold cases get?  Hopefully, some day, the family of Mrs Wilks get closure.