Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The West Bromwich Shootings

It is nice and reassuring for the authorities to release a mass killer after just fifteen years, and then years down the line, he is arrested for very serious offences.  But not only that, he had a new identity.  The news of the arrest of Harry Street, a man responsible for shooting dead 5 people and seriously wounding 3 others in 1978 in the West Bromwich area of Birmingham, was none other than Barry Williams.  How was he released so soon?  Simple.  He pleaded diminished responsibility and sent to Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital, and was obviously deemed fit for release by a Mental Health Review Board.  The fact that he had in total, 8 victims, obviously meant nothing.  A man like this should never have been released.  I was told a story that a man served 24 years for setting fire to a haystack!  No doubt a more dangerous man than somebody who guns 8 people down!

    The events began on October 26th 1978, when father and son George & Andrew Burkitt, were working on a car in their driveway.  Williams shot them both dead.  Then he entered the house and shot Iris & Gillian Burkitt.  Gillian survived, Mrs Burkitt did not.  Neighbours, Joe & Judith Chambers heard the shots as they both looked out from their house, they were hit by multiple gunshots from Williams, but they survived.  He sped off in his Ford Capri, through the Bustleholm estate firing indiscriminately.  Police flooded the area with officers but Williams had vanished.  He was heading in the direction of East Midlands, and upon reaching Nuneaton, he stopped at a garage to fill up his vehicle.  He shot the garage owner Lisa Di Maria dead, then shot her husband Michel.  He died later in hospital.

   The manhunt was widened, and his car was spotted on the Derbyshire Moors, which resulted in a high speed 30 mile chase, which was brought to a halt in Buxton, when chasing Police rammed his car and overpowered him.  He went on trial at Stafford Crown Court in March 1979.  He denied 5 murders and 3 attempted murders but pleaded to Diminished Responsibility.  He was to be detained indefinitely in Broadmoor.  But in 1994, he was discovered living in a hostel in the Birmingham area.  He had been deemed fit for release!!!!  A very understandable public outcry, led him to being moved to a residential home in Llys Merchion in North Wales.  Was here that it was decided to change his identity?  No doubt the locals would have screamed blue murder if they would have known his true identity.  I wonder if the Review Board are still proud of their decision to release him?