Sunday, 3 May 2015

"Three Steps To Heaven"

This is not a posting about the late rocker Eddie Cochran, but he did play an important part in the lives of the two protagonists of this story; Barry Charles Smallman & Jean Ann Harrison.  Barry was a labourer by day, and a singer in a local band at night.  Jean worked in a carpet factory.  August 1960 saw Jean move from her parents home in Broseley, Shropshire, to an aunts` home in Bridgnorth, Shropshire.  She danced the night away at dancehalls in Wolverhampton with friends but that soon finished when she acquired a boyfriend.  Barry Smallman.  She was 17, he 19.  But being in a band, Barry had the attentions of a number of young ladies, which embarrassed him.  When he had no alcohol inside him.  With a drink or two, this changed.  Jean was jealous of the attention other girls paid him.  He usually started a gig with "C`mon Everybody" by Cochran, and sang "Three Steps To Heaven" gazing at Jean.  It was her favourite song.  After a show, they would make for a small copse near their homes where they would make love.

    There was a fly in the ointment.  Barry`s mother.  She did not like the girls who chased after her son. His father had died in WW2, so he was raised solely by his mother.  One day, he announced that he was engaged to a girl after just three days.  She soon put a stop to it. Her complaints were that Barry was ok..... until he had a drink, and that girls were the cause of any bother he ended up in.   It was October19th when she met Barry at the Fox Hotel, where he was doing a show.  After the show, they made their customary way to Grove Wood for sex.   However, Jean never returned home.  Her concerned aunt went to Barry`s home and spoke to his mother, who asked her son if he had seen Jean.  His response was "No" so she carried on her search.  Days later, she learned that she had left the pub with Barry.  She immediately went to the Police.

    Barry was working on a building site near to Telford, where he was questioned by Police.  Barry denied even knowing her.  Soon, he burst into tears and said they went to Grove Wood for sex, then they parted.  Police upped the ante and he confessed that he had strangled her.  A search was made of Grove Wood and her body was found.  The post mortem revealed that there was no sexual assault, that it was consensual.  Her blouse was undone, her bra pulled down and her panties removed.  There was no tearing of her clothes.  She had been strangled, had bite marks on her neck and breasts, with some blood on her face.  The Pathologist concluded that it was not from violence but from rough sex.  He appeared at the local Magistrates Court on November 8th.  Pleading Not Guilty to murder, Barry sat through a five hour hearing, part of which was held in private.  He was committed for trial at Shropshire Crown Court on November 25th 1960.  It was here that he changed his plea to guilty.  He was sentenced to life, and was released in 1974.  His defence was that Jean was taunting him during sex and asking him to choke her whilst he was doing it.  Auto-eroticism.  But there is only his word for it.  And would such a deviant act been known amongst young girls from the sticks back in 1960?  Where and from whom could she have learned about such things?  They had just had the trial about Lady Chatterley`s Lover and that was considered sordid by the authorities of the time.  Let us look at the facts.  He was raised by his mother, who disliked most of the girls who took an interest in him.  She ended his engagement to a girl, although after three days is a bit ridiculous.  My belief is that she had such a hold over his behaviour that he needed drink inside him to bring out possibly repressed thoughts and desires.  When sober, girls embarrassed him. Why?  Was it because mother simply would not approve.  It makes me think of Marie Barone, the over bearing and interfering mother in the sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond."  But then again, I could be completely wrong.