The Susan May Case

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The Susan May Case

Post  amber1911 on Thu 22 Jun 2017, 3:21 pm

She was convicted in 1993 of murdering her 87-year-old aunt Hilda Marchbank, who was found dead in bed at her home in Royton, Lancashire. She had been beaten and then suffocated with her pillow.
Although police initially believed that the death was the result of a bungled robbery, Susan May was charged with the killing after her bloody handprint was discovered on the wall of her aunt’s bedroom. An expert at her trial told the jury that the stains included the victim’s blood; and their presence on the wall meant that the murderer had “felt his, or her, way along the wall”, suggesting the crime had been committed in the dark.
However, after uncovering a series of botched tests and police inadequacies, including the failure to disclose the sighting of a red car used by a known heroin addict outside Marchbank’s house on the night of the murder, forensics later showed that the handprint was in fact sweat, and made before the murder.
Sentenced to life imprisonment, with a recommendation that she serve a minimum of 12 years, Susan May was released in 2005 but continued campaigning to clear her name.


Susan May lost her battle with breast cancer and died on 12 October 2013.

Youtube = Susan May , Innocent as Charged , Documentary covering one of the worst miscarriages of justice in British History, the case of Susan May.

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Re: The Susan May Case

Post  candyfloss on Thu 22 Jun 2017, 4:13 pm

Thanks for that - not heard of that one but don't want to hijack your thread but this case reminds me of this film I have seen the cases are very similar..


“Anybody’s Nightmare” – the case of Sheila Bowler and the murder that never happened (1998)


Posted on January 30, 2016 by INNOCENT in Cases // 0 Comments




Sheila Bowler was cleared of drowning her elderly aunt on 5 February 1998 after having spent four years in prison. Trial and Error featured her case twice, and more than 800 people joined the campaign to have her conviction overturned. The case was sent back to the Court of Appeal by the then Home Secretary, Michael Howard, on the basis of new evidence that the old lady was capable of walking 600 yards to the edge of a river where she fell to her death. Sheila Bowler said her four years in prison had changed her. ‘It has made me more tolerant. There are so many people in prison who shouldn’t be there.’

The Trial and Error program on the case was presented by David Jessel, who examines the case in Chapter 11 – Sheila Bowler: Murder in Toytown – of his 1994 book TRIAL AND ERROR, (now, alas, out of print). This is a long article, and has, therefore, been presented as a printable version in pdf format. Click here to view the PDF.

‘Murderess’ is found not guilty

A 68-year-old music teacher has been cleared at the Old Bailey of murdering her elderly aunt for her inheritance.

Sheila Bowler spent four years in prison after being found guilty of pushing Florence Jackson into the River Brede near Rye in East Sussex in 1992.

Mrs Bowler always maintained her innocence. After two Appeal Court hearings, her conviction was quashed and a retrial ordered.

New medical evidence had emerged, not put before the original jury who had found her guilty by an 11 to one majority at Hove Crown Court in July 1993.

Retrial reveals lack of evidence

The prosecution alleged that Mrs Bowler, from Rye, had murdered 89-year-old Mrs Jackson in May 1992 while driving her from a residential home to her own house.

Prosecuting, Anthony Glass QC alleged that Mrs Bowler killed Mrs Jackson on the journey then covered up her deed by pretending her aunt – who normally needed help to walk – must have made her way to the river and accidentally fallen in.

However, Mrs Bowler said she had left Mrs Jackson in her car when she went to get help for a flat tyre. When she returned her aunt had disappeared.

Defending, Jeremy Roberts QC said the prosecution “had not produced one shred of direct evidence to connect Mrs Bowler with whatever it was that happened to Mrs Jackson that night”.

He told the jury: “No witness claims to have seen Mrs Bowler or her car at the pumping station or in Station Road that night. There is no scientific evidence suggesting Mrs Bowler had ever been in that area.”

He said that the circumstances in which Mrs Jackson died “were likely to remain a mystery to which none of us will ever know the answer”.

The court heard that Mrs Jackson was the aunt of Mrs Bowler’s late husband, and that her only asset was a flat in Rye, which she was leaving to her niece.

Mrs Bowler had power of attorney and was responsible for arranging the payment of fees at Greyfriars, a residential nursing home at Winchelsea where Mrs Jackson lived.

Prosecuting, Mr Glass alleged that Mrs Bowler had a financial interest in Mrs Jackson’s death. But Mrs Bowler said that she received £17,500 a year from teaching at private schools and pensions, the mortgage on her home was paid off and she had savings.

The jury returned an unanimous verdict of not guilty.

BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/53842.stm



This is a very powerful, moving true story. Recalling a great miscarriage of the British judicial system, it follows events as Sheila Bowler is falsely accused of murdering her elderly aunt. Patricia Routledge is absolutely superb as the middle aged woman who's faith in natural justice was sadly misplaced

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Re: The Susan May Case

Post  bluebell on Thu 22 Jun 2017, 5:16 pm

I had never heard of Susan May before so thanks for that information. What a dreadful case.

I did think it was the Mrs Bowler case when I read your post, such similar circumstances, quite incredible.

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Re: The Susan May Case

Post  Andrew on Thu 22 Jun 2017, 5:23 pm

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/nov/13/susan-may

I've never come across this case either. Very intriguing and obviously very sad if she was innocent. The above was an article that I read when googled the name.

Will watch the video in due course.

Thanks, amber.
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Re: The Susan May Case

Post  Andrew on Thu 22 Jun 2017, 5:25 pm

Never heard of the Sheila case either.
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Re: The Susan May Case

Post  amber1911 on Thu 22 Jun 2017, 6:51 pm

Yes it reminds me of The Sheila Bowler case too ,a fantastic film with Patricia Routledge .

Lots of miscarriages of justice out there IMO.

We watched The Jury Room which featured The Susan May Case last week , love anybody's input on what they thought of it , especially if you have seen the youtube video .
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Re: The Susan May Case

Post  bluebell on Thu 22 Jun 2017, 7:15 pm

amber1911 wrote:Yes it reminds me of The Sheila Bowler case too ,a fantastic film with Patricia Routledge .

Lots of miscarriages of justice out there IMO.

We watched The Jury Room which featured The Susan May Case last week , love anybody's input on what they thought of it , especially if you have seen the youtube video .


That is interesting, I am recording The Jury Room but haven't caught up yet with this case. Will post when I've seen it.

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Re: The Susan May Case

Post  amber1911 on Wed 05 Jul 2017, 4:27 pm

Just a heads up for anyone who hasn't seen it , Anybody's Nightmare  is on TV tonight (according to my guide) on True Movies Sky ch 321 or Freeview ch 62 at 9pm.

The film depicts Sheila Bowler's wrongful conviction and imprisonment for murdering her elderly aunt, and her son and daughters quest for justice, and her eventual acquittal.
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