Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Stadium Steps Murder


A quarrel on the steps of the old Liverpool Stadium (a boxing venue) in 1961 led to the death of a 19 year old girl and her lover narrowly escaping the gallows.


Valerie Sellers, a waitress from Flintshire and her boyfriend, 23 year old John McMenemy had been together nearly a year. Wedding plans had been postponed however and Sellers father confronted McMenemy on 30 July 1961 to ask his intentions. Despite replying in the affirmative, he later told Valerie he would never marry her.

Liverpool Stadium (courtesy www.liverpoolpicturebook.com)
Two weeks later McMenemy returned to Flintshire to repay some money he owed to Mr Sellers and was told not to return again. During the night, Valerie sneaked out and would not be seen alive by her father again. In the early hours of 20th August, McMenemy telephoned the operator and advised that there was a body on the top of the stadium steps. Officers arriving at the scene found the body of Valerie, who had died from stab wounds, with a tie next to it. 

The telephone call was traced to the Pier Head and McMenemy was there when police arrived. Noticing that McMenemy wasn't wearing a tie and had a bloodstain on his cuff, he was questioned and admitted the stabbing. When he was taken into custody a cigarette lighter, purse and bracelet of Valerie's were found on him. McMenemy made a full confession, stating that her refusal to give him some money had cost him her life. Initially intending to run, he realised it was hopeless and he went to the Pier Head. 

At McMenemy's trial, no witnesses were produced for his defence, with his counsel arguing that as he was in love with Valerie he regarded his property as his own. Although the death penalty had been abolished for plain murder, killing in furtherance of theft remained a capital charge. McMenemy was sentenced to death but this was later commuted to life imprisonment on the recommendation of the Home Secretary. An earlier appeal to reduce the verdict to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility had failed.

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