Thursday, 22 September 2016

Murder and Rape in Allerton

The 1960s murder of a fifty year old woman who was strangled and raped in her home remains unsolved after her nephew was found not guilty of the killing.

At 9pm on 20th October 1964 fifty year old nurse Maureen Adamson returned to her home at 3 Rosedale Road in Allerton and was brutally strangled then raped by an intruder who escaped via the back door. An hour later her body was found by her seventeen year old nephew Daniel Browne, who let himself in with his own key. He had lived in the house with his parents until two weeks earlier but they were now in lodgings in nearby Oakdale Road prior to emigrating to Australia.

Browne phoned the emergency services and when questioned at Allerton police station said that he had been cycling around Sefton Park with a twelve year old friend and last been in Rosedale Road at 7.45pm, visiting Roderick Watson in number 29. However with police concluding that the attacker must have let themselves in with a key, switched the electricity off and lain in wait for Maureen, Browne was charged with her murder a few days afterwards. He was committed for trial at Liverpool Crown Court the following January where he was defended by leading QC Rose Heilbron.

The key prosecution witness was Roderick Watson. He confirmed that Browne had been to his home but said it was nearer 8.45pm, putting him in the vicinity of Maureen's house shortly before the killing. Asked how he could be sure of the time, he said it was after he watched Here's Harry on television then played four gramophone records. With the prosecution proving that the programme had finished at 8.24pm, they suggested that Browne had deliberately misled police about the time he visited there. To explain the lack of motive, it was suggested that the killing was a prank that went horribly wrong. However under cross examination from Ms Heilbron, he admitted that he had 'used logic with the help of the police to work out the time Browne had called'.

Browne was defended by leading QC Rose Heilbron. His father told how there had been problems with youths hanging around a phone box outside the house and also parking disputes due to the proximity to Allerton Road. An off duty police constable told how he had seen Browne in the ambulance and that he had seemed composed. It was acknowledged by the prosecution that Browne's mother had been back at the house that day packing belongings and there was every reason for him to have a key and be there.

In her closing speech Ms Heilbron said that Browne was no young thug but from a nice family. She said he was on good terms with his aunt and it was inconceivable that he could have the unnatural urge to rape and kill her. Ms Heilbron then put forward the theory that any man could have waited in the street, pushed past Maureen as she entered her home and then carried out the act. Turning to Mr Watson's evidence, Heilbron dismissed it as unreliable and pointed to his hesitancy in answering questions. She told the jury that it was dangerous to convict based on what television programme Watson thought was being shown shortly before Browne visited his home. 

The jury took less than three hours to return a verdict of not guilty, much to the relief of Browne who had recited the rosary repeatedly whilst waiting for them to return. His parents, who had no doubt of his innocence, said it was the longest two hours forty minutes of their lives. Browne then spoke to journalists and expressed his thanks to Ms Heilbron and also the warders at Walton gaol, who he said had treated him kindly while he was on remand. 

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