Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Random Killing of Lesley Hobbs

In 1962 a 12 year old girl was stabbed to death in Childwall in a random and motiveless killing, leading to a 15 year old boy being detained for life.

On Sunday 9th September 1962 Lesley Hobbs was left at home at 191 Childwall Valley Road looking after her three younger siblings whilst her parents went out. When they returned at 11.30pm they found Lesley's blood stained and battered body in the lounge, but upstairs the three younger children were asleep and had not been disturbed.

Door to door enquiries by police soon identified three possible suspects, one of whom was described in the following day's Liverpool Echo as 'youngish, tall, well built with fair hair wearing a dark tunic type jacket and tight fitting jeans'. This male had been seen crossing Childwall Valley Road by the nearby high school for girls an hour before the gruesome find.

Within 24 hours of the killing there were 500 detectives on the case, many of which had been drafted in from Bootle, Wallasey and other neighbouring forces. They were assisted by 30 dogs who roamed the railway embankment searching for the murder weapon.

Enquiries eventually led to the arrest of a 15 year old office clerk called Peter Rix, who lived in Craighurst Road. He was the son of a merchant seaman and had splashes of blood on his coat. He claimed that he had dreamt about killing a girl and enjoyed it, leading to him carrying out a random attack as 'girls got on his nerves.' After knocking at the property, he stabbed Lesley twice and then set about her with a poker then tied her hands behind her back. Rumours persisted in the area that Rix, a former pupil of the Holt School (now Childwall College) and Lesley may have been seeing one another, but they were never substantiated.

Craighurst Road in 2016
Rix was charged in December and his trial took place in February 1964. The Guardian reported that with his father away at sea for long periods his mother was unable to control his behaviour. Described by professionals as being unpopular at school and 'lacking in feeling for others, in shame and remorse' no motive was established for the crime. With a psychopathic disorder being diagnosed, he was found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and sentenced to be detained for life.


  1. At the time of the murder Peter Rix was in my class at the Holt High School, as it was then called.
    He was transferred to the Holt from another school, Gateacre Comprehensive I think, although at the time none of us knew why.
    After the murder it was reported that he had been excluded or removed from his previous school due to behavioural problems and had been receiving psychiatric treatment.
    The Holt was a grammar school and pupils had to pass the 11+ exam to gain admission.
    Only about 10% of all pupils passed the 11+ so Peter Rix was of well above average intelligence.
    However at the Holt he was kept down and made to repeat a year.
    I remember that he was particularly good at French and Maths.
    Peter Rix was known socially to Lesley Hobbs and she let him in the house as she had no reason to distrust him.
    All males in the area over a certain age, fifteen I think, including Peter Rix, were interviewed following the murder and police did not suspect Rix.
    However following a second round of interviews Rix was questioned again and the police took away articles of his clothing for forensic examination.
    Particles of Lesley Hobbs’ blood were found on his white macintosh (raincoat) even though it had been washed several times.
    There was no sexual or other apparent motive for the brutal murder.
    Peter Rix was found to be insane and sent to Broadmoor mental hospital to be detained “At Her Majesty's pleasure”.
    I would be interested to know if he is still alive.
    I know a lot more about Peter Rix, including an astonishing piece of information that I believe nobody else knows about.
    So please let me know if you want any more information.

    1. i have lived in the area since 1972 and knew about the murder since then. I am led to believe that Peter Rix has been released from prison and has been found loitering by the murder house a few times and has been reported to the police, even though the Hobbs family left many years ago.

    2. I don't believe that. Rix will never be released.

    3. My husband is Peter's first cousin. The murder has haunted him and the family all their lives. Peter was released to a 'safe' house and died some years ago, as did one of his younger sisters. There is another sister who is still alive who has never married or had children. We are intrigued to know the astonishing piece of information that you speak of.

  2. I was Perter Rix's friend at Gateacre Comprehensive School. He came over as intelligent and well mannered. I was astonished when I heard what he had done.

    1. He also came over as intelligent and well mannered when he was at the Holt High School and never got into fights or displayed any violent tendencies.
      However his behaviour was odd and I recall an art teacher looking at a painting that Rix was making and saying "Rix you are quite mad. One day you will kill someone". I was shocked and thought what a terrible thing to say. But perhaps the art teacher could see something sinister in that picture and his comment was prophetic. On the other hand I am not convinced that Rix was guilty. The senior police officer involved in the investigation was himself suspected of corruption to get convictions.

  3. Strangely enough this murder came up in conversation tonight at my local bar amongst other murders committed in Liverpool. It was in fact my Father who located and detained Rix whilst as a Police Constable was conducting house to house enquiries. When questioning the mother Rix appeared agitated and my Father became suspicious that he may have something to hide, so he asked to see the coats that Rix owned, the colour and length of the coat had at that time not been disclosed to the public. On seeing his coat my father noticed specks of brown stains which Rix tried to pass off as splashes of paint-as he became more agitated and anxious my father believed he should be taken in for questioning but Rix made a run for it down the road, my Father chased him and rugby tackled him and put him in a stranglehold until help arrived and he was taken to the police station and subsequently convicted. My Father received a commendation for outstanding police work from the Liverpool Watch Committee and subsequently a Queens commendation for the rescue of a woman from a fire at the Sacred Heart Presbytery. I still have these certificates of commendation. My Father died 11 years ago, but I always recall him telling me about this case.