Something in the way you love me won't let me be

I don't want to be your prisoner so baby won't you set me free

- Madonna, Borderline

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Seventeen Days

This is a true story. Names have been changed.

Marjorie Fairbanks:
I turned on the news and I thought, this can’t be right. There must be some mistake. These sorts of things just don’t happen round here.

Pc Roy Bleasdale:
I even called him Sir. I said, excuse me Sir, out of the car. Nothing. He never even looked at me. I said, I don’t tell anybody twice. Out of the car, now. Then I saw the gun. I knew for a fact he was going for my head. He shot me across the nose. The young dog came out then. He shot him twice, which just gave me enough time to start and run.

Dorothy Bostock:
It was the first time I saw Marjorie Fairbanks with tinted highlights. I remember thinking, there’s a mad killer on the loose, and she’s gone and got tinted highlights.

Pc Ian Jenkins:
We were seconds behind him. The car had hardly started crackling. We followed him with dogs. They took us to the edge of a ravine. The sun was setting. There was no way we were going down there.

Derek Firkin:
They should have smoked the bastard of his hole while they had the chance.

Marjorie Fairbanks:
I said to Dot, that’s Mike Neville over there. Him from Look North. He’s coming over. Would you mind telling us about the goings-on? Go on then, if you must. Thank you, he says. One take, that’s all it took. I’ve got it on videotape.

Pc Richard Bazeley:
The bullets matched those used in the shooting of Pc Marley and the elderly couple in Lincolnshire. We had a name: Billy Richards. He became the most wanted man in Britain.

Police description:
White, early 30s, approximately five feet eight inches tall, slim build, sallow complexion, thin face with high cheekbones and prominent eyes, short dark curly hair, clean-shaven.

Sandra West, bakery:
The police vans would park up on the village green. We’d take them out tea and cakes. It was the least we could do. Nothing fancy - scones, flapjacks. Then you got the TV lot. Any chance of a free cuppa, love? Not on your life.

Pc Michael Williams, Lincoln:
The Hardens were such lovely people. I spoke to them on the phone just the week before.

Des Barnes, journalist:
We were following the police messages on the radio. You could in those days. It was a great help. We heard they’d surrounded a barn. They’d found a heat source. We rushed down there. Right on deadline. They found nothing. They said it might have been a fox. Or a badger. Great. Hold the front page.

Det Supt John Rutherford:
A thick mist had been hanging about the place for days. It would have been like looking for a needle in a haystack at the best of times. With the mist, it was nigh on impossible.

Carla Markham:
We lived on a farm on the edge of the forest. They put a guard on our door. They said, stay away from the windows. We got a police escort just to nip down to Costcutters. Out-riders, the works. To fetch bread and milk! Now I know how royalty feels. I thought to myself, I could get used to this.

Des Barnes:
If I’m honest, we were struggling to give the story legs.

Yorkshire Evening Press, June 25:
If the manhunt continues tomorrow, a group of children from the York area, members of the Young Ornithologists’ Club, will not be able to go on a planned bird watching expedition to the Bridestones in Dalby Forest.

Paula Jones:
I was sixteen. I was with a lad down the car park woods. I’m saying no names. All of a sudden this copper shows up. Pull your pants up, love, he says, there’s a nutter on the loose. Pull your pants up. That’s what he says. The embarrassment. I could have died.

Angela Beaker:
I was driving down the Pickering road, and there he was. Just popped his head out of the bushes, like one of those thingamajigs off the Attenborough programmes. His eyes went right through me. I’ll never forget those eyes. They give me nightmares even now. Two days later, that’s when he shot that poor man in Malton. It dawned on me how lucky I’d been.

Marjorie Fairbanks:
There were eight hundred police out combing those woods. Helicopters, the works. Vans back half-way up Fryup Bank. And Angela Beaker says she saw him first? The things I could tell you about that woman.

Pc Ian Jenkins:
He went to ground. The trail went cold. He was trained in survival skills. For four days, nothing.

Len Rivis:
A man walked into my shop and bought a loaf, a can of pilchards and other food. He looked like an ordinary, mild-mannered man. He left the shop and a few seconds later I heard a shot. I ran outside and saw Sergeant Ward lying in the road.

Mavis Sleight, teacher:
It wasn’t cowboys and indians. It was the mad killer this, the mad killer that. You know how kids are. Guns going off all over the place. Bang bang, you’re dead. I shouldn’t say that. But, you know.

Chief Constable Kenneth Groves:
Sergeant Ward paid the supreme price. His service to the British police cannot be praised too highly. Our thoughts are with his wife and his one-year old daughter.

Jane Ryton:

My daughter couldn’t go out on her pony. No, they said, it’s too dangerous. Well, she’s out on that pony every day of the week, come hell or high water.

Yorkshire Evening Press, July 3:
The man, who answered Richards’ description, was seen by a woman at Railway Cottages. There was also a report that a goat had been milked, not by its owner.

Les Farrow:
He came to the back door. I didn’t think anything at first. I thought he was a tramp. Then I saw the gun. I remember thinking, oh well then, here we go then. This is it.

Det Supt John Rutherford:
Initially, until he got to know the Farrows, he kept them bound. They were tied up. But once this trust between them developed, I think they ended up on first-name terms.

Violet Farrow:
I made him sandwiches. He was very interested in watching the news.

Brian Farrow:
As the night went on, we got talking as if we had known each other for years. He was calling me Brian and my father he was calling dad.

Violet Farrow:
He was ever so polite. He said, I’m going to have to tie you up. I’m sorry about this. He said, I won’t hurt you. I thought, that’s easy for you to say.

Derek Firkin:
They thought they had him. Turns out it was a scarecrow. A bloody scarecrow!

Dave McCabe, survivalist:
I tracked his footprints in the dew. I saw a portion of plastic bag on the ground. It seemed to move. As I put my hand forward, suddenly a foot flew back and hit me on the knee. The plastic bag had been on top of him. I couldn’t even see him. I shouted, he’s here, and jumped backwards. The policemen hit the ground.

James Bell:
I went out to offer a cup of tea to a policeman. I thought he was manning a checkpoint. He shouted at me to get back inside. Charming. Then I saw the stun grenades being thrown over the wall.

Pc Michael Brown:
We had him surrounded. There was no way out. Then there was a shot. We thought he was shooting at us, so we opened fire. That was the order. To begin with, it wasn’t clear whose gun had done what.

Marjorie Fairbanks:
I heard it straight from the horse’s mouth. We’ve got him. It’s over. I went straight in the newsagents. We’ve got him. It’s over. Sighs of relief all round. Thank goodness for that. The poor families. The TVs left, just like that. A great long queue of them. They’d ruined the verges.

Yorkshire Evening Press, July 5:
At some point in his final desperate days, Billy Richards was driven to eat cat food. Tins of cat food were stored in an outbuilding of the Farrows’ house in East Mount. The tins of cat food were stored in large packs, one of which had been opened.

Derek Firkin:
They had an inquest. Don’t ask me why. I don’t give a shit who shot him. The bottom line is, we were well rid.

Noelle Curry, Richards relative:
We will see to it that he doesn’t have a pauper’s grave. No matter what he did, we think as members of the family he deserves better than that. We never met him, but we have been told that before all this he was a pleasant, respectable man.

Dorothy Bostock:
We never saw the tinted highlights again.

Marjorie Fairbanks:
Tinted highlights? No, no. Is that what she said? I’ll show you the videotape

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