16th November 1874.
Caesar’s Camp, Aldershot.
Private Thomas Smith with his platoon the 20th Hussars, were taken to the rifle range at Caesar’s Camp for firing practice. During the practice Smith turned his rifle towards Captain John Dent Bird. He then took aim and shot him, killing him instantly. Smith argued that it was an accident, but everyone in the platoon saw Smith deliberately take aim and fire. Members of the group also knew that the Captain had put Smith on a charge the previous day and that Smith was desperate for revenge.
He was later hanged for his crime at Winchester Prison.
31st December 2009. Church Hill, Aldershot.
40 year old Julie Harrison and 4 year old Maisie went to the house of her former partner Andy Copland for a custody visit, they had separated just a few weeks before. The neighbours heard the couple rowing. Police believe that Copland forced the pair to kneel side by side and executed them both with a single shot to the back of the head before turning the gun on himself. Miss Harrison survived the initial attack but died the following day.
Following the murders, it emerged that Copland had been convicted in 1985 for threatening his former wife and her new partner with a crossbow in Farnborough. At this trial it also emerged that he had a previous conviction for assault after hitting his wife during an attempted reconciliation. Copland, pleaded guilty and was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
Post mortems carried out on Copland, Maisie and her mother confirmed all three died from single gunshot wounds.
22nd February 1972.
Montgomery Lines, Aldershot.
Five women, an elderly gardener and a Roman Catholic Priest were killed by an IRA bomb attack on the 16th Parachute Regiment headquarters in Aldershot, a further nineteen people were injured. The massive car bomb exploded outside the Officers mess and the force of the blast was felt a mile away.
This was the first of many bomb attacks by the IRA in the 1970s. The attack was in revenge for events that took place on 30th January 1972 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. When thirteen civil rights protesters and bystanders were shot dead by the Parachute Regiment and a further thirteen were injured. An event that later became known as ‘Bloody Sunday’.
Original IRA member Noel Jenkinson was jailed for life for the bombing in November 1972, he died in prison four years later of a heart attack.
6th June 1981.
Laffans Road, Aldershot.
Marion Crofts aged 14, was cycling to band practice at Wavell School when she was stopped by a man and beaten to death. She was reported missing and her body was discovered hidden in undergrowth by a police dog handler later the same day. The teenager’s clarinet case was found floating in the nearby Basingstoke Canal.
Despite a major police investigation by Hampshire Police who looked at 24,000 potential suspects, Marion’s killer at the time was never found. DNA samples were taken from Marion’s clothing and lay deliberately untouched for 20 years.
In 1999 a new DNA technique was developed, scientists were then able to find a full DNA profile of Marion’s suspected killer from stored evidence. The new DNA profile was then loaded onto the National Database and
in August 2001, a routine swab was taken from Tony Jasinskyj after he was arrested for beating his wife. When his DNA was put onto the database, it proved to be a match to the DNA found on Marion Crofts, verifying that he had committed the murder.
In May 2002 Jasinskyj, a former Army Chef, was sentenced to life imprisonment at Winchester Crown Court.
22nd August 1952.
Ash Vale Station, Ash Vale.
28 year old Geoffrey Dean was a ticket inspector at Ash Vale Station, one of his duties was to count the takings in fares before locking the money in the station’s safe. On the night of 22nd August James Alcott who was a fireman, told Dean that he was working for the railway and asked if he could use the phone to contact his depot concerning a fellow workmen who had been injured. Dean let him use the phone and then got into conversation with Alcott. At 9pm a porter noticed that the light was still on in the station office and when he looked in through the window he saw the bleeding body of Dean on the floor. Police broke down the office door and found that Dean had been stabbed over twenty times. About £168 was missing from the safe.
Police enquiries concentrated on boarding houses in Aldershot. At one of them they found a bloodstained jacket that had two bloody ten shilling notes in a pocket. In another pocket was a passport in the name of John James Alcott. The police kept watch on the house and arrested Alcott when he returned a couple of hours later. He soon showed officers where he had hidden the knife in a chimney and turned over the £109 that he had in his pockets.
At Alcott’s trial he claimed that he had experienced a black out and had no idea why he had killed the man, or even why he was in Aldershot. His defence failed to convince the jury and they returned a guilty verdict.
Alcott was sentenced to death. He was hanged at Wandsworth Prison on 2nd January 1953.
21st March 2003.
M3 Motorway Bridge, Frimley.
Mr Little had worked as a lorry driver for Ford for 26 years. He was driving his lorry on the M3 between junctions 3 and 4 at Frimley when a brick was thrown from a bridge through the windscreen. Michael, known to his family and friends as “Micky,” was killed after the brick struck him in the chest, causing a fatal injury to his heart. He managed to control his lorry for around 250 yards after the bridge. He pulled it over to the hard shoulder before putting the hazard lights on and turning off the ignition before he died.
DNA evidence recovered, illustrated that whoever had thrown the brick had also been involved in an unsuccessful attempt to steal a Renault Clio. The offenders had smashed a car window and tried to hotwire the vehicle.
No direct DNA matches were found on the national database. So the Forensic Science Service then decided to search the 2.35 million profiles using a new technique that identifies close relatives DNA. A link was established to Craig Harman from Frimley and he was arrested in October 2003. He was initially charged with murder, attempting to steal a car and stealing two house bricks. The charge was later changed to manslaughter and Craig Harman admitted his guilt at a hearing in London and was sentenced to six years imprisonment.
This was the first time that the technique of familial searching, tracking a suspect through a relative’s DNA, had directly led to a criminal prosecution.
10th May 1982.
Aldershot Common, Aldershot.
Mrs Ann Lee, 44, left her home in Aldershot with her labrador Monty, to meet Mrs Johnson, 66, who lived in a nearby bungalow and owned a red setter called Tara. The two women were about halfway round their regular walk on the common when they were attacked and stabbed repeatedly with a double-edged knife killing them both.
Peter Fell called the police twice saying that the murderer could be found at his address, however, on the first occasion the police failed to catch him as he was not at home when they called. 13 months later he again called them to let them know that the murderer was now living at his new address, and 1 month later he was arrested. In his original statement to police he said that he killed them because the older one looked like his mother and he hated his mother, but he later retracted his confession. He was found guilty in 1984 and given two life sentences.
He was however innocent and made it all up, an appeal was brought after psychological reports described Mr Fell as a fantasist whose confessions could not be trusted. After 17 years in prison he was released after it was determined that it was not possible for him to be at the scene of the crime at the time of the killing.
The murders remain unsolved.