THE HULLAH SISTERS.

 

The "Rough Justice" team followed up a couple of statements that Steel's defence solicitor had managed to persuade the police to disclose. Two sisters, a little younger than Carol Wilkinson, had seen her as they were going to school - at around ten minutes to nine. This was not far from the butcher's shop - about half way down the avenue and only a few minutes from Carol's house. Since the last sighting of Carol that the police relied upon was a quarter of an hour or so earlier - and much further down the avenue - this had great significance.

Presenter Martin Young interviewed both of these sisters. The transcript reads:

 

MARTIN YOUNG:

We found two witnesses who are sure that is not the case. Carol must have gone back towards the butcher shop because they both saw her in Ravenscliffe Avenue much later. These witnesses are two sisters, Susan and Julie Hullah.

Q: Julie, what do you remember about seeing Carol that morning?

JULIE HULLAH: We left home at ten to nine, came up the road here to go on the Avenue to school and a girl was walking in that direction. She was wearing a long beige coat, raincoat material,

high wedge heel shoes, beige colour.

YOUNG: Susan Hullah is now a nurse in Liverpool. She too remembers seeing Carol.

SUSAN HULLAH: She lived very close to me. I seen her many times before although not usually whilst I was on my way to school. So I'm sure it was her. end the fact that she had these high shoes and she was having difficulty running really drew my attention to her.

JULIE: She just seemed to be rushing either as if she was late or I don't know and she seemed to be stumbling but that was the high shoes I think.

YOUNG: Can you describe those shoes for me?

JULIE: Wedge heels, fairly high and of a beige

YOUNG: Could it have been any earlier or any later than ten to nine?

JULIE: No, we always left home at ten to nine to go to school as it was just round the corner.

YOUNG: So if it bad been later, you would have-been late for school?

JULIE: Yes, that's right.

YOUNG: Could it have been earlier that day, could it have been 8.30?

JULIE: No, no, much too early.

YOUNG: So you are definite about ten to nine?

JULIE: Yes.

 

According to his confession, Steel must have attacked Carol at about at about ten to nine. This is exactly the time when Julie and Susan Hullah saw her in Ravenscliffe Avenue. But there is internal evidence that strongly suggests that the Hullah sisters are right.

They described Carol's new shoes. They must have seen her - of that there is no doubt - because this was the only working day in Carol's life when they could have seen these shoes. She bought them on the previous Saturday.

We are left wondering if their timing is wrong. Well if they were, both girls would have arrived at school more than half an hour early that morning. Both of them say that's impossible. And common sense tells us that teenage girls do not arrive at school half an hour before they need to be there.

This "Rough Justice" evidence was presented to the Home Office - and therefore C£ - by "Justice" in the 1986 petition.

As with other such new evidence, the Home Office once again failed to address the central point of the evidence presented. The first reply had pointed out that "the statements made by the Hullah sisters were made available to the defence, but not used."

That was a typical response - hiding from the truth with a technical point.

This also assumed that the evidence given by Susan Hullah on 14th October 1977 was the same as the evidence in the petition of 1986. It was not. In the "Rough Justice" programme both the Hullah sisters - Julie and Susan - made points in their interviews that they had not appeared in their statements during the police investigation.

"Rough Justice" questioned them about the accuracy of their timing of the incident - an aspect not in their original statement.

They also mentioned Carolís difficulty with her wedge-heeled beige shoes. They had mentioned these before in 1977, but another part of the evidence of the shoes had not been associated with their comment; i.e. it confirmed the day of their sighting. C3 did not address this key issue - the day on which the Hullah girls saw Carol Wilkinson. There were two other witnesses to Carol on Ravenscliffe Avenue; they may have been confused about timing. They may have seen her on a different day. But the Hullah girls definitely saw Carol Wilkinson on the morning of her murder.

The only person to see Carol Wilkinson at a point further along the route was a Mrs Wendy Murphy. She did not know Carol Wilkinson. She identified her on that morning largely by the colour of her coat - and was not entirely certain of exactly where she had seen Carol. Even the judge told the jury that "perhaps as late as getting on for 8:40 she was seen near the butcherís shop in Ravenscliffe Avenue. Then she was seen a little later at about 8:40 to 8:45. near the end of Ravenscliffe Avenue"

The "Rough Justice " analysis in response to C3ís first reply added a significant point which C3 then chose to ignore.

Wendy Murphyís recollection of Carol was, on the evidence, poor. In her statement she described Carolís engagement ring as being " a small gold ring with a single diamond and sapphire stones surrounding it." In fact, Carolís ring, as described by her friend Jean Broadbent who had examined it and saw it every day was " a gold solitaire". This ring was on Carolís body and eventually became exhibit MAH 3 . There are no photographs extant of it. If Mrs Murphy could be so wrong whilst being so sure about the design of the ring - how could she be trusted with other observations? Indeed, had she seen a different young woman altogether - who had such a ring on her finger?

 

As for the Hullah girls, they were the only witnesses to sighting who definitely saw Carol on the day of the murder. Neither of the other two witnesses noticed the difficulty Carol was having with her new shoes. It was an important piece of evidence that the jury was unaware of.

None of the other witnesses identified Carol so positively.

The key question is really - should we believe the Hullahs on time, or should Wendy Murphy be believed on identification?.

Mrs Murphy's record on the ring speaks for itself.

Compare the experience of the two sides of this question:

The Hullah girls and Wendy Murphy each claimed to know Carol Wilkinson by sight. However, the Hullah girls knew her from school, whilst Wendy Murphy did not even know her name.

Each claimed to be sure of the timing they have for the sighting of her. The Hullah girls claim that their sighting could not have been earlier than ten minutes to ninebecause they were in a routine of going to school.

Wendy Murphy was going to work. However, she was apparently surprised to see Carol on that particular morning - even though the bus strike had been on for a week. As noted above, if Carol had always gone by the same route ( as the other prosecution evidence alleged) - then Wendy Murphy should have seen her on Ravenscliffe Avenue during the previous week. She should not have been surprised.

Of course, one might simply say - the Hullah girls were too young to make such positive identification and be precise about time.

But if that is the case - why did the police rely on the four youths to identify the key ring?

Susan Hullah was 16 years old and her sister Julie was 15 years old at the time of the murder. At that time Brian Best was 19, Neil Best was 17, Paul Wilkinson was 17 and Terry Best was 11 years old.