Category Archives: Ghosties

Village of the Cursed (4/4)

Ghost Village

There seated at the octagonal table in the bay, sat a young petite woman in her mid-thirties, in the quaint village styled tearooms, with its rustic beams, lead-light windows, attracting his attention.  Uninterested in her surrounding’s she gazed intently out of the window with her deep blue penetrating eyes, and long blonde wavy hair.  Almost hypnotised by her elegant figure, unable to withdraw his eyes off her; and oh how fragile she seemed.  Had she noticed him, intently gazing at her . . . she must have been blind not to have, or was she wrapped up in her own world?  He wondered what she was doing, sitting there all alone.

Time passed by without her giving any sign of preparing to leave.  It looked as if whom ever it was that she was waiting for, had stood her up.  What a jerk, he must be, letting her wait like that.

He hadn’t had a real conversation with anybody for so long now, and had started to feel lonesome.  He resolved to approach her, and having built up the courage to do so, got up and walked over slowly to her table.

“May I join you?” he asked.

She looked up briefly and smiled.  “Please do, I have been expecting you,” she answered, looking back out of the window, without any display of interest or show of surprise.

“I saw you looking at the old rectory,” Benjamin blurted out in an apologetic manner, “and I wondered…I lived there for a few years as a child.”

“You did?” she asked without managing to show surprise or interest.  “You don’t sound local though?”

“I have been abroad for some years now.  I guess that makes me sound a little funny.”  I couldn’t tell her the truth . . . she wouldn’t believe me.

The laughter of the once light-hearted couples that filled the tea-room and turned it into a warm sanctuary, faded away quickly as they had risen in his head.  Leaving them again in the cold atmosphere; as the street light, cast a shadow upon their window table.

One of my fondest memories of the village has to be our first day home for the holidays.  My brother, sister and I would ride our bicycles through the village and wave here and there, heading for the isolated cottage, nestled down by the river.

She was not our real grandmother, but she was ‘Gran’, to us.  We would dash up her path, round the side and in the back door.  There she would be, waiting to greet us as usual, sleeves rolled up from her floury hands, wearing a spotless white apron.

She would butter fresh scones, ever so warm and tasty, topped with home-made jam, along with cream cakes.  We munched and munched, as we told her about the adventures we had at school, as we sat round her kitchen table.

We would leave with cheeks bulging and glowing as we retraced our way home.

“I am so sorry,” Benjamin said.  “I let my mind wonder to the good times.  You were saying?”

“I was asking if they are friends of yours,” she said, looking at the group of people standing outside.

Benjamin turned and gazed through the window, following her amused gaze, and gaped at the window in utter astonishment.  Standing only a few feet from him, they looked ever so familiar.

“That’s my parents,” Benjamin blurted out.  Peter and Samantha James, and along side my brother Michael and sister Christina, just as I last remember them.  “But of course, it can’t be them, they died many years ago.”

His father, Peter was standing, motionless, staring at Benjamin, with his right hand above his eyes, apparently in an attempt to shade whatever light came from inside.  Benjamin was staring back in utter disbelief, unable to decide how to react to this vision.

“But what does he want?” Benjamin asked of himself.  “Why is he staring at me like that?”

Peter James retraced his steps back within the group, smiling, waved a hand in a saluting motion, turned around, and disappeared into the dense fog that seemed to arrive and disappear with them.  He had a very fond time of life with his family, who had been gunned down in their own home; the look brought back forgotten and painful memories.

“I’m glad they have gone,” Benjamin said quietly, almost to himself.

He turned back to the woman, making an effort to act his composed self again.  “I must apologise for my behaviour.  You will think me rude.  I have been sitting here without introducing myself.  My name is Benjamin, and you are?”

“I’m Anna Beaumont, and I didn’t think you rude.  A little strange perhaps,” she said, smiling reassuringly.

“I’m glad,” he said, smiling back.  “So, what are you doing here, all alone?”

A light of amusement passed through her eyes . . . she had beautiful, lively eyes.  His own gaze was riveted to her graceful face, and he could not bring himself to look away.  “I am only having an innocent conversation to while away the time a bit,” she replied.  “What about yourself?”

He suppressed the urge to tell her about his dream and, the real reason he was there.  After all, she was a total stranger who would be justified in thinking him odd to undertake such a trip on account of memories from a past time . . . or would she?

“I have come to visit the streets of my youth, you could say,” he said guardedly.

“And how do you find it?” asked Anna.

“The neighbourhood, you mean?”  She nodded slightly.  “Well, I don’t know.  It’s kind of strange . . . it’s just as it was when I left.    On one hand, I know every stone around here, but on the other, I don’t seem to recognise anybody, but people have acknowledged me.”

“So what are your plans?” asked Anna.

“To tell the truth,” Benjamin said.  “I’m not sure what I want to do next.”

“It seems to me that you are making a very poor job of your visit,” Anna said looking at him with mocking eyes.  “Didn’t you make any plans at all before you came here?”

“Actually, I acted on impulse.  It felt right that I should visit here, and so I came.”  The truth of this fact had only just dawned on him.  He actually had no plans at all, except for the general idea of getting to the roots of his memories.

“For one thing, I just feel like walking around to make my peace with the streets of my childhood.”  He now felt as if he owed these streets an apology…for leaving them so suddenly, but it wasn’t his choice.

“Then why are you wasting your time sitting here, staring at this old building?  Shouldn’t you be out there instead?”

“You know, I wish I could visit the old house.  I should like to stay awhile and let my mind go back to when I was a child.  But I don’t think that its’ present occupants would agree.” Benjamin stated, with a yearning to see inside.

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do for you,” she said.  “I’ll take you around to see the streets and what’s in them.  I can show you things.  I know my way around here.”

Her hand was in his, and she was on her feet.  He didn’t know why, but he sensed he could trust her, the feeling was there.

“Thank you, I’d like that,” Benjamin replied with thanks.  “I do feel a little lost.”

“Okay.  Now just hold my hand and don’t let go.  I don’t want to lose you,” she said, with a soft reassuring smile.

He left with her through the main door, and they were outside, blending in the milky white mist that had appeared and enveloped them in it.

A sensation passed through his body as he looked deep into the mist, as he gazed he was sure she had taken him back to his childhood times, when he lived in the village, but how can that be?

That was the last time anybody saw Benjamin again.

Finally, he had found an everlasting peace, he had come home!


Village of the Cursed (3/4)


The door opened and Detective Chief Inspector Nelson strode purposefully into the staff canteen, with a drained expression upon his face, as he gazed around looking for his prey.

“Morning Chief,” Weaver said, looking up from his paper, “has someone died or something?”

“Worse!  Much worse!”

Weaver put the paper down, took a sip of tea, and sat back in the chair.  “I am all ears,” as his D.C.I. dropped a file onto his paper, and sat down opposite him.

“What do you make of this?” asked Nelson.

Weaver picked it up, and casually browsed through the contents, which included a formal letter sent by the Court of Appeal, that the case in question:  Benjamin James would be heard at the High Court, four weeks from today.

“I remember this case, vaguely.  I was just starting out in C.I.D at the time.  To think that after all this time has passed, that the boy Benjamin, now a man in the eyes of the law, could be innocent of the murders, they must be joking.”  Weaver responded, with disbelief in his voice.  “If my memory serves me right, it was an open and shut case at the time. They had the weapon, suspect, and victim’s blood on his clothes . . . and now they believe after all this time, there is a possibility he could actually be innocent?”

“That’s about the size of it.  I was one of the leading Inspector’s on the case, it was my part in his conviction, that got me my promotion two years later,” stated Nelson.  “So we have got to check over the case, and ensure everything had been, and was undertaken in a legal manner.

“What we don’t want is some smart arse lawyer getting him off on a technicality,” suggested Weaver.

“You have got that right.  You had better dig out the original files, check the statements with original witnesses, what we don’t want are any nasty surprises waiting for us, at the hearing, stated Nelson, as he got up to leave.  “It might be worth checking out the village, to see if anything of interest to the case has gone on, since the James’ murders.”

“What do you expect to find, more ghosts jumping out of the woodwork,” Weaver responded.  He put his hands up, “only a joke.”

Nelson gazed at him, but said nothing as he left.

“Well, what a can of worms to be dropped in our laps.  I thought this case was dead and buried,” Weaver said to himself in a shallow voice, as he walked from the canteen.

“D.S.Jones,” Weaver’s trusted right hand man. “Phone through to the records office, and request that all the files and evidence on the Benjamin James murder spree of 1991, be sent up to C.I.D.” as he walked into the office.  “Then I want a list of any unusual happenings in the village of Barrisgough, any incidents where the police have been called in, from 1991.”

“Yes, sir!” replied Jones.  “What gives?”

“Some Psychiatrist and Priest, have started raising the question whether Benjamin James, could actually be a murderer or an innocent victim, which has led to an appeal,” Weaver responded.

Jones, accessed his computer for information on any related events, to the killings, within the village and surrounding area.  His link to Barrisgough, would bring up a chain of deaths . . . they hadn’t expected this.

The first anniversary of the James’ murders; post woman was arrested for murdering her husband, Christopher, by stabbing him with a kitchen knife seven times.

The second anniversary of the James’ murders; Jackie Lawson was killed when she reversed her car, into the path of an oncoming lorry.

The third anniversary of the James’ murders; Carolyn McGovern, knocked a young man off his bike; who died in hospital from his injuries.

The fourth anniversary of the James’ murders; James Harvard killed the village busybody, one Mary Laidlaw, at his mothers request, by crossbow.

The fifth anniversary of the James’ murders; Harold Jacobs murdered the landlady of the Green Dragon P.H. for refusing to serve him.

The sixth anniversary of the James’ murders; Arthur Hayley murdered Edith Hamlyn, during the execution of a burglary.

The seventh anniversary of the James’ murders; Peter Quinn local Poacher, fired and killed former police officer, Cliff Roberts, now gamekeeper.

The description given by those charged, had been quite similar on all accounts.  Minutes before the act of murder took place, each claim to have seen a shadowy figure, wearing a frock styled coat the hat, cross their path,” quoted James reading from the screen.

To local people then – and today – the evidence is overwhelming; the ghost of the Reverend Patterson continued to haunt the village.  He had returned to play out the dramatic events that have made the killings in this quiet rural corner of East Anglia, headline news, the length and breadth of the country.

After August 15th 1998, no murder or accidental death has been reported, the village has lived in peace and harmony ever since.

“Could it be a coincidence that the murder’s ceased after the seventh anniversary, which happened to be the same year Benjamin reached twenty-one?” suggested Jones.

“I would find it hard to believe he could be possible of orchestrating murders, but anything’s possible in this day and age,” Weaver pointed out.

Or was it the removal of old bones from the rectory well by archaeologists, believed to be that of a French Nun, that brought peace?”

“What a load of utter rubbish, what will they think of next,” Weaver responded, looking over D.S.Jones’ shoulder in disbelief.  “We work with facts, not make believe.”

“Historians would believe in it,” suggested Jones.  Add archaeologists into the mix, and a sympathetic appeal court, and Benjamin could easily walk.”

Weaver looked at Jones with disgust at the suggestion. “What news on the original case?”

“Not good at all, PC Roberts, the officer who was first on the scene retired due to ill health, was killed in August 1998, whilst working as a game keeper.”

“What about the church warden, he was one of the first on the scene?” Weaver asked.

“Bracks died in 1996, from a heart attack,” Jones replied.  Here’s some additional information, from the day of Benjamin’s imprisonment, right up to his death, Bracks visited him every month without fail.”

“It can’t get much worse, can it?” asked Weaver.

“It can, and here it is, Detective Chief Inspector Dawson, who headed the case, was killed in a car accident in 1998, whilst travelling across Europe with his family.”

“I remember Dawson’s death, I attended his funeral, hundreds turned out to pay their respects,” interjected Weaver.  “This doesn’t look good; most of the major witnesses are dead!”

Detectives wanted to question Donald James, brother of Peter James, but they couldn’t find him.  He had sold the company, and vanished with his wife to locations unknown.

Further investigations revealed, he had been left financial guardian of each child until they reached the age of twenty-one.  It appears he had disappeared with the James’ entire estate.

Questions were raised about Donald, made one wonder if there was any possible doubt; whether Donald had any involvement, in the murders.

Harold Brackman, crime-beat reporter of twenty-five years with the Chronicle, couldn’t believe what he heard from his sources at court.  Benjamin James was appealing against his sentence after all these years . . .  The young boy who has spent the last ten years behind bars.

Front page news on the first day of the Appeal Hearing:

What caused Benjamin James (14) in August 1991, to take his father’s shotgun, and cold bloodedly murder his family?

The suspect never uttered a word during his police interviews, and trial, other than to confirm his name.  The physical evidence was enough to prove his guilt.

Benjamin never confessed his guilt, or pleaded his innocence . . . forcing the court to base the case on the evidence brought before them.

Now ten years on, Benjamin James is pleading his innocence in the Court of Appeal, on the grounds of mitigating circumstances.

The day is stifling hot, over eighty degrees, and still rising as the Appeal Court sat to hear the case brought before them on, on the grounds of a mis-carriage of justice, with mitigating circumstances.

Very few cases in the English legal system have attracted so much attention from the Media, as that of the Benjamin James Murder Spree, a case that had shocked, mystified, and fascinated people, the length and breadth of the country.

The horrific act in an otherwise peaceful country village is startling beyond belief.  Along with the gruesome nature of the crimes is the unexpected character of the accused, not a maniac, but their youngest son; Benjamin James.  Charged with the murder of his parents, Peter and Samantha, his brother Michael and sister Christina

A lawyer representing Benjamin James, addressed court:  In the original murder case, the evidence submitted was almost entirely circumstantial, which passionately divided public opinion, as to the guilt or innocence of the accused.  Thus he was found guilty for the violent and cold bloodedly murder of four people, which led to his conviction; to be detained for an indefinite period.

The Crown’s conviction was based solely on the fact, that Benjamin James’ was found holding the shotgun, and covered in blood from his victim’s.

Here, we are going to prove without doubt, Benjamin’s part, as the murderer.

The Appeal Court consisted of three judges for the appeal led by Judge Carsdale into the ‘James Murder Spree of 1991,’ as it has become known.

This is a murder case in which the accused was found guilty at the Juvenile Court in 1991, for the violent and cold blooded murder of four people, namely his own family.

“You may call your first witness,” said the Judge, indicating to the defence.

Mathew Hillsdale of the defence acknowledged the judge.  For he knew they had an upward climb convincing the court, of Benjamin’s innocence.

The first witness for the defence is Professor James Beaumont, Historian for Cambridge University Museum.  Who stated, that a French Nun, one Adele Dupre, worked in the area as a maid during the times of the Witch Finder Trials.  Part of the village’s own recorded history, refer to the maid in question being tried as a witch, for her association with animals.  Her body was burnt at the stake, and her remains were thrown down the old well.

In 1863, the Reverend Edward Markham built a rectory at the far end of Barisgough village, to look over his flock.  Apparitions of a Nun started early on and were seen by many a visitor to the rectory, for many centuries to come.

Then in 1955, the Reverend James Patterson took up residence, and in 1972 when poltergeist activity was ripe in the area, he was found hanging from the Bell Tower rafters, by the then church warden; Mr Bracks.

The Reverend Patterson was observed by villager’s partaking in Black Magic rituals, at the Manor House graveyard.  The evidence was laid out for all to see the next morning, the remains of a black cock and white hen, all the hallmarks of a Black Magic ritual.

When the James family moved into the converted rectory, villager’s feared for their safety . . . their fear was well founded.

Our search revealed the old well, covered by years of growth, it was here the skull and bones were discovered, during an excavation, and taken to Cambridge University Museum.

The skull broke in two, and glass display cases, within close proximity, shattered.  Two of the original archaeological team in their late twenties, died within seven days of the remnants removal from the old well; of old age.

Then on the 20th September 1998, the Nun’s remains were buried on sacred ground, within the Convent of our Lady in Holt.  At last she was at peace.

“Thank you Professor, no further questions,” the defence hoped this would put serious doubt, into the minds of the court.

“Come now professor, this is no more than a story made up for the tourists,” the prosecuting attorney James Lansdale for the Crown put forward, in a jovial manner.

“The entire happenings and events taken place are recorded in the British Library.  What we have done is try to answer questions, about historical events taken place in the village,” replied the Professor.

“So Professor, what has this got to do with Benjamin James murder spree,” he asked.

“I have the court the facts on the village, it is not for me to speculate,” the Professor replied.

“But you do, don’t you,” stated the red faced Prosecutor Lansdale, “no further questions for this witness.”

“Before I call my next witness, I would like to enter a document into the proceedings,” A copy was duly given to the Judges and Prosecution.

According to the statement you have before you, as provided by Trinity House resident psychiatrist Dr Andrew Sinclair and witnessed by the said Governor; Mr Calahan.  Benjamin James regained use of speech on the21st September 1998, some twenty-four after the skeletal remains of the Nun; Sister Adele Dupre was buried on sacred ground.

“Therefore it has been concluded there must be a connection between the two events,” proposed the defence.

“But that still doesn’t prove that Benjamin is innocent of the murders,” stated the Prosecution.

“Bear with me, and I will prove it to you and your court, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the original conviction is flawed,” stated the Defence.

The second witness for the defence is Mr Rackman a gunsmith, of 30 years experience.  Who stated that a double-barrelled shotgun breaks beyond the stock so the barrel drops down, and the fired or spent cartridges as they are referred to, can be extracted and the gun reloaded.

It is my considered opinion that a 14 year-old boy, some , 4ft 10inches in height, would have great difficulty holding such a shotgun, let alone fire, reload and fire again in a matter of seconds?  The length and weight isn’t designed for quick action.

“No further questions for this witness,” as the defence returned to his table, with glee in his eyes.

“Mr Rackman,I put it to you isn’t it possible to fire, reload and fire again in quick succession, if one is  used to the shotgun?” asked the Prosecutor.

“In my opinion, it would be highly unlikely,” replied Rackman.

“But not impossible?” asked the prosecutor, pushing the defence’s witness into a yes or no situation.

“I am unable to give a yes or no answer to the question, it would depend on many factors, height, type of shotgun.”

The prosecution knew he had been beaten by this witness.  “No further questions,” as he retreated to his table.

The third witness for the defence is Doctor Gerald Carter Psychiatrist of Harley Street, and Royal Brompton Hospital.  Who stated under oath, that Benjamin James has limited memory for that fateful day; 15th August 1991, up to 21st September 1998.  In short he suffers from amnesia covering a seven year period.

At the time of these murders, the village was rife with paranormal activity, and the centre point was the old rectory; home of Benjamin James.

I like you, doubted the existence of living ghosts, that was until I visited the village of Barrisgough seeking answers, and it was there, I met Howard and Anna Beaumont, who told me the story of the rail crash; off 18th May 1921.  Some forty people died that day, when a passenger and goods train collided.  What I learned later from library reports shocked me to the bone.

Remnants of a gentleman bearing a silver ring with the initials HB, and a woman, bearing a broach with AB, were both discovered in the first carriage.  The only signs left of the old railway track, were bumps in the ground where the old track sleepers lay.  Legend said a train would exit the misty gloom, every evening at 18.50pm . . . and it did, the lights of its passenger cars like a string of yellow beads, dragging a dull roar behind it.

I had actually spoken with real living, breathing ghosts of Barrisgough, and seen the haunted train, at the exact time of the original accident, drive right through me, proving to me the village is haunted.

The former church warden Mr Bracks, claimed satanic events took place at the Old Manor House.  What I found was dried blood stains among bird feathers, the same as associated with Black Magic rituals.  I could not guess how long since the ritual took place, as the feathers are soft to the touch, I would guess fairly recent.

“Thank you doctor, no further questions,” the defence believed his witness, had left the court perplexed in many ways.

The Prosecuting Barrister raised himself from his seat and walked towards the good doctor, in the witness box, eyeing him up and down for a moment.

“What you and the defence here have concocted for the court is based on supposed paranormal activities.  So I put it to you, it is no more than a state of mind?” proposed the Prosecutor.

“You can believe what you want.  Why don’t you visit the village, it is still rife with paranormal, even the dead from the train crash, openly walk around,” responded Carter.  “I am sure they will make you welcome.”

“Just answer the question,” asked a flustered Prosecutor.

I only work with facts put before me, by my patient.  How can one so young and innocent, be, considered, responsible of such a horrific crime?” the doctor threw back in the Prosecutors face.

“So who do you think killed them, and placed the murder weapon in Benjamin’s lap, spraying blood from his victim’s over him?” the Prosecutor asked, playing right into the hands of the doctor.

“That is the job of the police to discover who carried out the crime.  Benjamin had to have been in a state of shock at the time, which would account for his silence, during the police interviews and trial.  He was to spend the better part of the next seven years in silence.  If he had not regained his voice, we would not be put in this situation, questioning his innocence or guilt?” replied a satisfied doctor.

“But you do question the police outcome . . . are you saying, they got it wrong?” asked the Prosecutor.

“The truth is in the evidence as I see it,” replied the good doctor.

“No further questions”, said the prosecutor, knowing he had just met his match, in that exchange of words.

“I call to the stand the Reverend Baines.”

The fourth witness for the defence is the Reverend Baines, vicar of St.Mary’s Church at Holt, and a prison visitor to Trinity House Hospital.  Who admitted he found it hard to comprehend that one so small, could be capable of lifting a double barrelled shotgun, and firing off a total of nine rounds in quick succession.

It is my belief, another committed his crime, and the supernatural events, rife in the village, were somehow connected to these murders.  Unfortunately, much time has passed by, and whoever actually committed the act, has got clean away.

At the time of the so-called murder spree, Benjamin was only 4ft 8 inches tall, making it virtually impossible for him to carry out the crime.  The shotgun used to carry out these murders was nearly three-quarters his height, how could he wield it, fire and reload in quick succession?

“No further questions, for this witness,” the defence nodded towards the prosecution, as he returned to his table.

The Prosecuting Barrister rose to his feet.  “I see we have another joker, who believes in super-natural events, could actually be responsible for the deadly atrocities, of August 1991,” gazing between the defence counsel and the witness.  “So Reverend, do you believe in the super natural events, that have enveloped this village since the, 1645 Witch Finder Trials?”

“I have to concur, I have no choice but to believe; the evidence speaks for itself.”

The prosecuting counsel tossed his papers loudly onto his table, out of sheer desperation.  “I have no further questions for this witness.”

The fifth witness for the defence is Samuel Sanderson, Professor of Scientific DNA Studies.  The clothing worn by Benjamin James back in 1991 had been studied, using techniques of today.  We found blood transference, as though being hugged by the real killer, but no direct blood splatter.

Our DNA tests, brought up some surprising results, who ever hugged the accused had to be a relation of the family.  Not just anyone, but one related to the father; Peter James.

The other item of clothing, tested for DNA, was an exact match to that found on Benjamin James’ clothing . . . one of many clothing items found in the police, evidence box.

“No further questions, for this witness,” the defence stated with a wry smile on his face, nodding towards the prosecution.

“No questions for this witness,” the Prosecutor said, rising from his seat to speak.  He could not believe what he had just heard, an item of evidence that could put serious doubt on the guilt of the accused.

The final witness for the defence is the accused, Benjamin James, currently resident of Trinity House Hospital, on Saint Unix Island.  My life changed in August 1991, when the authorities believed I murdered my parents, brother and sister with my father’s shotgun.

Like my brother and sister, I spent only school holidays at our home in Barrisgough, for we attended boarding school.  The thing I remember most would be the first day back from school, riding through the village, to the old cottage nestled down by the river.

There waiting for us would be our mother’s part-time house-keeper, who fed us freshly baked cakes and scones.  Actually she had been burned as a witch, in times gone by, and worked as a house-keeper, for previous occupants of the old rectory, that’s a story she told us.

At first we didn’t believe her, until Michael and I observed the ghostly coach, careering across our garden, late each Friday night.  We even saw the Nun cross the terrace; she even acknowledged our presence, on more than one occasion.  Another sighting I remember was that of a vicar, sitting at dad’s desk in the study, Benjamin gazed around the court, looking at the stunned faces, in response to ghostly events that took place at their home; the old rectory.

We kids couldn’t talk to our parents about these events, they just wouldn’t believe us.  But my godfather Donald James, told us kids, what you see is true, and the story of the Nun burnt as a witch really happened.

Dad used to get very annoyed when Donald told us of the satanic rituals that took place at the Old Manor House grounds . . . we knew him and his wife who was born in the village attended, but we never let on.

Dad and Donald always argued, you could hear it all over the house, always about the same old thing . . . money.

Donald always came in by way of the cellar, using the external door in the garden for he had a key like the rest of us, but really it was known as his personal access door.  He would come up by way of the inner staircase, to the tall bookcase in dad’s study which was on hinges.  A catch at the back would release it.

The faces of the prosecution were shell-shocked, for it was the first they heard of this.

“I would like to offer a document as evidence into the proceedings, a copy of the original plans held at County Hall Surveyor’s Department,” asked the Defence.

My mind still remains partially blank for 15th August 1991.  What I do remember is Donald came round really early . . . and had an argument with my father, then slammed the front door as he left.  The next thing Bracks the church-warden, finding me covered in blood, with my father’s shotgun in my lap.

I just don’t believe I could have committed such a murder, the length and weight of the shotgun outweighed logical reasoning.

How I came to be holding it . . . I have no explanation.

“No further questions, for this witness,” indicating the floor was free for the Prosecution.

“So Benjamin, do you believe in ghosts?” asked the Prosecution.

“If you had met one like I had, you would know they exist,” replied Benjamin.

“Benjamin, when you came before the courts back in 1991, charged with murdering your own family, you refused to speak?” asked the Prosecution.

“It wasn’t that I refused, I just found no words came forth,” stated Benjamin.

“So when these supposed bones of the Nun were re-buried some seven years later, you got your speech back?” stated the Prosecutor.  “You expect us to believe it?”

“That’s how it was,” Benjamin replied, “if I could have spoken, I would have.  Who would want to be locked up for a crime you are convinced you are innocent of?”

“Isn’t it true that you argued with your father on the morning of the murders?”

“My memory that far back is a little rusty . . . as far as I can remember, I don’t think so, but I can’t be sure,” replied Benjamin.

“Have you ever held or fired your father’s shotgun?” asked the Prosecutor, getting to the nitty gritty of the case.

“No.  He wouldn’t let us children handle it, he told us it was dangerous,” stated Benjamin.

“I ask, did you take your father’s shotgun, and kill your own family in a fit of rage?” asked the Prosecution in a badgering mode.

“No, I couldn’t kill those I loved,” replied Benjamin.

“You were found holding your father’s shotgun, covered in blood,” asked the prosecution.  “You expect us to believe you be innocent of the crime?”

“I can only answer what I know,” replied a calm Benjamin.

The prosecutor knew in his heart, any evidence that would keep Benjamin James locked away, was never going to come from the accused.  “No further questions, for this witness.”

“That concludes the case for the Defence.”

The first witness for the prosecution is Detective Inspector Weaver, who was a Detective Sergeant back in1991.

At the time, it had all the hallmarks of an open and shut case; we had the murderer, the murder weapon, with his finger prints all over, and he was covered in the victim’s blood.

As was the usual procedure, we checked the house top to bottom for any intruders . . . but we didn’t expect to find any, we had our culprit . . . the evidence proved his guilt.

Since the deaths on the 15th August 1991, there has been a death in Barrisgough, one for each of the next seven years.

1992: Linda Harvey killed her husband Christopher, with a kitchen knife.

1993: Jackie Lawson reversed into the path of an oncoming lorry.

1994: Carolyn McGovern, knocked a young man off his bike; who died from his injuries.

1995: James Harvard killed Mary Laidlaw with a crossbow.

1996: Harold Jacobs murdered the landlady of the Green Dragon P.H. because she refused to serve him.

1997: Arthur Hayley murdered Edith Hamlyn, during a burglary.

1998: Peter Quinn poacher, killed Cliff Roberts gamekeeper, a former police officer, who was one of the first on the scene at the James murders.

We have seven deaths, all on the same date each year of the James’ murders.  Then by some fluke, discovered in the old rectory well, are supposedly those of a Nun, burnt as a witch.  The yearly murders stopped, once her remains are re-buried on sacred ground, and Benjamin spoke for the first time since the murders . . . too much of a coincidence.

“No further questions, for this witness,” stated the prosecutor, believing the deaths on the yearly anniversary would be enough to put doubt into the minds of the court, as to his guilt.

“So you don’t believe in ghosts?” asked the defence rising to his feet.

“No I do not,” proclaimed Weaver.

“Detective Inspector Weaver, is it not true, that most of those who committed an act of murder on the yearly anniversary, stated under oath, of seeing a shadowy figure, wearing a frocked style coat and hat, before they committed murder?” asked the defence.

“Well yes, but we in the police believe in hard facts, not some fanciful tale of ghosts,” replied Weaver.

“Maybe not, but you have to remember, that we have heard in this very court, that the village of Barrisgough is haunted,” the defence counsel put forward.

Weaver nodded in reply.

“In your statement, you stated the police searched the house top to bottom, but made no mention of the access between the cellar and study, by the staircase.  Is it not true, that an intruder could have escaped that way?” the defence rammed home this question.

“We never knew of this access staircase, so we can’t be held responsible,” replied Weaver.

“You have to admit, that it is a possibility, that an intruder, could have entered and escaped this way?” pushed the defence.

“Well, yes,” replied Weaver, in a gingerly reply.

“Did you question Donald James, the deceased’s brother?” asked the defence.

“We interviewed him, yes, no further action was needed,” replied Weaver.

“Did you not investigate his background and finances?” the defence asked, watching the bemused witness.

“We had no reason to,” replied Weaver, “for we had our suspect.”

“Would it surprise you to know, that at the time Donald James was in financial difficulty, and had everything to gain from his brother’s death,” stated the defence.

“I was not the lead officer in this case,” Weaver replied, trying to divert attention or blame away from him.

“Did you know, Donald James had been left financial guardian of each child, on an estate worth some twelve million ponds?  Of course you didn’t,“ the defence replied, for him, “you didn’t see fit to check him out.”

“Would you not agree, he had the motive?” suggested the defence, watching the witness squirm.

“Well . . . yes,” replied a hesitant Weaver.

“So I ask you, D.I.Weaver, where is Donald James now?” asked the defence.

“We have no idea where he is, the company he owned with his brother has been sold, and he seems to have vanished with his wife to locations unknown,” stated Weaver.

“Along with the money,” suggested the defence.

“Yes,” stated Weaver.

“No further questions, for this witness,” stated the defence, putting yet another question of doubt into the court’s mind, that someone else could be a suspect.

The second witness for the prosecution is Michael Sands, Professor of Psychology.  Upon speaking with the accused Benjamin James, he believes the Nun has set him free to express himself after seven years of silence.  Even though he believes it, it was more likely to be just natural causes.  Since being released from the chains that bound his speech, he now proclaims his innocence, with no evidence to back it up.

Having listened to the police account, of the seven anniversary murders.  Could Benjamin be held responsible even though he has been locked up . . . miles away? Over the centuries, some people’s thoughts have been responsible for deaths . . . as to whether this is the case with the accused . . . I wouldn’t rule out the possibility.

“No further questions, for this witness,” the prosecutor nodded in the direction of the defence,”give it your best shot.”

“Professor, do you believe in ghosts?” asked the defence.

“In certain circumstances yes, in other’s no,” replied a cagey Professor.

“So, it is highly possible, for Benjamin to have spoken to a Nun, when he lived in Barrisgough?” asked the defence.  “Even though she had to be a ghost, for she died centuries before.”

“Well yes, if one believes the village is haunted,” stated the Professor.

“In the late twenties, there was a horrific train crash where many died, and it is said the dead openly walk among the living.  Would you consider this a possibility?” asked the defence.

“I have heard of many such cases, so I wouldn’t rule out the possibility,” replied the Professor.

“You mention that proof would prove the guilt or innocence of the accused.  He was found with the murder weapon and covered in his victim’s blood.  So that would conclusively prove his guilt, would it not?” asked the defence, going down a dangerous route.

“Yes,” replied the Professor.

“So how could one barely five feet tall, fire and load in quick succession a shotgun, nearly three quarters of his height,” suggested the defence.

“You have got me there, I can not give a reasonable answer to that, but I am sure you have one,” replied the Professor with a slight smile.

“Thank you Professor.  No further questions for this witness,” the defence acknowledged the court.

The prosecution rolled out one after another witness, confirming the argument Benjamin had with his father that could be heard across the village only hours before the killing spree.  It was more out of desperation, most of the original witnesses from the original trial and investigation, had since died.


We the defence concur with the police.  When a murder takes place in the home, with no signs of an intruder, they focus on remaining family members, and in a high percentage of cases, they are usually right.

In this case, the police were too quick in finding a suspect to pin these murders on.  Benjamin James aged (14) at the time, barely strong enough to hold a double-barrelled shotgun, let alone, fire-load, fire-load, in quick succession.

Why, oh why, did the police, look no further for suspects?  I tell you why, they found the only surviving family member, Benjamin James, holding a shotgun on his lap, and his clothes covered in blood.  That was more than enough to convict him.

Benjamin still in a state of shock, never spoke a word during police interviews and the trial, just the odd nod to confirm his name, and the occasional shrug of the shoulders.  Believing him to be guilty of such a horrific crime, he was found guilty, and detained for an indefinite period.

WE have also heard in this court, events that have taken place in the village of Barrisgough, providing proof that it is indeed haunted.  The passengers killed in the train crash of 1921, openly live in the village.  Ghostly sightings of a vicar preparing his sermon in the old rectory study.  The former Nun, burnt as a witch, who was the James house-keeper, and other’s before.

Benjamin regained his speech, when the Nun’s remains were re-buried on sacred ground.  He remembers only snatches of 15th August 1991.  Being hugged by somebody in his room and that was how he got blood on his clothes.  In today’s world of advanced technology, we would have been able to prove the difference between direct blood splatter, to that of blood transference, from one to another.  We have heard in this court, the blood on Benjamin’s clothes was blood transference . . . the killer had hugged him, a final act, passing the blame over to him.

Could the person who hugged Benjamin that fateful day, have been Donald James?  He knew his way about the house.  It is also common knowledge he handled Peter’s shotgun, and would have known its whereabouts.

You have to ask yourself, who had the most to gain by the death of Peter James, his wife Samantha, and two of their children?  The answer should be Donald James, who was very much in debt at the time, and became Benjamin’s guardian on an estate worth twelve million pounds.

So where is Donald James?  He sold the business he had with his brother, and taken the money, which was Benjamin’s by right, and fled the country . . . leaving no trace.

Is that not the act of a guilty man?

If you have any doubt, as to Benjamin’s guilt, I ask that you find him innocent of these murders, and put an end to this nightmare, for my client . . . looking straight at Benjamin James, hoping for a sympathy vote from the court.


I stand before this court, asking that Benjamin James, who was found with a shotgun on his lap, covered in his victim’s blood, should spent the rest of his life behind bars.

The defence asks us to believe, that the village is haunted, that maybe so, but ghosts responsible for deaths in the past, I don’t think so.

On the anniversary of these murders, up until the accused reached twenty0one, a death took place each year in the village, and we are asked to believe it has nothing to do with the accused, looking in the direction of Benjamin James.  It is odd, that it stopped when he was twenty-one.  It has been suggested these are the act of a ghostly phenomenon, as each murder remembers seeing the ghostly image of a vicar, moments before the killings took place.  I put it to you; it is more likely, some sinister act, conjured up by Benjamin.

Grasping at straws, the defence points the guilt towards Donald James, who we now agree had a motive, but could any of you openly kill your brother and his family, pointing at each juror in turn.

No, it is more likely that Benjamin is guilty, and the original sentence should stand.  So I ask that you find him guilty.

The evidence from the original trial back in 1991 had proved little doubt as to his guilt.  Now it was the turn of the Appeal Court Jury to consider the case, behind closed doors.

At the news that the Court of Appeal had overturned the original conviction, it became front page news for days.  Benjamin James was found not guilty, because of technical evidence put forward, proved in all probability, that Benjamin, could barely lift the shotgun in question, let alone fire and reload the shotgun in quick succession . . . and it became the consensus that other parties were responsible for the murders.

The murder scene was entirely consistent with an act of unplanned violence, based on intense, buried emotions, very similar to a crime of passion.  Even though Benjamin had been found holding the murder weapon, and covered in the victim’s blood, it proved to be by means of transference, not direct, as would be the case of the murderer.

The gruesome nature of the killing’s is consistent with that of an adult, not that of a young boy, barely tall enough to hold a shotgun.

Benjamin jumped and shouted with joy, his sounds of excitement could be heard around the court . . . “I am free, I am free.”  As Father Baines and Gerald Carter gave him a hug, tears ran down his cheeks.

Benjamin James was awarded five million pounds in damages, from the Court of Appeal, in an innocent verdict, for taking away his childhood.

For days after, the news reports added:  Someone’s getting away with these murders; where the justice in that.  Benjamin James the only survivor of the James murder spree of 1991; where his family was brutally murdered.  Someone out there must know something, if so the police are waiting to hear from you.

The police issued a nationwide arrest warrant, for one Donald James, wanted for questioning in the murders of Peter, Samantha, Michael and Christina James killed in August 1991, and fraud.

Village of the cursed (2/4)

Ghost Train

Without a doubt I was lost… Gerald Carter tossed the map onto the passenger seat, cursing to himself as he levered himself out of his car, looking up and down the road for a signpost.  Sure enough some two hundred yards in front of him, stood West Raynham, and he had driven past the South Raynham signpost some way back.  “So where is Barrisgough?  According to the Ordnance Survey Map, it should be situated between the two Raynham’s.  So where is it?  It can’t just disappear,” he said out loud to himself.

He knew the village had a fearful history, with a ruined church, dating back to 1754, and the river ran alongside the main street.

“Maybe you can help me, I seem to have got lost,” asking a couple, walking a pair of golden Labradors.

“Ask away,” the man replied, as he turned to help the woman, over the stile.  She was tall, with shoulder length blonde hair.  She gave off an appearance of the exotic flair about herself.

“I was looking for a place called Barrisgough.  Do you know where it is?” carter asked of them.

“You have missed the turn,” replied the man.  “It is about a mile or so back.  There’s a dense wood on the left, and a sharp bend in the road.  Barrisgough is off to the left of that bend, down a rough track, through the forest.”

“I remember the sharp bend, as I struggled with my car, and I vaguely remember seeing the turn you mention,” Carter commented, remembering how tight the road had been at that point.

“The track used to be signposted . . . but stories of murders and paranormal activity in the village brought unwanted attention to our doors.  Some years back the sign was ripped out of the ground by gales, and has never been replaced,” he replied.

“I am looking for the old rectory, former home of the James’ family” at that moment you could see disgust in their eyes. They thought I was another of those interested in the paranormal, and the murders that had taken place, over the years.

I had to change their thoughts.  “The name’s Gerald Carter, and I am looking into the case against Benjamin James,” I watched his facial expression, and I could tell he seemed much relieved, that I wasn’t another of those paranormal hunters.

“The name’s Howard Beaumont, and this is my wife Anna,” stated Howard.  “That was a nasty business.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said, much relieved by their friendliness.

“Following the murder of the James family, they being the last occupants of the place, it lay empty for some years, until Benjamin reached twenty-one, as the story goes, if my memory serves me right.  Then the old rectory was burned down . . . it was a terrible place, with a bad history . . . many have died there,” stated Anna Beaumont.

Carter looked at the pair, stunned at the suggestion that Benjamin could have been responsible for the fire, even though he was locked up . . . saying nothing in reply.

“There have been many deaths in the village!”  Howard Beaumont stated.  “If we go back to 1921, there was a train crash, and the souls of the dead, are said to roam the village.  Then the Reverend Patterson died in the church, and Reverend Mathews, then four of the James family died in the rectory, it is as though the village is cursed?

“A railway accident, I didn’t even know the railway ever ran through the village?” asked Carter.

“It happened nearly a hundred years ago, and forty people are believed to have been killed that day,” Howard Beaumont stated.

“I didn’t see any mention on my Ordnance Survey Map, to that effect,” Carter quoted, with map in hand.

“The old line used to run alongside the river.  There was a passenger train on its way to Peterborough, and a goods train heading towards Norwich, on the opposite track.  One of the wagons of the goods train jumped the tracks, and pulled the others across the line, the passenger train could not stop in time, both trains crashed into each other.  They said you could hear the shriek of its brakes miles away, and that the sparks from its wheels, set fire to three miles of the embankment,” Beaumont informed Carter, who listened with great interest.  “It is a day the village and its people will not forget!”

An odd comment thought Carter.

“There’s a monument in the village cemetery, in memory of those who died, if you are interested,” interjected Anna Beaumont.  “There was much uproar following the accident; the line has since closed.”

The Beaumont’s repeated their directions to the village along with a warning; “Don’t stay in the village after dark . . . it is not safe,” stated Howard.

Carter found the turning for Barrisgough, and steered his car down a rough, gravel track that ended in a small turnaround with trees on two sides, and an unkempt hedge at the far end.

Switching off his motor he clambered out seeing the iron gate, leading to the church, where headstones stood in waist-high grass, obviously uncut in many years.  A bramble bush had rooted itself in the shoulders of a headless stone angel.  Yet the gravel path was free of weeds.  A hand sized hole in one of the stained glass windows had been patched with cardboard, suggesting that although its congregation had long deserted it, someone still cared for the place.

The sun was going down, low over the fields where mist was beginning to gather.  Too dark, for Carter to examine inscriptions on the gravestones, or look in the church.  Carter followed a line of trees, leading to the old rectory, overlooking the village.

The moment was curiously disappointing; perhaps it was because there was hardly anything left to see of the place . . . just a ruin.

Carter fished out his digital camera to take a few photographs of the remains.  He noticed in the camera’s viewfinder, an old church stood a few hundred yards beyond the rectory ruins, its’ square tower not much higher than the embankment behind it.  The hedge around it had grown tall and wild; long briers trailed from it like unkempt hair.  He found the unnerving stillness of the unpopulated countryside, sent jitters down his spine.  Beyond was a wide, rough meadow, backstopped by a steep former railway embankment, with a line of trees on one side, and the river on the other.  As he unhooked the gate and stepped through, a train drove out of the misty gloom, the lights of its passenger cars like a string of yellow beads, dragging a dull roar behind it.

“I thought the train never ran along this old line, anymore, according to what he had been told by the Beaumonts,” said a confused Carter out loud to himself.

There had once been a narrow street here, there were grassy lumps on either side, where cottages once stood.  Finally he walked along the river’s edge, and back to the safety of his car, before darkness consumed the village. “Talk about ghosts,” had set his body on edge, he said lightly to himself, observing the winter sun disappearing below the tree line.

First thing the following morning, Carter found an express photo centre, to process and print his images in two hours.  Then he walked through the busy shopping arcade, to the town’s library, and spent the next few hours browsing the local section; for answers.

He found several accounts of the railway accident of 18th May 1921 at 18.50pm.  But what caught his eye was the reference to the body of an unknown gentleman, burnt alive in the first carriage, and all that remained was a silver ring bearing the initials H.B.  Police inquiries gave a brief description, late thirties, five-five inches tall, average build, with dusky blonde hair.  No one claimed his body, and his remains were buried at Barrisgough, with another unidentified body, that of a lady, in her early thirties, wearing a broach bearing the initials A.B.

“These two sets of initials rang alarm bells, Carter’s mind focusing on his meeting outside the village.  H.B. is Howard Beaumont and A.B. is Anna Beaumont.  Could it be that simple, could they be one and the same people, if so I have been talking to ghosts; Barrisgough is indeed haunted?”

Barrisgough was also mentioned in the Doomsday Book, and had been no more than a hamlet of some forty souls, dependent on the wool trade.

Upon returning to collect his photos it was mid-afternoon.  As he checked through his order, there were no rectory, or village, just solid grey images.  “It looks like you have made some kind of mistake processing my order?” showing the young assistant, with bleach streaks of red in her blonde hair.

“It is all done automatically by computer these days, mistakes never happen . . . maybe you forgot to remove your lens cover, or your camera’s broken?” she suggested.

“Let me speak to your manager,” asked Carter in a rather demanding voice.

“She won’t be in until the day after tomorrow,” she replied, adding an explanation; “We are only a small shop.”

“My camera is not broken, it works perfectly well,” Carter said to himself in a low voice.  “There can be but one explanation.  It must be the village,” as the young assistant gave him an odd look.

After an evening meal of Chicken Curry, and several glasses of wine at the local Curry House, Carter returned to his Hotel; intending to make an early night of it.  That was not to be, for he was in for a restless night.

A dense smell of burning hit him, as he opened his hotel room door.  There was no smoke, or fire . . . just the smell.  By the time the landlord arrived it was gone . . . Had I imagined it?

Was it something about ghosts from the railway accident . . . what an absurd thought?  Barrisgough, had been rife with superstition over the centuries, had my visit stirred something.

Frost lay in the rough meadows, and a light mist floated above the river, as Carter entered the village, early the next day.

In the Churchyard, a stone pyramid commemorated the rail accident of 18th May 1921; and according to local legend, the dead haunt the village to this very day!  Some of those who died in the accident, could not be identified, and have been buried around the pyramid . . . the Beaumonts?

The iron handle leading into the little church was so stiff Carter thought it must be locked; then it gave way, and the door slowly creaked open.

It was much colder inside the church than outside.  Carter shivered from the cold, as he gazed at the pews, the plain pulpit, and the draped altar beyond.  Tablets were set into the rough stone walls, commemorating those from the parish killed in the Great War, the Second World War, and previous vicars.  There were other memorials to families, on the uneven flagstones on the floor, as he studied them one by one.  Located at the base of the altar, a stone plaque commemorated the building of the church in 1754; each corner had the emblems of a crossed hammer and chisel.

Carter heard a sound, thought it was a creaking sound of the door, looked round, saw that he was alone, and the door closed.  Then he heard a distant, drawn-out metallic screech, smelt the same, gritty, sulphurous stench he had encountered back at his hotel room.  The smell grew in density, until he could hardly breathe.  He staggered to the door, wrenching it open, bursting out into the bleak daylight.

Carter’s hands were shaking.  He just couldn’t stop them from shaking, and rammed his hands deep into his pockets . . . the sensation lasted only a matter of minutes, but the fearful sensation stayed with him most of the day.

He walked to the old rectory, observing the ruins in the light of day . . . dark and dismal, its’ burnt walls had caved in on itself, tearing out floor by floor right down to the cellar, windows of dark holes with limitless space.

Houses are nothing more than a laboratory, designed to preserve the memories of human existence, to incarcerate the spirit of the human body.

The old rectory stood vacant, but was in too conspicuous a state of repair to seem haunted . . . but one never knows!

He found the Old Manor House, set back from the road, as mentioned in the files passed on to him by Father Baines.  There were signs on the ground of dried blood, bird feather remains; those associated with black-magic rituals.  How recent it was hard to say, but the feather’s still appeared reasonably soft to the touch.

As he returned to his car, he found what was believed to be the house-keeper’s cottage; for the rectory.  It was no more than a dilapidated shack now; its roof lay in pieces on the floor.  No one would believe it had been lived in these past fifty years or more.

Now the Nun of the old rectory has been laid peacefully to rest, and the rectory is no more . . . the cottage will never come to life again.

“It was all here,” Carter said to himself.  “Could someone from the past be held responsible for the Patterson – Mathews – James murders?”


Village of the cursed (1/4)


Our story begins in Barrisgough, a former Saxon village, consisting of a single road, with a circular green midway, once the site of a Saxon styled fortress.

The Eastern Times headline read:

GUNNED DOWN IN THEIR HOME:  On Thursday 15th August 1991,  Mr Peter James (38), his wife of twenty years Samantha (37), and two of their three children; Michael (14), and Christina (15), were brutally murdered at their home, a former Victorian rectory, in the East Anglian village of Barrisgough.

The police had quickly dispensed with the possibility of an outside intruder carrying out the murders.  For it was the weight of overwhelming physical and circumstantial evidence, which pointed the police towards Benjamin James (14), the only family member, left alive.  It was considered Benjamin had the opportunity, but as yet the motive eluded them.

The James’ mystery is centred on suppositions, assumptions, and public opinion, all of which revolve around Benjamin’s blood stained clothes, and the shotgun he was holding.

Benjamin was a quiet boy with dusky coloured hair, and light brown eyes.  He had that baby face look about him, and a sickly complexion.  For his age he was fairly broad shouldered, with a slim figure.  His manners were impeccable, but those who knew him well, stated he had an especially disagreeable temperament.

He refused, or couldn’t speak about the events.

The murder’s occurred at the James’ residence on a cool and wet summer morning, which suddenly turned wet and dry.  By mid-morning, the family were about the house; Benjamin was tidying his room, Michael readied his bike to go riding, and Christina was helping her mother in the kitchen.

Confusion reigned.  Police and doctors were summoned.

Peter James, had been shot once in the chest, and another had sliced his spinal cord.  He died almost immediately, much like his wife Samantha, whose face had been partly blown away.  Her body had been thrust clear across the room, crashing into the far wall by the sheer force of the second shot to her chest.  Their daughter Christina was drenched in blood, from her chest wounds, and their son Michael, had been shot in the back, and the leg, bursting an artery, and bled to death in minutes.

Perhaps it was inevitable that Benjamin would become the prime suspect, for he had been found in his room covered in blood, holding the murder weapon in his lap; a double barrelled shotgun, which felt warm to the touch.

A four-man team of police officer’s searched the house from top to bottom.  They found nothing to indicate the presence of an intruder, enhancing Benjamin’s guilt.

Benjamin had been convicted of the murders by the press; before the trial had even started . . . he had no chance!

Trinity House, perched high upon a treacherous wall of granite, with its jagged outcrops, formed the outline of the northern face of Saint Unix Island, split into two parts by a causeway running between them.

The dark tower, part of the former 18th century manor house, located on the northern island, overlooked the sea below, with four floors around an inner courtyard of cobbled stones.

Three sides are surrounded by sloping greens, with guard towers, and an electrified fence.  The fourth side, protected by the treacherous rocks far below, in the wake of the oncoming storm.

The southern island consists of a rural settlement, and farm land, as it has been, for the past hundred years or more.

A single light glowed, from behind the moving clouds, as a lonely taxi, struggled up the steep cliff road.  Inside two gentlemen sat deep in conversation, oblivious to their surroundings; one of swarthy complexion with ebony eyes, and an air of competence, whilst the other, fairly short and stocky, expressionless, dressed all in black; the clothes the trademark, of a priest.

Gerald Carter peered out of the taxi, at Trinity House looming overhead.  “Why on earth did I let you talk me into coming with you to this awful place?”

Curiosity got the better of you, as to what, or should I say who, have drawn me to this place every month?” stated Father Baines.

Carter gazed over at his life long friend.  “You are right as always.”

“Behind these walls, I believe one patient, could be innocent of his crimes,” Baines started with conviction in his voice.

“He wouldn’t be here, unless they believed he was a threat to society,” suggested Carter.

“The evidence was stacked against him, before the trial, and it is my belief, he was still in shock.  I doubt he was capable of committing the crime . . . yet he was found guilty.”  Baines put forward his personal beliefs.  “All I ask of you is to meet him, with an open mind.  You will see why I question his guilt.”

The taxi came to an abrupt halt, and Father Baines, retrieved his briefcase that, had tumbled to the floor; black and old with a metal buckle.  Then he sat back for a moment gazing at the building, which stood before him, saying nothing as thoughts washed over him.

They got out, “thanks very much,” Baines said to the driver.

“I didn’t expect to see you today, Governor Calahan stated, watching his visitors walk up the path, through the large wrought iron gates, to the large foreboding oak doors with iron studs, where he stood.  “The clouds have turned black . . . a warning that rain was on the way.”

“When we left the weather wasn’t so bad, but in the last half hour or so, it has steadily got worse,” commented Father Baines, looking up at the darkening sky.  “We may be forced to say overnight at the Inn, if the ferry doesn’t come back.”

“Forgive my manners, I would like to introduce you to Dr Gerald Carter,” who was standing in the shadows.  “Long time friend and psychiatrist, who I have mentioned on previous visits.”

“Good of you to come to this hell hole of a place in the middle of nowhere,” replied Calahan.

“The good Father here can be very persuasive, when he’s got the bit between his teeth,” replied Carter with a broad grin across his face.  “I always wondered what drew him here all these years.”

“You will find Benjamin in the tower as usual, you know the way Father.  I’ll leave you to it,” stated Mr Calahan in a calm and softening voice, with a hint of an Irish accent.  “When you’ve finished come and find me, I will be in my office.”

“Thank you,” replied the Father.

Father Baines, led the way and Gerald Carter fell in by his side, as they walked across the courtyard towards the narrow stone staircase.  At the bottom, sat a swallow skinned warder, with blonde hair, and pain in his eyes.  He nodded in acknowledgement of the visitors.

“Is he there for our benefit, or the patients?” asked Carter.

Father Baines looked in his direction, smiled, but did not speak.

Carter scuttled after Baines, mounting the steep and winding steps.  At the second level, he was forced to take a break, and rest against the balcony to catch his breath. Upon reaching the top, he found his old friend, sitting on the top steps, awaiting his arrival.

“You’re a bit out of condition these days, too much time spent behind a desk,” exclaimed Baines with a cheeky grin across his face.

“Hmm,” grunted the breathless doctor.

The pair entered the top room of the tower, and there sitting by the window was a young man drawing away upon an easel.  “Take a seat Father; I have been expecting you, ever since the ferry docked, and who have you brought with you?”

“Doctor Carter, an old friend of mine.  I mentioned him before on my previous visits.  I just want you to talk to him,” asked the Father.

“So what type of doctor are you,” as he swung himself round to face his visitors.

“I am a Psychiatrist,” replied Carter.

“Don’t you think we see enough shrinks in this place, so what’s different about you?” asked Benjamin.

Father Baines jumped in with a reply, before Carter had a chance to answer.  “Benjamin, I want you to talk to my friend on your own as a personal favour to me, and there are no catches, just be honest with him … that’s all I ask of you.”

“Okay. Okay.” Benjamin raised his hands in defence.  “I will talk to him, but I think it’s a waste of time,” replied Benjamin with a disinterested tone in his voice.

“I will leave you two alone for a while.  I will take a walk in the gardens,” stated Father Baines, as he headed towards the door.

As Father Baines left the cell, Carter removed his notebook from his pocket.  “Do you mind if I take notes?”

“It’s your choice,” replied Benjamin, shrugging his shoulders.

“Benjamin, tell me about yourself, and your life please?” asked Carter, trying to break the ice.

“First, tell me what year is it?” asked Benjamin.

“Why, it’s 2001 of course,” replied Carter.

“For theses past ten years, I have been excluded from the outside world.  The bars on my window are here to keep me from escaping.  I have only one visitor from outside this place; Father Baines.  My time is spent drawing in this octagonal cell; 15 paces from east to west and from north to the south wall.  I have come to terms with the fact, that I will live out the rest of my days in this place,” Benjamin stated with sadness in his voice.

“What about friends in this place?” asked Carter.

Benjamin laughed at the suggestion.  “My only comfort and friend is provided in the form of a cactus plant, which I have studied in every intimate detail, watching it grow inch by inch, and drawing its every change.”

Beyond these two luxuries, everything else is so flat and featureless, even the walls look so clinical.

In my most desperate times, I yearn to escape the confines of this place, to make a move to the freedom of the outside world; but I would surely die, I would not get far, that much I know, as one gazes out at the rough and choppy sea yonder.  It feels so unfair to be constrained to this life when I have done nothing wrong.

I am innocent of all crimes and guilty of none.  What gave them the right to take me from a life that seems so far away now, and could have been mine to enjoy.

I look at my warders sometimes and wonder; do they feel sorry for me?  I am sure they must know that I am without blame.  They feed me three times a day, knowing that to eat it is a highlight to my daily routine …although the food itself remains the same.

Once Benjamin had finished talking, Carter gazed into his light-brown eyes, with a wondering.  “For all his years in captivity he was quite eloquent for someone of his age; that he put down to his early years of schooling,” he said quietly to himself, more in thought than actual words.

Benjamin looked lost in his own thoughts, turning round to gaze upon the rough and stormy seas, crashing against the rocks below.

The dream … or rather, the nightmare … had begun many years ago.  It was short, but no less frightening for that.  In the dream, he remembered this woman dressed in a ‘Nun’s Habit’, although I never saw her face clearly in the dream, I knew with absolute certainty that she was there.  The exasperating part of it was that I always woke up, drenched in sweat, just before … I discovered … the reasons for my acts, that would make them appear perfectly rational in my mind.

I have had many nightmares that have haunted me over the years in captivity, but it was this one that carried a quality of reality that I did not sense in all other dreams, and that had remained unblemished for years.

Was she reaching out to me, if so why?

Was she asking to be released from this tormented life of hers?

An hour or so later Father Baines caught up with Carter, coming down the stone steps, from the tower.  The look upon his face was one of bemusement, leaving him in a puzzled state of mind.

“Well what do you make of Benjamin?” asked Baines.  “Was it worth the trip?”

“I believe so,” Carter answered.  He’s an interesting young man, with a pleasant manner about him.  These years of incarceration, have deprived him of intelligence, and I assume your visits keeps his mind active about the outside world.”

Baines smiled, knowing his friend had observed well.

“So what’s his crime, to be sent to a place like this?” asked Carter.

“Would you believe he murdered his own family,” Baines calmly replied, watching intently his friend’s face change with every thought.

“First impressions,” Carter considered Baines comments.  “I would find it hard to believe him capable of murder . . . I would need to know more!”

“Come, let’s go to the Governor’s Office, and with his help we will outline the events that led to Benjamin being sent here for life,” Baines watched his face change to one of surprise at the mention of the dreaded word; life.

“Life,” replied Carter, “It must have been serious, to impose such a harsh sentence on one so young?”

“Benjamin had been sentenced to life with no option for parole as laid down by the then Home Secretary, at the time of his trial,” Father Baines, even he thought the sentence harsh.  “The murders had been called horrific at the time, to have been committed by one so young.”

“Well, did you enjoy your talk with Benjamin?”  asked the Governor, as he showed them into his office.

“Let’s say it was interesting, but what I would like to know, is how he ended up here, serving a life sentence?” Carter eyed each man, waiting for a response.

“Baines is your man,” stated the Governor.  “While we talk, I have arranged for hot coffee and sandwiches,” which were placed before them.

Father Baines, released the old and rusting buckles on his briefcase, fumbling for a few moments, before bringing out a bundle of papers, some yellowing with age, held together with string.

To understand the events leading up to Benjamin’s incarceration for these murders, we have to go back to the year 1863.

It was one man’s dream: The Reverend Henry Markham to build a rectory, overlooking the village of Barrisgough, his parish, in East Anglia.

Edward Markham, son of Henry was appointed the new vicar in 1895, upon his father’s death, and held the position until his death in 1928.

Horse Drawn Carriage

Edward would wait at the rectory gate, close to mid-night, each and every Friday night, for the passing of the driver less ghostly coach.  The sound of rumbling wheels, clattering of horse’s hooves, would approach along the road, reaching a crescendo at the gate, and gradually fade into the distance.  This was one of many manifestations that would take place in the village.

The late John Brown, former groom to Edward Markham, for twenty-four years, described a blazing carriage with light careering through the rectory grounds.  A story he told his son, and his grandchildren, on more than one occasion.

16th c Nun

A more significant manifestation associated with the rectory, concerns that of a Nun.  According to many witness reports over the years, she walks across the terrace, reading a small book.  Historians and churchmen believe it to be a prayer book.

Then in 1939, lightning struck the rectory, destroying the west wing, and it was not re-built until the early 1950’s.

Summer 1955, Reverend James Patterson took the post of village vicar.  Poltergeist activities were ripe in the rectory. Black Magic rituals took place in the Old Manor House graveyard.  In 1972, Patterson was found hanging from the Church Bell Tower.  His death was declared as a suicide . . . but villager’s did not agree.

Winter 1972, Reverend Mathews appointed new vicar.  Never lived long enough to take his first Sunday service . . . died forty-eight hours, after stepping foot in the rectory.

“Has the practising of Black Magic continued within the village to this day?” Carter interrupted, unable to believe what he was hearing.

“Enquiries within the village, and recent animal blood splashes can be found on the Old Manor House grounds.  Based on those findings, I would have to say yes,” Father Baines shocked his friend.

The Church and Rectory were closed and boarded up.  Only the Church remains so, following the sale of the Rectory.

Over the next six years, villager’s beliefs that the building was haunted bore out by reports of James Patterson, in his study, and Edward Markham, walking the corridors, according to witnesses.

Some believed the occupation of the Old Rectory, would invoke historical events of the past.  Were they right?  Then in 1988, the James family took up residence with their three children; Michael 11, Benjamin 11, and Christina 12.

All the villager’s worst fears were to be proved right, for on 15th August 1991 gunshots were heard, from the former Rectory.  History had come back to haunt the village once again.

Bracks the churchwarden, and PC Roberts, were first on the scene, inside all was quiet, they found chaos, furniture flung about causing a scene of disaster . . . Peter James, wife Samantha, along with two of their children; Michael and Christina murdered.

Benjamin their other son was found, drenched in blood, holding the murder weapon; his father’s shotgun.  He never spoke; he appeared in a state of shock.

The police doctor, ordered him to be detained at the David Rice Mental Hospital, in Norwich.

During the course of three fifty minute video-taped interviews with D.I.Nelson and D.S.Weaver, Benjamin never spoke to confess his guilt, or proclaim his innocence.

Police evidence proved without doubt, that someone had killed them with Peter James’ shotgun . . . as no evidence of an intruder could be found.  Benjamin James was charged with four counts of murder in the first-degree.

The question which was on many peoples lips at the time; was he a murderer or an innocent victim?

According to villager’s, they believe there has to be a connection, with the Reverend James Patterson, who supposedly took his own life in 1972, and the village itself, as Baines finally closed the first of many folders.

“A very interesting story, one that warrants closer inspection,” Carter commented.  “The reason you asked me here, is to see if I would be interested in taking a look at this case.  Well, don’t worry old friend, this case merits closer scrutiny . . . and I would enjoy the challenge.”

Baines and Governor Calahan, smiled at each other with much satisfaction.

Don’t go getting any ideas, he may still be proved guilty,” Carter, stated wearing his serious facial expression.  “Do you have a copy of the trial transcripts?”

“Just a summary,” replied Baines, passing them over.

Carter, ignored Baines and Calahan, spending a few minutes reading through the summary, making a few notes in the margins, and the occasional smile.


Benjamin James’ trial began on Monday 25th November 1991, at a closed session of the Norwich Juvenile Court, being that he was under 16 years-of-age at the time of the trial.  He was charged on four counts:  The murders of Peter James, Samantha James, Michael James, and Christina James.

The prosecution focused on four major points:

  • Benjamin covered in his victim’s blood.
  • Found holding the murder weapon, covered in his prints.
  • No sign of an intruder.
  • Benjamin’s refusal to speak, proving his guilt.

The defence was fighting a losing battle, with all the evidence stacked against their client; Benjamin James.  Their only hope was to put a question of doubt in the court’s mind.

The defence was convinced from the outset that Benjamin was incapable of murdering his own family . . . let alone man-handle a double-barrelled shotgun, firing it in quick succession.

Proving it would be difficult, for Benjamin’s refusal to speak; could be seen as an admission of guilt.

According to Police Constable Roberts testimony, he along with the churchwarden Mr Bracks, were first on the scene.  The house appeared in a state of utter chaos, furniture had been tossed across the house.

Doctor Mathew Hayden, the police doctor arrived on the scene a little after 11.30am.

Peter James, had been found in the living room, having been shot twice, once to the chest, and a second sliced through his spinal cord.

Samantha James, also found in the living room, her face had been partly blown away.  A second shot to her heart had thrust her body across the room crashing into the wall with sheer force . . . blood was congealing from her fatal chest wound.  Her heart would have stopped almost immediately, resulting in limited blood splatter on walls, floor, and furniture.

Christina James was drenched in blood, from her chest wounds, which would certainly have killed her, outright.

Michael had been shot in the back, and leg.  He may have seen his attacker?  From scratch marks on the floor, he appears to have tried to drag himself along the corridor, to the main part of the house; for help.

Following the horrific murders of the James family, police performed a detailed search of the house, from attic to the ground floor.  They discovered the house had a cellar, which was only accessible by means of the rear garden.  No evidence of an intruder could be found, and Benjamin became the prime suspect.  Physical and circumstantial evidence, pointed to him, without a doubt.

For the whole of the proceeding’s, he just sat in his chair and said nothing, only the occasional nod, acknowledge his name, and the odd shrug of the shoulders.  Day after day, police and medical experts gave their evidence, and he had a blank look on his face, which remained so, throughout the trial.

“Do you think he had any idea, what was going on, or where he was?” questioned Carter.

Bracks believed Benjamin was oblivious to the events, surrounding him, but I sense he must have had some idea, for he nodded and shrugged his shoulders in reply to some questions,” suggested Baines.

Benjamin’s sentence, based on psychiatric reports and the crime of multiple murders, led to him being detained for an indefinite period, and he eventually ended up here, in a mental institution for the criminally insane.

“So, how did you get involved, in such a complex case?” asked Carter.

It all started many years ago, when I visited another patient here, as a prison visitor, who has since died. It was at one of these visits, I was introduced to Mr Bracks, who told me of Barrisgough, its past history, and Benjamin’s conviction for murders.

Mr Bracks, died some seven years ago, leaving all his files on Benjamin to me, with a letter begging me to prove his innocence, and get him released from this awful place.”

From that day forth, I started visiting Benjamin once a month, initially he did not utter a word, that all changed on the 21st September 1998, but that’s another story.

Since then he has become more talkative, and spoken of his life, and belief in his innocence.

What I am about to tell you, could prove to be enough evidence to get you started on an appeal, as Baines opened another of his folders.

Life in Barrisgough took a surprising turn, when Archaeologists and Historians descended upon the village, seeking answers to its historical past, and the ghostly apparitions that have been reported.

Apparitions of a Nun, seen by many a visitor to the old rectory over the centuries, led to the possible connection of the so-called murdered maid theory, part of the village’s history.  They refer to a French Nun, who worked the area during the mid 16th century.  The Witch finder General; Mathew Hopkins worked this area 1645-1647, and local history states a maid was put on trial for being a witch.  Her crime was her association with animals, and it is believed she talked to them.  Her body was burnt as a witch, and then thrown down an old well.

Paranormal believers theorised, that the frequent materialisations, causing much agitation in the spirit world, could be that of a young woman.  Some had suggested that the murdered Nun, and the maid, come housekeeper who was employed by the Markhams, Patterson, then the James household, are all one of the same.  After each death, she mysteriously disappears leaving no trace . . . it is as though she never existed.

The police in their quest for answers were drawn to Christina James diary:  On the first day home from boarding school, Michael, Benjamin and myself, would ride through the village on our bicycles, waving to the villager’s as we passed by.  Our destination, the old cottage nestled down by the river; home of our housekeeper.  She would be waiting for us, with plates of freshly baked cakes and scones.

This being the former house-keeper, they were stunned to find a derelict cottage.  Windows were broken and only dust and cobwebs remained inside.  The door was gone, lost long ago.

This left the police perplexed, and inquiries about the house-keeper and her cottage, from the villager’s, brought replies that were to confuse the case further.  No one seemed surprised that the cottage was derelict, the rectory was empty, and so she had no need to stay around.

Female skull and bones were removed from the dis-used well, in the former rectory gardens, by archaeologists.  Her remains were taken to Cambridge University Museum, where extensive examinations, including carbon dating were carried out.

Over the next few weeks a series of unexplained incidents took place.  The skull broke in two, glass cases were cracked, and valuable works of art in the museum were damaged, all within close proximity to the skull.  Two of the original archaeology team, who went down the well to retrieve the remains, died within seven days.  Physically fit young men in their late twenties died of natural causes, but their bones were consistent with someone aged sixty or more.  No logical explanation could be put forward, so is it possible these bones were cursed?

As I previously mentioned, a Nun, employed as a maid come house-keeper was tried as a witch, burnt at the stake for her crime in 1645-1647, and her remains tossed down a well, and left their to rot.  Then in 1863, Reverend Henry Markham built a rectory, and the old well was situated in the grounds.  Something must have happened in the spirit world, because the Nun, became a ghostly presence of the rectory.

Then on the 20th September 1998, the Nun’s bones were buried on sacred ground at a local convent . . . at last she was at peace.  Then on the morning of the 21st September, Benjamin spoke his first words, since the horrific killings that robbed him of his family back in 1991.

“What about the memories of that day?” asked Carter.  “Has he any recollections?”

“So far his mind remains a blank for the day of the killings, but slowly with the help of psychiatrists here, they are piecing his world back together again,” Baines replied, ever hopeful they will succeed.

“Enough to throw doubt on the case?” asked Carter.

“I have made it my business, to ask whether he should be held accountable, in light of these and other discoveries.  The reply received from the authorities, was no more than expected.  They claim it was no more than a coincidence, and the sentence stands,” Baines stated.

“But the question still remains, is he innocent or guilty of the crime?” asked Carter.

“In my heart I believe him to be innocent, but my judgement is based on Bracks belief, his files, and discussions I have had with Benjamin, but hard evidence to put before a court; no.  So we have to prove doubt in the original prosecutions case,” replied Father Baines with a wishful smile.

“Let us look at the facts, at the time of the murders.  Benjamin aged 14, and some 4ft 8inches tall.  So how on earth did he lift a double-barrelled shotgun, fire, break and remove spent cartridges, reload fire in quick succession, as he walked from one room to the next?  Even I would find that hard to do,” stated Carter.  “How many spent cartridges were discovered at the scene?”

“According to the police report, a total of eight,” replied Baines.

“Four murders, two shots to each body,” Carter spoke out loud.

“At the original trial defence questioned Benjamin’s inability to lift, fire in quick succession, but prosecution evidence proved otherwise,” stated Baines.  “The village dressmaker, one Miss Mary Laidlaw, better known as the local busybody, claimed under oath, she had witnessed Benjamin holding his father’s shotgun, from some distance away, it was enough to get him convicted.”

The good doctor smiled, but said nothing.  It was obvious to those around the table; an idea was forming . . . could it be, had he found a flaw in the prosecution’s case?

(Image) Horse Drawn Carriage: Planet Mine Craft
(Image) Castle/House: Wallpaper Image
(Image) Nun: Wallpaper Image


Mystical Times

Haunted Victorian House

For it was in 1863, that the beauty of South Elmham located in the heart of rural Suffolk enchanted the Reverend Henry Markham.  Here, he proceeded to erect a fine Victorian rectory overlooking the village.  Markham having the wealth and support of his family, in his endeavours, rose to become the village squire.  He died in 1895, and his son Edward followed in his footsteps becoming the new vicar of the village, and resided at the rectory until his death in 1928.

Rumours abounded that the rectory must have been haunted.  If so, it says much about the character of the two rectors, when subsequent tenants found life unbearable through the relentless activities of poltergeists.

Edward Markham, made a habit of waiting at the rectory gate, for the passing of the ghostly coach.  The sound of rumbling wheels, clattering of four horse’s hooves, would approach along the road, reach a crescendo at the gate, and gradually fade into the distance.  The phantom coach was not only heard but also seen by the ex-groom of the rectory, who described a blazing carriage with lights careering through the rectory grounds.

A more significant manifestation was that of a Nun, confirmed by many witnesses, over the years, as she walked across the terrace.  The presence of the Nun, added to the belief that the rectory must have been built on the site of a religious house.

In 1939, lightning struck the rectory, destroying the west wing, but it was not re-built until the early 1950’s.  During the summer of 1955, Reverend James Patterson and his family took up residence, amidst much speculation and fear from the villagers, of the previous psychic manifestations as experienced in the old rectory.

There were few minor apparitions in the early years, but it was not until the latter months of 1972, nearly twenty years later, that their worst fears had come to bear.  Poltergeist activities were ripe in the rectory, and experienced by many, for later that year, the Reverend James Patterson was found hanging from the rafters in the churches Bell Tower.

What had driven a man of God to take his own life, and in such a public way?  This led to much uproar by the villager’s, claiming the vicar was bewitched, demanding the church and rectory should be shut.

For it was in the autumn of 1982, the rectory was sold and renovated, no longer a rectory, but a fine looking country farmhouse.  Many villagers have feared for the sanity of those who resided in this dreadful building, with an unsavoury past.

Then in the spring of 1983, a Scottish family the James’s took up residence, with their three children; Michael 9, Benjamin 7, and Christina 8.

Very little was known about them, Peter James worked for the Civil Service, and in the early years, the children attended the local primary school, later they attended boarding school.

Michael, Benjamin and Christina always loved their holidays from boarding school.  On their first day home, they would pump up their bicycle tyres, and ride quickly through the village waving here and there, to many of the villagers.  Never stopping until they reached their destination, the last house at the end of the village, nestled down by the river.  They would dash up the path to an ever-open door.  There she would stand ‘Gran’ wearing a spotless apron; sleeves rolled up from her floury hands, ready to greet them.  She was not their real grandmother, but she had come to be referred as ‘Gran’, ever since she used to help their mother run the house in the early years.  She is like part of the family.  Upon their arrival she would say “how lucky you are, I have just finished baking”, but they knew, she knew, when their school terms finished.  No holiday would start right until the children had visited her, and tasted her home cooking.

Utter shock, rocked the heart of this peaceful village, on a sweltering summer morning in early August 1991.  The ringing sound of gunshots, coming from within the old rectory.

I remember that day well; I had been pruning the roses in my front garden, when I heard shots.  PC Roberts dashed passed minutes later, heading in the same direction, from which the sounds had come from.  I instinctively grabbed my coat, and followed him, in case my services were required, in the capacity of a parish priest.  We both knew where the shots had emanated from, the old rectory.

Inside all was quiet, but in the hall, on the stairs, there was chaos of objects flung about generally creating a scene of disaster.  In the midst of similar destruction in the main room, was the body of Peter James, shot several times in the chest, close by his wife, Samantha, her face had partly been blown away?  Upstairs in the rear bedroom, Christina sprawled across the bed still wearing a pair of earphones, body drenched in blood, from the chest wounds.  Whilst Michael was found sprawled across the landing leading to the west wing, with two wounds in the back, and one in his left leg.

Finally, entering Benjamin’s room PC Roberts expecting to find another body discovered him, sitting on the side of his bed, in what appeared to be a state of shock, covered in blood and holding on his lap his father’s shotgun.

“Well, Benjamin what’s been going on here,” asked the Constable.

There was no reply from Benjamin.

Carefully, the shotgun was removed from Benjamin and wrapped in a sheet, he did not even flinch, just sat their still.

“Father McBride, could you stay with Benjamin while I call for assistance, and please don’t touch anything.”

“Of course.”

The sight that greeted me was terrible, one I will never forget.  I couldn’t believe at that time, Benjamin was responsible for the destruction of this family.  Did he have no sympathy at all for the people who had brought him up, and given him everything a boy could desire?  Apparently not!

Dr Mathew Hoyden, who arrived on the scene a little after 11.30am, was taken back by the scene, of so many bodies.  The first body he examined was that of Samantha James’s lifeless body sprawled across the living room, blood was congealing from the wound, but there was little doubt she was dead.  Because of the location of the wound, forensic experts summarised; her heart had stopped pumping blood, almost immediately, thereby resulting in very little blood splatter on nearby walls and furniture, for such horrific wounds.

Whilst the medical examination continued, and the crime scene photographers carried out their duties.  The police carried out a detailed search of the house, from the attic to the cellar.  Nothing was found to indicate the presence, of an intruder within.

Following the examinations, a senior officer allowed me to perform the ‘last rites ritual’ to each of the victims, before they were removed, from the house.

The horrific murders of Peter James, Samantha his wife, and children Christine and Michael, found murdered in their home, brought an onslaught of ever clambering press, to their doorsteps, in search of a story.  They had convicted Benjamin, in the press as guilty, for he survived unscathed, holding the murder weapon.

“What happened to Benjamin.”

He appeared to be in a state of shock, and was removed firstly to the local hospital, and later to the David Rice Hospital, and remained there whilst police carried out their investigation.

“All the time he remained in hospital, he never uttered a single word, whether he was suffering from shock, no one knew.”

The police could find no evidence of an intruder, and their only suspect was Benjamin – despite overwhelming physical and circumstantial evidence pointing to him.  Still the police found it hard to believe, as I do, that anyone as young as Benjamin, could cold bloodedly murder his own family.

A Social Worker, was present at police interviews of Benjamin, but still he did not utter a word of response to their questions, just shrugged his shoulders occasionally.  As far as they were concerned, it was an open and shut case; and remained in custody at the Malen Secure Unit, until the trial.

The question which was on many peoples lips; was he a murder or an innocent victim?

I like so many of the villagers considered the events of 1972, when the Rev James Patterson took his life, could there be any connection?

Benjamin was brought before a closed session of the Juvenile Court to answer the charges laid upon him.  For the whole of the proceedings, he sat and watched, showing no sign of emotion.

“Had he any idea what was going on Father.”

“I don’t know, but that was a different boy sitting in the courtroom, he had changed.”

Before the trial, Benjamin, had been remanded, to the Malen Secure Unit for assessment; based on their findings, the courts sent him to a Secure Unit on the Welsh Border, with no option of parole.  That was the first time I saw any sort of reaction – he smiled.

“Have you seen him since the trial.”

“Yes, I have, I used to attend the Hospital.  He hasn’t spoken since that day, just paints violent pictures of the victims, in lurid detail.  It’s a sad sight, for one so young.”

Then events took a turn, a historian heard about the murders, turned up to study the site, which had undergone many strange events over the centuries.

The so-called Nun, was lured to England from France, in the 16th century, worked as a maid, murdered, and thrown down the old well, and left to rot.  Believed to have been the apparition seen by many visitors over the years, whose frequent materialisation’s were the basic causes of so much agitation in the spirit world?

Believers in the paranormal believe the theory that in most cases of persistent disturbances, the cause is often a young female.  From available evidence of poltergeist activity, it seems that a young girl, could be physically affected, attracting and energising forces beyond the normal.  Support for this theory, held up at South Elmham, not only from the ghostly Nun but also from a young woman, who worked as a housemaid for the Rev James Patterson.

Violent activity seemed to accompany the skull, following its removal from the well.  When taken to museum experts for detailed examination, a series of accidents took place in quick succession, the skull broke in two, and valuable works of art were damaged.

Paranormal activity once ripe in the area, ceased when the Nun’s skull, buried on holy ground at the local convent.  At last, she was at peace!

Benjamin regained his speech, within days of the burial, but his mind remains a complete blank, since the day of the killings.  Questions have been asked; whether he should be held accountable for these crimes, in light of the discoveries?

As far as our courts are concerned, this mumbo-jumbo evidence would not wash with them, Benjamin, was found guilty of the crimes, with no option of parole, and the sentence stands.

“But is he innocent Father?”

“I think so, but we will never know, unless he regains his memory.  The mystery of the old rectory has been solved, and many lives destroyed in the process.”

“Father, don’t bore the young man with your memories, you’re supposed to rest, you know what the doctor said.”

“I may be old and retired, but let the boy here know all about the events of South Elmham, for next month, it will be his parish.  Better to be forewarned of the events of the past, some villagers still remember, those awful times, no doubt!”

As the young priest left, gazing back at Father Bracks, sitting on the balcony of the retirement home.  Thoughts raced through his mind, should I take on what he had started, visiting Benjamin, maybe one day he will answer that all-important question.

Who pulled the trigger, and why?


The Pharoah’s Curse

Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings stands on a narrow gorge on the west bank of the Nile, near Thebes, where most of the Pharaohs were buried in highly visible pyramids.

Each tomb lies at the end of a succession of descending corridors, punctuated by shafts to prevent grave-robbers reaching the burial area.  This would consist of a burial chamber containing a sarcophagus, and other rooms of furniture and equipment it is believed he would need in the afterlife.  Many rooms would be decorated with carved and painted hieroglyphic texts, magical and symbolic scenes depicting his life.

A flickering of light danced upon the dark walled passageways.  A man dressed in a three-quarter cotton white tunic, raised a fire torch: illuminating four golden candlesticks, standing at each corner of a raised platform, where the gold casket bearing his Pharaoh would be placed.

The eyes glanced off into infinity, gazing at the long line of stationery guards that stood in death like silence, from the chamber to the entrance.

Silence was broken, by the whispering sound as Ignatius Reator, in his strap sandals, scraped over the stone floor, moving along the tunnel to the vast gallery.  With its twenty foot high domed ceiling, and pillared arches.  Its walls laced with cavities bearing ornate gold and pottery ornaments.

Ignatius examined the large collection of wooden crates stacked to one side, checking numbers against those on a scroll he flattened out, on a small stone table.  Sweat began to show through the layers of dust blanketing his skin, in this dry and airless chamber.  Finally satisfied all was in order, rolled up the scroll and slid it into a sash about his waist.

Ignatius was not a young man, considered old for his time, reaching the age of fifty-two.  As he retraced his steps to the anti-room, he exhaled a deep sigh of regret; he would never see or touch this wonderful array of artefacts, symbolising the life of his Pharaoh.  The face heavily lined, with sunken cheeks, and the dragging of his feet, exposed his weariness.  Yet, within he felt satisfaction, the project neared its end, and a great burden would soon be lifted from his shoulders.

His Pharaoh was dying, having just day’s to live; and soon his remaining artefacts would take their place in his burial chamber.  His guard of honour would be entombed, in a time honoured tradition, with their Pharaoh.

Passing by many tunnels to other parts of the pyramid, he remembered one, which entombed thousands of slaves, who died in the construction.  For them, better to have died in the service of their Pharaoh, than suffer prolonged misery at the hands of the Empire.

His mind was elsewhere, when screams echoed through from the outside shaft, jolting him back to the present time.

Ignatius out of concern breathlessly hurried to the entrance; as he stepped out into the light, the heat rays of the sun, forced him to squint his eyes.

News rocked him that his Pharaoh had died…  Day’s later his embalmed body was placed in its Sarcophagus, and taken to his burial chamber.  Placed with him were four Canopic Jars containing his organs; as tradition states, they would assist the dead to assist through the after-life.

Over the coming weeks; two ebony effigies of the Pharaoh gold sandaled, with staff and mace, were positioned either side of his tomb.  A collection of inlaid caskets; alabaster vases, black shrines, and a gold throne were set about his chamber.  The final doorway sealing his chamber contained a hand carved seal of the Pharaoh: Tutankhamen upon it, marking his final resting place.

The legend of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen, buried with all his wealth, in the Valley of the Kings, brought many an archaeologist or treasure hunter in search of fame and fortune.

Tutankhamen’s Sarcophagus

Many tried to find the fabled burial chamber, only to find entrances that led nowhere, but to an early grave.

Seven years previous, on another dig, the Mantle brothers; James and Daniel, found a Canopic Chest, containing four Canopic Jars containing the stomach – intestines – lung and liver.  A scroll found within, named the architect of Tutankhamen’s Pyramid: Ignatius Reator, along with rough plans of the build.  It was enough to put them in the general area of the Pyramid, and lead them to the biggest find ever!

“I am hot, and exhausted, can we stop for a moment,” called out Daniel in a weary voice.

James, paused and looked behind him at his brother Daniel, coming up behind him.  “It is not safe to stop here, much of the shaft is unstable.”

At that moment, a tremor was felt in the shaft, as their scaffold and boarded support vibrated violently above them.

“Do you feel it?” asked Daniel.

“Of course I do, it must be a quake, the third one this month,” James said in an uneasy voice, “wedge yourself between the poles, it is our only hope.”

“If this shaft shakes much more, it will collapse with us under it,” suggested Daniel, while sand was falling away from the sides.

Briefly and violently sand fell away from the tunnel sides, they feared the scaffolding would soon fall about them.  However, the gods must have been on their side, for as quick as the quake started, it stopped in a matter of minutes.  Slowly their gaunt faces emerged from the sand, spitting out lumps of sand, whilst clearing the grit from their eyes.

“I warned you, it would be a risky adventure, before we started this, but the profits and fame would well be worth the risks,” James reminded his brother Daniel, gazing back at him, as he brushed away the loose sand covering him.  “We have spent four years digging this tunnel, from the upper to the lower floors, in our belief of finding the fabled tomb… many believe we are wasting our time, but I know we are in the right area.  So let’s clear away the fallen sand and re-fix the scaffold.”

James expected Daniel to reply, but there were a few groaning moans.  Daniel looked in the direction of James, and lifted himself out of the sand, pushing it to the side, and re-fixing the scaffold.

As Daniel pushed the sand against the sides, his hand felt a shape protruding from the walls.  “I have found something; it could be a seal or something?”

James waited patiently as Daniel brushed away the sand, hoping it could be what they desperately craved, for he knew they were in the right area according to the map…  So many times over the last six months they thought they had found something, believing it might lead to an entrance, only to find yet another dead end.

“It is the hand carved seal of Tutankhamen, well worn, but I would know it anywhere,” Daniel laughed and smiled with joy.

“If we hadn’t had that cave in, we might have gone right past it,” suggested James.

Their life-time dream, and four years of sweat and toil was drawing to a close, when in March 1922, they made that magnificent discovery… the hand carved seal telling them they had found the burial chamber of Tutankhamen, the Egyptian Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty… This was to send the airwaves clattering around the world, for they became famous overnight, having found, what many had sought.

Their first glimpse within the burial chamber revealed; two black ebony effigies of the Pharaoh, gold sandaled, with staff and mace, stood out from the dark cloak.  The walls lined with golden coaches, caskets, alabaster vases, black shrines with a gilded snake, his gold throne, gold chariots, and much more… they were speechless.

Tutankhamen’s Mask

At the far end another doorway, set between two guarding statues; at that point they knew they had found the final resting place, of the boy Pharaoh … untouched since the day he was laid here in his sarcophagus.

The tour guide, a young, dark-haired woman in her early twenties, crossed the wide gallery, her low heels clicking off the polished hardwood floor precise as a metronome.  When she reached the archway that led to the grand staircase, she turned and waited for the tour to file into the room.  It was a large group today, and the gallery was one of the most popular rooms.  After this room, she could expect several to drop off from the tour and head for the gift shop or even the parking lot, their curiosity had been satisfied.

She took a microphone from its hook on the wall and waited.  When the group had settled into rows of standing, waiting faces, she flashed her best tour guide smile and began.


“Welcome to Mantle House, once the famous home of archaeologists James and Daniel Mantle …” She said, her voice amplified by several small speakers perfectly concealed about the room.  “Mantle House is one of the oldest and best preserved homes in this part of Knightsbridge.”

She waited, for someone to ask the most relevant question… there was always one on every tour.

“What about the Mantle deaths?” asked a voice from the rear.

“It all started on the 8th March 1972, the 50th anniversary of the Tutankhamen find, when the Mantle brothers were found dead.”  She looked around, all eyes and ears were on her, listening to her every word.  “An amulet from the dig lay on the coffee-table, now situated in the display case to my right,” as she pointed out.

The police were summoned, and all London was buzzing with curiosity and fear.  People questioned who had committed this dreadful deed, and the pathologist questioned how two healthy people died of natural causes on the same night, and at the exact same time.

The police received a challenging autopsy report from the pathologist.  The joint medical opinion stated they had not been poisoned, brutally murdered or killed by any known means they could find.  At the time of their death, they had been in perfect health, except now they were all dead.  Each body had the look of terror upon its face, and they had been frightened to death all at the same time.  What event caused this, is anyone’s guess … it has become one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time!

The mysterious deaths caused great concern to the police.  They had two dead bodies, and no witnesses!  If only the house could talk, its memories have been locked up within, never to be resolved.  Since that fateful day the place remained locked, never to be lived in again, that was until 1994, when according to solicitors acting on behalf of the Mantle estate, stated one Trevor Mantle, came of age.  It was he who has it brought back to its former glory, under the terms of the will, and re-opened it as a museum.

“What about the ghosts?” someone asked.

Abraham Lincoln

The gallery is said to be haunted by several ghosts, although historical identities of the spirits are unknown.  The ghostly sightings began in 1879, shortly after the main house was built.  The first ghost to be seen at Mantle House is described as a tall man in a long coat, some say it looks like Abraham Lincoln, who died in 1865.  He is made up entirely of shadows, with burning red coal for eyes.

According to witness statements of 1892, ghostly sightings of one referred to, as the man in grey, so unnerved the master of the house at that time that he took a loaded musket from above the fireplace, and shot himself through the mouth.

The servant is said to have run from the house to a neighbour’s residence.  Her story of terror seemed too real to be a charade.  In fact, the servant suffered from the trauma for the rest of her short life.  She died mysteriously in an asylum three years later.

When neighbours rushed to investigate the servant’s wild tale, they found the remains of the master’s body stretched out on the floor; his musket lay close by.  The corpse had been burned nearly to ash, yet the remains were cool, and the rest of the house showed no signs of fire.

In the late 1930’s, the Mantle’s had an extension built on the side of the house, where we are now standing, to store their collection of artefacts from many archaeological digs.  Some years later, visitors report of seeing Tutankhamen, sitting at one end on his gold throne.

ATo this day, the ghost of The Grey Man, Tutankhamen, and the one believed to look like Abraham Lincoln look alike stalk this house, and have been seen by staff and visitors alike.

The tour guide smiled, and took her thumb from the microphone switch.  The tour group stood in a single silence, their expressions ranging from shock to peculiar exhilaration.

“If you will please move forward, we will continue to the next room.”

The group had just begun to move, when a young man to the rear of the group asked.  “What about the ghost of the Mantle brothers?”

The mention of the Mantle ghost sent cold waves through the group.  A woman screamed then collapsed.

The episode lasted only a matter of minutes, but it was enough to put everyone on edge.  The woman who fainted recovered and was helped to her feet, by other members of the tour party.

“Young man,” she spoke with a stern voice.  “Starting on the 8th March, and ending on the 22nd March, each year, numerous unexplained events would take place:  Display cases are known to crack, lights would shimmer on and off, or would explode without reason, room temperatures would drop below zero one minute, followed by a fire engulfing the far wall, hot to look at, but cold to the touch…ghost like images would openly walk the corridors.”

The faces of the group said it all … she had sent fear into each and everyone.  “That is why we don’t speak their names out loud, during those two weeks.  The mention of their names would invoke terror!”

The young man put his fingers to his face, and they came away wet.  The blood vessels in his right eye had burst, and he was weeping bloody tears.

“See what I mean,” stated the tour guide.  He nodded in response.  “There’s a first aid station next to the gift shop.”

Archaeologists James and Daniel Mantle found the ultimate prize; the Tutankhamen burial chamber … but the curse on the amulet was to cost them their lives.

Wikipedia Images


Innocent or Guilty… You Decide?


The Daily Times headline for August 9th read:



Peter James and his wife Samantha, along with two of their three children; Michael and Christina were brutally murdered yesterday morning at their South Elmham Home.


The story leading up to these horrific events started back in 1863, when the Reverend Henry Markham, built a fine Victorian Rectory, on the remains of a previous religious house, on the edge of the village.  Upon his death in 1895, his son Edward became the new vicar, and resided at the rectory until his death in 1928.

Rumours abounded the village, that the rectory must have been haunted, through the relentless activities of poltergeists.

Edward Markham, made a habit of waiting at the rectory gate, for the passing of the ghostly coach.  The sound of rumbling wheels, clattering of four horse’s hooves, would approach along the road, reach a crescendo at the gate, and gradually fade into the distance.  The phantom coach was not only heard but also seen by the ex-groom of the rectory, who described a blazing carriage with lights careering through the rectory grounds.

A more significant manifestation was that of a Nun, confirmed by many witnesses, over the years, as she walked across the terrace.  The presence of the Nun, added to the belief that the rectory must have been built on the site of a religious house.

In the spring of 1975, the body of the Reverend James Patterson, was discovered in the old rectory.  His body had been hacked to death, but nobody was brought to justice for this murder, though a local young man was suspected of the crime.

In the autumn of 1982, the redundant rectory was renovated, into a fine looking country farmhouse.  Many villagers had feared for the sanity of those who resided in this dreadful building, with an unsavoury past.

Then in the spring of 1983, a Scottish family the James’s took up residence, with their three children; Michael 9, Catherine 7, and Christina 8.

Very little was known about them, Peter James worked for the Civil Service, and in the early years, the children attended the local primary school, later they attended boarding school.

Utter shock, rocked the heart of this peaceful village, on a sweltering summer morning in early August 1995.  When the news that four of their residents had been murdered, in their own home.

The idea, that their 20 year old daughter Catherine, could be responsible for the horrific axe murders, seemed quite unthinkable – despite overwhelming physical and circumstantial evidence that pointed to her.

Inside all was quiet, but in the hall, on the stairs, there was chaos, objects flung about, generally creating a scene of disaster.  In the midst of similar destruction in the main room, was the body of Peter James, close by his wife, in a pool of blood.

Upstairs in the rear bedroom, Christina sprawled across the bed still wearing a pair of earphones, body drenched in blood, from the chest wounds.  Whilst Michael was found sprawled across the landing leading to the west wing, with two wounds in the back, and one in his left leg.

Dr Mathew Hoyden, who arrived on the scene a little after 11.30am, was taken back by the scene, of so many bodies.  The first body he examined was that of Samantha James’s lifeless body sprawled across the living room, blood was congealing from the wound, but there was little doubt she was dead.  Because of the location of the wound, forensic experts summarised; her heart had stopped pumping blood, almost immediately, thereby resulting in very little blood splatter on nearby walls and furniture, for such horrific wounds.

Whilst the medical examination continued, and the crime scene photographers carried out their duties.  The police carried out a detailed search of the house, from the attic to the cellar.  Nothing found to indicate the presence, of an intruder within.

Catherine, the only survivor of these horrific murder’s, whose alibi was fraught with inconsistencies – was the only suspect.  What would end up saving her was the intense violence of the murders.  Simply too grisly to have been committed by one so young and innocent, with a quiet and gentle disposition.

Catherine was a self-conscious young woman with long blonde hair, and light blue eyes, petite body with a blanched complexion.

Her manners were impeccable, always polite to those she met, but considered a loner, and known for her love of animals.

One of her traits she was well known for, she had inherited her mother’s short temper, and tended to sulk if she did not get her own way, and suffered from short- term memory loss.

What had baffled the police, was how the murderer have escaped the house undetected, whilst the front door remained bolted and locked.  Christine claimed she had been in the summerhouse, then she was in the attic and finally she was down by the river, she could not satisfy the police of her whereabouts at the time.

Either way, the police considered it unlikely that the murder could have escaped without being seen, or screams heard from the house.

Perhaps it was inevitable that Catherine would become the prime suspect, and then there was the persistent problem of her shaky alibi.

At the inquest, Catherine’s rendition of her whereabouts prior to the discovery of the bodies, changed so many times, that the police and coroner, often wondered which was the true statement.

Question:  Where were you on the morning of the murders?

Answer:     I was in the summerhouse reading.

Question:  Are you sure?

Answer:     I am not sure whether I was there, down by the river or in the attic.

Question:  Did you hear anything?

Answer:     Not that I can remember.

In desperate exasperation the Coroner gave up on this line of questioning, he knew it was useless, she just could not remember events from one minute to the next.

According to the Pathologist Dr Harvey Michaels, the forensic findings of the axe found in the nearby river could not conclusively prove, if it was or not the murder weapon.

The local doctor’s wife testified that she had seen Catharine shortly after the murders, when she burst into the surgery, asking for assistance, at what she had found at the house.  Being in a distressed state, she had a pale colour, and there were no signs of blood on her hands or clothes.

Finally the jury retired to give their verdict, and on their return they concluded that:  Peter James, Samantha James, Michael James and Christina James had been murdered by person or persons unknown.

Catherine, who had been the prime suspect of this violent and grisly murder of her family walked free from the Coroners Court, with a wee grin upon her face.

So was Catherine guilty of these horrific crimes or had she fooled the court into thinking she was innocent?  Before running to the doctor’s surgery, could she have washed changed her clothes and destroyed them away from the house?  Was she putting on an act?

Wallpaper Image


Fear of the Unknown


Jason tossed a magazine, of mystery and suspense onto the table.

“Daniel, take a look at page 56, the item I have highlighted, see what you make of it!”

Are you afraid of the dark?

Do you believe in ghosts?

If not read on!

WANTED:  Anyone with a strong heart prepared to assist in scientific studies.
Spend a night in a haunted house, so the legends goes, and earn yourself £500.

Daniel looked at Jason, waiting for a comment.

“Yes, I have been in touch with them.”

“You mad fool.”

“But it’s easy money.”

“They don’t pay out that sort of money, unless they believe it could be haunted.” Looking at Jason with a concerned look upon his face.

“So where’s the house.”

It’s located on the Yorkshire Moors, near the village of Glaisdale, and has been empty these past fifteen years or so.”

So what’s the name of this house?”

“Mantle House.”

At the mention of that house, Daniel’s face went white, with fear and trepidation.

“I read something about that recently, it is believed to be haunted, and the locals won’’ go near it, for fear of losing their minds.”  Daniel stated, with a shaky voice.  “I beg you don’t go Jason, no amount of money would entice me to go.”

“What utter rubbish, you shouldn’t believe everything you read.  It is probably just cold and damp, because it has been empty so long.

“I hope you’re right.”

Jason, paid no heed to my comments, I could see it in his eyes, he had made up his mind to go, and nothing was going to stand in his way.

“I am not easily scared,” Jason said, as he rose from his chair, making his way out of the front door.

I looked on fearful, unable to speak, without fear sounding in my voice, as he said his good-bye’s.

I returned to the confines of my home, ever fearful of what Jason was letting himself into.  I only wished he would have listened to me, but he always had that stubborn streak.

As I entered the conservatory, my wife who had been sitting quietly on the couch reading, whilst stroking her favourite ginger and white cat; Gussie, looked up for a moment, and asked in a concerned voice, “is something wrong?”

“It’s Jason, he read an article about staying in a haunted house for one night for scientific purposes.  I tried to talk him out of it, but he wouldn’t listen.”

“Try not to worry about it.  He’ll find out soon enough what it’s like, and no amount of worrying for him, can change anything.”  Rachael said, looking up at Daniel’s worried face.

“I know you’re right, but we’ve known each other for over 20 years, and he was best man at our wedding, he’s my friend, and I can’t help worrying about him.  He can be such a fool at times.”

“You wouldn’t get me staying in Mantle House.”

“So what’s so special about Mantle House,” Rachael enquired.

“Just a minute,” as he rummaged through a pile of magazines in the corner.  “Here it is, I knew I read it recently, an article on the history of Mantle House, and the mystery that surrounds it.”

Slowly he scanned the article, sat down and looked at his wife Rachael, for a moment, then glanced once more at the article.

“According to the legend, the spirit of the house wanders the corridors at night, looking for her loved one, it seems he brought her to live here against her fathers wishes, which enraged him so much.  He supposedly killed the young man, and his daughter in a fit of distress, threw herself from the tower, proclaiming her love for her loved one.”

“They must have been very much in love,” said Rachael.

“So what happened to the father?”

“He was arrested for his crime, but hung himself in his cell, before the case reached the courts,” quoted Daniel.

“According to the legend that goes with the house, anyone who sets eyes on either of the lovers, will be tormented and driven insane by their encounter.”

“Its all hocus-pocus they wouldn’t carry out these sort of tests, on this place, if they thought it would be dangerous.”


“I really don’t know why you believe such utter rubbish,” stated Rachael.  “All this has done, is to scare the living daylights out of you.  If Jason isn’t worried, you shouldn’t be.  You must know ghosts don’t exist.  Have you seen one?”

“Well, no!”

“It’s just a state of mind.”

A few weeks later, I ran into Jason at the Snooker Hall, and I was amazed how much he had changed in such a short time.  His face was drained and thin.

“Upon reflections of the events of that night, I wish I had listened to you Daniel, and hadn’t got involved with that place; all for the sake of some easy money.  I should have known better.”

“So what did you see?”

“Its not what I saw, its more what I felt.  The atmosphere in the old house was tense; it was sheer terror.  It caught me like a wave, drowning in cold panic.  It’s the first time I felt fear so intense.”  Jason’s voice crackling with fear as he spoke.

I felt a strange chill in the air as I listened to my old friend.

“I am dying.  I can feel life slipping away from me Daniel.”

I looked on in amazement, at this shadowy white figure, a shadow of his former self, all the life had been sucked out of him.

Flesh quivered at the corners of his eyes, as he gazed into mine, but fear stopped him telling me more.

“Forget it, forget the events of that night,” hoping to ease his mind, but one look into his face, and I knew it was useless.

I took him to the bar, and we sat at the corner table, drinking whiskey.  His feeble hands were shaking so much, he could barely hold the glass to his lips.  Slowly, the colour was returning to his face.  As he caught each breath, he was shaking with fear of the unknown.

“I’ll see you back to your place,” I said.  “I hope you’ll feel better soon Jason.”

As I left him at his front door, he said.  “I’ll never be better.”

Sadly, that was the last time I ever saw him alive.  I heard, that Jason was found the next morning, slumped on the floor in a disjointed heap, with the look of terror in his eyes.

They say fear of what happened that night on the Yorkshire Moors, had got the better of him, and something had broken inside of him.  Fear had left his body.  He was at peace now!

We were never destined to find out all the events of that strange night, which can turn a happy person into a nervous wreck.  The fear he sustained weaved strange thoughts in his mind.

Finally, it killed him!

(Image) The Soul Collector: Carlreyns