Monday, 23 August 2010, 9:00PM - 10:00PM on ITV1
Murder of a Father ��” Garry Newlove – Real Crime with Mark Austin
In August 2007 the nation was shocked by the brutal death of Garry Newlove who was punched and kicked to death in front of his three daughters outside his home in Warrington, Cheshire.
The 47-year-old was attacked when he confronted a drunken gang of yobs who were vandalising his wife’s car and his death sparked a national debate about antisocial behaviour, its extent and its causes.
Now, in an exclusive interview with Mark Austin for Real Crime, his widow, Helen, and the couple’s three daughters have come together to speak in detail about what happened the night Garry was killed. His daughters were the main witnesses and watched their father being beaten to death. They have never spoken before about exactly what they saw, and have said they will never speak about it again.
The officers who investigated Garry’s murder tell Real Crime about the hunt for his killers. They also describe the problems caused by youths drinking in public. And Helen talks about a future without her beloved Garry and her campaign to keep anti-social behaviour at bay and her husband’s memory alive.
Chief constable Peter Fahy talks about the area in Warrington where Garry and Helen lived with their three daughters, Zoe, then 18, Danielle, then 15 and Amy, then 12.
He says: “The problems in Warrington weren’t terribly different from lots of other places in Cheshire…young males, drinking too much and then indulging in anti social behaviour and damage after they’d been drinking.”
Helen speaks to Mark Austin about the street they lived in and reveals that she had spoken to Garry about moving house. Her daughters also say that they didn’t feel safe living in the area.
Helen says: “He [Garry] was sick and tired of weekends having to go to the front door, look out if your car was fine, sick of coming out on a Saturday or Sunday when you are doing your gardens and having bags full of litter, of cans of lager. There was a guy one day who was actually urinating up the fence. It had come to a stage where we said, ‘Look, we really need to get away from here.’”
As Helen and her three daughters describe Garry, they reveal intimate family photographs, including pictures of Helen and Garry’s wedding and pictures of the girls when they were younger, to illustrate the story of a family man who always put his wife and children first. Helen talks about Garry’s earlier battle with stomach cancer and says she always admired him.
She adds: “He carried on working, he never…claimed or anything he still wanted to provide for his family and I truly admired him for that.”
Using reconstructions and in-depth interviews with Helen, Zoe, Danielle and Amy, Real Crime tells the tragic story of the night that started off as a normal Friday at home and ended in Garry’s brutal murder.
Helen recalls the events of the evening, from when she asked Garry to check if her car was being vandalised, and his daughters re-live the moment they watched as a gang of youths kicked and punched their father to death.
Zoe’s then boyfriend, Tom Sherrington, takes Mark to the scene of the crime and explains how the tragedy unfolded.
The family describe the agonising wait at the hospital as Garry lay in a coma, and the heartbreaking moment he died. Helen talks to Mark about the days after Garry’s death and says she functioned in a ‘robotic’ way.
The officer who visited the Newlove’s home describes the scene of devastation he was met with. And DI Geoff Elvey, the senior investigating officer, reveals how the hunt for Garry’s killers took off after a special officer did a stop check on two youths on the night of the murder and noticed that one of them was wearing only one shoe, and the other was wearing none. One of the shoes was discovered near Garry’s body and the pair, Stephen Sorton, 17, and Jordan Cunliffe, 16, were arrested.
The third suspect, Adam Swellings, 19, was known to have been with the others that evening and he was also arrested.
Shockingly, Adam Swellings had been in jail the morning of the attack. He was bailed by the magistrates’ court, against police advice, with the condition that he stayed out of Warrington. Both Stephen Sorton and Jordan Cunliffe were also known to police.
Swellings admitted hitting Garry and a case soon built up against Sorton and Cunliffe. DI Elvey describes how the trio met up on the evening of Garry’s death and started drinking before beginning to attack or threatening to attack people. They eventually ended up outside Garry’s house at 10.30pm where they would carry out their final attack of the night on the defenceless father-of-three.
Real Crime describes the trial of the three youngsters where Helen and her daughters were to be key witnesses. Amy and Danielle gave evidence by video link and Amy reveals how frightened she was of saying the wrong thing. Zoe went into the courtroom to give her evidence. Helen describes feeling physically sick as she saw Swellings, Sorton and Cunliffe laughing and smiling.
DI Elvey says: “They showed no remorse during the court process. I think at times…they treated it more as a bit of a joke, in fairness, within the trial process. Not taking it seriously and at times they were sniggering and I think…occasions they were dropping off to sleep as evidence was being given.”
The programme explains that the jury heard 10 weeks of evidence before being sent to consider their verdict, and it was 10 days before they made their decision. Swellings, Sorton and Cunliffe were all found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Since Garry’s death, Helen has been fighting to tackle anti-social behaviour associated with drinking, to get better victim support and to force better parental responsibility. She and her daughters tell Real Crime that they are determined for some good to come out of Garry’s death and to stop other families from going through what they have been through.
The programme follows Helen on a trip to London for a meeting to discover what the drinks industry can do to help combat binge drinking.
Helen says: “I have no hidden agenda. My agenda is I’ve lost somebody to murder, a violent murder with the youth with alcohol and I am speaking from the heart. I’m not really speaking from a book. I’ve not been brain washed into anything. Basically, I’m a normal woman who woke up one morning as a wife and then went to bed as a widow.
“By doing what I’m doing…Garry will never been forgotten. He was a human being, a normal human being, he’s not a statistic and he will never be a statistic as far as I’m concerned.”
Death of a Father ��” Garry Newlove – Real Crime with Mark Austin is produced and directed by Ruth Gray. The executive producer is Alexander Gardiner.