The Jury Room: Case 3 - Susan May By
CBS Reality, Friday 26th May 2017
On March 12th 1992, in a quiet residential road in Greater Manchester, 89 year-old widow Hilda Marchbank was found dead. Lying in her own bed she had been beaten and suffocated with her pillow during the night. The murder of this vulnerable elderly woman shocked and horrified the small town of Royton in which she lived.
It initially appeared that she had fallen victim to a bungled robbery but crucially there were no signs of forced entry and nothing appeared to have been taken, leading detectives to question whether the robbery might have been staged.
Eighteen days after the brutal attack, the woman’s niece was arrested when incriminating forensic evidence was found. Her name was Susan May and she had been Hilda’s primary carer, the person Hilda relied upon the most. Susan May vehemently denied having any involvement with her beloved aunt’s death.
It was Susan who found Hilda’s body, during one of her regular visits to her home on the morning after the murder. Although Susan was not initially a suspect, there were three bloody marks on a wall at the crime scene and it was discovered the left hand mark on the wall had been made by May’s hand.
During the trial, the prosecution’s case was that the marks on the wall were made by May in her aunt’s blood as she felt her way along the wall after committing the murder.
In 1993, Susan May was convicted of the murder of Hilda Marchbank and sentenced to life imprisonment. Following her conviction she made two appeals, both which failed, due to a weak case from her defence.
She continued to protest her innocence whilst in jail and appealed twice. Both appeals were rejected. She was released in 2005 on parole. After her release Susan was diagnosed with breast cancer, and, whilst fighting the disease, she determinedly fought to clear her name. In 2013, just weeks before a decision was due on whether to grant her leave for a third appeal, she died a convicted woman.
Susan May’s supporters claim new evidence proves the marks, which formed the main crux of the prosecutions case, were made from sweat, not blood and made before the murder occurred. They feel this new forensic report, combined with evidence of botched tests and police inadequacies, could finally clear her name and prove that Susan May was the victim of a cruel miscarriage of justice.
Before Susan May died she said: "All this new evidence points to the fact that my conviction is unsafe. If the jury heard the case as it is now, with some witnesses discredited and without the main plank of their case - the so-called blood marks - they couldn't come to the same conclusion."
Click here for more information about The Jury Room on CBS Reality, including the podcast, gallery and cast video biographies.
Over two weekends in July CBS Reality is dedicating its programming to the acclaimed series Medical Detectives with three themed events of carefully selected episodes.
For those new to the series, Medical Detectives profile intriguing crimes, accidents and outbreaks of disease from around the world. Follow coroners, medical examiners, physicians, law enforcement officials, journalists and legal experts as they put together the pieces of the crime puzzle. Cutting-edge forensic techniques and every piece of evidence available are combined with true-to-life re-enactments and profiles of the people who lived through the events.
Medical Detectives: Serial Killer Weekend - 14th and 15th July from 9pm.
Season 3 of the gripping series Death Row Stories starts on 13th July and, as usual each episode will unravel a different capital murder case that has twists and turns worthy of a crime thriller.
All of these stories are true, and call into question the myriad of beliefs about the death penalty and the American justice system itself.
Susan Sarandon, who portrayed the Louisiana-based Catholic nun Sister Helen Prejean who ministers to death row inmates and advocates for the abolition of capital punishment, will narrate each episode in the series.
CBS Reality is giving you the opportunity to spend a weekend in the company of the nation’s favourite investigative journalist and criminologist Donal MacIntyre on 28th and 29th July from 7pm till 1am.
Donal MacIntyre’s Murder Files where MacIntyre examines some of the most horrific and fascinating crimes of recent times through the first-hand experiences of the people who ensured justice was carried out. Then in Donal MacIntyre: Unsolved he investigates some of the most notorious and intriguing unsolved cases in the UK and Ireland, exploring how these cases have never successfully brou...
Number of victims: 1
Date of murders: 8th January 1997
Date of sentencing: 27th February 1998
Tina Longworth (29)
Method of murder: Strangulation and hanging the body of the victim to fake suicide.
Location: Southport, Merseyside
Status: A judge sentenced Longworth to a minimum of 14 years. He was released in 2015.
Paul Longworth was the former Commodore of Southport Sailing Club who murdered his wife Tina on 8th January 1997, claiming she had committed suicide. Longworth strangled Tina with a length of sailing rope at their Peel Street home. He hanged her body over a bannister to make it appear like a suicide, while s...
Number of victims: 2 confirmed
Date of murders: 8th August 2004
Date of arrest: 17th March 2005
Date of sentencing: 30th June 2006
John Stirland (55)
Joan Stirland (51)
Method of murder: Gangland style execution shooting
Location: Trusthorpe, Lincolnshire
Colin Gunn ruled Nottingham by murderous violence and corruption. He ordered and oversaw the killing of the parents of a rival shooter, Joan and John Stirland, in 2004. Gunn's decision to order the murders took his organised crime cartel's violence to a new level. The murders were in revenge for the death of Jamie Gun...
Brand new CBS Reality Original series Trace of Evil continues through June exploring and reconstructing some of the most intriguing and startling criminal cases of the past two decades, from the UK and Ireland to the United States and Canada. Discover how technology has changed the course of the investigations and brought the guilty to justice. Here are the four cases covered this month:
Episode 5 June 6th, The World’s End Murders: Edinburgh, October 1977: Christine Eadie and Helen Scott vanish without a trace. The police never stopped hunting for justice, even changing the law to bring justice.
Episode 6 June 13th, The Craigslist Killer: Digital forensics, traditional p...
Christopher Berry Dee is a former Royal Marine intelligence officer. He is now a criminologist who has interviewed over 30 serial killers. He says he gets inside their heads and forms a relationship with them to understand why they do what they do. Chris has been to four executions but says his work doesn't affect him emotionally: "I have to become as cold as the serial killers I'm working with. Serial killers are highly manipulative". He has had relationships with some killers over many years - to the point where they often open up to him and tell him things they don't tell police. Chris says some of the killers believe he is their friend.
He says that to do what he does, you almost have...
Paul Harrison is a retired police detective who was one of the first British policemen to work closely with the FBI Behavioural Science Unit in Quantico, Virginia.
He has since become something of an expert on offender and serial killer profiling. Since retiring he has authored 33 books, mostly on true crime, and has become an established public speaker on the topic of true crime (murder), policing, and psychological and offender profiling.
He also runs bespoke crime writing courses covering all aspects of the criminal justice system, and giving a low down on the police culture during investigations.
He founded and is director of the internationally recognised Forensic Research Group and has published many academic books and papers, including the first comprehensive text on Abnormal, Clinical and Forensic Psychology in 2010.