A man has today (Tuesday 20 November 2012) been found guilty of the brutal murders of a Middlesbrough pensioner and a 50-year-old Whitby woman.
James Joseph Allen, 36, originally from Blackpool, but living in Middlesbrough at the time of the killings, was found guilty by jury at Newcastle Crown Court following a three-week trial.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment. He will serve a minimum of 37 years before being considered for parole.
Allen murdered 81-year-old Colin Dunford at his victim’s Middlesbrough home on 22 April 2012, before cycling to Whitby and killing 50-year-old Julie Davison three days later.
Investigations were launched by North Yorkshire Police and Cleveland Police following the discovery of the deaths.
These quickly led to a manhunt being launched on 26 April 2012 after pathologists and detectives identified similarities between Mr Dunford’s killing and Julie Davison’s death.
Colin Dunford was found dead in his Leven Street home on the night of Monday 23 April 2012 after friends raised the alarm when he failed to attend his local social club as usual.
After murdering Mr Dunford, Allen made his way from Middlesbrough on a bicycle, over the North Yorkshire Moors to Whitby, arriving in the town on Monday afternoon before cycling to Scarborough for the night. He returned to Whitby the following day (24 April) where he went around the town begging for accommodation and food.
He spent the night of 24 April in Whitby, loitering around the communal entrance to Julie Davison’s flat in Church Square and cycling around the area. By 10am the following morning (25 April) Julie Davison was dead from severe head, face and neck injuries. Her body was discovered by her sister and brother-in-law who became concerned when Julie failed to answer her phone that morning.
Allen was later seen in the Scarborough branch of Cash Generators selling a St Christopher necklace, identical to one missing from Julie’s flat, before making his way to Leeds on public transport .
North Yorkshire Police’s Senior Investigating Officer, Temporary Detective Superintendent Steve Smith, said: “We are satisfied with the verdict which is a result of an intense and painstaking investigation by North Yorkshire Police and Cleveland Police working together with the Crown Prosecution Service.
“The evidence gathered during the course of the investigation left us in no doubt of Allen’s guilt.
“Myself and the investigation team are satisfied that a very dangerous man has been taken off the streets where he cannot cause any more harm to the public, albeit in the most dreadful of circumstances.
ulie Davison was a caring and selfless person who devoted her time to helping others. Her life was needlessly taken in horrific circumstances by Allen who has shown no remorse whatsoever. His actions also caused great alarm and fear among the communities of Cleveland and North Yorkshire. The evidence gathered during the investigation and heard during the trial shows him to have behaved in a particularly cowardly way in respect of the violence he showed to Colin Dunford, an 81-year-old man, and Julie Davison, a 50-year-old lady. He deserves no further comment from me.”
T/Det Supt Smith added: “The manhunt which followed Julie and Colin’s murder made national news headlines around the country and I would like to thank the media who kept Allen’s picture in the public domain and the members of the public who came forward with information about Allen’s movements, which ultimately contributed to his conviction today. Similarly I thank the public for their support and patience, and the strength of character of those witnesses who came forward having found themselves in circumstances way beyond their control or influence.
“I hope that the outcome now gives Julie’s family and friends the opportunity to start moving forward with their lives following a shocking and very distressing time.
“Everyone involved in this case, from members of the public who provided information, to members of the jury who had to sit through some distressing evidence, should be pleased that they have helped bring justice for Colin and Julie and helped to convict a very dangerous man.
“Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Julie Davison and Colin Dunford.”
Det Supt Peter McPhillips of Cleveland Police’s Murder Investigation Team, added: “In the space of a week in April this year the communities of Middlesbrough and Whitby were devastated by the horrific murders of two vulnerable individuals, Colin Dunford and Julie Davidson in their own homes.
“The joint murder investigation by Cleveland and North Yorkshire Police took considerable resources, crossed several Force boundaries and received national prominence.
“It will bring some small comfort to their families, friends and to the communities where Colin and Julie lived that James Allen has now been convicted of their murders. I would like to pay tribute to all those friends and family of the victims who have had to endure a full trial due to Allen’s refusal to admit his guilt. Their courage and dignity is an inspiration.
“Throughout the investigation, during his interviews and even in the court setting, Allen has acted with arrogant disregard for his victims and for the legal process; he has yet to show any remorse and he has made no attempt to account for his terrible actions when he murdered Colin and Julie.
“James Allen is an extremely dangerous, violent individual. He now faces what will be a substantial time in jail in order that he can be punished for those awful crimes and to ensure that the public can be protected.”
Statement from Dawn and George Kibble, Julie’s sister and brother-in-law on behalf of Julie’s family:
“Julie meant the world to us and we are still struggling to come to terms with what happened to her on that awful day.
“On hearing the evidence of how Julie died, we consider this was an act carried out in a way that was cruel, wicked and so totally unnecessary. It causes the family great pain and anguish thinking of what Julie went through in the moments leading to her death.
“We would like to thank North Yorkshire Police and Cleveland Police for their time and commitment in compiling the case that has brought the person responsible to Justice.
“We would also like to thank the Police officer who recognised James Allen and arrested him in Leeds , but in particular our Police Family Liaison Officers, TC Mark Hutchings and DC Jezz Pratt who were with us throughout this whole ordeal.
“The only frustrating thing to arise from the verdict is the future cost to the public purse in keeping Allen for the duration of his sentence.
Julie Davison had started a new life back in Whitby in the Spring of 2011. She had moved back to her hometown after living in Preston, Lancashire, after the break up of her marriage. She is the mother of a 28-year-old son who lives in Preston.
Julie had a history of epilepsy and whilst not in paid employment, was active in the local community and carried out a lot of voluntary work. On the evening of Monday 23 April 2012 she had attended the weekly training session with the local St John Ambulance, where she had been presented with a certificate for her commitment.
On Tuesday 24 April, Julie had spent much of the day with her sister Dawn and brother in law George Kibble who live in Whitby. They dropped her off home at around 5.50pm. That was the last time they saw her.
Julie went out on the evening of that Tuesday to the Rifle club, a short walk away where she won at Bingo. She met her friend there, Nigel Bradder, and he accompanied Julie back to her flat that evening where he stayed the night. Their relationship was one of friendship.
Nigel Bradder left Julie’s home around 6.45am on the morning of Wednesday 25 April and passed a man on the steps to the flat who was smoking a cigarette. This was James Allen.
James Allen, the police inquiry established, arrived in Whitby in the middle of the afternoon of Monday 23 April. He had cycled from Middlesbrough and arrived at the Victoria Garden Centre where he bought a cup of coffee. He spent much of the afternoon in the town before cycling down to Scarborough that evening. We have not established where he spent that night.
On 24 April, Allen visited the Cash Generator shop in Scarborough where he sold a ring which the police recovered. He got £20 for this, despite not having traced the owner of this ring, we do believe it was stolen by him by one means or another. He returned on his cycle to Whitby where he spent much of that afternoon and evening visiting local bed and breakfasts, youth hostel and food outlets, seeking accommodation or food. It was apparent he was without money, and almost begging for public sympathy and a free bed by referring to an injured foot. Witnesses spoke of seeing what looked like dried blood on his foot, but upon arrest later that weekend he bore no signs of recent injury.
Allen continued to come to the notice of local people through the night. Significantly the witness Brian Wilson has spoken of how upon returning home at around 1am on the morning of 25 April, he saw Allen in the communal hall way of 6 Church Square, with his bike. Wilson managed to usher him outside, and he walked up to his first floor flat, on the floor above Julie.
Around 4.50am the witness Sasha Moore came home from a night out and entered 6 Church Square. She walked up the flights of stairs and came across Allen sat half way up the stairs. She jumped at seeing the strange man but got past him, went into her flat and went to sleep.
At around 7am, and after Bradder had left, the witnesses Ian Stewart and Christopher Sanderson visited 6 Church Square to call upon their friend Jane Carson, Sasha’s mum, on the top floor. Inside the hall, they bumped into Allen, who by now was stood at the foot of the stairs, and outside Julie’s door. The conversation between the three men drew her attention and she opened the door to see what was going on. She saw all three men from the premises, and Stewart and Sanderson looked back as they left to see Julie stood at the top of the steps, in conversation with Allen who by now was on the footpath. That was the last time anyone else saw Julie alive.
Dawn Kibble had become increasingly concerned about her sister not answering the phone later that morning, and visited around 12.40pm. They let themselves in as was normal and found Julie dead on the lounge floor. The flat had been obviously searched by a burglar. George called the ambulance service.
The investigation began and it was clear that Julie had died as a result of multiple injuries to her face and neck. The discussions between the investigators and the pathologist that night prompted an immediate line of enquiry with Cleveland Police in respect of the investigation they had already begun into the murder of Colin Dunford.
By early afternoon on the 26 April, Allen was a suspect for the murder of Julie as well as Colin. The enquiries established his movements in to Whitby and Scarborough from the 23 April through to the morning of the 25 , when after killing Julie, Allen caught a bus to Scarborough where he sold a St Christopher pendant at Cash Generators and identical to one missing from her home. Allen received £35 for the St Christopher. Similarly he was seen to now be carrying a laptop computer in a bag, again these items were identical to those missing from Julie’s flat. They haven’t been recovered despite extensive enquiries in the Leeds area. He spent cash in a local shop buying clothes and after spending the night in a guest house, caught the bus to Leeds on Thursday 26 April 2012.
Allen was arrested in Leeds early on the Sunday morning after he had been seen by an off duty police officer. The publicity around the manhunt, and keeping the enquiry in the public imagination, not only assisted in his arrest, but also in the many reported sightings and witnesses who contacted the police, enabling them to evidence his involvement in her death.
Colin Dunford, aged 81 of 21 Leven Street, Middlesbrough, was a creature of habit, every day around 1pm he walked from his home to Sainsbury’s in Wilson Street Middlesbrough. Every night around 10:30pm he went to the Samuelson’s Club “Sammys” in Parliament Road Middlesbrough where he would have a couple of pints.
The last time Colin went to the club was on Saturday 21 April 2012 leaving around 11:45pm.
The last time Colin went to Sainsbury’s was at 1:30pm on Sunday 22 April 2012.
Between 3-5pm on Sunday 22 April 2012 Colin visited the address of his friend George Foreman who lived close by and this is the last sighting of him alive.
Around 6:30pm on Sunday 22 April 2012, the defendant James Allen attended the address of an acquaintance Craig Lines, he said that he had argued with his girlfriend and asked if he could spend the night at the address of Lines, at the time he was riding a black mountain bike.
Lines describes how during the course of the night Allen kept going out on the bike.
Around 10:15pm on Sunday 22 April 2012 Allen attended the Sainsbury’s store on Crescent Road Middlesbrough.
Around 10:30pm that same day a Santander bank card belonging to Colin Dunford was used at the ATM machine outside the Sainsbury’s store on Crescent Road.
Shortly after midnight on Sunday 22 April 2012 a top-up enquiry was made on the mobile phone of Colin Dunford.
Between 11:20-11:45am on Monday 23 April 2012 there are a series of calls from Colin Dunford’s phone to the phone of Craig Lines. As Dunford’s phone is being used over time it hit different mobile masts moving from central to south Middlesbrough. During his subsequent interview Allen confirmed he had been in possession of Dunford’s phone but claimed he had borrowed it from him several days prior to the murder.
Colin Dunford did not attend Samuelson’s club on Sunday 22 April 2012, when he also failed to attend on the Monday his friends from the club attended his home address and found him dead, the police were called and a murder enquiry launched.
Colin Dunford died as a result of multiple face and head injuries caused by multiple blunt impacts to his face.
A subsequent search of the home address of Craig Lines recovered part of a letter from Santander addressed to Colin Dunford.
Allen is believed to have ridden from Middlesbrough to Scarborough via Whitby on the morning of Monday 23rd April 2012 (bus CCTV footage shows him travelling along the A171).
Allen was identified as a suspect for the murder of Colin Dunford on Wednesday 25 April 2012.