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.
Julie 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.