Haunting final pictures of murdered Preston student released in fresh bid to catch killer

The killer of student Janet Murgatroyd has been urged to give himself up, 21 years after the crime. Detectives still looking into the case say new information has come to light since the initial investigation, but not enough to bring anyone to court.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 16th June 2017, 1:01 am
Updated Wednesday, 21st June 2017, 3:21 pm
Murder victim 20 year old Janet Murgatroyd
Murder victim 20 year old Janet Murgatroyd

CCTV has been released of Janet walking down on Fishergate on the night she disappeared. Here are the new images of Janet’s last-known movements.

Today, on the 21st anniversary of Janet’s death, a fresh appeal has gone out for help to finally solve the mystery.

“I am appealing for help from members of the public, but also from the person responsible for Janet’s murder,” said DCI Gary Brooks. “You have lived with this for 21 years and it may have preyed on your conscience. It may be something that you want to disclose and come forward to the police and admit what you have done.

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“So we are here at Preston Police Station to hear from you and any members of the public who can help us find out who is responsible.”

Lancashire Police have refused to shelve the case despite the passage of more than two deades since the body of the 20-year-old UCLan law student was found floating in the River Ribble.

The brutal killing still haunts the officers who investigated it in Preston in the summer of 1996.

The day before the murder was a landmark moment for millions - the IRA blew up Manchester’s Arndale Centre in the morning and later football fever gripped the nation as England beat Scotland at Wembley in Euro 96. Pubs in sun-drenched Preston were packed with fans watching the game that afternoon, with Janet and her friends amongst them.

But in the early hours of the next day, as the part-time police cleark from Penwortham was heading home alone, she was attacked, viciously beaten, dumped unconscious and left to drown in the river. Her naked body was discovered further up stream the following day by a group water-skiing.

Janet had been seen on CCTV walking along Fishergate. She was also spotted asleep near to the city’s railway station. The last witness to see her alive was a taxi driver who spotted her being chased by a man across Penwortham Bridge at around 1am.

Two others walking along the same road described hearing the sound of a woman moaning and saw a man crouched down on the river bank by Priory Park car park. Her clothing, apart from her jeans, was later found on the bank near to the spot. A post mortem showed she had died from drowning and head injuries.

A 22-year-old local man was eventually charged with the killing and sentenced to eight years for manslaughter. But the conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal as “unsafe” after his legal team complained vital evidence had been kept from the trial jury.

The man later described his time in custody as a “travesty of justice.”

“Twenty-one years on we remain committed to finding her killer,” said DCI Brooks.

“This was an opportunist offence by a very dangerous man who, despite the passage of time, still needs to be brought to justice. Information has come to light, but sadly not sufficient information to bring anyone to charge or put them before the courts.

“I would therefore like to use the 21st anniversary of Janet’s death to appeal to anyone with information which may assist us to please come forward.

“The person responsible for Janet’s death will have had this horrific act on their conscience for more than two decades.

“There has to be a possibility the offender confided in someone or someone suspected they may be responsible due to a change in behaviour around this time. Even if you think the information is insignificant, please come forward so we can investigate.”

Call the police on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.