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DNA - 50 years later - there is always hope Mm11

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The Complete Mystery of Madeleine McCann™
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DNA - 50 years later - there is always hope Mm11

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DNA - 50 years later - there is always hope

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DNA - 50 years later - there is always hope Empty DNA - 50 years later - there is always hope

Post by Jill Havern 19.12.22 19:06

Sex killer cleared of murdering girl nearly 50 years ago convicted in double jeopardy retrial

Dennis McGrory has been convicted after vaginal swabs from his victim, Jacqueline Montgomery, were retested using new scientific techniques.

Martin Brunt Crime Correspondent
19 December 2022



A sex killer cleared of murdering a teenage girl nearly half-a-century ago has been convicted after DNA evidence in a second trial proved his guilt.

Dennis McGrory was 28 when he raped and murdered 15-year-old Jacqueline Montgomery in her home in 1975.


McGrory, a violent drinker, was angry and looking for his estranged partner Josie who was Jaqueline's aunt. It was thought he attacked the teenager to force her to reveal her aunt's new address.

Jacqueline's father found his daughter's body when he got home. She had been raped, stabbed and strangled. She was lying on the floor of the front room, which showed signs of a struggle.

McGrory denied the murder and a judge at the Old Bailey threw out the case in 1976 after deciding the prosecution evidence, which was purely circumstantial, was too weak.

But vaginal swabs from Jacqueline's body had been kept and were retested using new scientific techniques. They showed a billion-to-one match with McGrory's DNA, his unique genetic fingerprint. He was re-arrested and charged with rape and murder for a second time.

It took jurors only three hours of deliberations to find him guilty of Jacqueline's rape and murder.

Now 74 and unwell, McGrory watched proceedings on a video link from his solicitor's office.

The judge ordered him to court to hear the verdicts and he walked slowly into the dock on crutches. When his barrister William Boyce KC told him the jury had reached a decision he asked if the lawyer knew what it was. "No," said Mr Boyce. "Oh, fingers crossed, then," replied McGrory.



'Compelling scientific evidence' made big difference

His was a rare retrial - and the oldest - after the scrapping of the ancient double jeopardy legal principle which prevented a defendant being charged twice with the same crime.

The law was changed in 2003 to allow retrials of acquitted defendants if new and compelling evidence emerged and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was convinced that each case was fair and in the public interest.

In an exclusive interview the DPP Max Hill KC said: "A circumstantial case suggesting that McGrory had been at the scene of this murder became a compelling scientific case when DNA linked him to the body of Jacqueline Montgomery. That's what made the big difference here.

"What is on my mind, and the minds of the police and the CPS in bringing justice in this case, is Jacqueline Montgomery, those who mourn her, those who loved and knew her. For whom, though 50 years may seem a long period, it seems like only yesterday. Today, that's what motivates us."

The Huntingdon Law Court retrial

The new jury at Huntingdon Law Court saw photographs of McGrory taken on his arrest a few hours after Jacqueline's murder. They showed bruises on his lip and behind an ear, a long scratch on his neck, small scratches on his left wrist and right arm and bruising on his knuckles.

He claimed he had been attacked and beaten up by four strangers on the same night and had not been to Jacqueline's home. But the prosecution said they were injuries caused when his victim tried to fight him off.

Read more:
How scrapping double jeopardy has brought killers to justice


Prosecutor Tom Little KC told jurors: "He was desperate at the time. He was trying to track down his ex-partner Josie Montgomery, who had recently left him, and he wanted to harm her."

She said McGrory had become "wild with anger" after finding out that his ex-partner, with whom he had two children, was having an affair with a good friend of his. The defendant thought Jacqui would know where she was and he could force her to tell him.

Mr Little said: "Whilst Jacqui may have known where she was, whether she ever told the defendant only he knows.

"No doubt furious with rage and wanting to attack Josie, the defendant took out his anger on the next best thing, Jacqui Montgomery, both raping and murdering her."

Evidence from Ms Montgomery's diary

On his arrest police found a page torn from Jaqueline's diary in his pocket. The prosecution said it was thought to have had Josie Montgomery's address written on it, but after his original acquittal the page was given back to McGrory and was lost.

Jurors were shown other parts of the diary which gave a sad insight into her teenage life, including being dumped by a boyfriend. She wrote: "Just before we left the place Dave finished with me…I'll never know why."

She recorded her mother leaving home: "My mum left today, got a flat near, Dad was very cut up."

When her aunt Josie left the home she shared with McGrory, Jacqueline described how she went with her on a desperate trip north. She wrote: "We went to the housing people in Manchester. They got a warrant for the both of us and the kids and told us to get back to the smoke cause they had 15,000 of their own to see to.

"We got back about 9.30. We went straight to a police station who got in touch with a duty welfare officer. She put us in a hotel called the Classic in King's Cross. It was a doss hole, but a bed for the kids and us."

What effect did double jeopardy legal principle have on the case?

The DPP said the double jeopardy case justified the retention of evidence from the crime scene and that made his decision for a retrial easier. He said: "What's important is that we still have available to us, the swabs and samples that were taken from the scene of this murder 50 years ago, and that includes clothing.

"We obviously still have retained photography, even photographs of the injuries that McGrory displayed, although he chose to explain them as him being jumped by some unknown males. So there were a number of pieces of the jigsaw, but what was not available to the police or the court in 1975 was this compelling scientific evidence.

"The circumstantial case, even with a page from the diary, was less than the scientific case we have now. And it sometimes happens that in circumstantial cases, judges will allow the evidence to proceed in front of a jury, sometimes they won't. So undoubtedly, judge and jury heard a certain amount of evidence 50 years ago, that was deemed insufficient. It's not for me to question that decision.

"What I thought was important though, when I looked at it many years later, is that what the court saw in 1975 was just a base for what is now a compelling scientific case, and we were able to progress on that basis."

Since the change in the double jeopardy law there have been only a few retrials of previously acquitted defendants.

The most famous is the successful prosecution of Gary Dobson who had been found not guilty over the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in South London in 1993. He and another original suspect David Norris, who hadn't previously stood trial, were convicted in 2012 and jailed for life.

https://news.sky.com/story/sex-killer-cleared-of-murdering-girl-nearly-50-years-ago-convicted-in-double-jeopardy-retrial-12767902

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