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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Try to kill his wife with TX a car bomb in order to claim her life insurance
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 30, 1984
Date of birth: 1940
Victim profile: Colyn Bedale-Taylor, 63 (neighbour)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Horton, Dorset County, South West, England, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on February 18, 1985

Farmer, Graham Backhouse, is jailed for 18.2.85 life at Bristol Crown Court for trying to kill his wife with TX a car bomb in order to claim her life insurance. He is given a second life sentence for killing a neighbour, Colyn Bedale-Taylor, with a shotgun, in an attempt to cover up the crime.


Graham Backhouse

Margaret Backhouse climbed into the driver's seat of her Volvo on the 9th April 1984. When Margaret, who lived at Widdenhill Farm, near Chipping Sodbury, with her 44-year-old farmer husband, turned the ignition key, the car exploded. She was left with severe injuries to her buttocks and legs.

The police suspected that the intended victim was husband Graham. He told officers that he was the victim of a hate campaign and that a sheep's head had been stuck on a fence at the farm along with a note that read 'You next.' Backhouse was given 24-hour police protection.

On 18th April Backhouse requested that the 24-hour guard be removed following the fitting of a 'panic button'. This alarm system was connected to the local police station and, on 30th April, it was activated.

When the police attended, in the form of PC Richard Yeadon, it was to find the body of Colyn Bedale-Taylor. Bedale-Taylor, 63-years-old and a neighbour of Backhouse, had died from a shotgun blast to the chest. Clutched in his hand was a Stanley knife. A weeping Backhouse was found lying in the lounge drenched in blood from knife wounds to the face and chest.

His story was that Bedale-Taylor had arrived and told him that he had come to repair some furniture. When being told that there was no furniture to repair he had accused Backhouse of being responsible for the death of his son in a car crash in 1982.

He then told Backhouse that he, Bedale-Taylor, was responsible for planting the car bomb and attacked Backhouse with the Stanley knife. Backhouse had run back into the house and grabbed a gun. When Bedale-Taylor had refused to back off, he had shot him.

This story was at odds with the forensic evidence and Backhouse appeared at Bristol Crown Court in February 1985 charged with murder and attempted murder. The forensic investigation had shown that Backhouse's wounds had been self-inflicted and that Bedale-Taylor could not have been holding the knife when he died. His right palm was covered with his own blood, which could only have happened after he was shot and when he was not holding the knife.

The prosecution showed that Backhouse had debts of £70,000. Until March 1984 his wife had life insurance cover of £50,000 but this was increased by a similar amount. It was alleged that Backhouse had tried to kill his wife for the insurance money and, when that failed, had faked the attack by Bedale-Taylor to shift police investigations away from himself.

The jury preferred the prosecution version and, on Monday 19th February 1985, after nearly six hours deliberation, found Backhouse guilty of both charges. He was given two life sentences.


Murder on the farm 1984

Derek Robinson, well-known author, broadcaster and later Evening Post columnist told the Evening Post not many weeks before that Horton was one of those places where nothing had happened for the past thousand years and nothing would happen for the next thousand years. The Bristol-born top thriller and war story writer who had made his home in the hamlet near Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, couldn't have been more wrong. On the morning of April 9th farmer's wife Maggie Backhouse, aged 40, climbed into the family Volvo estate at Widden Hill Farm in Horton to set out for supplies from a local vet. The car exploded!!.

The Post reported: 'A village vendetta led to farmer's wife Mrs Maggie Backhouse being injured in a car bomb explosion at her home in Horton, near Bristol, today. 'She was taken to Frenchay Hospital where she was undergoing surgery this afternoon. 'Mrs Backhouse managed to stagger from the car. She was seen by passers-by at 8.20 this morning.

The farm was immediately cordoned off and sniffer dogs were used to scour the area. 'Detective Superintendent Tom Evans, leading the inquiry, said the family had been receiving threatening anonymous telephone calls. ' 'There has been a recent history of anonymous phone calls to the home threatening the husband and the family.

The police are investigating' he said. ''A lamb's head was found with a message which gives us reason to connect it with the telephone calls'. 'Mrs Backhouse and her husband Graham, aged 44, are well liked, villagers said today. 'Local author and neighbour Mr Derek Robinson said: 'Hearing of a car bomb in Horton takes my breath away. I can't believe it has happened to Maggie—she is a typical farmer's wife.'' The Post was back in Horton three weeks later on the morning of May 1st. This time someone had been killed.

'Police called on villager Mr Colyn Bedale-Taylor only hours before he was found shot dead at the home of hate-campaign victim Mr Graham Backhouse in Horton last night. 'Today Det. Chief Supt. Alan Elliott said the police visit was a pure coincidence although former Army officer Mr Bedale-Taylor, aged 63, had been interviewed more than once over the bombing. 'Last night police called to Widden Hill Farm found Mr Bedale-Taylor dead with gunshot wounds and Mr Backhouse with stab wounds to his face and body.

'Mr Backhouse had been guarded by police after the bombing incident. It was called off at Mr Backhouse's request on April 19th. 'Both Mr and Mrs Backhouse are now under police guard at Frenchay Hospital.' Later Graham Backhouse was arrested after police pieced together the full story of how he had fallen into debt, attempted to collect £100,000 by murdering his wife with a bomb and then shot dead his neighbour Colyn Bedale-Taylor hoping to make him the scapegoat.

The sheep's head, the telephone threats and the rest of the 'vendetta' had been a deception. The deception, like the bizarre insurance fraud, failed fatally. Backhouse was sentenced to life imprisonment.

“You are a devious and wicked man,” the judge said in sentencing Backhouse. “The enormity of the crime that you have committed is very grave.”

In June 1994, while playing cricket at Grendon Underwood Prison near Aylesbury, England, Graham Backhouse suffered a fatal heart attack. He was 53 years old.

Shortly after his death it was revealed that he was engaged to marry Rosemary Aberdour, a bunco artist who served two years in prison for stealing nearly £3 million from the National Hospital for Neurology development foundation while posing as a titled aristocrat.

Margaret Backhouse died in her sleep in March 1995. She was 48. The Backhouses left two teen children behind.

1932 - 1992 - 60 years of Bristol News Stories.


Graham Backhouse

Reign of terror: April 1984

Motive: Money

Crimes: Murder of Colyn Bedale-Taylor, Backhouse's 63 year old neighbour on 30th April, and the attempted murder of Margaret Backhouse, his wife.

Method: Backhouse attempted to kill his wife with a bomb that was planted in his car prior to her driving it. The bomb consisted two sections of metal pipe, threaded with a detonator. The powder of 12 shotgun shells had been used as the explosive and it had been packed with about 4,000 lead pellets. It had been aimed upward through the driving seat.

Bedale-Taylor was shot at point-blank range with a shotgun in Backhouse's farmhouse in Horton, near Chipping Sodbury.

Sentence: Backhouse was found guilty of the murder of Bedale-Taylor and the attempted murder of his wife. He received two life sentences.

Interesting facts: Backhouse ad staged threats to himself and his family in the form of letters, and a decapitated head of a sheep with the sign "YOU NEXT" attached. The police had been informed and investigated the alleged threats. After his wife had been injured from the car bomb, Backhouse suggested it was a friend of his. The police questioned this man but let him go. Then he said it was Bedale-Taylor, who was also questioned and let go.

On the night of Bedale-Taylor's death, Backhouse claimed that the man ad entered the house and that they had had an argument. He claimed that Bedale-Taylor had attacked him with a Stanley knife and in the struggle Backhouse had grabbed his shotgun and shot his assailant. What really took place was a different story - Backhouse needed to continue is implication of Bedale-Taylor into the attempted murder of Mrs Backhouse, so he shot him in the chest at point-blank range. Then, to cover up his intent, he inflicted deep cuts to his face - from ear to chin - which later needed 80 stitches. He splattered blood around the house to make it look like there had been a struggle.

Much forensic evidence was used to prove Backhouse's guilt:

·  Examining pathologist Dr William Kennard, stated that if Backhouse's chest wound had been inflicted by someone else, he would have had to stand still, without resisting or protecting himself.

·  The knife had been left in Bedale-Taylor's hand - yet his own blood was all over his hand and not the knife, which would not have been the case if he had inflicted the wound before being shot.

·  The blood splatters all over the floor were of the wrong shape. If there had been a struggle, the blood would have fallen in a distinctive exclamation mark shape. however they were round splashes, suggesting that Backhouse had been standing still when the blood had dripped.

·  Some furniture had been knocked onto the floor, apparently during the struggle. But some of it had landed on top of the blood splatters. Also there was blood smeared on the top of one of these fallen chairs, apparently from Backhouse's hand, but there was no blood on the gun.




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