Murderpedia

 

 

Juan Ignacio Blanco  

 

home

last updates

MALE murderers

by country

by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
   

FEMALE murderers

by country

by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
   

 

 

 
 

Michael Robert RYAN

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


The Hungerford massacre
 
Classification: Spree killer
Characteristics: Motive unknown - A loner, a man without friends other than his mother and who lived in part in a world of fantasy that he weaved and his mother perpetuated
Number of victims: 16
Date of murder: August 19, 1987
Date of birth: May 18, 1960
Victims profile: 11 men and 5 women (including his mother)
Method of murder: Shooting (two semi-automatic rifles and a handgun)
Location: Hungerford, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself the same day
 
 

 
 
photo gallery
 
 

 
 
shootings incidents at hungerford on 19 august 1987 report
 
 

 

Hungerford: One Man's Massacre
by Jeremy Josephs

 
part 1 part 2 part 3
 
part 4 part 5 part 6
 
 

 
 

The Hungerford massacre occurred in Hungerford, Berkshire, England, on August 19, 1987. A 27-year-old unemployed local labourer, Michael Robert Ryan, armed with several weapons including an AK-47 rifle and a Beretta pistol, shot and killed sixteen people including his mother, and wounded fifteen others, then fatally shot himself.

A report on this incident was commissioned by the Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, from the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, Colin Smith. It remains, along with the Dunblane massacre, one of the worst lone-wolf peacetime atrocities in British history.

The massacre led to the Firearms (Amendment) Act, 1988, which banned the ownership of semi-automatic centre-fire rifles and restricted the use of other firearms with a capacity of more than two rounds. The Hungerford Report had demonstrated that Ryan's collection of weapons was legally licensed.

Shootings

The first shooting occurred seven miles (11 km) to the west of Hungerford in Savernake Forest in Wiltshire, at 12:30 in the afternoon of August 19. Susan Godfrey, 33, from Reading, Berkshire was picnicking with her two young children when she was abducted by Ryan at gun-point, and shot fifteen times in the back.

Ryan then drove in his car, a Vauxhall Astra, from the forest along the A4 towards Hungerford and stopped at a petrol station three miles (5 km) away from the town. After filling a petrol can he shot at the cashier, Mrs Kakoub Dean, and missed. Ryan again tried to shoot her at close range, but this time his gun was empty. He left the petrol station and continued towards Hungerford. Mrs Dean placed an emergency call to the police.

At around 12:45 he was seen at his home in South View, Hungerford. He shot the family dog or dogs (reports differ, one or two). He set fire to the house with the petrol he bought earlier in the day, the fire damaging three surrounding properties. He then removed the three shotguns from his car, possibly because it would not start. He shot and killed husband and wife Roland and Sheila Mason, who were in their back garden at their house in South View.

On foot, Ryan proceeded towards the common, injuring two more people: Marjorie Jackson and Lisa Mildenhall (aged 14, shot in both legs). Mrs. Jackson contacted George White, a colleague of her husband, who contacted her husband Ivor Jackson, who were both later shot, leaving White dead and Jackson injured. On the footpath towards the common he also killed Kenneth Clements who was walking with his family.

Returning to Southview he shot 23 rounds at PC Roger Brereton, a police officer who had just arrived at the scene, killing him as he remained sitting in his duty car. Linda Chapman and her daughter Alison Chapman were next shot and injured, having just driven into Southview in a car. Ryan fired 11 bullets from his semi-automatic into their Volvo; Linda was hit in the shoulder, Alison in the right thigh - the bullet travelling into her lower back and severing some of the nerves leaving her permanently disabled. Linda was able to drive out without further injury to the hospital.

Ryan moved along Fairview Road, killing Abdur Khan, who was in his back garden, and injuring Alan Lepetit who was walking along the road. An ambulance which had just arrived in the road was next shot at, injuring Hazel Haslett before it drove off.

By, or before, 14:30 Ryan had ensconced himself at the John O'Gaunt Secondary School (closed and empty at that time of year for summer holidays), where he had previously been a pupil. Police surrounded the building. Negotiators made contact with him; at one point he waved what appeared to be an unpinned grenade at them through the window. At 19:00, still in the school, he shot himself. One of the statements Ryan made towards the end was widely reported: "I wish I had stayed in bed".

Ryan had killed fifteen people, and wounded ten others.

Michael Ryan

The British tabloid press was filled with stories about Michael Ryan's life in the days following the massacre. The tabloid press can be an unreliable source and in English law you cannot libel the dead. In addition Ryan had killed his mother who would, perhaps, have been able to shine most light on his private life. Press biographies all stated that he had a fondness for, and possibly even an obsession with guns.

The majority claimed that Ryan possessed magazines about survival skills/firearms, Soldier of Fortune being frequently named. He was an only child, reportedly sullen and bullied at school. His father was in his fifties when he was born and had died around two years prior to the shootings. Ryan lived alone with his mother, who was a dinner lady at the local primary school; there was extensive press comment on this suggesting the relationship was 'unhealthy', that Ryan was 'spoiled', a Guardian headline describing Ryan as a 'mummy's boy'.

Police response

A number of factors hampered the police response:

The telephone exchange could not handle the number of 999 calls made by witnesses.

The Thames Valley firearms squad were training 40 miles away.

The police helicopter was in for repair, though was eventually deployed.

Only two phone lines were in operation at the local police station which was undergoing renovation.

Media effects theory and moral panic

It was alleged, particularly by tabloid newspapers, that Ryan was inspired by the film Rambo, some weakly remarking on his armed-forces style clothing. It was cited as an example of the hypodermic needle model of negative media effects, particularly relevant in the wake of the controversy over video nasties. It later transpired that Ryan had never seen the film (Buckingham, 2001: 76) but the allegations provided sensationalist headlines and imagery (see Webster, 1989). It is true that Ryan owned violent films. It is also true that a great many young men possess violent films but do not go on to act violently.

Cultural references

J G Ballard's novel Running Wild centres around the fictitious Richard Greville, a Deputy Psychiatric Advisor with the Metropolitan police who authored "an unpopular minority report on the Hungerford killings" and is sent to investigate mass murder in a gated community. Ballard has professed an interest in the Hungerford massacre and other "pointless crimes" such as that in Dunblane and the murder of Jill Dando.

Sulk, the penultimate track on Radiohead's album The Bends, was written as a response to the massacre.

Chris Bowsher, founder member of the band Radical Dance Faction, was a witness to the events and wrote Hungerford Poem which appears on the band's early album Hot On The Wire.

Spoof Welsh rap group Goldie Lookin' Chain mentioned the killer in their song Guns Don't Kill People, Rappers Do, a satire on the supposed links between gangsta rap and gun crime as reported in the press: 'Like Michael Ryan, about to snap, guns don't kill people, it's just rap'

Quotations

"The realisation that this could happen in fun-loving England, where we don't have guns and the police aren't armed... it changed policing and it changed society for ever. " - Then Thames Valley Police Chief Constable, Charles Pollard.

References

  • The Hungerford Report - Shooting Incidents At Hungerford On 19 August 1987. Retrieved October 28, 2005.
     

  • Jeremy Josephs. Hungerford - One Man's Massacre. Retrieved October 28, 2005.
     

  • Buckingham, D. (2001) "Electronic Child Abuse" In: M. Barker and J. Petley (eds) Ill effects: the media/violence debate. (2nd ed.) London: Routledge. pp. 63-77. ISBN 0415225132
     

  • Webster, D. (1989) '"Whodunnit? America did": Rambo and post-Hungerford rhetoric', Cultural Studies, 3:2, pp. 173-93.

Wikipedia.org


Briton kills 14 in rampage

After random shootings, assailant takes his own life

The Boston Globe

August 20, 1987

HUNGERFORD, England -- A heavily armed gun enthusiast dressed in a camouflage suit shot and killed 14 persons yesterday, including his mother, then took his own life when police surrounded him inside a school, authorities said.

The rampage, in which 16 persons also were wounded, was one of the largest mass murders in modern British history.


British rethink gun laws

Killer of 14 had license

Philadelphia Daily News

August 20, 1987

Before he committed suicide, the gunman who killed his mother and 13 others and injured 15 more expressed bewilderment that he had shot so many people but felt incapable of turning the gun on himself, police said today.

Yesterday's rampage was the worst mass murder in modern British history. It left this market town of about 5,000 people in shock and raised questions about whether Britain's gun laws, already considered among the strictest in the world, were strict enough.


After the massacre, a town is in stunned disbelief

The Philadelphia Enquirer

August 21, 1987

Along sidewalks of this idyllic market town in western England, residents gathered in clutches yesterday, some consoling others, some questioning. All appeared in a state of shock about what had befallen their community.

"This is really such a nice little place, it just hasn't sunk in that it's real," said Sheila Hutchins, who manages one of the many quaint shops that line High Street.


Two more die, putting massacre toll at 17

The Philadelphia Enquirer

August 22, 1987

Two more people have died of gunshot wounds, bringing to 17 the number killed during Wednesday's massacre in the country town of Hungerford.

Myrtle Gibbs, 63, and Ian Playle, 34, were the 15th and 16th victims of Michael Ryan, 27, who walked down the town's main street firing a Soviet- designed AK-47 rifle and then shot and killed himself when police cornered him in a school.


A lone gunman brings death to a sleepy English town

Michael Ryan was a quiet fellow, except when it came to talking about guns. He never tired of telling his neighbors in Hungerford, a little farming town some 75 miles west of London, about his collection of firearms or showing them off whenever anyone paid attention. Ryan, 27, had recently joined the Tunnel Rifle and Pistol Club, where he practiced regularly. Said Club Manager Andrew White: "He was a very good shot. He hit an 18 by 14-in. target consistently at 100 meters." Last week Ryan used his shooting skill to deadly effect, turning his neighbors into targets in the worst massacre in modern British history.

As he tramped through nearby Savernake Forest last Wednesday, Ryan wore a headband, a combat jacket and an ammunition belt slung over his shoulder. Suddenly he drew his 9-mm pistol and opened fire on his first victim who had just finished a picnic, Mrs Susan Godfrey of Reading. Mrs Godfrey died with 15 bullets in her back and her children, aged four and two, sobbing by their mother's body. Ryan then calmly climbed into his silver Vauxhall Astra and drove off. It was to be two hours before the children and, later, her body, were found.

Ryan drove the car into the Golden Arrow filling station at Foxfield, on the A4, east of the forest to get petrol. He entered the kiosk and fired with a pistol on Mrs Margaret Dean, the cashier, who was saved by armoured glass.

Seven minutes later he arrived at the row house he shared with his widowed mother in Hungerford. Ryan shot dead his mother, Dorothy, and set fire to their home at 4 South View, the blaze spreading to the three adjoining houses in the terrace. Mrs Ryan's body was found lying in the road outside the house. Retrieving a semiautomatic Kalashnikov assault rifle and ammunition from a garden shed, Ryan began walking toward the center of town, firing bursts and reloading as he went. "He was just strolling along the road, shooting at anything that moved," said Barbara Morley. Said another witness, Christopher Browsher: "He looked just like Rambo."

Shortly after 1pm, Police Constable Briereton arrived in South View. At 1.05, he sent out a message: "18. 10-9. 10-9" - the code for "urgent assitance required, I have been shot". No more was heard from him. His body was later recovered from his police car near Ryan's house. PC Briereton, who leaves a wife and two teenage sons, had been shot in the back.

Taxi Driver Marcus Barnard, on his way to visit his newborn son in the hospital, was shot through his windshield. He died instantly. A father and son emerged from a side road with two small girls. Ryan opened fire at the men, leaving the father dead in a puddle of blood. He emptied his gun into the car of a woman and her daughter, killing both. Abdul Khan, 84, was cut down in his garden, dying as his wife cradled his head. Francis Butler was killed while walking his dog. The savagery was as swift as it was deadly: 13 people died between 1:05 p.m. and 1:15 p.m. The final toll: 16 dead, 14 wounded.

Police threw up roadblocks and used megaphones to urge residents to stay indoors. A helicopter carrying marksmen with sniper rifles whirred overhead, and teams of police with pump shotguns flooded the streets. By 2:30 p.m. they had tracked Ryan to the John O'Gaunt elementary school, which he had attended as a child. Trained negotiators arrived to talk to him, but to no avail. Shortly after 8 p.m., a muffled shot rang out. Ryan had become his own last victim.

The eruption of violence shattered the summer serenity of England, where policemen traditionally carry no guns and where fewer than 50 murders involving firearms were committed in 1986, compared with 839 for New York City alone. Police said Ryan gave no clues as to why he had run amuck. Neighbors portrayed him as a loner who became deeply depressed after the death two years ago of his father, a popular public housing inspector. Ryan, who drifted through a number of laborer jobs and was once employed in a gun shop, appeared to have had licenses for his personal arsenal. British officials immediately said they would review the country's gun-licensing laws. Said Douglas Hogg, Under Secretary of State at the Home Office: "Obviously, there are lessons to be learned from this incident."


Ryan's nightmare stroll

Michael Ryan's rampage in Hungerford began in the road where he lived, South View, where he killed his mother and at least six other people.

South View is a small road with four groups of four council houses in line on the left-hand side and a detached house and two bungalows below them. The council houses are numbered from one to 16 in succession. The first block of houses was totally destroyed after Ryan shot his mother, Dorothy, and their dog, then set the house on fire. Mr Alan Lapetit, another of the occupants of the block, was wounded. In the next block, at 6 South View, an elderly couple, Roly and Sheila Mason, were also wounded. Then another neighbour, Mr Douglas Wainwright, aged 84, was shot dead and his wife, Kathleen, aged 63, was wounded.

In the third block, Ivor and Julie Jackson, both aged in their 50s, were wounded. In the final block, Lisa Mildenhall, aged 14, was wounded in the thigh.

The bloodshed started earlier at Savermake Forest, 10 miles from Hungerford, where a woman died after being hit by several bullets.

At 12.42pm, Ryan drove a silver Vauxhall Astra into the Golden Arrow filling station at Foxfield, on the A4, east of the forest. He opened fire with a pistol on Mrs Margaret Dean, the cashier, who was saved by armoured glass.

At 12.53pm, fire officers were called to the blaze at the Ryan home but were forced to retreat after coming under attack. The gunman, brandishing a shotgun in one hand and a pump-action shotgun in the other, strode down South View after collecting ammunition in the garden of his home.

A police officer was shot dead as he drove his Panda car through a hail of bullets, crashing into Ryan's car. A woman, aged 20, was shot at pointblank range and killed as she drove her car. Another of Ryan's victims was an elderly Asian, Mr Khan, who lived in one of the bungalows where South View becomes Fairview Road.

Ryan sauntered south down Fairview Road, shooting indiscriminately. A bullet hole was found in the centre of the front door of No 47, which is owned by Mr Dennis Morley, a self-employed bricklayer, who was out.

He then proceeded into Priory Road, shooting wildly. Mr Marcus Barnard, a local taxi driver, whose wife recently gave birth to their only child, was shot and killed along with a pedestrian in Bulpit Lane, a side turning. Workers and shoppers in the Hungerford High Street cowered behind counters and makeshift barricades as the slaughter continued. More shots were fired near Hungerford primary school in Priory Road and ambulance crews came under fire.

Several shots rang out as a van passed the Norland nursing home and the driver slumped dead at the wheel. Three passengers were seriously hurt as the vehicle crashed. One, blood pumping from wounds, rushed into a grocer's shop. Seventeen people, some of them injured, took shelter in the shop as the gunman continued to let off several rounds of ammunition. Three woman ran past the window screaming after Mr Ken Clements, aged 52, and his son, Robert, aged 27, were gunned down.

At 2.30pm, Ryan was seen strolling into John O'Gaunt school in Priory Road. The police scoured the area and two hours later he was reported to be trapped inside the school. Armed police surrounded the school grounds.

At 4.50pm, the school caretaker reported that all the children were safe.

At 7.45pm, a single shot was heard in the school. At 7.55pm, a police ambulance moved slowly into the school playing fields. Ten minutes later, the police assault team entered the building and reported that they had pinpointed Ryan's location in an office.

"He has barricaded the door and we are having difficulty in making an entry", one officer said.

At 8.10pm they announced: "We have broken in". A minute later Ryan's body was found sitting in a corner near a cupboard holding a gun.

The police team gingerly attached a rope to his leg and pulled it because of fears that Ryan might have booby-trapped himself with a grenade. But the body toppled over and the siege was finished.

The earlier rampage lasted less than 10 minutes and was spread over half a mile through archetypal English suburban streets.

Late last night and early today, small knots of people were gathered in groups along Ryan's route exchanging stories.

Mr Chris Bowsher, who lives in South View Road, says: "I knew that it wasn't somebody pigeon shooting or a car backfiring. It sounded like bad news."


Dreary home life of crazed gunman

The brick-built, end of terrace council house in Hungerford, Birkshire, was a permanent backcloth to Michael Ryan's rather dreary life. It was to that building he was brought as the only child of his parents when he was a few days old and it was where he grew up and developed his own fantasy existence. It was also the home which he finally destroyed when he set fire to it and shot his mother dead.

Born to Dorothy and Alfred Ryan, a canteen lady and a council building inspector, Michael Ryan received the usual over-attention of a single child, according to neighbours. He spent most of his time with his mother and was jealously guarded by his father. From an early age he developed a keen interest in guns. An uncle and aunt last night told of their nephew's unpredictable and violent nature. Mr Leslie Ryan, who lives with his wife, Connie, in London, said on ITN News at Ten that Michael, who was devoted to his father, he seemed to go to pieces after his death two years ago. "He was his life, you see. when he went Michael seemed to go."

Mrs Connie Ryan told of a more sinister episode. "He told me that he went shooting rabbits one night and he came across a fellow much bigger than himself and he got a little bit stroppy with him so Michael took a gun out of his pocket and held it at him. He said the chap ran away and he said, `That just goes to prove the power of the gun`." The couple also told of their nephew's aborted wedding plans. Mrs Ryan said: "He was supposed to be married but when I phoned up after they invited us to go, his mother said, `He doesn't know whether he wants to be married or not. First of all it's on and then it's off`. She told me, `I'll let you know when he's made up his mind`. I didn't hear any more."

Mr Dennis Morley, a family friend, described Ryan as a "spoilt little wimp". "He used to get everything he wanted from his mother", Mr Morley, who lived near the Ryan family, said. "He used to beat her up. She paid for his new cars every year. "He used to hit his mother a lot but he couldn't pick on a man," Mr Morley said.

Mr Winn Pask, aged 20, a neighbour, recalled that Ryan, at the age of 12, shot at cows kept by his father behind his council house with a .177 rifle. John O'Gaunt secondary school left little academic impression on Ryan. He was a C stream pupil of below average achievement. Mr David Lee, the headmaster, failed to recall him. One of Ryan's former school mates at John O'Gaunt, Mr Andy Puffett, aged 25, said: "He never mixed with anyone. He could not play football and he was picked on a lot."

Eventually, after hardly attending in his last year, he left with few, if any, qualifications, but with a strong interest in the weapons he had already begun to collect. Those included various military effects, ceremonial swords and, when he obtained a small arms firearms license.

Ryan drifted through a number of labouring jobs at a local nursery and at Peter DeSavary's theme park at Littlecote. He often boasted to neighbours of the latest gun he had purchased and the sound of him firing nearby became quite common.


Haunted by Hungerford

By Natasha Courtenay-Smith - DailyMail.co.uk

August 10, 2007

A few weeks ago in a Hungerford pub, conversation turned to a certain Michael Ryan, who lived and died in the sleepy Berkshire town 20 years ago this month.

Even after so many years, the locals standing at the bar found themselves contemplating the same impossible questions.

One woman present that evening was 41-year-old Lyn Thompson, a mother-of-three who has lived in the town all her life.

As she puts it: "I don't think we'll ever know the answers, but that doesn't stop any of us from asking ourselves and each other time and time again: how could he have done what he did?"

Michael Ryan is, of course, the unemployed labourer who, in August 1987, left his home in Hungerford and set out for Savernake Forest, a nearby beauty spot.

There, just before midday, he produced an arsenal of weapons, including a 9mm Italian Beretta pistol, a Chinese-manufactured assault rifle and a semi-automatic rifle, and shot 33-year-old nurse Susan Godfrey, who was picnicking with her small children, Hannah, then four, and James, two.

It marked the start of a seven-hour massacre in which Ryan - 27 at the time - killed 16 people, including his neighbours, a police officer and his own mother, and injured 15 others.

At 6.52pm, after barricading himself in the John O'Gaunt school, which he had attended as a child, he killed himself.

At once, his monstrous acts entered the annals of criminal history and ensured that the name Hungerford now sits alongside Lockerbie and Dunblane in the nation's consciousness, inextricably identified with horror.

The killing spree paved the way for changes in the firearms laws.

Now, a few days before the 20th anniversary of that terrible day, the residents of Hungerford are steeling themselves for the renewed feelings of anguish and fury which such a milestone will inevitably bring.

Of all the town's residents, Lyn Thompson probably knew Michael Ryan the best.

He was her next-door neighbour, and during the shootings he started a fire which gutted both their houses.

"I always thought he was a strange man," says Lyn. "A few months before his rampage I asked if I could have the old swing that was sitting doing nothing in his back garden.

"I was a young mum without much money and I knew my children would love it. He looked at me with blank eyes,

simply said: "No," then walked off.

"His mother was lovely but she'd spoiled him. His father had died in 1984 after a long battle with cancer and he was an only child. "I thought it was better for her that he shot her, too. If she'd lived, the shame would probably have killed her anyway."

Today, Hungerford appears to have recovered.

On market day, the high street is bustling and residents are sitting outside cafes in the enjoying the sunshine.

Daily life in this middle England town drifts along to the rhythm of school fetes, coffee mornings, the pony club and dog walking.

Should you hope to find a large memorial on the high street to those who lost their lives, you would not be in luck.

Instead, it is discreetly placed next to the town's football ground, away from the town centre.

The neat terraced cottages of South View, where Michael Ryan lived, look like ideal family homes.

Over the years, the entrance to this road had been widened and four new flats have been built to replace the houses he burned down.

But they are in keeping with the original design and it is hard to imagine now that anything significant ever happened here.

Yet so close-knit is the community here that almost everyone in this town knows someone who was affected by the shootings.

For instance, the town's mayor Peter Harries, who will be hosting the town's official memorial service on August 19, is the father of Carl Harries, a young soldier who was commended by the coroner for his bravery on that tragic afternoon.

Now 41, Carl is serving as an Army captain in Basra.

His mum Shirley Harries, 61, says: "Carl came face-toface with Michael Ryan. He's since said all he remembers was a "blank face, semi-smiling".

"Carl ducked through a hedge, then spent the afternoon running from one victim to another, calming people and administering first-aid.

"He helped get 22-year-old Sandra Hill out of her car after she'd been shot in the head. Sadly, she died in his arms.

"He also resuscitated Ian Playle and tried to save the lives of Jack and Myrtle Gibb.

Trevor Wainwright, 53, was the local policeman at the time of the massacre and continued to serve in Hungerford Police until six years ago.

His father and one of his colleagues were killed by Ryan: his mother was shot but survived.

Now a tax inspector who still lives in Hungerford with his wife Ruby, 43, a housewife, and their 14-year-old son Daniel, Trevor still finds it impossible not to dwell on the past. "A few days after the shootings, I woke to the front page headline: PC Signed Own Father's Death Warrant. I took one look at it, and burst into tears," he says, his voice trembling.

"The story was in reference to the fact that a few months before the massacre I'd dealt with a variation to Michael Ryan's firearms certificate. "The bitter irony that he'd used his guns to kill my father and colleague hit me as soon as I heard about his rampage. And there it was being bandied about in the Press.

'"The thought of how I felt on that day still brings tears to my eyes."

At the time, Trevor had been the local bobby for 15 years and was familiar with most people in the town, including Ryan. He is still baffled as to why he "flipped".

"I often passed him walking his dog on Hungerford Common," he recalls. "Although our dogs would run about together, he never really said much. <[>"He had a reputation for being a bit of a loner.

"But if you'd asked me to make a list of the people in the town who I thought were in the slightest bit capable of doing what Michael Ryan did, his name wouldn't have been on it."

Ryan was a victim of bullying and was an under-achiever who was overly protected by his mother.

He was a fantasist who told his family he had a girlfriend he was due to marry, but who proved to be nonexistent.

He claimed to various acquaintances that he had a private pilot's license, ran a gun shop and had taken a trip on the Orient Express, all of which were shown to be lies.

He invested in a military camouflage jacket and told people he'd once been a member of the 2nd Parachute Regiment, another lie.

Ryan had spent his spare time at Savernake and had boasted to colleagues of creeping up on picnic parties without them knowing.

Shortly before the killings he acquired three semi-automatic guns, quit his job and joined the Tunnel Rifle and Pistol Club in Devizes.

On the day of the shootings, Trevor was enjoying a day off and cutting a friend's lawn in a nearby village.

He was told about the rampage by a friend who'd seen it on the news and immediately returned to Hungerford.

"I arrived to see residents cowering behind bushes on the common and to hear Ryan's gun going off in the distance," he says. "I'll never forget the smell of gunpowder, which lingered heavily in the air. I went to the police station to work and one of my colleagues said my father was dead and my mother was in hospital.

"A friend took me to Princess Margaret Hospital in Swindon where I waited in the corridor, watching as other victims arrived.

"It was carnage. Some had been shot in their cars, others as they passed Ryan in the street; some were alive, some dead.

'It was an hour before I heard Mum was going to be fine.

"Dad, I was later told, died instantly. He was still sitting dead in his car, which had now become a crime scene.

"Thankfully, someone had put a blanket over his head."

In those bleak early days, it played on Trevor's mind that not only had he signed Ryan's gun licence, but he'd also changed the date his own parents, who lived in Kent, were due to visit.

Moving their visit to a day later than originally planned meant they drove straight into Ryan's path.

Trevor's colleague, PC Roger Brereton, the first officer at the scene, also lost his life.

'The day a newspaper printed that cruel headline was one of the darkest days of my life.

"My mother helped put things in perspective.

"Despite having lost her husband and undergone treatment for bullet wounds to her breast and fingers, she phoned me from her hospital bed as soon as she saw it. "You pull yourself together and get down here to visit," she said.

"When I got there, we cried together.

"The whole event was just one of those awful twists of fate, a totally random event. I picked myself up as best I could and I was back at work within a few weeks."

Three months after the shootings, by which point a few people were beginning to move away from the area because of what happened, Trevor's mother moved into town.

"She knew she wouldn't be alone with her grief there,' says Trevor. "She coped admirably.

"For many years, images of Dad slumped dead at the wheel of his car continued to pop up unexpectedly on television.

"I see the shootings as a part of Hungerford's history and I don't think it would be right to brush it under the carpet.

"There is a memorial service planned for this month, which I will be attending."

His sentiments are shared by housewife Sylvia Pascoe, 52.

At the time, she was a St John Ambulance worker and was awarded the Life Saving Medal of the Order of St John for saving her then 14-year-old neighbour, Lisa Mildenhall.

Lisa was shot in South View in front of her house at a range of five metres. After hearing gun shots, she had run outside and saw Ryan.

Her sister Marie, then 13, ducked for cover but Lisa froze and was shot four times.

Sylvia, who still lives in Hungerford with her retired husband John, says: "I don't believe the massacre should ever be forgotten or not spoken about, even in decades to come."

At 12.55pm on the day of the shootings, Sylvia, who still lives in South View, doing the housework in her dressing-gown when she heard the sound of breaking glass.

"My son Robert burst through the back door saying our neighbour Lisa had been hurt," she recalls. "I ran out and into next door's kitchen where Lisa was slumped, bleeding profusely."

In the 45 minutes it took for the ambulance to arrive, Sylvia stemmed Lisa's bleeding.

Later, she'd discover that as well as the bullet wound to her leg, Lisa had also been shot in the hip and twice in her groin.

"The first ambulance couldn't get to us because Michael Ryan was outside pointing his gun at them," she says.

"Two paramedics finally reached us by jumping over the garden fence."

While Lisa was taken to hospital, Sylvia joined her neighbours and huddled upstairs in a bedroom for four hours.

Her children later told her they'd come face-to-face with Ryan while playing in front of the house.

He'd stood pointing a gun at them with a band of bullets strung around his chest before opening fire.

Thankfully, none of them were hit.

During the hours they were huddled upstairs, Ryan continued on his rampage. Among others, he killed his neighbour Ken Clements, PC Brereton, his mother Dorothy when she pleaded with him to stop shooting, Francis Butler, shot while walking his dog, and Douglas Wainwright, George White and Eric Vardy, all shot while driving past.

"Around 4pm, a police marksman called out to us from a field opposite, telling us to run from the house," recalls Sylvia.

"Bodies littered the street and blood-stained cars were abandoned. We had to dodge around Mrs Ryan's body, as well as that of our other neighbours.

"We headed towards the line of police at the bottom of the road and were ushered into a shop for safety.

"We stayed there all night, and at 2am I remember looking out to see police carrying away my neighbours in body bags. All I felt was total shock.

"In the weeks following the shootings I remember noticing that the town had gone strangely quiet and it was five days before the birds began to sing again.

"For years, whenever I said where I was from, people would immediately start talking about Michael Ryan. That has stopped now.

"Although essentially the children and I were fine, what happened really affected my husband. He felt very guilty that he hadn't been there to protect us."

Even deeper scars are evident at a petrol station in nearby Marlborough, which was Ryan's second port of call. Owner Zubair Dean knew Ryan as one of his regular customers.

Shortly after killing Susan Godfrey, Ryan drove into the petrol station and fired at Zubair's then wife Kakoub, who was serving that day.

Although the gun did not go off and Kakoub escaped unhurt, the mental trauma left her unable to work again.

The couple have now divorced and it is obvious the shootings and his wife's resulting ill health played a significant role in the breakdown of their marriage.

The mayor of Hungerford at the time, Ron Tarry, is now 81. Just as he did then, he is taking it upon himself to speak to the Press in order to shield those who don't want attention as the anniversary approaches.

When he became mayor in the spring of 1987, he'd expected the usual round of rotary lunches, garden parties and children's fetes.

Instead, Ron, who lives in Hungerford with his wife Beryl, 78, in the same bungalow he's lived in for 40 years, found himself trying to hold together a traumatised community.

He says: "The events of that day still live with us all. How could anyone who was here ever forget what happened on that terrible day?"

 

 

 
 
 
 
contact