New Year’s Eve, 1974. Janet Lesley Stewart, 15 years old, was walking to meet her boyfriend. She would never reach her destination.
Trevor Hardy, aged 33 in 1974, had been in Albany Jail (on the Isle of Wight) for 5 years after attacking and wounding a man with a pick-axe. Hardy, called a ‘menace to society‘ by the judge in his trial, had been contemplating revenge during his time in prison. When he was released in November 1974, he had planned to kill two people. The first was Stanley O’Brien, an old mate, who Hardy thought had double crossed him. The second, a 14-year old called Beverley Driver, had been a girl Hardy had been interested in before going to jail. She had been writing him for the first year, but her family had told her to stop. Beverley had not written to him again, and to Hardy, that was enough reason for him to kill her.
After his release, Hardy arrived home to learn from his parents that O’Brien had already died. Angrily, Hardy stormed off to see Beverley. He threw an axe threw the window of her parents’ house, but did not see Beverley. Unfortunately, he did see Janet Stewart…
He attacked Janet, stabbing her in the throat. After she had died, Hardy took off all her jewelry and buried her in a shallow grave. Hardy kept returning to this grave for weeks after the murder, to cut Janet’s body and re-bury her body parts. He tossed her head in a lake. Hardy later gave Janet’s ring to another girl as a ‘ love token’. When Janet did not return home, her parents reported her missing. She would not be found for a long time.
July 1975. Wanda Skala, a part-time barmaid at a hotel, was walking home after a shift. Hardy attacked her with a brick and then strangled her with her own tights. He stripped off her clothes and buried her in a shallow grave in a nearby building site. Before burying her, Hardy bit off one of her nipples. He took home her bloody clothes and her handbag, as some sort of ‘souvenirs’.
Hardy had been bragging to his younger brother that he had killed Wanda. This information ended up with the police, who arrested Hardy for murder. His partner Sheilagh Farrow gave him an alibi for the murders, which later turned out to be false. She also smuggled a nail file into the jail where Hardy was held, so he could file down his teeth, in an attempt to change his bite marks. Police believed Sheilagh’s story and due to other corroborating evidence, Hardy was released from custody.
Six months later, March, 1976. Sharon Mosoph, 18-years old, was walking home from a staff party at Whelans in Marlborough Mill, the departement store were she worked. She saw a man trying to break in and shouted at him to stop. She did not know that this man was Trevor Hardy…
Hardy attacked Sharon, strangling her with a pair of tights. He once again took of all her clothes and threw her body into the Rochdale canal. Prior to disposing of Sharon’s remains, he had bitten her nipple off. Panicking, Hardy realised, that when Sharon’s body was inevitably found, he could be identified by his bite marks on her breast. So Hardy dove in after Sharon, and used a metal rivet to change the aspect of the wound on her breast to cover up the teeth marks. Sharon’s body was found floating in the canal the next day. It had been so cold that night that the water had frozen around her.
August, 1976. Christian Campbell, a 21 year old girl, is violently attacked in a pub bathroom. She manages to escape and gave a full statement to police, later identifying … Trevor Hardy as her attacker. Police followed Sheilagh Farrow to a house in Stockport, where they also found Hardy hiding. He was then arrested for the murders of Sharon and Wanda. Hardy then surprised investigators when he confessed to not two, but three murders, stating that he had also killed Janet. He later led police to some of Janet’s remains and the lake where he disposed of her head.
Late August, 1976. The trial against Hardy starts. Hardy fires his QC (Queen’s Counsel, in Britain a term for a senior lawyer) and, defending himself, pleads guilty to manslaughter. He also claimed innocence on the grounds of ‘ diminished responsibility’. The judge however disagreed and convicted Hardy of murder three times. At sentencing the judge told Hardy: ‘This area is a happy place. But it will be a happier place without you. You have been convicted of the horrible murders of three young girls, and you will go to prison for life’. Hardy was sentenced to a whole-life tariff, meaning he would die in prison. After hearing his sentence, people in the public gallery started shouting at Hardy:‘Come up here, you murdering bastard . . . Die, you bastard’.
Hardy, still claiming innocence, sent a letter to the Mosoph family. In it he explains that his parents and upbringing are to blame for his later psychiatric problems.
Maxine, Sharon’s younger sister, was 10 at the time of Sharon’s murder. She remembers hearing in school that a girl had been found in the canal. Maxine told the Manchester Evening News about it: ‘When we got home, my uncle sat me and my brother Paul, who was 12, round the kitchen table. He told us a body had been found in the canal. Paul asked if I’d cried yet, and I said I hadn’t because my uncle had said it might not be Sharon. Then Paul said, “it is” because my dad had already told him. Then he said I wasn’t allowed to cry, because we weren’t allowed to tell my younger brother Mark, who was six. We had to stay with aunties in the weeks after and we went to different schools where we used different names. We weren’t allowed to watch television in case we saw anything upsetting. After the murder, my mum and dad became really overprotective and I wasn’t allowed to do anything. Mark was the youngest and he is the most bitter one.’ She also said that ‘It was horrible growing up without a sister. I hope he rots in there (prison), I don’t think he should be allowed to breathe to be honest. The judge made the right decision’.
February, 2008. Hardy asked the judge to set his minimum jail term to 30 years. The judge denied his request, stating that Hardy ‘did not accept his guilt nor show any remorse’ and that for him ‘life should mean life’.
September 23rd, 2012. Hardy collapses in his prison cell. He died two days later in hospital as a result of a heart attack. Sharon Mosoph’s father Ralf told the Manchester Evening News after hearing of Hardy’s death; ‘Me and my family think this is the best thing that has ever happened to us. It’s like winning the lottery. We’ve had a big party to celebrate his death. We feel as though a burden has been lifted from our shoulders, knowing that he cannot come out and do anything to anybody else. We knew he was inside but you cannot forget something like that. It preys on your mind. What he did was cold blooded murder. He was an animal’.
What an awful case! Did you know of it? Thoughts?