April 9

This Day in History

Crime

Apr 9, 1984:

A husband attempts murder for money in England

Margaret Backhouse turns the ignition of her husband's car, setting off a pipe bomb filled with nitroglycerine and shotgun pellets in the small farming community of Horton, England. Hundreds of pellets lacerated her body and practically tore away her legs, but she was relatively lucky in that most of the bomb's force was deflected away from her. Passersby found Backhouse and brought her to a local hospital, where she was treated and later recovered.

The explosion of the car bomb came only days after a worker at the Backhouse's Widden Hall Farm had found a sheep's head impaled on a fence with a note attached that read, "You Next." Graham Backhouse had complained to police that he had been receiving threats for some time. The police had ignored the complaints until the bombing incident.

After the explosion, authorities closely examined the note previously found with the sheep's head. At a forensics lab, investigators found the impression of a doodle on the back of the threat note. The police also interviewed Graham Backhouse extensively to see who might be responsible. He told them that he had been feuding with Colyn Bedale-Taylor, a neighbor who was known to have been acting irrationally after the sudden death of his son.

While Margaret was recovering in the hospital, Graham refused police protection. Then, on April 30, police were called to Widden Hall Farm to find an appallingly bloody scene: Graham Backhouse slashed several times across the face and chest, and Bedale-Taylor dead from two shots in the chest. Backhouse told the police that Bedale-Taylor had come over and admitted planting the bomb before slashing him with a Stanley knife. He said that he then ran and got his shotgun, which he used to kill Bedale-Taylor.

Although the police found evidence at Bedale-Taylor's house linking him to the bomb, they also found evidence suggesting that he did not own the Stanley knife found in his hand. In addition, physical evidence at the crime scene did not correspond with Backhouse's description of events. This led police to search the Backhouse home. A notebook in Graham's drawer showed a doodle that perfectly matched the impression on the "You Next" threat note.

Investigators then pieced together the whole plot: Backhouse had increased his wife's life insurance, created the false threats, set the car bomb, and then, to avoid detection, framed and killed Bedale-Taylor. In 1985, Backhouse was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

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