40 years in court from Beauty in the Bath murder to Death on Nile and Reservoir Dogs

A police convoy escorts a van carrying Moors Murderer Ian Brady away from Liverpool Crown Court, where he made his first court appearance in more than 30 years,  Monday February 28, 2000. The child-killer is demanding the right to die and will be giving evidence at a four-day judicial review in chambers at Liverpool Crown Court in front of Mr Justice Kay.  It was Brady's first appearance in court since May 1966, when he was convicted along with his lover Myra Hindley of murdering 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey and 17-year-old Edward Evans.  See PA story COURTS Brady.  PA photo: Phil Noble.
A police convoy escorts a van carrying Moors Murderer Ian Brady away from Liverpool Crown Court in 2000 -Credit:Phil Noble/PA

The imposing Queen Elizabeth II Law Courts is one of the busiest court centres in Europe and, in the past 40 years, some of the most high profile criminal proceedings heard in this country have taken place within its four walls.

The hulking brutalist construction in Derby Square was designed to mimic Liverpool Castle, which stood on the same site between the 13th and 18th centuries. When the building was first opened on May 2, 1984, it was the largest single crown court building outside of London.

Forty years on, the £35.5m complex - which was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II - has heard thousands of cases, with the ECHO being a constant presence in ensuring that open justice is seen to be done, reporting on proceedings and supporting the victims of crime. Since crown court proceedings moved from St George's Hall to the law courts on Derby Square, its pages have reported on some of the most notorious and groundbreaking criminal proceedings heard in the UK.

READ MORE: Castle to court: 40 years on historical Liverpool square

READ MORE: Keep up to date with all of the Liverpool ECHO's court coverage here

These include stories of murder and torture, deception and kidnap and include defendants ranging from teenage killers to some of the region's most loved celebrities. Earlier this week, the ECHO's nostalgia writer Jess Molyneux looked back through the Mirrorpix archives to uncover a series of images, unseen for years, which capture everything from the construction of the courts to their official opening and the early days in the 1980s.

You can see them in the gallery below.

The ECHO has now looked back through its previous reporting through the years to create a non-exhaustive list of some of the high-profile cases heard in the Queen Elizabeth II Law Courts.

Helen McCourt

Helen McCourt was just 22 when she was abducted and murdered by Ian Simms. The insurance clerk went missing after she had got off the bus near her home in Billinge, St Helens, on February 9 1988.

Over the following days, thousands of people met at a local church to comb the woods in a search for Ms McCourt, but her body was not found. The following month, her handbag, coat, mittens and other clothes were found and forensically linked to pub landlord Simms.

He denied murder and claimed that he was framed, someone else having broken into his pub while he was there, murdered Ms McCourt, dressed in his clothes and stolen his car to take away the body. Simms was convicted of murder and ordered to serve at least 16 years in prison after traces of blood and an opal and sapphire earring belonging to Ms McCourt were found in his car. His was one of the first murder convictions using DNA evidence.

Ten years later, he would challenge the findings. But the new evidence found the chances of the blood not being Ms McCourt’s was nine million to one.

Ms McCourt’s mum Marie launched a campaign to enact a law called Helen’s Law to prevent convicted murderers who refuse to reveal the location of their victims from being released. However, despite pressure from his own children, Simms died in 2022 without ever revealing the location of Ms McCourt’s body.

Comedy star Sir Ken Dodd

Ken Dodd arriving at court on July 20 1989
Helen McCourt was last seen on February 9 1988

The late, great Sir Ken Dodd poked fun at his court case for years to come as part of his act after being cleared of tax evasion charges. Knotty Ash’s most famous son stood trial at Liverpool Crown Court over the course of three weeks in the summer of 1989. It came after officials found £336,000 in cash stuffed inside suitcases in his attic.

Cheers broke out in the public gallery as the verdicts were returned by the jury. Upon leaving court following his acquittal, Dodd remarked: “What a beautiful day to say ‘thank God it’s all over’.” Sir Ken would frequently refer to himself as a “failed accountant” from then onwards.

Wife killer Norman ‘Eddie’ Gilfoyle

Eddie Gilfoyle was jailed for 18 years for killing his partner Paula in Upton, Wirral, in June 1992. Ms Gilfoyle, who was eight-and-a-half-months pregnant at the time of her death, was found hanged in their garage, with police believing Gilfoyle had convinced her to pen a suicide note and climb a ladder with a noose around her neck as part of a “project”.

Reports in the ECHO following the trial in 1993 said prosecutors theorised that she believed what he was telling her until it was too late. Prosecutors noted inconsistencies with the positioning of her feet on the bottom rung of the stepladder, with reconstructions later proving it was impossible for a suicide victim to end up in such a position.

Further analysis of the supposed suicide notes, apparently written up to two months beforehand, as well as early letters and notes written by Gilroyle during his early relationship with his future wife, showed that the handwriting was undoubtedly hers, but the sentence constructions were identical to his. A senior investigating officer later said “it was not a crime of passion, he just wanted Paula out of his life”.

However, since his release, Gilroyle has repeatedly campaigned to clear his name, launching a number of appeals against his conviction. He has always insisted that his wife took her own life, alleging fresh evidence showed she had previously attempted to take her own life. So far, his appeals have been dismissed.

The mystery of George Bromley's murder

Doorman George Bromley was gunned down while sitting and reading the newspaper, sparking a major police investigation which involved the FBI.

The 33-year-old was shot dead while sitting in the kitchen of businessman Charlie Seiga's home on Valescourt Road in West Derby in November 1997. The court case which followed heard how a masked gunman burst into the kitchen and killed the victim before making his escape.

Mr Bromley, a prominent door boss, was shot three times in the head by the assassin while reading the Daily Post. Mr Seiga subsequently provided a statement to police stating that the dad was a regular visitor to his house and had answered a ring of his doorbell to find the armed assailant.

The gunman then entered as the homeowner fled and hid in bushes, after which he found his friend lying in a pool of blood in his kitchen. A month later, he would be charged with Mr Bromley’s murder. However, Mr Seiga would ultimately be cleared of this charge following a trial. The case remains unsolved.

Wife killer Mitchell Quy

Mitchell Quy arrives at Southport Magistrates' Court
Ken Dodd arriving at court on July 20 1989 -Credit:Mirrorpix

Mitchell Quy was a sadistic killer who murdered his wife Lynsey, 21, and then played a sick game with both the press and the public in the following months. He led the police on an 18-month search after claiming his partner had disappeared.

However, the killer had actually strangled the mum-of-two at their Birkdale home while their children slept upstairs in 1998. He then cut up her body and, with the help of his brother Elliot, spread her remains around Southport.

A trial heard that Merseyside Police had suspected Quy of the killing the moment she was reported missing by social services in February 1999. Officers watched for 18 months as he appeared on TV, including on This Morning, pleading for his wife to come home.

It later emerged that he had in fact killed her a week before Christmas in 1998 after she told him that she wanted to end their relationship. He was sentenced to life after he reversed his plea and admitted murder

A judge told him he had “embarked on a deception of breathtaking cynicism by appearing on television and bemoaning his wife’s absence”. His brother was also jailed for his involvement.

The ‘Death on the Nile’ murder

John Allan and Cheryl Lewis
Eddie and Paula Gilfoyle on their wedding day.

Oxton-man John Allan sparked headlines in 1998 when he murdered his wife Cheryl Lewis in the same hotel where Agatha Christie wrote her 1937 crime classic “Death on the Nile”. Successful solicitor Ms Lewis became the victim of a calculated poisoning plot carried out by Allan, who relied on his partner financially.

At the point of her death, Ms Lewis was worth around £400,000. Unbeknown to her, he had forged her will in 1997 and made himself the main beneficiary. Ms Lewis fell ill at the Egyptian hotel and soon died. Her death was reported by the Egyptian authorities, who sent a report to Merseyside Police after Allan returned back to the Wirral.

After an inquest discovered cyanide in her stomach, he was arrested in February 1999. Despite having a heart attack, he was questioned and charged with his wife’s murder.

A seven-week trial at Liverpool Crown Court heard that four blocks of sodium cyanide were found in a car Allan was driving. He even tried to claim drug dealers, arms runners or diamond smugglers were behind the poisoning.

However, a jury found him guilty of murder by poisoning Ms Lewis’s gin and tonic. His act was called a “cruel and premeditated killing” as he was sentenced to life in prison. Allan remains behind bars today.

The ‘Beauty in the Bath’ murder

Cynthia Bolshaw was described as a "lovely, gentle woman"
George Bromley was shot dead in November 1997

The case of Cynthia Bolshaw, who was found strangled to death in the bath at her own home in November 1983, baffled the nation for a number of years. Despite the biggest murder investigation in Wirral since the killing of stewardess Hazel Booth, officers were unable to piece together who was behind her murder.

However, in March 1999, a huge breakthrough was made when a man called John Taft confided in his wife that he had known Ms Bolshaw and asked her to provide him with an alibi. However, it was found that he had in fact visited the victim that night.

After former lovers of Ms Bolshaw were traced and asked to provide DNA, Taft was charged with murder and a trial, dubbed the “Beauty in the Bathtub” case, began in November 1999. The jury were told intimate details of Ms Bolshaw’s sex life as extracts of her diary were read to the court.

Taft admitted he had had an affair with her, but claimed she was alive and unharmed when he left her on the night of her death. However, after a 10-day trial, he was found guilty by a jury by a majority verdict.

The judge told Taft, as he was sentenced to life in prison: “What is clear is that you kept quiet for 16 years and never told the truth about what took place that night. You are an intelligent and calculating man who has never shown any remorse.”

The sadistic killer of Alice Rye

Undated file of widow Alice Rye, from Wirral, Merseyside. A police informant convicted of murdering and mutilating Alice Rye after conning his way into her detached home was jailed for life Friday 16 July 1999 at Liverpool Crown Court. Kevin Joseph Morrison 60, formerly of the Pinsold Centre, in Toole, near Nantwich, Cheshire bound and gagged the 74-year-old mother-of-three before stabbing her several times - one wound fatally piercing the heart. See PA story COURTS Informant. PA photo.
Mitchell Quy arrives at Southport Magistrates' Court -Credit:Liverpool Echo

74-year-old Alice Rye was horrifically tortured then murdered by police informant Kevin Morrison. He forced Ms Rye to get her to hand over her bank details, stabbed her in the chest and, after she was dead, put a knife in each eye.

In 1999, Morrison was jailed at Liverpool Crown Court after being convicted of the killing and was ordered to serve at least 18 years before he could apply for parole. The killing at Ms Rye’s home in Spital was described as “premeditated, planned and sadistic”.

After killing her, he left her with his victim’s knickers. Ms Rye, who had been a widow since 1986, was described by friends as a private woman who gave generously to charity.

She played an active role in her local church and was described by the vicar as “a popular lady - elegant, dignified, a woman of poise”. Morrison went to the police and tried to claim an associate had confessed to the murder. But the court saw through his “pack of lies” and reached a guilty verdict for the “brutal, wicked and horrific” murder after three hours.

Sentencing the vile killer, the presiding judge told him: "You are a truly evil man and you are also in my view, on the evidence given, very dangerous."

Reservoir Dogs killers

Michael Moss, a resident of a children’s home, was just 15 when he was tortured to death by Mark McKeefrey, Allan Bentley and Graham Neary on the Moss Lane playing fields in 1999. During a horrifying trial, jurors heard the three schoolboys had reenacted a scene from Quentin Tarantino’s film Reservoir Dogs during the grotesque attack.

When Michael’s body was found, he had suffered more than 100 separate injuries including slashings with broken bottles. McKeefrey is said to have tried to sever Michael's ear with a broken vodka bottle while the boys sang Stuck In The Middle With You, the song used in Tarantino's film during an infamous torture scene.

The high-profile trial heard that the assault, which persisted over a two-hour period, was orchestrated by Bentley as he believed his victim was having a relationship with his former girlfriend. All three were found guilty of murder after a 17-day trial and jailed for life.

Speaking after the verdict, Michael’s mum Liz labelled the boys as “evil and sadistic”. She added: “They should suffer like we will for the rest of our lives. We will never come to terms with it. They have destroyed our lives. I will never forgive them.” All three boys have since been released from prison.

Moors murderer Ian Brady

Ian Brady
John Allan and Cheryl Lewis -Credit:Liverpool Echo

Moors murderer Ian Brady made his first court appearance in 30 years at Liverpool Crown Court in 2000 as he sought the right to starve himself to death.

A High Court judge refused his right to die case, the then 62-year-old having been on hunger strike at Ashworth Hospital in Maghull at the time. The child killer was escorted to and from court under a heavy police escort.

Brady was handed a whole life sentence in 1966 after being convicted, along with his lover Myra Hindley, of the murder of 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey and 17-year-old Edward Evans. He was also convicted of killing 12-year-old John Kilbride and later confessed to murdering 16-year-old Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett.

His appearance before the Queen Elizabeth II Law Courts came after he began starving himself in protest at being moved from one ward to another, which led to him being fed through a tube inserted into his nose. Brady died aged 79 in the high security psychiatric hospital in 2017.

The racist killers of Anthony Walker

Anthony Walker, 18, was walking with his girlfriend and cousin on the evening of July 30 2005 when he was racially abused by then 17-year-old Michael Barton, who also threatened to stab him. Anthony's group decided to walk to another bus stop near McGoldrick Park in Huyton as a result, but were followed in a car by Barton and his cousin Paul Taylor - who jumped out and ambushed Anthony as he reached the park.

Taylor, then 20, drove an ice axe into Anthony's skull, causing fatal brain injuries. The murder caused shockwaves in Merseyside and a huge manhunt was launched for Anthony's killers, who fled to Amsterdam.

They were eventually arrested upon their return to the UK on August 2. Taylor pleaded guilty to murder on the day their trial was due to start, while Barton was convicted of murder by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court. Taylor was jailed for life with a minimum term of 23 years, while Barton was handed a minimum term of 17 years.

The teenage killers of 11-year-old Rhys Jones

Rhys Jones was just 11 when he was killed when he got hit by a bullet fired by teenage gangster Sean Mercer. The then 18-year-old thug, part of the Croxteth Crew gang, murdered the innocent boy as he crossed a car park after football practice shortly before 7.30pm on August 22, 2007.

The bullets, fired indiscriminately from an ancient .455 Smith & Wesson revolver, were aimed at rival Nogga Dogs gang members who had entered the Croxteth Crew’s territory. Shaven-headed Mercer denied being the hooded gunman caught on CCTV firing three bullets across the car park of the Fir Tree pub.

But a jury rejected his lies and found him guilty of murder after a 10-week trial that saw Mercer and his co-defendants sickeningly laugh and joke throughout proceedings. Mercer appeared in court alongside James Yates, Gary Kays, Melvin Coy, Nathan Quinn (previously Boy Q) and Boy M, who were convicted of assisting an offender.

Yates was also convicted of possessing a prohibited firearm and Dean Kelly was convicted of assisting an offender and possessing two firearms and ammunition. Mercer, who gave no evidence during the trial, was eventually jailed for a minimum of 22 years.

Addressing Mercer, Mr Justice Irwin said: “Rhys Jones died at your hands. His death was a tragedy for him and for his family, a waste of a promising, young life.

“His parents’ dignity throughout this process has been deeply impressive to any of us who have seen it. The way they have behaved has been a standing reproach to those in the dock, and particularly to you Mercer, who killed their son.

“But it is clear that their composure conceals searing emotions, which we can guess at, but which those of us who have not lost a child can hardly grasp. The impact upon them and upon Rhys’ brother is enormous. There is only one sentence for murder, namely imprisonment for life, and that is the sentence I shall pass upon you."

Several others, including Mercer’s mum, were jailed for their roles in perverting the course of justice.

Liverpool FC captain Steven Gerrard

Former Liverpool FC captain and club legend Steven Gerrard was cleared of affray in a Southport nightclub following a trial in July 2009. A jury took just 75 minutes to unanimously find the Huyton-born midfielder not guilty of the charge, which related to a bar brawl on December 29 2008.

Gerrard was alleged to have attacked Marcus McGee in the Lounge Inn. The star was accused of delivering three uppercuts to the businessman minutes after the pair clashed over the music being played in the club.

Gerrard admitted hitting Mr McGee but denied affray, saying he had been acting in self-defence as he thought the other man was going to strike him. Six other co-defendants pleaded guilty to the charge of affray before it went to court.

Gerrard was flanked by LFC solicitor Richard Green and club official Owen Brown in court and welled up in tears as a statement from Liverpool legend Sir Kenny Daglish was read out. Following the not guilty verdict, Judge Henry Globe KC told Gerrard: “The verdict is a credible verdict on the full facts of the case, and you walk away from this court with your reputation intact.”

Gerrard told reporters outside the courtroom: “Can I just say how pleased I am with today’s verdict. I’d like to put the case behind me. I’m really looking forward to the season ahead and concentrating on football.”

Former Brookside star Brian Regan

Former Brookside star Brian Regan, who played bad boy Terry Sullivan in the soap, was charged with murder in connection with a plot to shoot dead doorman Bahman “Batman” Faraji in 2011. He admitted being the getaway driver for the killer, but said he had no knowledge of what he became embroiled in.

From the witness box, he told the jury how he drove convicted armed robber Edward Heffey to the scene before his passenger got out of the car and shot the 44-year-old victim dead. Regan said he never saw the gunman with any weapon or even heard any shots.

He instead claimed that he had waited in the car 100 metres away snorting cocaine off his thumb while listening to Classic FM. The actor was cleared of knowingly playing a part in the dad-of-one’s execution outside the Belgrave pub in Aigburth, but was still jailed for four years and 10 months after police found a stash of cocaine at his Garston flat and because he lied to the detectives investigating the murder.

Torturer and killer Adam Lewis

“Sadistic” teenager Adam Lewis tortured and murdered his teenage girlfriend in a frenzied attack. Lewis, who was 18 at the time, tied his girlfriend Hannah Windsor to a tree, sexually assaulted her, then strangled her and attacked her with a knife in 2012.

Two days after Hannah disappeared, Lewis was arrested for burglary and arson. After he was released on bail, he confessed to his sister that he had killed Hannah and his grandad called the police. He was jailed for life with a minimum term of 22 years at Liverpool’s crown court.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Holroyde told him: "Only you know what you did to Hannah and in what order you did it. It is, however, clear that you deliberately inflicted cruel injuries upon her which must have caused her immense pain and suffering."

He added: "Adam Lewis, that was a prolonged, merciless and terrible attack, which must have been agonisingly painful for Hannah Windsor before she died. You must have known what dreadful pain you were causing her."

Speaking outside court, Hannah's mother, Gaynor Murray, broke down in tears as she said: “He deserved what he got and I'm so made up. Today was the best thing that could have happened - now we can actually mourn in peace for Hannah, my beautiful little girl.”

Merseyrail guard Christopher McGee

Merseyrail guard Christopher McGee was found guilty of causing the death of a teenage girl after she fell under a train and died. Georgia Varley fell between the carriage and platform at James Street station in October 2011. McGee, then 45, denied manslaughter but was found guilty at crown court.

McGee had signalled for the driver to depart as Georgia, who was drunk, stood on the platform leaning against the train. The prosecution said McGee should have been able to see she was in an “intoxicated” state - but the guard told the jury he thought the sixth form student was moving away from the train.

McGee was told the teenager was “in the most obvious position of danger” - and he had been repeatedly trained and instructed in matters of safety. A jury found him guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence and he was jailed for five years.

In passing sentence, the judge said: “You did not intend to kill or even to injure her, but you displayed an appalling disregard for her safety and she paid for your criminal negligence with her life.” Georgia’s mum Paula Redmond said: “To say she was a wonderful, amazing daughter would be a massive understatement.”

Football coach paedophile Barry Bennell

Barry Bennell was convicted of abusing young footballers after grooming them with claims he could fulfil their dreams of a career in the game. The serial paedophile had previously received three jail sentences for similar offences, but was found guilty of sex offences against more victims following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court in 2018.

He was described as a “child molester on an industrial scale” who would not just groom his victims, but also their families. Players who had been coached by Bennell spoke of the “power hold” he had over them as they dreamed of becoming a professional player.

The coach was said to have been treated like “God” at Manchester City’s Maine Road ground. But he abused the boys at his homes, where he had arcade games and kept exotic pets including a puma and monkey, and also on trips away in his car while on the way to and from training.

Bennell, who had part of his tongue removed due to cancer, declined to give evidence. But transcripts from police interviews showed him admitting having a “grooming process” and being attracted to teenage boys.

Although he denied the new allegations and said his accusers were “jumping on the bandwagon”, he was jailed for 30 years for abusing 12 young players between 1979 and 1991.

The serial fraudster David Barton

In July 2018, care home owner David Barton was exposed following a mammoth year-long trial as a despicable fraudster who stole millions of pounds from elderly residents who he befriended at the luxurious Barton Park Nursing Home in Southport. He was convicted of multiple frauds and thefts after the longest trial in the history of Liverpool Crown Court.

The once respected businessman got away with his brazen crimes for 18 years, but was finally caught out due to his “extraordinary greed”.

Reporting restrictions meant the ECHO was unable to report the details until the culmination of the proceedings. However, it was later revealed that he had groomed residents to become their next of kin, obtained power of attorney and became an executor of their wills, liquidated assets so they could be cashed into their bank accounts, sold elderly women his Rolls Royce cars for a grossly inflated price to steal back via inheritance and tried to claim £10m from the estate of a resident when she died.

Heartless Barton Sr was jailed for 21 years, with a lawyer, who represented a couple fleeced for a staggering sum, telling the ECHO justice had finally been served. The stony-faced conman who was repeatedly scolded by the judge for shaking his head when charges were laid out in court, eventually had his sentence slashed to 17 years on appeal.

The torturers and killers of Joseph McKeever

Murder victim Joseph McKeever
Cynthia Bolshaw was described as a "lovely, gentle woman" -Credit:Liverpool Echo

Dad-of-one Joseph McKeever’s death was one of the most brutal crimes in the history of Liverpool. The 54-year-old was interrogated by crooks over £900,000 of missing cannabis after a drug importation plot went wrong.

But when the dealers didn’t get the answers they wanted, he was subjected to “nothing less than torture”. Police discovered his battered body in the boot of a stolen Ford Focus, set ablaze on wasteland off Wyre Road in Everton.

Mr McKeever had suffered two “shattered” kneecaps, broken eye sockets, brain damage and a crushed voice box and was strangled at least twice with a ligature. Jamie Grimes, then 21, was convicted of murder.

Darren Colecozy, then 22, and Karl Kelly, then 31, were convicted of manslaughter; and Dylan Owen, then 22, was convicted of assisting an offender following a trial in February 2018. Anthony Wales, then 36, pleaded guilty to murder at the start of a second trial in January 2019.

Then, in 2021, Lee Knox, who fled to Belfast immediately after the killing and who claimed to be a “terrified witness”, at one point sobbing in the dock, was jailed for 30 years. Judge Andrew Menary said: “Mr McKeever died because he became involved in serious crime with you.

“But he did nothing to provoke what ultimately happened to him. The circumstances of [Mr McKeever’s] detention and killing were truly horrific.”

Gangland assassin Mark ‘Iceman’ Fellows

Hitman Mark Fellows who received a whole life jail term for the gangland murders of a "Mr Big" and a mob enforcer
Alice Rye -Credit:PA

Mark Fellows, known in the criminal underworld as ‘The Iceman’, and Steven Boyle were jailed after an extensive trial at Liverpool Crown Court for their roles in the assassinations of underworld fixer John Kinsella and Salford’s Mr Big Paul Massey. Boyle, convicted of being a “spotter” for Fellows ahead of Mr Kinsella’s murder in May 2018, was given life with a minimum of 33 years behind bars.

However, gun-for-hire Fellows, convicted of both murders, was given a whole-life sentence. He gunned down Mr Massey at his home in Manchester in July 2015 amid a deadly feud with a rival organised crime group.

Fellows, who pre-planned the killing well in advance by scouting out suitable routes to and from the scene, used an Uzi sub-machine gun to execute his victim. Three years later, he recruited criminal associate Boyle and killed Mr Kinsella, a friend of Mr Massey’s, near to the M62 in Rainhill.

Mr Kinsella was executed with two gunshots to the back of the head in front of his long-term partner. The gangland hitman was later handed a second life sentence for his involvement in another attack in the months before he murdered Mr Massey.

The sentencing judge called Fellows a “contract killer” and a “gun for hire prepared to kill whoever you were asked to kill by those who hired you”.

Serial paedophile Vicki Bevan

Vicki Bevan instigated and organised the rape and sexual abuse of a young girl
Floral tributes are left close to the spot where the body of 15 year old murder victim Michael Moss was found in Litherland

A sick woman said she wanted to "eat children" after sexually abusing them with two men.

Vicki Bevan carried out some of her appalling sexual fantasies alongside Paul Rafferty and Tony Hutton by raping and abusing a young girl. She also spent time discussing with another man their desire to “kidnap, rape, torture, kill and then eat children” after abusing them.

The 37-year-old filmed and photographed the girl being assaulted and the images were shared online, which led to their downfall when they were found on a mobile phone. Liverpool Crown Court heard in 2022 that Bevan was caught out after police seized the phone which revealed 458 pages of highly sexualised WhatsApp conversations with her as well as indecent images.

The Honorary Recorder of Liverpool Judge Andrew Menary QC said: "The contents of some of those chats is truly, truly shocking. Even allowing for some people’s capacity for perversion - some of these conversations are beyond disturbing."

Bevan pleaded guilty to a total of 34 sex offences including one joint rape charge and five sex assaults with Rafferty and one charge of sex abuse jointly with Hutton. Hutton pleaded guilty to one offence of sexual assault along with Bevan and three of making indecent images of children.

Rafferty was jailed for ten years with an extended licence of four years. Hutton was jailed for four years. Bevan was jailed for life with a minimum term of 10 years and eight months behind bars.

The teenager killer of Ava White

Ava White was stabbed to death in Liverpool city centre in November 2021
Ian Brady -Credit:Getty Images

Ava White was just 12 when she was stabbed in the neck in Liverpool city centre. The Notre Dame Catholic College pupil, who was watching the Christmas lights switch-on, was knifed by a teenager from South Liverpool with a flick knife after an argument about him filming her on Snapchat.

After stabbing Ava, the boy, whose identity is still protected by reporting restrictions, laughed, ran away and then ditched the weapon, his designer coat and mobile phone. Liverpool Crown Court heard that he then tried to “cover up” the murder by taking selfies, buying crumpets and playing video games.

He gave a false alibi to the police and blamed another boy for killing Ava before changing his story and claiming to have acted in self defence. However, following a 12-day trial, jurors took just over two hours to convict him of murder.

Boy A, who will soon be approaching his 17th birthday, was handed a life sentence with a minimum of 13 years. Justice Amanda Yip said: "Ava’s death has left a huge hole in the lives of her family and friends. It is a hole that will never be filled.

"Ava will never grow up and fulfil her dreams. She will be remembered by many, and their lives will be marked forever. The way in which Ava met her death shocked this city. For a young girl to be stabbed in the neck in the city centre while many people, including children, were there to enjoy the turning on of the Christmas lights is truly shocking."

The killer of Elle Edwards

Elle Edwards who was shot dead  Connor Chapman outside the Lighthouse pub in Wallasey Village, Wirral
Undated picture of Anthony Walker, who was killed with an ice axe in Huyton, Merseyside.

Connor Chapman was convicted of murdering the 26-year-old in July 2023, having shot the popular beautician dead outside the Lighthouse pub in Wallasey, Wirral, on Christmas Eve 2022. Co-defendant Thomas Waring was found guilty of assisting an offender and possession of a prohibited weapon in relation to the Skorpion submachine gun used in the shooting.

Liverpool Crown Court heard Elle's death was the "culmination" of a vicious feud between two rival gangs based in the Woodchurch and Beechwood estates in Wirral. Detectives established that Chapman, from Woodchurch, was attempting to shoot two rival gang members, Beechwood affiliated Kieran Salkeld and Jake Duffy, when he fired 12 shots at the pub.

Chapman was jailed for life with a minimum term of 48 years. Waring was locked up for nine years.

The killers of Ashley Dale

Ashley Dale
Liverpool schoolboy Rhys Jones

Ashley Dale, a 28-year-old council worker, was shot dead in her own home on Leinster Road in Old Swan in the early hours of August 21 2022. James Witham, Joseph Peers, Niall Barry and Sean Zeisz were unanimously convicted of her murder in November 2023 following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

They were also found guilty of conspiracy to murder Ms Dale's boyfriend Lee Harrison and conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon, namely a Skorpion submachine gun, and ammunition with intent to endanger life. Ian Fitzgibbon was cleared of these three charges while a sixth defendant, Kallum Radford, was acquitted of assisting an offender.

Gunman Witham was imprisoned for life with a minimum term of 43 years. Getaway driver Peers, 29, was told he must serve at least 41 years behind bars. "Organisers" Barry and Zeisz were also handed life sentences with 47 and 42-year tariffs.

Don't miss the biggest and breaking stories by signing up to the Echo Daily newsletter here