1986, Stephenson and his wife, Fiona, were working
for the Cleaver family at their 7-acre mansion, Burgate
House, Fordingbridge in the New Forest, but Stephenson's
wife left him after he beat her, the family did not
approve, and sacked him for the beating and for
planned to rob a wages office in Nuneaton, he knew the
Cleaver's had guns and ammunition, and after being
sacked decided he would steal the guns.
September 1986, Stephenson knew the family routine,
he also knew that they would leave a front door key in
the porch so as not to be disturbed at dinner time.
Dinner was at 8pm sharp every evening.
entered the house just after 8pm, went to the dinning
room where the family were eating, they threatened them
with a gun and a pickaxe, they then marched the family,
including the family nurse upstairs, where they tied
them up and gagged them.
searched the house for the guns and ammunition and any
other valuables, they stole a TV and other small
they returned upstairs and took it in turns to rape
Wendy Cleaver while the others watched. At the
instruction of Stephenson, one of his accomplices, John
Daley, then strangled her.
The gang then
doused the family in petrol, threw in a lit firelighter
and left, leaving the family to burn to death.
September 1986, The gardener and housekeeper arrived
for work the following morning to find smoke coming out
of the bedroom window, after finding it too hot to enter
the room they drove to the local police station to
report the crime.
letters in the house from the Stephenson's applying for
jobs at the house, they went to the property and found
the Cleavers TV and other items, but the Stephenson's
were no where to be found.
A huge TV and
press story followed with a national manhunt.
2 days later
Stephenson handed himself in, saying he had been in
Coventry. Police checked records and found that the
payment for a hire car had been paid by known criminal
George Daly, George and his brother John were later
arrested at their Coventry home.
1987, The three accused, George Stephenson, George
Daly and brother John Daly all denied murder at
Winchester Crown Court. Stephenson and George Daly also
denied rape and robbery, but John Daly admitted both.
October 1987, George Stephenson was found guilty of
murdering Mr and Mrs Cleaver, their son, Thomas, and Mrs
Murphy. He was cleared of murdering Wendy Cleaver but,
co-defendant, John Daly was convicted of the killing.
ruled that Stephenson should serve 6 life sentences,
with a recommendation he serve a minimum 25 years before
being considered for parole.
John Daly was
given 7 life sentences after being convicted of the same
offences. George Daly was cleared of murder but
sentenced to 22 years for rape, robbery and
Stephenson's sentence was increased to 35 years by then
Home Secretary Jack Straw.
2008, Stephenson had appealed to have his
sentence reduced by 10 years.
The high court
denied Stephenson the right to appeal his sentence, and
upheld the 2001 sentence.
was put up for sale some time after the murders, but
with no one wanting to buy it, it was eventually