Aged only 17, Michael Downs was AWOL (Absent Without
Leave) as an army recruit with the 14/20 Kings Hussars,
when he made a dramatic sea rescue off Blackpool
He swam 50
yards to rescue James Tweedale. Mr Tweedale tragically
died in an ambulance on his way to hospital.
The following year while on duty in Libya Downs was
awarded the British Empire Medal for Gallantry, for the
Downs was convicted in Libya of the manslaughter of a
taxi driver, he was stripped of his medal, given 12
months in prison, and on his release was given a
dishonourable discharge from the army and shipped back
January 1978, Downs stabbed to death, and strangled
disabled, 64-year-old pensioner, Kate Weaver in a
South Shore, Blackpool, old people home.
He broke in to
the home in the early hours, around 5am, the body was
found in the kitchen with 2 stab wounds in the
back and one in her chest, her pyjama bottoms and the
washing line cord he had used to strangle her were found
in the next room.
A major police
investigation that interviewed over 12,000 people failed
to find a suspect.
January 1988, Downs struck again, this time he
sexually assaulted and then murdered 70-year-old
Gabrielle Morris at her little Bishpham guesthouse.
Again using a
washing line to strange, stab wound were found in her
back, and there were 38 minor cuts and bruises,
including injuries to the breasts, she was discovered
naked from the waist down.
Police found fingerprints at
the scene, and were able to identify them as belonging
to a known petty criminal, Michael Downs.
Downs confessed to both murders.
1989, Downs was jailed for life at Manchester Crown
Court. He was sent to serve his sentence at HMP Wakefield high
2001, The Home secretary, in a letter to Downs,
said, the minimum term he should serve before his
release on licence was 23 years.
8th September 2005, An appeal by Downs was heard in
the High Court before Mr. Justice Andrew Smith, he
upheld the appeal stating:-
direct that, subject to one qualification, that the
early release provisions are to apply to the applicant
after he has served 23 years. The qualification is that
the period that the applicant spent in custody awaiting
trial on these offences, which I understand to be 515
days, should count towards this period".
Downs was due for release in 2012,
it is not known what became of him after this time.