Murdered couple had reported prowler to police

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Joan Stirland telephoned police to report a prowler just minutes before she and her husband were murdered in their bungalow.

Mrs Stirland and her husband John had fled their Nottingham home and moved to the seaside community of Trusthorpe in Lincolnshire after their son had murdered a young man. The pair lived in fear of repercussions.

But Mr Stirland, 55, and his wife, 53, were gunned down at home on Sunday afternoon in what appeared to have been a revenge attack. Neighbours saw two men running from the scene while a burning VW Passat, believed to be the escape car, was found two miles away.

Last night it was revealed that, at 2pm that day, just minutes before police believe the "perfectly pleasant" couple were killed, Mrs Stirland telephoned Nottinghamshire police to say her neighbour had spotted a man hanging around the bungalow the night before.

"She said it had not been reported to Lincolnshire police. She emphasised she did not want the background of her and her husband released and asked for a normal response to a prowler incident," a spokesman said.

The pair had moved after her son, Michael O'Brien, 23, shot and killed Marvyn Bradshaw after a row at a pub in Nottingham. When he was convicted of murder, the court heard that his 22-year-old victim had been an innocent bystander and his friend, bouncer Jamie Gunn, had allegedly been the target.

Mr Gunn, 19, died 10 days ago of natural causes, said to be pneumonia. Yesterday, his mother Julie, 36, blamed her son's death on the "heartbreak" he had suffered since witnessing the death of his best friend.

He had seemed on a mission to "self-destruct" ever since, she explained, adding: "Jamie held Marvyn in his arms after he had been shot. I think he may as well have died then, too."