Killed paedophile suspect was hounded, says brother

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The Independent Online

A suspected paedophile who was battered to death while awaiting trial for indecency offences, had been victimised on the housing estate where he lived and was virtually blind, his brother said yesterday.

George Crawford was found dead on Friday night at his bungalow on the Kirkholt estate in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, in what could have been a vigilante attack. Post-mortem tests revealed he died from head injuries.

Mr Crawford, 64, had been scheduled to appear before Manchester Crown Court next month to answer ten charges of indecently assaulting two young boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He was expected to plead not guilty.

Roy Crawford said that his brother had become the victim of verbal abuse since the news of his impending trial spread across the Kirkholt estate.

"George had basically locked himself away after all this started. He was terrified of being got at if he went outside," he said. "He had people shouting things at his house at all times of the day and night. It wasn't just kids, but adults as well."

He added: "He was very nearly blind so there was not much he could do with himself. He liked a drink now and then but he couldn't really do that any more. He was scared."

Mr Crawford, who lived with his wife, Brenda and guide dog Alf, had always protested his innocence, saying that the accusations against him were a "pack of lies", his brother said.

"He was not worried about the trial. He said he was looking forward to it for the chance to clear his name."

Greater Manchester Police said they were keeping "an open mind" as to whether the killing was linked to the forthcoming trial.

Staff at Kirkholt Working Men's Club, where Mr Crawford was once a regular customer, said there were "mixed feelings" about his death.

Brenda Simmons, a club waitress, said: "There are some who think that only a court can decide whether someone is guilty and there are some who say if you're involved in that then you've got it coming.

"I think there was some aggravation, with people shouting things at his house, but I never saw or heard it myself."

Mr Crawford stopped making daily visits to the club after being accused of indecency, Mrs Simmons said. "After this trouble he just drifted away and we hardly saw him. I would still serve him if he came in and nobody shunned him as such, but he just stopped coming in."

Mrs Simmons said his wife was likely to be devastated. "Brenda looked after him like you would a child. They were very close."