Our Century

Chase killer jailed for life

Chase Killer
Flashback to November 16, 1968 and Raymond Leslie Morris, cevered with a raincoat, is taken to Cannock court, charged with the murder of Christine Darby.

Cannock Chase killer Raymond Leslie Morris was jailed for life at Stafford Assizes for the brutal murder of seven-year-old Christine Darby some 18 months earlier.

The verdict ended the seven-day trial of Morris which had attracted unprecedented public interest with queues more than 100-long forming each day for seats in the public gallery.

Morris, who is frequently referred to as being responsible for the A34 murders, was only ever convicted of that of Christine who had been enticed from her home in Walsall.

Many attempts have been made over the years to get Morris - aged 39 at the time of his trial - to killing two other little girls, Diane Tift and Margaret Reynolds.

The charges were allowed to lie on the file and have been lying there ever since.

The biggest murder hunt in the region had been sparked off by the discovery of the bodies of these two girls in a ditch at Mansty Gully on Cannock Chase more than three years earlier.

It took 15 months for the police to arrest Morris, an engineer who was living at the time opposite Walsall police station.

His name had come up as a potential suspect five times during the course of the long investigation.

Wolves ace Knowles in quit shock: Wolves footballer Peter Knowles, thought by many to be one of the greatest players of the decade, sensationally quit the game to become a Jehovah's Witness.

Peter KnowlesHe played his last game for Wolves on September 7 against Nottingham Forest leaving the football pitch for a new pitch in the streets of the town trying to convert others to the sect.

It had been a closely-guarded secret and even then Wolves manager Bill McGarry was taken aback by the suddenness of it all with the announcement coming just a few days before.

There were to be many rumours of a comeback by the man later immortalised in the Billy Bragg song "God's Footballer" but Knowles was never to be seen in a professional football match again.


Hospitals at full stretch as The Grippe bites: It was the year of one giant leap for mankind in space and the year in which Concorde first took to the skies but at ground level the West Midlands was in the grip of a huge epidemic which science or technology could not touch.

The decade ended and the new one began with several deaths across the region from a deadly flu virus known as The Grippe

Doctors and hospitals found themselves working at full pitch and a combination of the epidemic coupled with the Christmas and New Year holiday period resulted in funerals being postponed by anything up to 10 days.

The outbreak had started in Europe and quickly found its way across the Channel and up into the Midlands.

Some ambulancemen refused to carry flu victims and in Wolverhampton British Oxygen reported that demand for their product in hospitals had rocketed by up to 50 per cent since the start of the outbreak.

Absenteeism at firms across the region rocketed causing severe production problems while rail and bus services were also hit and Christmas deliveries of mail disrupted.

The Royal Hospital in Wolverhampton was unable to admit booked people on surgical waiting lists because of the pressure caused by the epidemic and the town's chemists isued a joint appeal urging people to return all unused medicine bottles.

Priest offers prayers for repayments: The Swinging Sixties were coming to a close and more mundane considerations like the struggle to pay the mortgage were returning to the headlines.

To this end a a parish priest from Chasetown near Lichfield offered special prayers for young couples struggling to keep up with the repayments.

Father Geoffrey Tucker, of St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, was taking prayers at Lichfield Rural Council's annual civic service in Burntwood.

In his prayers Father Tucker asked the congregation to pray for the couples so they could maintain their payments and keep their families together.

Afterwards he said: "I frequently pray for things like this that affect my congregation.

Evroy Deer
Being black can make things easier, although being black is no substitute for being good.