'It could have been me' - Memorial bid launched by friend of murdered paperboy Carl Bridgewater
A friend of murdered paperboy Carl Bridgewater has revealed how he came close to being the target of the teenager’s brutal killers instead of his schoolfriend.
Adrian Goodaker was speaking as the 40th anniversary approaches of the murder at remote Yew Tree Farm, near Stourbridge, where 13-year-old Carl was shot dead at point-blank range whilst delivering the evening paper after apparently interrupting a burglary.
The buildings maintenance contractor, now 54, told how he was offered the round just weeks before Carl, but turned it down to earn more money on a busier route.
He even rode the route with his best friend John Hanson, who was giving up the round, and remembered calling at Yew Tree Farm.
“When I see photographs of that entrance in newspapers and books and think, ‘I delivered a paper through that very door’, I realise how lucky I was. I went out with John to see how I would like it. It was a beautiful area, all million-pound homes, very exclusive but only about 20 houses on the route, so consequently less pocket money.
“My twin brother Ian had a round twice that size and earned twice the money so I thought about it overnight and told John the next day I’d let it go.
“Carl took on the round and sadly it wasn’t long, just a few weeks, before he was shot.”
Police went on to charge suspects, who became known as the Bridgewater Four, after they were arrested in connection with an armed robbery in Halesowen.
Patrick Molloy, James Robinson, and cousins Michael and Vincent Hickey had their convictions overturned after 18 years, in 1997, amid concerns about the police evidence.
On milestone anniversaries of the killing on September 19, 1978, Mr Goodaker, who lived three doors from Carl in Wordsley, has considered marking the passing of his ‘dear friend’ in some lasting way but life always got in the way.
Now, however, he has set up a crowdfunding page to raise £1,000 over the next month to create and install a bench at one of the teenager’s favourite places, Himley Hall, overlooking the lake where he used to sail.
He describes his pal on the website as ‘a wonderful young man who would have grown into a beautiful loving soul’.
Over coffee at his terraced Dudley home, he recalls the care-free, innocent fun they had as boys playing Rally 123, Tag, Spotlight and piggyback fighting. “I could take you to the tree where we would throw up sticks to get the best conkers,” he said. “I remember one day we decided to gather up all the empty milk bottles on people’s doorsteps and put them outside this one house and then knock on their door and run. There must have been 300 bottles lining the path.
“Or we’d go to the park and challenge each other to run across the bowling green before the park keeper saw us. Carl’s nickname was Atom because he had so much energy. I was Spud, my brother was Mouse, we all had nicknames. I was a few months older than Carl but in the streets where we lived, we were a community, we were all very close. So when this happened, it shocked us to the core.”
The crowdfunding appeal has reached the halfway mark. If it exceeds the target, Mr Goodaker will speak to Carl’s parents about how they would like to see the money spent.
- To donate, go to justgiving.com/crowdfunding/adrian-goodaker