Barry Peter Prudom
|Died||4 July 1982 (aged 37)|
Malton, North Yorkshire, England
|Cause of death||Gunshot wound|
|Resting place||Unmarked grave, Harehills Cemetery, Leeds|
|Other names||Barry Edwards, The Phantom in the Forest|
|Criminal status||Deceased (suicide)|
|Spouse(s)||Gillian Wilson (divorced 1977)|
|Parent(s)||Peter Kurylo and Kathleen Edwards|
Barry Peter Prudom (18 October 1944 – 4 July 1982) was an English electrician and multiple murderer, known as The Phantom in the Forest, who became the subject of a police manhunt and what was at the time the largest armed police operation Great Britain had ever seen, involving 12 police forces. Prudom became a fugitive after killing PC David Haigh on 17 June 1982. Before being captured he killed twice more, shooting civilian George Luckett on 23 June 1982 and Police Sergeant David Winter on 28 June 1982. Described as an "avid outdoorsman and firearms enthusiast" Prudom's knowledge of military survival skills learned while training with the SAS helped him evade capture for 18 days as he hid out in rural areas in the north of England. When eventually found, having been tracked by "Jungle" Eddie McGee, a former SAS instructor, Prudom committed suicide by firing a single shot to his head. It later transpired that Prudom had previously attended survival courses run by McGee, and had made extensive study of a manual on survival techniques written by the SAS veteran, entitled No Need To Die.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Timeline
- 2.1 17 June – Murder of PC David Haigh
- 2.2 19 June – Car discovered
- 2.3 20 June – Robbery of Freda Jackson
- 2.4 23 June – Murder of George Luckett
- 2.5 24 June – Attempted murder of PC Oliver
- 2.6 25–26 June – Police search Dalby Forest
- 2.7 28 June – Identification of Prudom, murder of PS David Winter
- 2.8 30 June – Eddie McGee joins manhunt
- 2.9 1 July – Siege of Malton
- 2.10 3 July – Prudom resurfaces
- 2.11 4 July – Police locate Prudom
- 3 Inquest
- 4 In the media
- 5 In popular culture
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
Prudom was the illegitimate son of Kathleen Edwards, a Leeds dressmaker, and Peter Kurylo, a soldier serving with the British Army. Kurylo played no part in Prudom's upbringing and the two never met. The family home was at 39 Grosvenor Place, Leeds, and Prudom attended Blenheim Primary school and Meanwood Secondary School. Although born Barry Edwards, his name was changed to Barry Prudom in 1949 when his mother married Alex Prudom. He was briefly sent to an approved school in Aycliffe Village, County Durham for housebreaking. After leaving school, Prudom commenced an apprenticeship and trained as an electrician. In October 1965 he married Gillian Wilson, who was then aged 19 years. There were two children from the marriage, a daughter born in 1966, and a son in 1970. Prudom's mother died in a drowning accident while on holiday in 1973.
Service with special forces
In 1969 Prudom enlisted with Leeds-based B Squadron, 23 Special Air Service (V), part of the Army's part-time volunteer Territorial force. The unit specialised in covert surveillance, reconnaissance and "stay-behind" operations. Prudom was eventually rejected by the unit as he was considered temperamentally unsuitable and disliked discipline. It is unknown which stage he had reached in the selection phase, which for the Territorials is spread over a longer period, although he did participate in training manoeuvres with the unit. An official statement revealed only that he had "failed the final initiative test".
Prudom subsequently established himself as a grocer, and purchased a shop for his wife on Quarry Street, Leeds, but by 1977 he was working for the petroleum industry in Saudi Arabia to earn more money. While he was there his wife left him for another man. Police later disclosed that "While he was [in Saudi Arabia] his wife formed a liaison with another man and he got a 'Dear John' letter, which must have had a traumatic effect on him. From being a very stable hard working man, he became morose and irritable, and he was even more annoyed when he returned to England and found his wife had taken £8000 from the bank account". Between 1977 and 1982 Prudom dated Carol Francis and the two travelled extensively as he took work on oil rigs in Canada and the USA. In January 1982 while Prudom was in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, he was arrested for a violent assault on a motorist with an iron bar, and used his alias of Barry Edwards. After failing to attend Leeds Crown Court to answer bail, a warrant was issued for his arrest. Francis had by now left Prudom and moved out of the house in Leeds that they had been living in.
Illegal possession of firearms
Prudom did not hold a licence to possess firearms, but carried a .22 LR calibre Beretta Model 71 "Jaguar" pistol, which he had purchased in the US and smuggled back into Britain. The Model 71 was a virtually recoilless, lightweight and easily concealed pistol, described as "the signature terminator pistol of Mossad ... a compact, accurate and flawlessly reliable performer that could easily be used to quickly and accurately deliver multiple rounds into vital parts of a human body".
17 June – Murder of PC David Haigh
After commencing duty at 06.00 on 17 June 1982, PC David Haigh, aged 29, was attempting to serve a summons on a poacher in the Washburn Valley near Harrogate, North Yorkshire. When Haigh failed to respond to a radio call from his station at Harrogate, PC Mick Clipston was sent to check on his whereabouts, and discovered his patrol car at a picnic site at Norwood Edge near Beckwithshaw. The door of the car was still open and PC Haigh's body was next to it, having been killed by a single .22 Long Rifle calibre pistol shot to the head. Haigh's clipboard was found, on which he had written "Clive Jones, born 18/10/44, Leeds NFA" followed by a vehicle registration number, KYF 326P. Having cleared the poacher and a Leeds man called Clive Jones of involvement, police launched a murder investigation, headed by North Yorkshire Police's Assistant Chief Constable, David Burke.
The registration number recorded by Haigh belonged to a metallic green Citroën, which police ascertained had been the subject of a cash sale to an unknown man at Kingsbury, London in January 1982, and a witness came forward to say that he had seen the car parked at the murder location at approximately 06.35 on 17 June.
19 June – Car discovered
20 June – Robbery of Freda Jackson
After abandoning the Citroën, Prudom had hitchhiked and walked to Torksey, Lincolnshire, where on 20 June he broke into a house and tied up the elderly occupant, 75-year-old Freda Jackson. He stole £4.50 from her then left, saying later that he had been unconcerned about her welfare as he knew "the bread man would find her in the morning". The robbery was not connected with Prudom until 23 June.
23 June – Murder of George Luckett
Just before dawn on 23 June he broke into another home approximately 20 miles away in Girton, Nottinghamshire. The occupants, George Luckett, 52, an electrician, and his wife Sylvia, 50, were tied together at the elbows and both were shot once in the head. George Luckett's wound was fatal but Sylvia Luckett survived, although she was left with permanent brain damage and no clear recollection of the incident. After Prudom left the scene, Mrs. Luckett managed to crawl to a nearby house and raise the alarm with neighbours. Prudom took the Lucketts' brown-coloured Rover car, registration VAU 875S and then drove to Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire. At some point he stole registration plates from another car, CYG 344T, and attached them to the Rover.
When North Yorkshire Police received details of the Girton murder and of the Torksey robbery they concluded that the same man was responsible and the incident rooms at Nottinghamshire Police and Lincolnshire Police were connected to the North Yorkshire computer to allow the three forces to share and compare information relating to the investigations.
24 June – Attempted murder of PC Oliver
Prudom was stopped during a routine check in the Bickley area of Dalby Forest, approximately 8 miles from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, on 24 June by police dog handler PC Ken Oliver. When Oliver asked him to step out of the vehicle, Prudom opened fire with his .22 pistol, the first round hitting the officer's face. As Prudom got out of the car to fire again, the police dog reacted by attacking Prudom, giving Oliver a chance to run for cover in a nearby house, and of the seven bullets that hit him none was fatal. The dog was shot twice and wounded, but also survived. Prudom then smashed the radio transceiver in Oliver's van and drove it a short distance into the forest before returning and setting fire to the Rover. He then headed into the forest and went to ground once more. Within hours a huge manhunt had commenced in the forest, involving police marksmen, helicopters and one thousand police officers on foot. As darkness fell the search was halted, although police maintained a cordon around the forest throughout the night.
25–26 June – Police search Dalby Forest
The search of the forest commenced again at daybreak on 25 June and again on 26 June but despite maintaining a cordon throughout police were unable to find any sign of Prudom.
28 June – Identification of Prudom, murder of PS David Winter
Although Prudom had given PC Haigh a false name and no address, he had given his true date of birth, and another officer, PC Martin Hatton, who was cross checking outstanding arrest warrants made the connection between PC Haigh's written note and the birth date of "Barry Edwards". The police searched the address given by "Edwards" and established he was actually Barry Prudom, "a keep-fit fanatic, obsessed with weapons and the military". During the search they also found Eddie McGee's No Need To Die manual detailing special forces survival techniques. PC Oliver was able to identify his assailant as Prudom from photographs and latent fingerprints on the burned out vehicle found near Leeds were found to be those of Prudom. Ballistic tests proved that the same gun had been used in the killings of Haigh and Luckett, and the police released Prudom's name to the media as their prime suspect and the most wanted man in Britain.
At 14.00, Police Sergeant David Winter, 31, and PC Mick Wood received information about a suspicious man seen in the village of Old Malton, North Yorkshire, 200 yards from the village police station. Winter challenged Prudom, who produced his pistol and opened fire. Although Winter tried to take cover behind a low wall, he was pursued by Prudom and shot three times and killed, the final shot fired from point-blank range. After then firing at a Guardian journalist and a BBC news crew, Prudom escaped from the scene through a nearby alley. Heavy rain hampered the search efforts for the next two days, and despite the presence of 600 officers, including 100 armed officers, the use of dogs and the RAF's Search & Rescue Westland Wessex helicopters, Prudom eluded detection.
30 June – Eddie McGee joins manhunt
Eddie McGee (c.1938–2002), nicknamed "Jungle Eddie" by colleagues, was a former Physical Training Instructor from the Parachute Regiment and had served as an NCO in 22 Special Air Service Regiment. Having completed 22 years of service, McGee had retired from the Army and now operated the National School of Survival, a survival training school near Harrogate. He had authored five books on the subject, and No Need To Die was considered a "bible" for enthusiasts of personal survival studies. His tracking skills had been learned while living among Australia's indigenous aboriginal people and pygmy groups in Africa. He was married with two sons, both of whom were serving police officers in Yorkshire. Chief Constable Henshaw said of the development "Now we have somebody looking for him with even more skill in the art of evasion and survival than Barry Edwards has. I am confident we are going to find him".
McGee and a colleague, Eric Longden, joined the manhunt at Dalby Forest, and then moved on to Malton, where they followed tracks from PS Winter's body through the town's Old Manor Moor, Huttons Ambo and Low Hutton areas, escorted by an armed police bodyguard from the Central Firearms Unit. After several hours, the search moved suddenly back to Dalby Forest when police were informed that a camouflaged bivouac shelter had been uncovered in a Forestry Commission plantation.
1 July – Siege of Malton
Chief Constable Kenneth Henshaw ordered "the largest arsenal of weapons ever issued to a British police force" and placed a cordon around Malton, sealing off the town. Although certain that Prudom was still hiding somewhere in the town, police gave regular briefings to the media saying that they were searching for him in Dalby Forest. Inspector Peter Walker later explained: "We wanted him to believe we were seeking him elsewhere. The safety of the public was uppermost in our minds. The media reports were invaluable because they led Prudom to believe that the hunt was concentrated outside the town in Dalby Forest".
3 July – Prudom resurfaces
For several days Prudom hid in the countryside around the town; on 3 July, he entered the home of pensioner Maurice Johnson in East Mount, Malton, and took him, his wife Bessie and their son Brian as hostages. He ate a meal in the Johnsons' home, which he described as the "last supper", and hid out at the house for 11 hours. "As the night went on, we got talking as though we had known each other for years. He was calling me Brian and my father he was calling dad". Prudom gave Brian Johnson a gift of a US paratrooper's ring, and then, believing the area was relatively safe, tied up the family and left the house at 03.15 on 4 July.
4 July – Police locate Prudom
Having learned from television reports that Eddie McGee, a former SAS member, was assisting the police, Prudom set a false trail leading away from the Johnson home, then headed back and hid in a makeshift shelter near Malton's Tennis Club, only 300 yards from the police station which was also the temporary headquarters co-ordinating the manhunt. Around two hours later the Johnsons had managed to free themselves and called the police. McGee picked up Prudom's trail at the Johnson residence, and noticed disturbances of fresh dew on the grass which led him to where Prudom was hiding. A firearms squad from Greater Manchester Police, led by Chief Inspector David Clarkson, was called to the scene and Prudom was told to give himself up. Stun grenades were thrown by the police and, on hearing a gunshot from Prudom's location, Clarkson ordered his officers to open fire. When firing subsided, Prudom was found dead in the hideout.
The inquest into Prudom's death was presided over by coroner Michael Oakley. The post mortem was conducted by Siva Sivas, a lecturer in forensic pathology at Leeds University, who reported that there were a total of 21 penetrating shotgun wounds to Prudom's body which had "insufficient velocity to enter the body cavity", a .22 bullet fired into the right side of his head which was consistent with a self-inflicted wound, and a further shotgun pellet which had entered through his forehead. Both of the head wounds would have caused instant loss of consciousness and possibly instant death. Oakley summed up the evidence to the jury by saying: "I would submit to you that there is an abundance of evidence to suggest that he fired the shot that killed himself", and the jury took just 18 minutes to return a verdict of suicide.
Prudom was buried in an unmarked grave in Harehills Cemetery, Leeds.
In the media
The manhunt for Prudom has been the subject of at least one television documentary:
- Manhunt: Phantom in the Forest – First aired on Britain's ITV2 27 June 2002.
In popular culture
English Oi! band Combat 84 wrote a song titled Barry Prudom, which was released on 24 September 1983 as the B-side of their Rapist EP, featuring the lyrics: "Barry Prudom, Barry Prudom, He's coming for you with his gun, Barry Prudom, Barry Prudom, He's Public Enemy number one".
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