Bradford murders

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Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Shaun Griffiths

(1969-12-24) 24 December 1969 (age 51)
Other namesStephen Griffiths.
Alma materUniversity of Bradford
Criminal penaltyLife imprisonment (whole life order)
Span of crimes
22 June 2009–21 May 2010
Date apprehended
24 May 2010

The Bradford murders were the serial killings of three women in the city of Bradford, West Yorkshire, England in 2009 and 2010.

43-year-old Susan Rushworth disappeared on 22 June 2009, followed by 31-year-old Shelley Armitage on 26 April 2010 and 36-year-old Suzanne Blamires on 21 May of the same year.[1] The women were all sex workers based in Bradford.[2] Parts of Blamires's body were found in the River Aire in Shipley, near Bradford, on 25 May. Other human tissue found in the same river was later established to belong to Armitage. No remains of Rushworth were ever found.[3][4]

Stephen Shaun Griffiths, 40, was arrested on 24 May and subsequently charged with killing the three women.[5] After being found guilty, he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a whole life order.[6]

Conviction of Stephen Griffiths[edit]

Stephen Shaun Griffiths (born 24 December 1969 in Dewsbury, West Riding of Yorkshire) was arrested and in May 2010 he appeared in the magistrates' court giving his name as the Crossbow Cannibal.[7][8]

At a crown court appearance that afternoon he was remanded in custody until his next court appearance.[9] He made a second appearance at crown court on 7 June via a video link from Wakefield Prison where a trial date of 16 November 2010 was set.[10]

On 21 December 2010, Griffiths was convicted of all three murders after pleading guilty. At Leeds Crown Court the same day, Mr Justice Openshaw sentenced Griffiths to life imprisonment with a whole life order, meaning he will not become eligible for parole and is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison.[6][11][12] While in prison, Griffiths has attempted suicide on several occasions.[13][14] As of 2011, he had been on a two-month hunger strike, during which time he avoided contact with other people.[15]

Post trial statements[edit]

Griffiths' criminal history included a three-year sentence, when aged 17, for an unprovoked knife attack on a supermarket manager.[16] While in custody, he stated that he saw himself becoming a murderer, and psychiatrists warned that he fantasised about becoming a serial killer.[16] In 1991, he was diagnosed as a "schizoid psychopath" and the following year received a two-year prison sentence for holding a knife to the throat of a girl.[16]

In 2009, Griffiths was admitted to the University of Bradford to write a PhD in homicide studies.[17]

Police had been watching Griffiths for two years before he killed his victims and had already seized hunting weapons.[18] The police contacted the housing association which owns the flat in which Griffiths lived after he was observed reading books on dismemberment.[18] The housing association shared the police's concerns and fitted a better CCTV system in anticipation of an incident. At the time of the murders, police had no evidence for an Anti-Social Behaviour Order.[18]

Government reaction[edit]

David Cameron, the then new Conservative prime minister, said the murders were a "terrible shock". He said the decriminalisation of offences related to prostitution should be "looked at again", but he also added that: "I don't think we should jump to conclusions on this – there are all sorts of problems that decriminalisation would bring." Later, aides close to Cameron strongly insisted he was concerned with addressing the social problems surrounding it such as encouraging agencies to work together to help women off the streets or to combat drug addiction.[19] Cameron has also called for tougher action on kerb-crawling and drug abuse.[19][20] The debate as to whether a change in the law would protect sex workers soon came into question.[21]


  1. ^ "Bradford murders timeline". The Guardian. 27 May 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  2. ^ Carter, Helen (27 May 2010). "The Bradford sex workers Stephen Griffiths is accused of killing". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  3. ^ "Trial date set for Bradford accused". Evening Standard. 7 June 2010. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Vigil for Bradford deaths women". BBC News. 11 June 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  5. ^ "Stephen Griffiths charged with murder of three prostitutes". The Daily Telegraph. London. 27 May 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2010.
  6. ^ a b "Crossbow Cannibal given life term for Bradford murders". BBC News. 21 December 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  7. ^ "Bradford accused gives name as 'crossbow cannibal'". BBC News Online. London, England: BBC. 28 May 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2010.
  8. ^ "I am the crossbow cannibal, says prostitute murders suspect". Metro. London, England: DMG Media. 28 May 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2010.
  9. ^ Gripton, John (28 May 2010). "'Crossbow Cannibal' Appears In Court". Sky News. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Bradford women deaths trial date fixed". BBC News Online. BBC. 7 June 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  11. ^ Carter, Helen (22 December 2010). "'Crossbow Cannibal' could continue criminology studies in prison". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  12. ^ Brown, Jonathan (22 December 2010). "Sentenced to life, the crossbow killer who ate his victims". The Independent. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  13. ^ Carter, Helen (21 December 2010). "Stephen Griffiths: the self-styled demon who drew inspiration from serial killers". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  14. ^ Penrose, Justin (30 May 2012). ""Crossbow Cannibal" Stephen Griffiths slashes wrists after being handed razor blade by inmate". The Daily Mirror. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  15. ^ "Crossbow Cannibal Stephen Griffiths 'skin and bones' following hunger strike". The Daily Telegraph. 4 January 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  16. ^ a b c Johnston, Philip (22 December 2010). "Crossbow Cannibal: No one is safe from the menace of pure evil". The Daily Telegraph. London, England: Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  17. ^ Dalrymple, Theodore (28 December 2010). "Murder most academic: A British Ph.D. candidate puts 'homicide studies' into practice". City Journal. New York City: Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  18. ^ a b c Alleyne, Richard (2011). "Crossbow Cannibal was a known 'serial killer' in the making". The Daily Telegraph. London, England: Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  19. ^ a b Edwards, Richard; Whitehead, Tom (29 May 2010). "David Cameron calls for laws on legalising prostitution to be 'looked at'". Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  20. ^ "David Cameron pledges 'look at' prostitution law". BBC News. 29 May 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  21. ^ Buckler, Chris (28 December 2010). "Acpo calls for debate over prostitution laws". BBC News. Retrieved 23 December 2020.