Stephen Shaun Griffiths
24 December 1969
|Other names||The Crossbow Cannibal|
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment (whole life order)|
Span of crimes
|22 June 2009–21 May 2010|
|24 May 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. 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 have ever been found.
Stephen Shaun Griffiths, 40, was arrested on 24 May and subsequently charged with killing the three women. After being found guilty, he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a whole life order.
Conviction of Stephen Griffiths
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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. At a crown court appearance that afternoon he was remanded in custody until his next court appearance. 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.
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. While in prison, Griffiths has attempted suicide on several occasions. He has also been on a 2-month hunger strike, during which time he avoided contact with other people.
Post trial statements
Griffiths' criminal history included a 3-year sentence, when aged 17, for an unprovoked knife attack on a supermarket manager. Whilst in custody he stated that he saw himself becoming a murderer, and psychiatrists warned that he fantasised about becoming a serial killer. 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.
Police had been watching Griffiths for two years before he killed his victims and had already seized hunting weapons. The police contacted the housing association which owns the flat in which Griffiths lived after Griffiths was observed reading books on dismemberment. 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.
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. Cameron has also called for tougher action on kerb-crawling and drug abuse. The debate as to whether a change in the law would protect sex workers continues.
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