Monday, 14 November 2011

Murder on My Doorstep

During this week in 1999 I became caught up in one of the biggest stories in Nottingham that year – the murder of Grenville Carter.

First, for those unfamiliar with Nottingham I need to show you the vicinity of the crime on this map.

1)      My then home, No. 10 Canning Terrace.
2)      The entrance into the cemetery.
3)      The home of Grenville Carter.
4)      The location of the bin bags.

The first indication I had that something was going on was when I set off to do my morning shopping before going to work. I always took the shortcut through the cemetery. But one morning the gates were locked. It wasn’t long before I found out why.

In November 1999 Simon Charles, a 39-year-old bisexual drifter, walked into a police station and confessed to the murder of 55-year-old Grenville Carter. The reason the cemetery was closed was because Charles had dumped the body there. What is really spine-tingling is that I had walked past it several times on my shortcut to Tesco.

Grenville Carter lived just a few doors away. He was gay, lived alone, kept himself to himself, and had a kind heart. One afternoon in October 1999 he befriended Simon Charles who he had seen sleeping rough in the cemetery. He invited him to stay with him until he got his own place. This act of kindness led to his death.

Carter had patience. Charles had none. Almost as soon as moving in Charles started arguing and hitting Carter. It seems everything Carter did annoyed him. Just 2 months later Charles snapped and strangled Carter with an electric flex. But that was only the beginning.

Charles stuffed Carter’s body into a wardrobe and pinned an “RIP” note on the door while he thought of what to do with the body. Remembering how the gay serial killer Dennis Nilsen disposed of his victims by cutting them up, Charles took a stanley knife and hacksaw and cut Carter’s body into 12 parts before bagging them up in black bin bags and dumping them in the cemetery. There’s only one way he could have done that – by carrying the bags past my front door and through the arched entrance to the cemetery. I cringe every time I think about it.

For 2 weeks the body parts laid there, behind old headstones or buried in the undergrowth. And I do remember seeing a bin bag tucked behind a headstone as I walked past.

Charles took photos of his activities, and even thought about reassembling the body into a work of sculpture. Then, as the rest of the country stopped in silence for 2 minutes at 11 a.m. on Remembrance Sunday, 14th November 1999 – 12 years ago today - Simon Charles walked into a police station and confessed. The next day the police closed the cemetery. For several days I could see them walking around from my bathroom window. They came to my house to ask if I had seen anything. Fortunately I hadn’t – it would have freaked me out if I suddenly realised what I’d seen.

At his trial it emerged that Charles had served 10 years in jail for attempted murder in Manchester in 1980. He was found guilty of the murder of Grenville Carter and given a life sentence.

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