UK

Police misconduct link to Stockport MoT double murder

Image copyright Unknown
Image caption Simon Bruno and Alan Singleton were both shot dead while inspecting an MoT garage in Stockport in 1993

The BBC has seen evidence of serious police misconduct linked to a double murder in 1993.

MoT inspectors Alan Singleton and Simon Bruno were shot dead on a routine visit to a garage in Stockport.

Documents show that, two weeks before their deaths, a police officer accessed the police national database and gave Singleton's name and address to a man on bail for a firearms offence.

The officer resigned from the force before any prosecution against him.

Maintains his innocence

In 1994, Thomas Bourke, who owned several garages in Stockport, was convicted of the murder of Singleton and Bruno, shot in the head at Chestergate Auto Centre.

The prosecution said Bourke had targeted the men after a dispute over an MoT licence for one of his garages.

He has maintained he is innocent and has fought a long campaign to get his conviction overturned.

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Media captionBBC archive of the day Thomas Bourke was found guilty of murdering two MoT inspectors.

His lawyer is currently trying to get the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to look at his case.

Part of their submission to the CCRC rests on a document not used in the original trial.

It shows a police officer, who the BBC is not naming for legal reasons, illegally accessed the police national computer to find Singleton's name and address, two weeks before the murders.

The man who asked for the details was David Watson, the owner of Chestergate Auto Centre.

At the time, Watson was on bail for a firearms offence, for which he was later jailed.

Image caption The police cordoned off Chestergate Auto Centre in Stockport after a 999 call from a mechanic who said he had heard the MoT inspectors being shot dead

He told detectives investigating the murders that Bourke had asked him to get Singleton's details.

The police officer who accessed the information subsequently made a written statement saying he had felt, "sick to the pit of his stomach," when he had realised what had happened to Singleton.

He resigned from Greater Manchester Police in 1994, several months after Bourke had been charged with the murders.

No prosecution was brought against the officer and there is no indication he faced any internal disciplinary measures before leaving the force.

Files in deep storage

For the past 20 years, Bourke's sister, Jo Holt, has campaigned to get his conviction quashed.

She worked with an investigator who discovered the document almost 20 years ago but did not realise its potential significance to the case.

"Why would the police officer do such a thing?" she asks.

"If the defence had known this, everything would have been completely different."

Image copyright Jo Holt
Image caption Thomas Bourke will only be eligible for parole if he admits to committing the crime

Bourke's solicitor, Jane Hickman, told the BBC: "It's a pretty significant piece of information… you would think it would be a really important line of enquiry."

Greater Manchester Police told the BBC the relevant files relating to this case were in deep storage and senior staff involved in the investigation had now retired.

Their statement said that in order to provide an "accurate and meaningful response" the case files would have to be examined first.

Click to hear more about this story on BBC Radio 4's File on 4 programme from 20:00 on Tuesday, 24 May.

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