New inquiry opened in notorious case of the ‘tortured teenager’ – lancashire evening post

Have your say

A review of crucial evidence in the murder of a schoolboy nearly 40 years ago is being carried out by detectives after a long campaign by his family, the Evening Post can reveal.

Alan Livesey’s mother Margaret was convicted of his murder in 1979 after he was found bound and stabbed at their home in The Crescent, Bamber Bridge, but “The Case of the Tortured Teenager” has been shrouded in debate ever since.

Margaret Livesey died of throat cancer in 2001 aged 64, but left a clause in her will for solicitors to carry on fighting to prove her innocence. Now, Lancashire Police have confirmed they are carrying out a forensic review, in a major breakthrough for 14-year-old Alan’s family, who have continually fought for the case to be reinvestigated.

“Margaret consistently asserted her innocence of the charge of murdering her son and the family are hoping that this investigation will establish that and identify the actual killer.”

Det Chief Insp Dean Holden, of Lancashire Police’s force major incident team, said: “We are conducting an initial forensic review and will evaluate the extent of any potential future enquiries once that forensic review is complete.”

On the night of his death Alan Livesey had been grounded by his parents. He was in trouble after being accused of taking a car and crashing it – his protest at not being allowed to go to a youth disco with his friends.

After his father Bob Livesey left for his night shift at Leyland Motors, Margaret ventured into the biting cold to meet her friend Marion Walker for a drink at the Queen’s Hotel pub, in Bamber Bridge.

Unknown to her husband, she was also meeting her secret lover, who later dropped the mother-of-three off at the top of The Crescent, where the family lived in an end-terrace house at 11pm.

During this short 30-minute window of time, Alan was bound and stabbed to death.

Police claimed care assistant Margaret was her son’s killer after losing her temper during an argument, a view confirmed when in interview Livesey told police: “I called him a liar, a cheat and a thief, and that he was a stranger to the truth. He got up. I slapped him across the face.”

The prosecution’s version of events was that she snatched a knife used to peel potatoes and stabbed him 10 times to the neck, throat and spine.

Although investigators did not believe it to be a frenzied attack, Alan even had knife marks on his face and eyelid suggesting he had been tortured.

In a final brutal act, it was claimed she took a necktie from a clothes maiden and bound his hands together behind his back and left him to die in front of the gas fire.

She was accused of washing his blood from the knife and putting it in the kitchen drawer, before turning on the gas and leaving the house.

That night she knocked on the door a hundred yards up of a neighbour, accepting her offer of a drink and chatting amiably, prosecutors said.

She asked the woman’s eldest son, 18, to “nip down” and see if his brother was at their house with Alan.

He found Alan lying face down in front of the fire and, at first, thought he was “mucking about” but then saw the wounds.

During a series of interviews with police five days later Margaret dramatically confessed to murdering her son.

She told officers: “I saw a little kitchen knife and picked it up. I remember stabbing him a number of times. He fell to the floor and I stabbed him again in the throat. I was thinking, ‘You bad little sod’ all the time and I had completely lost control of myself.”

After she was charged, she told her son Derek she was sorry and begged forgiveness.

She put her arms around her husband Bob and said: “I am sorry Bob, you know what he was like, he just drove me to it.”

But, after she had been on remand for three days, Livesey retracted her confession and claimed the police had bullied her into it.

From then on the case would be shrouded in controversy as supporters claimed she would not have had enough time to get back from the pub, kill her son and get to her neighbour’s house.

Following two trials at Preston Crown Court, she was found guilty of murder in July 1979 and sentenced to life.

But the case continued to raise questions. Questions focused on a mystery man allegedly spotted by a neighbour in the back garden and whether forensic evidence showed he could have been killed earlier.

Twice her case featured on the BBC’s Rough Justice series, billed as The Case of the Tortured Teenager, and then Preston MP Stan Thorne campaigned on her behalf.

Her case was reinvestigated in 1983 by West Yorkshire Police and taken to the Court of Appeal in 1986 – but each concluded the verdict was correct.

Margaret was freed from Styal Prison in Cheshire in 1989 on life parole and moved to Surrey to live near Janet but in November 2000 she returned to Lancashire in sheltered accommodation in Walton-le-Dale where she died four months later of throat cancer.

– Read a timeline of events leading to the murder here