INVESTIGATIONS have been carried out by MMU forensic scientists to see if a spade found buried on Saddleworth Moor has any connection to the Moors murders.
The tool was brought to Forensic Science Senior Lecturer Stephen Kershaw in the hope that it could provide clues to the final resting place of victim Keith Bennett.
The 12-year-old was abducted and murdered by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in 1964 and is the only one of the five young victims whose body has never been traced.
Stephen and colleagues in Engineering have made a preliminary examination of the spade to attempt to date it by finding the manufacturer: “It is very, very corroded. The metal in it appears to be an unremarkable steel.
"There are some features that might aid identification, such as the holes for bolts that have not been used. The handle had been broken off. There was some vegetation attached to the spade and it was found in an area of peat.”
“Even if we had lots more time, and even if we had established that it was a spade from the 60s or which predated the 60s, we would not have necessarily established it was anything to do with Ian Brady. Other spades have previously been found on Saddleworth.”
“The only way to link the spade with the murders would have been if there had been DNA on it but with the handle gone and the level of corrosion there is little chance of DNA having survived.”
News of the spade hit the headlines this week with stories appearing in the Mirror, the Express, the Mail and many more.
The spade has been returned to its finders, members of the Worsley Paranormal Group, who had been searching the area for signs of where Keith’s remains lie.
Stephen added: “The Moors murders is still a very emotive issue in this area and beyond so we were keen to try and assist the local community.”
“Although this particular story has become front page news, forensic work is regularly done on many very serious criminal and civil cases.”
Forensics at MMU can be studied on a range of Chemistry and Forensic Chemistry courses in the Faculty of Science and Engineering. Students benefit from state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and a new, fully-functional forensics ‘flat’ for practice at investigating crime scenes.
Manchester Metropolitan University is a leading university for the professions and a powerful driver of the North West economy.
The University educates and trains large numbers of the region’s legal and business professionals, scientists, engineers, teachers, health workers and creative professionals. It enjoys an excellent reputation for teaching and applied research and is a recognised innovator in partnership working with its local communities. The University is currently investing almost £300 million in its estate and facilities.
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