Missing girl is found dismembered
Friday, 30 September 2005
The dismembered body of a missing teenager has
been found dumped near a stairwell on a housing estate.
Officers found the body of Rochelle Holness, 15, at
Milford Towers, Catford, south London, on Wednesday. It is thought she
had been abducted.
Police were alerted by ambulance crews who had been
called to reports a man had injured himself. Police found body parts
in bin bags outside the flats.
A man and woman, both aged 47, are being questioned
Distraught family and friends have taken flowers to
the scene, which is behind a police cordon, and forensic experts have
been seen leaving with evidence bags.
Officers have also been carrying out door-to-door
Rochelle, from Lewisham, south London, was last
seen at about 1900 BST on Sunday after saying she was going to call
her boyfriend from a phone box on the Milford Towers estate.
When she failed to return home that night her
parents assumed she was staying with friends.
It was only when her boyfriend called on Monday, to
say he had not heard from her, that they became concerned.
She was reported missing on Tuesday and her body
found the next day.
A post-mortem examination was carried out on
Det Supt Paul McAleenan said: "At this early stage,
it is not clear when Rochelle was killed.
"I want to hear from anyone who was in the area at
any time from Sunday evening to the early hours of Wednesday."
Residents on the estate said there is regular
trouble in the area.
Christine Stewart, 40, has lived there for ten
years, but plans to leave as soon as her son goes to secondary school.
"It is not a nice area," she said. "There is lots
of petty theft and my neighbour next door was burgled.
"She found somebody in her house and the woman the
other end was burgled at the same time.
"It is a pretty nasty area - you just lock your
doors and windows and hope no one bothers you."
Man admits murdering teenage girl
Wednesday, 12 April 2006
A man has pleaded guilty to murdering a 15-year-old
girl whose dismembered body was found dumped on a housing estate.
John McGrady, 48, of Milford Towers, Catford, south
London, carried out the attack on Rochelle Holness last September, the
Old Bailey heard.
She vanished after going out to call her boyfriend
from a phone box near her home in Lewisham, south London.
Her body was found in bin bags near a stairwell on
the Milford Towers estate. McGrady will be sentenced on 15 May.
Her attacker was said to be a heavy-drinking
handyman with previous convictions for rape and false imprisonment.
The 48-year-old was remanded in custody at the Old
Bailey and warned he would receive a life sentence at the next hearing.
Detective Inspector Tim Grattan-Kane said: "John
McGrady is an absolute danger to any young woman, a spectacularly
dangerous and violent man who when a desire befalls him he decides to
inflicted it on innocent victims.
'He is prepared to use outrageous violence to
achieve his ends."
Anthony Orchard, prosecuting, said the court would
require a psychiatric report before sentencing.
Rochelle is thought to have been snatched at
knifepoint from the phone box on a Sunday evening before being
strangled and dismembered.
Her remains, placed in five bin bags and dumped in
a supermarket trolley, were found by ambulance staff who had been
called to the estate on 28 September 2005.
Rochelle had been missing for three days when
McGrady cut his wrists and confessed to his girlfriend.
He was arrested after receiving treatment for minor
Rochelle's father Denroy stumbled across the murder
scene while out searching for his daughter with other family members.
History of abductions
Mr Grattan-Kane said McGrady had a history of
abducting women in the street and forcing them to do things at
In 1998, he was jailed for six years for raping and
sexually assaulting two women he knew.
Five years earlier he had been in prison for five
years for false imprisonment of a young woman he abducted at
knifepoint as she came off a bus.
Mr Grattan-Kane said: "I am fairly confident
Rochelle was dead within an hour of going into his flat."
He said Rochelle's family had been devastated.
"It is a nightmare no parents should have to face.
She was her mum and dad's pride and joy and she was loved to bits by
Killer who dismembered teenage victim sentenced to
die in prison
By Vikram Dodd - The Guardian
Wednesday 17 May 2006
A suspected serial rapist who attacked women for
over two decades was yesterday sentenced to die in jail after being
convicted of murdering and dismembering a teenage girl. John McGrady
was given a full life sentence for murdering 15-year-old Rochelle
Holness on a south London council estate in September last year.
McGrady, 48, had been a sex offender for 22 years,
with convictions for rape and indecent assault, before he butchered
the teenager. Last night Rochelle's family called for a change in the
law so that communities are told when serious sexual offenders are
living among them.
McGrady, a former butcher, pounced on Rochelle as
she used a call box to phone her boyfriend. He is believed to have
abducted her and strangled her before dismembering her body with a
hacksaw and placing the parts in five bin bags, which he left near a
rubbish chute in Milford Towers, Catford, south London, where he lived.
Detectives fear McGrady is likely to have attacked
women between his last release from prison in 1997 and his arrest last
year. A police source told the Guardian it bordered on unbelievable
that McGrady had not committed other offences in that period and
victims were urged to come forward.
Rochelle's mother, Jennifer Bennett, shouted "Rot
in hell" as McGrady was taken from the dock at the Old Bailey.
Judge Stephen Kramer told him: "You must have been
motivated by a sexual desire and when you are drinking you are, and
continue to be, a dangerous predator to women, especially young women.
"The sentence will ensure you will never have the
opportunity to prey on young women again. You cruelly took the life of
that young girl and left her family and her mother bereft."
A postmortem examination was unable to establish
whether Rochelle had been sexually assaulted. A psychiatrist who
examined McGrady concluded that a sexual motivation could not be
Rochelle lived with her mother and two brothers in
Catford and was a sociable girl, studying for GCSEs. She left the flat
after her mobile phone ran out of credit.
McGrady was caught after he confessed to a
girlfriend in a note he left after he slashed his wrists in a failed
suicide attempt. He had a long and violent criminal history, and was
jailed for six years in 1988 after being convicted of raping two young
women. In 1993 he was convicted of attempting to abduct a young woman
at knifepoint and was jailed for five years, a relatively high
sentence reflecting the belief that he was interrupted before he could
sexually assault the woman.
But McGrady had also been acquitted of rape three
times in 1984, telling juries the women had consented. In one case he
had worn a balaclava and used a knife.
Ms Bennett and Rochelle's father, Denroy Holness,
told the Guardian the criminal justice system had failed in McGrady's
case. "We question why we do not have the right to know about these
dangerous people living among us, until they have committed such
dreadful acts." The so-called Sarah's law has previously been opposed
by the police after it was championed by a tabloid newspaper, leading
to attacks on sex offenders and innocent people.
Rochelle's parents, in a statement read outside
court, said: "We hope these events send out a clear message to the
country that sex offenders and murderers must in future be properly
sentenced, treated and supervised on release, otherwise there will be
many more victims. We pray that while serving his sentence, McGrady
receives treatment so that he may truly take full responsibility for
his actions and bring himself to explain why and how he did this to
The family criticised two tabloid newspapers which
published lurid and false details about the case. The Sun wrongly
claimed Rochelle had been strapped to a table then dismembered while
still alive. The family has complained to the Press Complaints
Commission and said the newspaper had been as cruel to them as the man
who murdered their daughter. "We hope those responsible for causing us
so much unnecessary pain will today feel the shame that has so far
been absent; for their behaviour has been as inhumane as John
Outside court, Detective Inspector Tim Grattan-Kane
branded McGrady "evil", and said: "He should not have been on the
streets, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. There was nothing that
would have given the judge the sentencing powers to keep him off the
streets for ever."
The Home Office confirmed that McGrady had not been
The sex offenders register was introduced just
after he was released in 1997 and a spokesperson said measures had
been introduced to protect the public from highly dangerous offenders,
including "indeterminate public protection sentences, in which violent
and sexual offenders can be held in custody for as long as is
catching up with 'Beast of Belfast'
June 11, 2006
Dertectives investigating the sordid past of Belfast-born sex killer
John McGrady have spoken to the American woman who believes she was
his first victim.
woman is now considering an invitation by police to fly to London to
make a statement about her identification of the Northern Ireland
man as the scissors-wielding teenager who molested her in September
Sunday Life revealed last week how the woman identified McGrady
after being shocked by a photograph of him accompanying recent
reports of his conviction for the murder of teenager Rochelle
Holness, who he cut into pieces with a hacksaw.
Her account tied
in with revelations that in 1976 McGrady regularly travelled from
his home in the Markets area of east Belfast to visit relatives in
south London, including his brother Kevin, an IRA killer.
Inspector Tim Grattan Kane, who had serial sex attacker McGrady
caged for life for 15-year-old Rochelle's 2005 murder, said: "This
woman is the first person to come forward since McGrady was
sentenced and we are extremely grateful for having the opportunity
to speak to her.
"We have had a
very long conversation with her and we are now trying to find the
original reports of this attack (in Clapham in September 1976).
"We are also
hoping to find out if there was any forensic evidence left at this
"But now that this
woman has come forward and provided us with an account of the man
who attacked her, we hope it might persuade other women to come
"We also can't pre-judge
anything and our investigations into the woman's claims will
"It may be a long
time ago but if any woman believes she was attacked by someone
resembling McGrady, then they should contact us immediately."
'Jennifer', now in
her early 50s, had told Sunday Life how the creepy teenager broke
into her Clapham flat in 1976 carrying a burlap mask, although she
saw him before he had a chance to put it on.
conviction for a sex offence was in 1988, for the knife-point rape
of two 19-year-old women.
But it has emerged
that in 1984 he was acquitted of rape three times, telling London
juries the women had consented to sex. In one case he had worn a
balaclava and used a knife.
Sunday Life has
spoken to a number of long-standing residents in the Markets area
who said they were still "in shock" over the revelations that the "shy
loner" they recalled had become a monster.
Said one resident:
"He's been away for a very long time but there are still people in
the area who remember him very well.
"It's not known if
he attacked any women around the time he was here as nobody has come
forward with any information."
Police say McGrady
worked as an odd-job man and as a butcher for a time.
Latterly his life
was marked by heavy drinking, and he did not stray far from the flat
in Catford, London, where he murdered and dismembered tragic
Rochelle Holness, 15, the victim.