Supernatural Staffordshire: the phantom Victorian schoolboy spotted on a railway line

Each week our supernatural expert reveals haunting tales from across the county.

More and more people are contacting me to talk about their own supernatural experiences – Id like to think the tide has turned and discussing the paranormal is less taboo than it used to be.

I would encourage everyone to do a simple experiment. Ask just five friends, in private, if they believe in the paranormal and have they had a paranormal experience.

Thirty-four per cent of the UK population believe in ghosts – that’s a huge 10 per cent more than believe in god.

So why is there still a stigma about people who openly profess to believe? Perhaps it’s to do with peer pressure, society and the media among other factors.

Just recently I was having a drink with a friend and the topic of the paranormal came up.

He doesn’t believe, categorically. However, we ended up chatting for a number of hours over various “what ifs” and found some surprising common ground once the initial barriers of conventional understanding had dropped.

“I would rather a mind opened by wonder, than one closed by belief,” is possibly my favourite saying, because it’s true.

Believe in it or not, the paranormal is a fascinating subject.

The diversity of experiences and depths of emotion it put us through run the full spectrum – from enlightening to absolute terror.

In 1989 Gareth was 19 and living at Barlaston.

Growing up he would spend lots of time walking around this beautiful area, surrounded by open fields and picturesque streams.

“It was an amazing time in my life” Gareth, now 47, said. “Me and my friend would go for long walks, all around Cocknage and Barlaston.

“We would roam through the fields, around the large lake at Barlaston and sit on Barlaston train platform before they fenced it all off – it was a magical time.”

One evening in July Gareth and one of his friends made their way down to Wedgwood Lake and then past the cricket club, finally coming to the white train crossing building and to there destination of the railway station.

“We used to get some sweets and drinks and sit talking about crazy things that you think about at that age, ghosts and UFOs were a big favourite of ours. We had some amazing conversations,” Gareth recalled.

Darkness had begun to fall, the station platform was still, not even the slightest breeze was blowing as some litter and a few leaves sat motionless on the black and white painted wooden platform. A rabbit ran across the empty tracks in the distance.

“That’s when we saw him, a small boy about 10-years-old who ran across the track right in front of our eyes.” Gareth told me.

“He came out of nowhere. One second he was running across the track, the next he had gone. But for the short amount of time we could see him he looked solid – like a real boy.”

Gareth described the boy as wearing old-fashioned Victorian clothing including a flat cap.

“We both saw him as clear as day and when he disappeared we both nearly jumped out of our skin,” he said.

Both boys got up immediately and ran from the station back towards Wedgwood Lake.

“I’ve seen my friend from that night recently at a reunion and he still remembers it just as I did, although he has never mentioned it to anyone as he thinks people will mock him”

Many more people will experience ghosts and other paranormal events tonight just as Gareth did that night back in 1989.

Why do so many royals drive Audis? Could it be because of the 60% discount?

The Royal family are understood to be benefiting from a leasing arrangement by German car manufacturer Audi which could offer them up to a 60 per cent discount on their cars.

As valued customers, the Royals are able to take advantage of the company’s VIP terms and conditions – meaning their cars are also personally delivered.

Such favourable leasing arrangements are not available to ordinary motorists and shows why the Royals have favoured the manufacturer over the last decade.

This Audi A6 being driver by Charles, with wife Camilla, is one of a number of models the Royals have leased with up to a 60% discount

This Audi A6 being driver by Charles, with wife Camilla, is one of a number of models the Royals have leased with up to a 60% discount

The Prince of Wales owns several models, including an A8 limousine that cost £92,500 and a pair of Allroad estate for personal use by himself and the Duchess of Cornwall.

He has also purchased two A4’s for his staff.

Prince William drives a S4 saloon which has a 4.2 litre engine while his fiancee Kate Middleton owns a silver A3 model. Prince Harry also owns a diesel A3.

The deal with the company may also explain why its head of PR Jon Zamett has been invited to Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding at the end of the month.

The manufacturer is understood to be investing thousands of pounds in boosting its image – and getting close to the Royals.

They have made large donations to charities that are supported by the Princes and signed an agreement in 2005 to sponsor the English polo squad.

Princes William and Harry have a chat as they get into William's 4.2 litre S4 saloon

Princes William and Harry have a chat as they get into William’s 4.2 litre S4 saloon

Kate Middleton and a friend watch a polo match as an Audi 4x4 sits on top of the hill. Miss Middleton has previously bought an A3 model

Kate Middleton and a friend watch a polo match as an Audi 4×4 sits on top of the hill. Miss Middleton has previously bought an A3 model

Marketing experts say that offering their cars at competitive rates could offer unique prestige.

Ian Stephens, of Saffron Brand Consultants, told the Times: ‘Giving away cars is a bit sensitive.

‘If you rent them at a discount you get around concerns over bribery or corruptions and still gain the association.’

‘Audi are competing against other German and luxury brands that are established in the UK market, and they’ve always been outsiders. They are trying to buy their way into the establishment.’

Audi has recruited stars such as singer Justin Timberlake to boost its brand and advertise its A1 model

Audi has recruited stars such as singer Justin Timberlake to boost its brand and advertise its A1 model

Royals are not the only targets of Audi’s campaign.

In a document shown to the Times newspaper, the carmaker is specifically targeting individuals for discounts who ‘will directly impact the brand image’.

This has included sports figures, politicians and celebrities.

Recently, singer Justin Timberlake has fronted adverts for the A1 model while former cricketer Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff’ has become a company ambassador in the Middle East.

A spokesman for the company said: ‘We provide VIPs with a service when it is inconvenient for them to go to a dealer.’

‘We have fleet buyers who will buy more than one car – it’s appropriate for them to have a discount.’

The spokesman would not comment on specific cases involving the Royals.

A Clarence House spokesman added that ‘of course’ Prince Charles paid for his cars but would not discuss any terms.


The mystery of the suicidal dogs at Overtoun Bridge


4. The Mind-boggling case of the fifty dogs who have jumped off a bridge in Scotland over the last fifty years - all of of which were the same breed and without any explanation at all. It's still a baffling mystery today.
The Mind-boggling case of the fifty dogs who have jumped off a bridge in Scotland over the last fifty years. (Picture:

In the past 50 years, 50 dogs have randomly leapt to their death from this bridge in Scotland.

All of the ‘suicides’ happened at the same spot, between the final two parapets on the right-hand side of the bridge, and almost all have been on clear, sunny days.

All the dogs were long-nosed breeds such as labradors, collies and retrievers.

The animals fell 50 feet onto the waterfalls below.

A couple of animals have survived.

However terrifyingly when they were rescued and taken back to the bridge by their owners they jumped again.

Rumours have long circulated that the bridge and nearby Overtoun House are haunted.

In 1994, local man Kevin Moy threw his baby son to his death from the bridge, claiming he thought the child was the anti-Christ.

Shortly after he tried to end his own life with an unsuccessful suicide attempt from the same bridge.

Darren Graham form the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals calls it a ‘heartbreaking mystery’.


Homeless families housed in Pontins holiday camp because of immigration as council reveals waiting list for new homes reaches “breaking point”

Flintshire Council is using Pontins to house homeless families (Image: Getty Images Europe)

A council is using a holiday camp to house homeless people because the system is “at breaking point”.

Flintshire council uses the Pontins Holiday Camp in Prestatyn, north Wales to put locals up in an emergency as pressures on the housing waiting list grows.

According to local authority officials, the number of people waiting for a council home across the county since September has grown by a third.

Clare Budden, the council’s community and enterprise chief officer, said: “There are currently just over 1,600 people on Flintshire County Council’s waiting list for housing.

Clare Budden says the holiday camp is sometimes used where emergency accommodation is needed(Image: @ClareBudden/Twitter WS)
The camp in Prestatyn is being used to accommodate larger families (Image: Daily Post Wales)

“This compares with just over 1,200 at the end of September 2016 demonstrating the growing need for social housing in the area.

“The council occasionally uses Pontins at Prestatyn for short stays to accommodate people in need of emergency accommodation say after a fire or where rented accommodation is deemed unsuitable for health and safety.

Cllr Bernie Attridge, the authority’s lead member for housing and deputy council leader, said pressures were mounting on the housing service.

The homeless service is at breaking point

The camp is being used as the authority’s homeless service reaches “breaking point” (Image: Redferns)

“Pontins is only used to put larger families up in an emergency where bed and breakfast would not be appropriate and they need cooking facilities.

“There is increasing pressure on the council house waiting list which is being caused by austerity and demand seems to be outstripping supply.


Anger after ‘No whites allowed after 8pm’ is daubed on wall

Anger after 'No whites allowed after 8pm' is daubed on wall
The racist graffiti which appeared in Alum Rock in Birmingham has been condemned by locals (Picture: News Dog Media)

Racist graffiti has emerged on a wall in Birmingham that suggests white people aren’t welcome to the area.

The writing says ‘no whites allowed after 8am’ and it appeared in the inner-city neighbourhood of Alum Rock.
The original post on Brumz Updates said: ‘This is Birmingham, not South Africa. It don’t matter if you’re brown, black, white or fucking green, just no need for it – you always get one idiot regardless of their skin colour trying to cause divide for others.’It appeared on August 13 and attempts have been made to cover the word ‘whites’, but it was still partially visible yesterday.

The post has since been deleted.

Anger after 'No whites allowed after 8pm' is daubed on wall
Somebody tried to cover up the word ‘whites’ (Picture: News Dog Media)
Anger after 'No whites allowed after 8pm' is daubed on wall
‘Whoever has done this needs to know that they do not have any support from the local community.’ (Picture: Birmingham Mail)

Shelagh Cannon commented on an image posted online saying: ‘It’s a sad truth that these Ghettos are probably here to stay. Lots of new people in the country who have absolutely no intention of integrating. Very sad!’

Labour councillor Ansar Ali Khan said similar graffiti had emerged in the form of lampposts in recent years.
‘It is unacceptable to have such divisive signs in a diverse community like Washwood Heath which embraces people of all colour and walks of life.He told the Birmingham Mail: ‘Whoever has done this needs to know that they do not have any support from the local community.

‘We cannot allow people to get away with this. They are trying to foment trouble in our peaceful neighbourhoods.

‘The community here has strong bonds and together we need to remain vigilant and root out the racists amongst us.’

5 Most Tragic Wrongful Convictions in British History

Its hard to imagine the pain when someone you love is murdered or dies in suspicious circumstances. However, just as hard to imagine is when someone is tried and convicted for a crime they did not commit.

Here we look at five cases of British miscarriages of justice when one of the best Judicial Systems in the world gets it tragically wrong.

5 Timothy Evans

Timothy Evans

Timothy Evans was born in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales in 1924 and during the 1930’s moved to London with his family. In 1947 he married Beryl Thorley, and the couple moved into the top floor flat of 10 Rillington Place. They later befriended John Christie and his wife who lived in the ground floor flat, but unbeknown to them Christie had already killed two women and buried them in the garden.

Timothy and Beryl had a child called Geraldine, born in October 1948. Just over a year after her birth, Beryl fell pregnant again. Due to financial problems she suggested an illegal abortion. Timothy reluctantly agreed, and Christie offered to perform it. Tragically by the end of that day, both Beryl and Geraldine were dead.

Timothy known to be of low intelligence was told by Christie that Beryl had died during the illegal abortion that he had tried to perform and that he had arranged for baby Geraldine to be adopted. In November 1948 a distraught and confused Evans returned to Merthyr and due to his guilt over agreeing the abortion, he confessed to murdering his wife. As a result of his confession, the police never investigated the possibility anyone else was responsible for their deaths.

After a second search of Rillington Place, the bodies of Beryl and baby Geraldine were found strangled in the outhouse, but unbelievably the other two women Christie Killed were not found during this search.

Under intense and aggressive questioning by police, Evans changed his story several times with police seeing this as a sign of dishonesty.

Evans was known to have a wild imagination and often made things up. Often pretending he was something he was not. This ultimately sealed his fate. The police made the evidence fit his outlandish stories even though they couldn’t possibly be true. Timothy Evans was Hanged on 9th March 1950, protesting his innocence to the end. At the time the case had little impact, as the evidence given against Timothy in court, especially the damming accounts Christie and his wife gave about his volatile relationship with his wife, led people to think it was an open and shut case.

In 1953 John Christie moved out of 10 Rillington Place, and when the new tenants peeled back the wallpaper in the flat it revealed three bodies. Christie later confessed to 7 murders in total, including Beryl and his own wife, although he never admitted killing Baby Geraldine. He was hanged in 1953 by the same hangman who hanged poor innocent Timothy Evans.

4 Stefan Kiszko

Stefan Kiszko

The tragic case of Stefan Kiszko is often referred to as Britain’s worst ever miscarriage of justice. It highlights how there is sometimes more than one victim in a murder case.

Stefan worked as a Tax Clerk in Rochdale, England; he suffered from a condition called XYY syndrome, an ailment that causes growth abnormalities and minor behaviour problems. Described as a gentle giant with a childlike mind, Stefan was a social misfit who spent most of his time with his mother.

He had an unusual hobby of writing down car registration numbers if he felt the driver had annoyed him. This in part led to his wrongful conviction, as he had unwittingly jotted down the car registration number of the killer of 11-year-old Lesley Molseed. The little girl was stabbed 12 times and sexually assaulted before being dumped on moors in West Yorkshire, England.

In December 1975 police arrested and charged Stefan Kiszko with her murder. Stefan had never been in trouble before and frightened and confused Stefan confessed to the murder believing he would then be allowed to go home to his mother. He later said police had bullied him into a confession.

In court, several witnesses testified against him in particular four young girls who convinced the jury that Stefan had exposed himself to them on several occasions. This they later confessed was totally untrue, but they said it for a “laugh”. On 21 July 1976 Stefan was found guilty of Lesley’s murder, and jailed for life.

His mother campaigned tirelessly for his release, and after 14 years his lawyer managed to get the case reopened. With advances in forensics and new evidence being examined, it was proved beyond doubt that Stefan could not have been the murderer. Stefan was finally released in 1992, but the ordeal of prison had taken its toll, Stefan had been mercilessly attacked several times by other inmates, and the years of incarceration had physically and mentally destroyed him.

A year after his release at the age of just 41, Stefan died of a massive heart attack. Sadly six months later his mother, who had fought so hard to get him home, also passed away.

In 2007 the real Killer of Lesley Molseed, taxi driver Ronald Castree was jailed for life.

3 Sally Clark

Sally Clark

Sally Clark was a British solicitor who in November 1999 was given two life sentences for killing her sons; Christopher aged 11 weeks, and eight week old Harry. Sally’s conviction was secured on the evidence of one man, Professor Sir Roy Meadow. In court, he stated that the chances of two babies dying of cot death in such an affluent family was 73 million to one.

Sally’s first son died suddenly a few weeks after birth in 1996. This death was recorded as a tragic cot death. In December 1998 her second son died in a similar manner. This death led to Sally being arrested for murder and subsequently jailed.

Sally’s first appeal in October 2000 upheld her conviction, but in January 2003 a second appeal overturned her conviction after it emerged key evidence about one of her sons revealed he had died of Natural causes.

Sally was released from prison in 2003. The three years she was locked up had been traumatic. Sally had been a target for other prisoners, due to the nature of her alleged crime. On the day Mrs Clarke was released it was clear to see the toll it had taken, her appearance had changed dramatically, her eyes looked deadened and her weight loss was very evident. It was clear just from these physical signs that Sally Clark would never be the same again. Sally was no longer the loving devoted mother, wife and daughter, her life had been irrevocably destroyed.

After her release sadly Sally was unable to come to terms with her ordeal, suffering from mental illness and relying heavily on Alcohol, she was never able to return to the happy, generous person everybody loved and on March 16th, 2007 Sally was found dead in bed by her cleaner. Sally had consumed the equivalent of five times the drink drive limit. Her cause of death was reported as acute alcohol intoxication.

At the time her husband, who had stood by her throughout, said it was hardly surprising her life had ended in such a tragic way. Sally was just 42.

2 Derek Bentley

Derek Bentley

Derek Bentley was born in Bristol, England in 1933. On January 1953, at the age of 19, Derek was hanged for the murder of a police officer.

The murder was actually committed by Derek’s accomplish 16-year-old Christopher Craig. However the law of the land at this time was able to convict Derek as a “party to the murder”. This was based on the judge’s interpretation of the phrase “let him have it” Bentleys alleged instruction to Craig, was seen as mentally aiding the murder of PC Sidney Miles.

On 2nd November Bentley and his sixteen-year-old companion, Christopher Craig attempted to burgle a warehouse in Croydon. Craig was armed with a revolver, and Bentley carried a knife and a knuckle duster. Both of these items were given to him by Craig. When the Police arrived Craig started taunting them, one of the officers grabbed Bentley, but he broke free.

What happened next is open to debate. One of the officers asked Craig to hand over his gun, at this point, Bentley shouted the phrase “let him have it” Chris! Craig then fired his revolver hitting one police officer in the shoulder. Another group of officers then arrived, one of these officers was PC Sidney Miles. Craig then fired a shot at Sydney’s head killing him instantly.

Both men were charged with murder, even though Bentley didn’t even take his weapons out of his pocket. Because Craig was under 18, it was the mentally challenged Bentley that was hanged.

Bentley’s death led to a 45-year campaign to get his conviction overturned; he was eventually given a posthumous pardon in 1998.

1 Stephen Downing

Stephen Downing

Wendy Sewell was attacked in Bakewell Cemetery in broad daylight on 12 Sept 1973, she was beaten with a pick axe handle and sexually assaulted. Wendy died two days later from her terrible injuries.

17-year-old Stephen Downing worked at the Cemetery and had found Wendy lying on the ground. As he tried to wake her, blood got on his clothes. Stephen soon became the prime suspect for her murder. He was taken to the police station and questioned for nine hours, and at no time was a solicitor present. Stephen then signed a confession even though he only had a reading age of 11.

Downing pleaded not guilty at his trial. Despite this, Downing was found guilty by all members of the jury and was sentenced to be detained indefinitely. Downing never became eligible for parole as he refused to admit he had killed Wendy, he spent 27 years in jail, and lost several appeals, throughout this period he protested his innocence.

Finally in 2001 Downing was released on appeal, and in 2002 the court of appeal overturned his conviction, finding it to be unsafe.

The case is thought to be the longest miscarriage of justice in British History. No one has ever been convicted of Wendy Sewell’s murder, although recent investigations have linked the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe to the killing. There are those who believe there has been a cover up and someone knows who the killer is but is protecting them.

As for Stephen, he has found life hard since his release. Despite being compensated for the years he spent in prison, Stephen spends his day watching TV, gardening and looking after his 82-year-old Mother.

Stephen has been quoted as saying “I don’t really have much of life, yes I am free… but I am still paying for a crime I didn’t commit.”