No. 28,791 MONDAY OCTOBER 15, 1979 9p
Beauty spot's grisly secret;
POLICE PROBE MYSTERY OF BUTCHERED CORPSE
Detectives today stepped up a murder hunt after the butchered body of a man was found dumped in a flooded Lancashire quarry.
Police forces throughout the country were checking missing person files to try and identify the man - thought to be the victim of a bizarre gangland-style execution.
The naked, mutulated corpse of a stocky man thought to be under 30 was found by amateur scuba-divers at Marsden's Quarry, off Halfpenny Lane, Eccleston, near Chorley. The frogmen say both hands had been chopped off the body and there was a large gaping wound in the stomach
The long haired victim of the grisly gangland-type killing had been weighed down by bricks. Police refused to disclose the nature of their initial investigations but were holding a Press conference this morning. The gruesome discovery was made in a 60ft deep pool.
The body, found by accident when sub-aqua enthusiasts Jeff Ashcroft, 22, a mechanic, and his pal Ian Reading, 34, were diving at the scene yesterday. Hours after the discovery, Jeff said "We had been diving about 60ft and were working our way round the side of the quarry to see if we could find anything interesting. When we first saw it we thought it was a tailor's dummy"
The couple prodded the corpse before realising what it was. Ian, a lorry driver, added "It was only when we got close to it that our stomachs turned over and we found we had a body on our hands". The divers - both from Ashton-in-Makerfield near Wigan and members of the Newton-Le-Willows Scuba club - both believe the body had not been in the water for long.
Lancashire CID chief Det Chief Supt Wilf Brookes and Assistant Chief Constable Keith Brown were immediately called to the scene. Chorley Chief Supt Ian Hunter and Supt Phil Cafferty of the No. 2 District Task Force based in Penwortham were also at the murder spot, 50 yards down Halfpenny Lane. The man in charge of the hunt is Det Supt Ray Rimmer, second in command of the Lancashire CID.
Local anglers continued to fish at the quarry unaware of the drama unfolding 60 feet below. The water has been used in the past for the illegal dumping of cars, and both divers say they saw cars deep below the surface. A dumped mini estate was found near the body. But police are understood to have ruled out any link between that car and the body.
Police frogmen later made a detailed search of the scene to try and find the man's severed hands and the murder weapon - but have been unsuccessful so far. A dental specialist has also been called in in a bid to help identify the victim. And Home Office pathologist Dr Geoffrey Garrett was carrying out a post-mortem.
Lancashire police have no record of any local missing person who would fit the bill of the victim. The body has now been removed from the quarry and is in Preston Royal Infirmary mortuary.
Acticle by Bob Westerdale & Peter Richardson
Lancashire Evening Post - Special
The killing of Mr Asia
Special Report by Brian Ellis & Peter Richardson
The Accused in the Case of the Handless Corpse
Lancashire Evening Post FRIDAY JULY 2, 1982
Back from the deep!
Once it was a beauty spot.
But that was before it became the watery grave of an international drugs dealer.
Eccleston Delph, a flooded quarry in the heart of Lancashire, was never meant to reveal its gruesome secret. But the body of Martin Johnstone never hit the bottom.
Instead it came to rest on a ledge after the perpetrators of the most notorious deed in the history of crime in the North West, had bundled him over the edge.
And there it was discovered - that butchered, hideously scarred body which led disbelieving detectives to the earth's four corners in pursuit of those who would kill to protect a multi million pound drugs empire.
This week the Handless Corpse rose once more from the Delph's murky depths. For two days and nights a television crew reconstructed the killing and dumping of Kiwi Martin Johnstone, the man dubbed the Mr Asia of international narcotics smuggling whose ruthless execution 13 years ago put nine behind bars for dealing in drugs and death.
The Lancashire connection will be a dramatised by Granada this autumn as part of a Friday night peak-time crime series. Ironically, perhaps, it will be called All Good Friends.
Those were the words used in a statement by Preston-born Barbara Pilkington, girlfriend of the man who pulled the trigger. She and killer Andy Maher were indeed good friends with Johnstone and his Lancashire lover Julie Hue.
"We examine that friendship and the pressures which finally blew the whole thing apart," says producer Bill Jones
Drugs, Death and a grisly man-hunt
He remembers it well. As a newspaper reporter he covered the case in its early stages. Now he watches as two film units bring about the realisation of a project which took him six months to research.
At Leyland in a lock-up garage they recreate the moments in which Johnstone's body was mutilated in the vain hope that even if it was discovered it might never be identified.
And at Eccleston Delph - it's actually in neighbouring Heskin - they film the dumping of his heavily weighted body, its discovery by two amateur divers who thought it was a tailor's dummy, and its recovery by police frogmen.
Lancashire police have co-operated with the makers. Few police forces, they believe, could have concluded the case in the way Lancashire did. From the time they'd finished there were 180 witnesses from across the globe.
"They kept at it like a Jack Russell with a rabbit," says Bill Jones. "It really was an incredible case and it is still a very powerful story."
There is a delay in filming because Mike Armitage is in make up. It takes four hours to get him looking.....like death.
For Mike, underwater expert and boss of Standish-based Northern Diver, is the corpse of Martin Johnstone for the day. When he finally arrives at the Delph, make-up artists continue to work on him, attaching a sandy wig and various prosthetics.
These include specially-made and uncannily realistic handless arms which are placed prayer-like across his chest in the manner they were found. While it is all going on he says with unintentional humour: "The tension is killing me."
Bill Jones looks across the water. There is litter and there are rusting cars and vans beneath the surface. One or two fishermen go about their business: "It's an eerie place," he says. Maybe I think that because of what happened here, but there's something weird about it."
He reveals that Andy Maher will be played by Vic McGuire, Jack in TV's Bread. In reality Maher, then 27, was given a minimum 20 years after an historic 128-day trial at Lancaster Castle, and remains locked away until the last year of this century.
Barbara Pilkington and Julie Hue whose mind-boggling statements finally blew the gaffe on a drugs-running operation spanning Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and Britain gave evidence for the prosecution.
Since then they have been living new lives with new identities. Which leaves one more character from the cast of All Good Friends. He is Terry Sinclair, the hugely wealthy Mr Big on whose orders Maher shot his friend in the head.
Johnstone had double-crossed the syndicate. Maher believed his own life would be snuffed out if he didn't shoot Johnstone. So he did - in a layby north of Lancaster.
Sinclair, arrested by armed officers during a dawn raid on a London flat, read books in the dock a Lancaster Castle. So powerful was he that he believed he could simply buy his way to freedom. When he died of a heart attack not long into a 20-year sentence at Parkhurst prison in 1983, Lancashire police were immediately suspicious.
Says Bill Jones "They had put away this fit-looking guy in his mid forties and he'd suddenly had a heart attack. They felt it wasn't him. They thought he might have been sprung from prison and that someone else had taken his place. That's how powerful he was.
"So they went down to look at his body - and they took someone along who knew him very well. It was Sinclair all right, but his hair was white and he'd aged 25 years.
There he lay, the multi-millionaire drugs baron whose downfall had begun with the discovery of a handless corpse in a Lancashire quarry off Halfpenny Lane
Brutal killer Andy Maher
PC Arthur Marshall is at the waters edge. He is the man who brought Johnstone to the surface all those years ago. Now, 45, he's still with the police, still diving and still enjoying the life.
"I remember it as a job of work," he says. "We were conscious all the time that we had to preserve all the evidence. These days we could have rigged up a video camera and CID could have watched from the surface
"But there was nothing like that then and no one realised the problems we had. There were 140 lbs of weights tied to his legs. It must have been at least two hours before we got him up. He was about 20 to 30 feet down on a ledge.
If they'd dropped him just a few feet away I don't think he would ever have been found." Arthur is taking part in the filming, together with colleagues.
Lancashire Evening Post - Special!!
The killing of Mr Asia Special Report by Brian Ellis & Peter Richardson The 'Mr Big' with fortune of £50 millionHE WAS Mr Big - the man who made millions by dealing in drugs, and the man who aimed to stay at the top of his sinister world by dealing in death.
He was the so-called Angel of Death who offered cunning and coruption as the twin weapons with which to fight the combined police forces of Australasia.
But the Angel came down to earth when Lancashire police swooped on the luxury £250-a-week Kensington apartment he had rented to mastermind the "English Connection".
Terence Alexander Sinclair had found wealth in an evil trade. He once boasted he couldn't even spend the interest on a personal fortune of £25 million.
But it wasn't always like that for the one-time welder born 36 years ago in New Zealand.
He was a small-time crook, first coming to the attention of the police at 18, as Terry Clark, appearing in court at regular intervals between 1962 and 1971, when, on his ninth appearance he was jailed for five years for burglary and receiving.
He had married at the age of 20, to a childhood sweetheart but was divorced in the second year of his sentence. The following year he remarried - in the prison chapel.
His best man was Errol Hicksman, the New Zealander who was to become his trusted lieutenant and who stood with him in the dock at Lancaster Castle.
His bride was a telephonist who was to die from a drugs overdose in September 1977, as was another girlfriend of Clark, just three weeks later.
Clark liked what he heard during those years inside. After his release he was to become a canabis customer of Mr Asia Marty Johnstone.
Then he moved into the big league. Cocaine and heroin were to become his stock in trade. In 1975 he was named in court as the brains behind a massive £50,000 heroin shipment into Auckland - the biggest the country had known.
One of several police identity make-ups of a master of disguise.
He was arrested but skipped bail and vanished to Australia where he was to spend two profitable years before being picked up after a marijuana raid, fined and deported for possessing a revolver and suspected stolen cash.
Back in New Zealand the prospect of many years behind bars faced Clark. But at his trial he was aquitted..... and later it was rumoured that he had spent £120,000 "buying" witnesses and "preparing" his case.
Freedom for Clark was the signal to delve into the massive hidden reserves he had built up. He bought a prestige house overlooking the Bay of Islands on New Zealand's North Island for close on £250,000. Soon he was to be seen in a white Jaguar sports car.
It was all go with his new image - of a man who had successfully rehabilitated himself after his earlier problems. So too was his change of name to Terence Alexander Sinclair, charged here as Alexander James.
He bought prime beach property at Fiji worth more than £50,000. He is reported to have paid four years fees in advance for his son from his first marriage to attend a top New Zealand school.
But Sinclair was handing out lessons of his own. Doug and Isobel Wilson, recruited by Sinclair to help distribute heroin, were found dead in a shallow grave near Melbourne after turning police informants.
At their inquest a warrant was issued for the arrest of Sinclair for murder.
A master of disguise - Sinclair could easily look like a man in his fifties - and armed with a stock of false passports and up to 23 aliases, crossing the globe was no problem. He jetted to Singapore, Britain and America.
In Britain he knew he his evil expertise could earn him more and more millions from drugs. But there was another thorn in his side - another security risk. That man was Marty Johnstone.
Sinclair described as "very decent and considerate" by Karen Soich's mother, could not have dreamed a team of Lancashire detectives would burst into his Kensington flat a fortnight after the gruesome discovery of Johnstone's body.
But as the New Zealand Inland Revenue Dept lodged a claim for £300,000 dollars back tax, the trappings of wealth remained even in his cell as a category 'A' prisoner on remand at Strangeways. Not for him prision food. Every day he paid for meals to be brought in from a top hotel. So was the wine - and best cigars.
But was his confidence on the wane? The man described by the head of homicide at Melbourne as having "money coming out of his ears" found one Lancashire detective exceedingly deaf when he asked him to get three tickets to South America.
Was the man who never thought he would be caught suddenly seeing the future as life behind bars in Britain - prison food and all?
He WAS Mr Big...
There are many, who believe that he got out of prison!