It was a crime that beggared belief in its brutality, senselessness and callousness. Three innocent children mercilessly murdered by their babysitter David McGreavy on Friday the 13th – and then left impaled on garden railings.
The passage of more than four decades can’t begin to lessen the horror of the actions of Friday the 13th killer David McGreavy. But just who was this killer, who did he murder, what drove him to act so wickedly – and how could it be possible for the man known as the Monster of Worcester to one day be back on our streets a free man?
It was 1972, and Clive Ralph and his wife Elsie had a new boarder at their small home in Worcester. David McGreavy had been an old school friend of Clive’s, and he joined the Ralphs and their two children, Paul, 3, and 20-month-old Dawn, in the city’s Gillam Street. Elsie was also pregnant at the time, and when she gave birth to Samantha, in September 1972, there were six people in the small, two-bed house. But what had led David to here?
David’s childhood had been spent making the frequent moves common to families of military personnel. His father, Thomas, was an army sergeant, and when David left school, he followed his dad into the forces, joining the Royal Navy, his dream job. Disappointment and shame followed, however, when he was court-martialed and ultimately dismissed from the Navy. An incident involving getting drunk and an act of arson had been the beginning of the end of his naval career. Indeed, troubles with drink would be a consistent feature for McGreavy.
As well as his childhood dream ending, David also had a short-lived and intense relationship that ended in him being dumped by his fiance on New Year’s Eve 1971.
A disgruntled David was then kicked out of his parents’ home when they’d had enough of his lazing around feeling sorry for himself. And so it was that he came to live with the Ralphs and their children.
David was said to be good with the children, and he would sometimes help out by babysitting while Clive worked as a lorry driver and Elsie did shifts at a pub. An, on Friday 13th April 1973. Elsie had been working at the pub, and Clive, as he often did, went to have a last pint before closing time and to pick up his wife after her shift.
When Clive had left home, his children had been asleep. Looking after them was David McGreavy. Earlier that evening David had been to the pub. He’d had between five and seven pints, and played cards and darts with a friend, with whom he’d had a small altercation after David put out a cigarette in his pal’s drink. Clive had picked up David from the pub and brought him home to look after the kids while he went to collect Elsie.
When Clive and Elsie returned home, they would have been shocked to find their house surrounded by police, who wouldn’t let them enter their home, and instead took them to the police station. Once there, the couple were told the unthinkable news – that their three children were all dead. Murdered.
That night, in the hour between 10.15pm and 11.15pm, McGreavy, drunk, presumably in a bad mood, lost his temper while looking after the little Ralph children. It’s believed he became infuriated with baby Samantha’s crying for her bottle. But rather than tending to her needs, as any caring babysitter would have, he instead snuffed out her life – and those of her older siblings.
First, 9-month-old Samantha died from a fractured skull. Dawn, just 2 years old, had her throat slit, and 4-year-old Paul was strangled to death. Shockingly, McGreavy’s violence towards the poor, innocent children didn’t end with their deaths. He retrieved a pickaxe from the basement of the house and proceeded to mutilate their bodies with it. He then impaled the three bodies on the wrought-iron fence of a neighbour, almost as if he were displaying his hellish handiwork. With that, David McGreavy left the scene of his wicked crimes.
In the early hours of that morning, McGreavy was arrested as he walked the streets. Having initially denied his crimes, he later admitted, ‘It was me, but it wasn’t me.’ He then went on to explain, ‘I put my hand over her [Samantha’s] mouth, and it went from there. It’s all in the house. On Paul, I used a wire. I was going to bury him, but I couldn’t. I went outside, and put them on the fence. All I could hear is kids, kids, kids.’
Because McGreavy pleaded guilty, after a court hearing lasting just eight minutes, he was sentenced to life in prison, to serve a minimum of 20 years.
Despite the horror of his crimes, McGreavy remained relatively unknown to the public – until it was revealed in 2016 that he could soon be released. Pictures showed him on the street while on day release in 2006, and it was confirmed that a panel of the Parole Board was considering McGreavy’s parole review.
For many, the thought of David McGreavy walking out of prison a free man, is too much to bear, given the nature of his crimes.