Jury returns mixed verdicts in triple murder trial


Robin Ligus, who was charged last year with the murders of three men in Shropshire in 1994, has had the case against him proved in two of the cases.

Ligus, aged 59, was deemed not fit to plead and has taken no part in the hearing at Birmingham Crown Court, which began in June this year and lasted six weeks.

Mr Justice Colman Treacy has presided over the hearing, which occurred under the Criminal Procedure and Insanity Act 1964, where the evidence is put to a jury who had to decide whether there was sufficient evidence to determine whether Ligus was responsible for the acts as charged. (This is not a finding of guilt).

In December 2009, a comprehensive file of evidence was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service Complex Case Unit concerning three deaths that occurred in Shropshire in 1994.

Following extensive consideration of the evidence available, Robin Stanislaw Ligus, a local man from Shrewsbury, was charged in 2010 with the murders of Trevor Bradley, Brian Coles and Bernard Czyzewska. Ligus is already in prison serving a sentence for murdering Robert Young.

Yesterday, the jury unanimously found that Ligus was responsible for the death of Trevor Bradley.

Their deliberations continued today (Friday 15 July) and this morning they returned a 10-2 majority verdict that Ligus was also responsible for the death of Brian Coles; however they did not find that he we responsible for the death of Bernard Czyzewska.

The body of Mr Bradley was found in April 1994 in his burnt out car near to Melverley, North Shropshire, he was aged 53. The body of Mr Coles, aged 57, was found in October 1994 at his home in Higher Heath, near Whitchurch, Shropshire. The body of Mr Czyzewska, aged 36, was found in the River Severn at Shrewsbury in November 1994.

The Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Andy Parsons, said: "These investigations have been long and complex. We respect the jury's findings and hope the outcome goes some way to helping the families of Trevor Bradley and Brian Coles come to terms with their loss.

"This case has shown that the impact upon the families of murder victims and the community does not diminish with the passage of time.

"The review into the murder of Mr Bradley commenced more than six years ago. It was during that period that the connections with other deaths were established through investigation of the confessions that Ligus made to other prison inmates, a psychologist and members of his family.                       

"The process has been particularly difficult due to the absence of traditional evidential opportunities, such as DNA. The investigation team is grateful to members of the public who have come forward to provide invaluable evidence. The case has also relied greatly upon the testimony of a large number of expert witnesses who have brought clarity to some of the key issues within the trial.

"We are particularly grateful to the families of Trevor Bradley, Brian Coles and Bernard Czyzewska, who throughout this period have demonstrated patience and understanding.

"In 2009 the body of Mr Bradley was exhumed. It is not a decision that was taken lightly. We are acutely aware of the distress this sensitive process caused to his family but we are eternally grateful for the cooperation that they provided.

"Today's result has proved that Robin Ligus was in fact a serial killer and not a serial confessor. His victims were vulnerable and were brutally killed in horrific circumstances. It is unlikely Ligus will ever again be at liberty to become a threat to the communities of Shropshire."

Jayne Salt, Head of the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service Complex Casework Unit, said: "Following the discovery of new evidence which supported confessions made by the defendan, the original evidence was re-investigated, root and branch, and a wealth of new evidence and expert opinions were put forward as part of the prosecution case.

"The jury, after having the opportunity of hearing both the prosecution and defence cases in full, have reached verdicts of 'case proved' to two counts of murder, which we respect.

"From the outset, this has been a very complex case in which the police have left no stone unturned in their investigation. The case has involved murders which were committed nearly 20 years ago by a man who tried to claim that he was a serial confessor. In fact today he has been found to be a serial killer.

"I would like to thank all three families for their assistance to the police during what has been a most difficult time for them.  I would also like to thank the police and prosecuting counsel for their tireless effort and support in this case."