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Man convicted of brutal 1975 rape and murder after double jeopardy trial

|News, Violent crime , Sexual offences

A man who brutally raped and murdered his ex-girlfriend’s niece 47 years ago has been convicted after the CPS successfully overturned the verdict of a 1976 jury to see him face a retrial. 

Dennis McGrory, now 75 but 28 at the time, attacked, raped and brutally murdered his 15-year-old victim Jacqueline Montgomery in 1975. Although he was put on trial in 1976 he was acquitted by direction of the judge. Today he was found guilty at Huntingdon Crown Court and will face sentence on January 13.

Jacqueline’s aunt had been in a relationship with McGrory and had left him. Jacqueline had written in her diary details of the address where her aunt could be found.

After an evening of heavy drinking, McGrory went to Jacqueline’s home in Islington, where she was alone, to try and track down his ex. Jacqueline’s dead body was found the next day by her father. Her clothing had been partially removed indicating she had been subjected to a sexual assault. She had been stabbed multiple times and strangled with the flex of an iron, and she was covered in bruises.

New DNA evidence since then, and an array of further circumstantial evidence collected by the Metropolitan Police meant the CPS could apply to the Court of Appeal and successfully argue he should have his acquittal overturned and a retrial listed. It is the second case in the past year to see an acquittal quashed following the double murder conviction of Gary Allen last June which saw a personal intervention by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill KC.

Claire Prodger, of the CPS London Homicide team, said: “Dennis McGrory has finally faced justice for his murderous actions all those years ago. He selfishly and brutally ended Jacqueline Montgomery’s life and must have thought he had escaped. The further evidence collected by the Metropolitan Police, and used by the prosecution at trial, have made the jury today certain that he committed these crimes. He now faces the prospect of ending his life behind bars.”

Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill KC said: “It is extremely rare for an acquittal to be overturned but after careful consideration I was satisfied there was new clear and compelling evidence to allow an application to be made to the Court of Appeal. It is very rarely that I have approved such an application and I am extremely satisfied to see today’s verdict. My thoughts are with everybody who still mourns Jacqueline.”

The five key pieces of evidence the CPS used to prove the case

  • Technological advances meant that DNA evidence that was not available at the time showed that McGrory had sexually assaulted Jacqueline. 
  • McGrory lied about the injuries he received that night, saying he was jumped by ‘four geezers’. 
  • Police found a piece of paper torn from the victim’s diary on the defendant and the prosecution were able to discredit the account he gave about how he came to be in possession of it. 
  • He had a history of drinking and violence toward women, as well as use of knives to threaten and attack others. 
  • He had previously shown sexual interest in 15-year-old Jacqueline but his interest was not reciprocated. 

How the CPS brought McGrory back to court

Hope may have seemed lost for the family of 15-year-old Jacqueline Montgomery when a man was acquitted of her brutal rape and murder.

But nearly 50 years later Dennis McGrory is facing life imprisonment as a result of new and compelling evidence the CPS was able to present to the Court of Appeal which led appeal judges to quash his acquittal.

Setting aside a verdict in a murder trial is, quite rightly an incredibly serious step and one that is not undertaken very often. It is only one of a handful of cases the current Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill KC has personally approved a decision to do so.

There are safeguards in place to make sure acquitted defendants are not continually reinvestigated but the CPS formally approved a proposal by police to arrest him again in March 2020. A DNA sample was taken from McGrory.

As in the case of Gary Allen last year, the CPS had to be absolutely sure that the new evidence that had come to light since the original trial was clear and compelling. We had to be sure that the evidence would persuade the Court of Appeal and meet the very high safeguards set in double jeopardy cases.

But Dennis McGrory is now facing life imprisonment for murder and rape as a result.

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