Worcester Evening News press cuttings of the case

IN the early 1990s, the sprawling housing development of Warndon Villages on the east side of Worcester was in the process of being built. By day much of it still resembled a building site with tradesmen of all sorts coming and going and

heavy plant rumbling about.

But when dark came it was a different picture. It was very quiet.  Many of the roads had yet to be finished and many of the new homes sold.  So there were not many curtains twitching late on a November night in 1992 as three police cars

carefully made their way through the half completed maze looking for Great Oaty Gardens.

Around midnight their headlights picked out the road sign and a combined group of West Mercia and West Midland officers walked up a short front path to the home of delivery driver Edward Conlon and his wife. They were there to arrest Conlon

for a murder a judge was later to describe as “an horrific act even in an age of horrors”.

Conlon did not resist and there was little to disturb the sleeping neighbourhood as the police vehicles slipped quietly away again, back up the M5 to Stechford police station in Birmingham, where an incident room had been set up after the

body of hotel chambermaid Annie May Duffy was found on an industrial estate in Bordesley Green, near Birmingham City Football Club.

Miss Duffy, who was 45 and worked at the Midland Hotel in New Street, had lived in Birmingham for about ten years after moving from County Mayo in Ireland. Police described her as: “A very religious Catholic girl. Very sweet, very innocent

and very reliable. A lovely person.” Her semi-naked body had been discovered in a cul-de-sac popular with courting couples. She appeared to have been attacked, beaten and deliberately run over.

Throughout his week long trial at Birmingham Crown Court in January, 1994, Conlon protested his innocence, claiming he knew nothing about the death of Annie Duffy, who was in fact his wife’s cousin. He admitted being with her that night,

but said he dropped her back at the Midland Hotel and then returned home.

The prosecution alleged Conlon drove from Worcester to Birmingham in a bid to find a women for sex. On the way he gave a friend’s wife a lift and told her he was off to the Irish Centre, where he was going to remove his wedding ring. One

way or another he was going to get a women, even if he had to pay for it.

At the Irish Centre he came across Annie Duffy who was enjoying a night out with her friend Bridie McGrath. Anthony Palmer QC told the jury: “ Annie was a quiet and respectable woman who went to Mass sometimes twice a week. She was virtually

teetotal.”  Conlon offered the pair a lift home in his wife’s two door Mazda car, but after dropping Bridie off in Edgbaston, drove Annie to an area in Bordesley Green and viciously assaulted her.

Mr Palmer added: “When she was found the next morning by two workmen her face was a mass of blood and there were fractures to her nose, face and jaw and an injury to her neck consistent with attempted strangulation. She was naked from the

waist down, her clothes were nearby and there were injuries to her private parts.”

Blood discovered inside the Mazda showed she was attacked as she sat in the passenger seat and at some stage Annie had tried to escape by opening the door. The left side of her rib cage had caved in, consistent with a car being driven over

her as she tried to get away.

Shortly after the killing Conlon went to buy cigarettes from a Bordesley Green petrol station with his clothes covered in blood. He admitted hitting and also arguing with Annie, whom he claimed had been his lover for ten years, but denied

her murder.

However, there were cheers from the public gallery when the jury returned a unanimous  guilty verdict. Annie’s brother Joe Duffy said: “My sister was a decent woman and for her character to have been brought down by this man has really


Sending Conlon to prison for life, Mr Justice Richard Rougier told him: “You have added a footnote to Man’s inhumanity to Man. This was appalling, fuelled by lust and carried out with a brutality that even in this age of horrors was horrific.”

Outside the court, Det Supt Brian Davies, who led the police investigation, told reporters: “This crime was probably one of the worst cases of murder in terms of violence I have ever come across.”


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