England

James Allen case: Murderer had no plan

James Allen
Image caption James Allen was finally arrested in Leeds

After brutally murdering two people in their own homes, James Allen became one of the country's most-wanted men.

Hundreds of officers from Cleveland and North Yorkshire police were hunting the killer after the deaths of Colin Dunford and Julie Davison.

Detectives say Allen had no plan and simply made decisions "hour by hour".

He evaded them for five days after he was identified as the suspect for Mr Dunford's death before eventually being spotted in Leeds.

Stabbed 31 times

Allen, who has previous convictions for violence and was on bail at the time of the killings, savagely attacked his victims.

Ms Davison was stabbed 31 times and stamped and kicked.

After his second attack he calmly got on a bus from Scarborough to Leeds and was seen on CCTV eating Danish pastries as he used Ms Davison's laptop computer.

Allen had left Ms Davison's flat wearing a jacket and trainers belonging to her. Police believe he ditched his own blood-soaked clothes although they have never been found.

But his trail of violence began in the home of a man he knew.

Image caption Julie Davison and Colin Dunford both died from head injuries

The 36-year-old told a friend who he visited that he had had an argument with his girlfriend and spent the night coming and going from the address just a short distance from Mr Dunford's home in Leven Street, Middlesbrough town centre.

Allen, originally from Blackpool, had 96p in his bank account at the time of the pensioner's death and owed debt to money lenders.

He was a former neighbour of the man police described as a "creature of habit" who would go to his local working men's club for two pints each night.

It was when Mr Dunford, 81, didn't arrive at the club on 23 April that his friends knew something was wrong, went to his house and found his battered body in the hallway. The killer had attempted to gag Mr Dunford with a scarf.

Broken lock

Allen tried to withdraw £200 with Mr Dunford's bank card but got the PIN number wrong and used the 81-year-old's mobile phone to speak to benefit agencies and friends while he was on the run.

CCTV images showed Allen cycling the 30 miles to Whitby where he began searching for somewhere to stay, trying doors at various houses near the seafront.

When he got to the flats at Church Square he found the lock was broken.

Two days after beating his first victim to death, Allen now had somewhere to sleep as he rested in the communal area of the Victorian building.

Ms Davison, 50, who was epileptic and had been presented with an award for first aid at her St John Ambulance session in the week she was murdered, lived alone in the ground-floor flat.

She was seen alive for the last time on 25 April when she was disturbed by a conversation between Allen and two men visiting a friend at the flats.

Image caption Allen was captured on CCTV as he boarded a bus to Scarborough the day after he killed Ms Davison

Her sister Dawn and brother-in-law George Kibble found her body on the lounge floor later that day.

Mr Kibble said his relation would "give her heart away" to help somebody else.

Just like Mr Dunford she died of multiple injuries to the face and neck and North Yorkshire Police contacted their counterparts in Cleveland prompted by the comments of a pathologist.

Allen was now a double murder suspect and becoming more desperate.

He tried to change his appearance to avoid arrest and cycled 20 miles to Scarborough where he sold Ms Davison's treasured St Christopher pendant for £35 at the same Cash Generator he had earlier sold a ring.

Once in Leeds, Allen tried to sell Ms Davison's laptop at a market.

The laptop has never been found and police believe Allen flitted between squats in the city.

Remained defiant

Jurors at Newcastle Crown Court heard how Allen warned one woman at a house where he was staying not to watch the television as the news would scare her.

He knew his face was making headlines around the country as the search continued.

Allen was caught almost a week after the first killing when he was recognised by an off-duty police officer.

Rather than admit his crimes, Allen remained defiant in court, describing the prosecution case as "annoying" and accusing the judge of not listening to him.

After three hours of deliberations, members of the jury saw through his lies and convicted him of both murders.

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