Shropshire

Robin Ligus: Shropshire murderer's mother remembers son

Robin Ligus age two
Image caption The picture of a young Robin Ligus is still on the wall of his mother's house

"It's a good photograph of him, it hasn't been taken off the wall in 16 years," says Phyllis Ligus.

The picture of her son Robin was taken when he was about two years old.

Now aged 59, he is currently serving a life term for the murder of Robert Young during a burglary at the 75-year-old's home in Shrewsbury in 1994.

In September last year he was charged with murdering three other men in Shropshire in the same year.

A jury found he killed Trevor Bradley and Brian Coles but acquitted him of being involved in the death of Bernard Czyzewska.

Jurors were asked to give a verdict following a trial of facts after Ligus was declared unfit to plead following psychiatric assessment.

Sitting in her home in Monkmoor, Shrewsbury, his mother says she does not know what led her son to kill.

She remembers a "lovely little lad" who was not treated any differently from his nine brothers and sisters.

"We've got three lads and they were all treated the same," she said.

"They never got into trouble the other two."

She struggles to explain why her son turned to a life of crime, but believes his drug addiction contributed.

She said: "It was just in him. I don't know why he did it.

"I remember him when he was 14, just the same as any other lad.

"But then he got in with other lads and got into trouble and that was it."

She said he had been in and out of prison since the age of 18 until he was jailed for the latest time 17 years ago.

Since then police have re-examined the deaths of Trevor Bradley, 53, Brian Coles, 57, and Bernard Czyzewska, 36.

At Birmingham Crown Court, prosecutor James Curtis QC said it was up to the jurors to decide whether the father-of-three was a "serial killer or just a serial confessor".

Image caption Phyllis Ligus says she does not know what made her son turn to crime

The prosecution claimed Ligus, who previously lived in Middletown Square, Shrewsbury, was a heroin and cocaine user and had committed the crimes to obtain money for his drug addiction.

He allegedly hit Mr Bradley on the head before setting fire to his car in Melverley where his body was found in April 1994.

Mr Coles' body was discovered six months later following a burglary at his home in Higher Heath, near Whitchurch, and Mr Czyzewska was thrown into the River Severn in Shrewsbury in November of that year, the QC said.

Mrs Ligus is now 85 and does not get to see her son very often.

Her husband Stanley, Robin's father, is confined to a wheelchair due to a stroke and rheumatoid arthritis and so is unable to take her to visit their son in prison in Buckinghamshire.

But Mrs Ligus says she and Robin write to each other every week.

The former painter and decorator had been due to be considered for release this year but Mrs Ligus said she did not think he would ever be released now.

She said she believed her son killed Mr Young over a perceived insult.

She said: "That was awful (that he) killed Robert Young.

"He lived not far from where we lived."

She said she had heard Mr Young had insulted Robin.

"Robin wouldn't forget that. (But killing him) was a stupid thing to do."

Image caption Robert Young was murdered in his home during a burglary

She said she was proud of her other two sons who she said had never been out of work.

She said she was left with holding on to the memory of the little boy she once knew.

Full confession

"I can't blame anyone else. He had a mind of his own," she said.

"I don't know why he did it. He was a lovely little lad."

Police reopened files into the deaths of the three men after new evidence came to light.

Ligus allegedly told a psychologist and his cellmate that in the same year he killed Mr Young he also killed Mr Bradley, Mr Coles and Mr Czyzewska.

He then "confessed in full" during a formal police interview in January 2000, but owing to some inconsistencies in his account, no charges were brought against him for the three unsolved murders, the prosecutor said.

Further evidence emerged following the exhumation of Mr Bradley's body.

Horrific time

For Micky Bradley, the youngest of the Bradley family's 22 children, the exhumation brought back memories of his brother's death.

Image caption Micky Bradley says his family always believed justice would be done

Recalling the day his brother's body was discovered he said: "I had a phone call from my sister asking me if I'd seen the newspaper and I said yes but I never took notice of it.

"I just saw something about a burnt out car I thought had been stolen.

"My sister explained the police had been at her door to say a body had been found in the back of the car and they strongly believed it was my brother Trevor."

He said it had been a "horrific" time for his family.

Ligus's sister is married to one of the Bradley brothers, but Micky Bradley said there had been no animosity between the families.

He said he felt sorry for Ligus's parents.

"My heart goes out to them, they're lovely people."

He said over the years several of his elder family members had died so they had never got answers as to who killed Trevor.

He said: "Life goes on. I've lost a lot of members of the family but they've always said 'No matter how long it takes, justice will be done'.

"I hope they're up there somewhere taking note of what's happening."

Image caption Robin Ligus uses a wheelchair as a result of suffering a series of strokes

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