Symonds Yat Rock is a well-known beauty spot near Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire. But it wasn’t quite so beautiful for a woman walking her dog there on May 8th, 1996, when she found a girl’s battered body.
Identified as 18-year-old Helen Martin, the girl had last been seen at 1 a.m. on MAY 4th, leaving a night club 60 miles away in Maesteg, Glamorgan. The night club’s closed-circuit film was studied, and it showed her departing with a man who had failed to come forward despite appeals for information from anyone who had seen Helen that night.
He was identified as 31-year-old David Alfred Willoway, a five-foot-one petty criminal living in Bridgend, Glamorgan. Interviewed by detectives, he said he had merely given Helen a lift in his car, dropping her off at her home.
So why hadn’t she gone straight inside? Dissatisfied with Willoway’s story, the officers returned to his home to question him further. When they arrived he came out with a shotgun, threatened to shoot them and fled.
Captured after a short hunt, he was charged with Helen’s murder and tried at Cardiff Crown Court in December, 1996. The jury were told that he had become obsessed with Fred and Rosemary West’s kidnapping of girls whom they forced to have lesbian sex before killing them. He had tried to persuade a girlfriend to join him in committing similar crimes, but she thought he was just fantasising.
Pleading not guilty, Willoway claimed that Helen had died after accidentally hitting her head on his car. He said he had panicked and tried to hide the body.
But the prosecution alleged he had abducted Helen, intending to take her to his home to make his sex-torture fantasy become reality. When she tried to escape he had beaten her to death with a wheel brace and dumped her body at the beauty spot.
The court heard that when his girlfriend visited him in prison he had repeated his wish to emulate the Wests, saying he had intended to make Helen his first victim.
On the third day of his trial Willoway changed his plea to guilty, and he was jailed for life.