One day in 1992 I was working in my old job as Traincrew/Operations Supervisor at Toton when Ian Mansfield came into my office and introduced me to a Detective Calter from the West Yorkshire Regional Crime Squad. “John,” Ian said, “This is Detective Inspector Calter and he has a few questions to ask which you may be able to help answer. Please give him any help that he requires.”
At this Ian turned on his heels and left. D.I.Calter is a great person to talk to and is the sort of man that is instantly likeable.

We shook hands and he said. “I have been given a photo album full of locomotive shots that are dated. I know that the photos are genuine enough but it’s the dates that I would like to check out.” I looked at the album and the dates - they were two years old. “Its not going to be easy” I said, “there are locomotives moving continually here but we can have a look.”
At 14.00 hrs I was relieved and Mr.Calter and I made our way to the old Toton Centre signal box where the old records are kept. On the way, I explained to the detective that each weeks activities are wrapped together and secured by an elastic band, dated and filed. If no one had had a clear out, then the records would still be there.
We entered the old signal box and it was crammed with boxes of old papers. After finding the papers relating to the correct year, it was only a matter of minutes before we had located the papers relating to the right weeks. The Detective was delighted. “I cannot believe my luck,” he said. “It was only a shot in the dark. Where can we go to look at these in detail?” “My wife makes a grand coffee so lets go to my place” I said.
At my home, the Detective spread out the records on the floor and took a mountain of papers from his briefcase. My Tomcat took this as an invitation to play and dashing from behind a chair, sent the papers everywhere. He was promptly arrested and shut in the kitchen. “When are you going to tell me what this is all about?” I asked. Mr Calter replied, “This photo album belongs to a man called Michael Samms. He was arrested and is being held by us for the abduction of Stephanie Slater. We believe that he is also responsible for the murder of Julie Dart two years ago. In his defence he produced this album and showed us the dated photographs saying that he was in Toton on the day that Julie went missing which was Wednesday, July 10th, 1991.” He added,”Samms is an enthusiastic train spotter and he has records of everything he has seen and done but we reckon that he has falsified these dates, hence, my visit to you.”
I examined the records for the date in question and it was soon apparent that the album was fabricated. Three of the locomotives had not been in Toton for days. I deducted that these must have been working in the Worksop Area - a phone call soon verified this. I was asked to look at other dates (Samms had done other misdeeds) and I was obviously asked to give a statement. The statement took about three hours to complete. Some months later, I was called to Nottingham Crown Court to give evidence. I was questioned relentlessly by the Defence Council for about 45 minutes. During the questioning, I was not only able to prove that Samms had not been at Toton that day and that the photos were wrongly dated, but I was able to state and to provide documentary evidence of the date and the time that the photos were actually taken. Samms had taken one photo which included not only the object locomotive but two others in Toton Yard. I was able to state without question that the date was 24th July 1991 and the trains in question were the 14.00 Toton-Denby, the 13.57 Oxcroft and the locomotive for a Rugeley service.
That combination of trains and locomotives had not been repeated that year and probably never would be.
Samms defence was thrown out by the jury and the Toton and Worksop records had been instrumental in assisting to convicting Samms to four life sentences and four terms of ten years. Samms confessed to the murder of Julie after the trial.
It just goes to show how important records are and how one can get involved.
John Woolley
AOC Manager

No comments: