Dore Murders: Everything you need to know about Sheffield's most shocking crime on 35th anniversary

It was the most brutal and shocking crime in Sheffield's history - and today marks the 35th anniversary of when unimaginable horror came to the city's most exclusive suburbs.

Tuesday, 23rd October 2018, 9:52 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd October 2018, 9:58 am
Triple killer Arthur Hutchinson murdered Basil, Avril and Richard Laitner at the family's home in Dore.

It was on October 23, 1983 that a quiet family home in Dore was thrust into the global media spotlight when an on the run criminal brutally slayed three members of the same family just hours after a joyous wedding celebration and leading to one of Britain's biggest ever manhunts.

The crazed killer was Arthur Hutchinson and his victims were husband and wife Basil and Avril Laitner and their son Richard while 18-year-old daughter Nicola was raped repeatedly at knifepoint by the twisted fugitive.

Triple killer Arthur Hutchinson murdered Basil, Avril and Richard Laitner at the family's home in Dore.

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Here's the full story of one of the darkest days in Sheffield's history and the hunt for Britain's most wanted man.


On the evening of October 23, 1983, solicitor Basil Laitner, 59 and his doctor wife, Avril, 55, were winding down after their daughter Suzanne's wedding to Glaswegian optician Ivor Wolfe just a few hours earlier.

Twisted killer Arthur Hutchinson, now 77, will die in prison.

More than 250 guests had toasted the happy couple in a huge marquee in the garden of the £150,000 luxurious family home in Dore Road, Dore and the couple, along with son Richard and other daughter Nicola were preparing to settle down for the night after a day of jubilation.

Hutchinson, whose motive was thought to be robbery, had forced his way into the home through a patio door and the first person to be stabbed to death was Richard.

Hearing the fracas, Mr Laitner had gone to investigate, encountering Hutchinson at the top of the stairs.

Police at the scene at the house in Dore Road in October 1983.

The killer stabbed him three times and then entered the couple's bedroom where despite attempts to resist, Mrs Laitner became Hutchinson's third victim, also knifed to death in a bloody frenzy.

He then turned his attention to Nicola, holding her at knifepoint, making her step over the body of her dead father before he tied her up and repeatedly raped her.

Blood from a knee injury sustained when he had gone on the run from police three weeks earlier was found on bedsheets - and would later prove crucial in snaring Hutchinson.

The family's home in Dore became the focus of one of Sheffield's most shocking crimes.

Before fleeing the crime scene, Hutchinson helped himself to champagne and cheese - and these would also prove vital clues in the hunt for the killer.

The trio of bodies and a distraught Nicola were found the following day by workers David Wetherall and George Wordsworth who had come to clear up the wedding marquee.


Hutchinson, now 77, was 42 when he committed the crime which shocked the nation.

Born on 19 February, 1941, in Hartlepool, County Durham, Hutchinson, dubbed himself "The Fox" after evading police for days before his eventual arrest.

He was raised by his mother Louise along with his half-brother Dino Reardon - and from an early age, was known for his violent streak.

At the age of seven, he reportedly stabbed his sister and by the time he was in his late teens, he had drifted into petty crime, stealing cars and switching number plates.

He also took to hanging around his home village, armed with a large five foot stick and began acting in a predatory manner around local girls.

In 1968, after a string of relationships Hutchinson settled down and married a local woman - but the marriage was a violent one, with Hutchinson beating and raping his wife on a regular basis.

After the collapse of the marriage, he was convicted for a number of sexual assaults and served five years for carrying firearms and the attempted murder of his brother.

He had only just been freed when in 1983, he was arrested and put in custody for a brutal rape.

However, on September 28 he climbed from a toilet window at Selby Magistrates' Court, slashing his knee on barbed wire and went on the run, avoiding the police by hiding in bushes and gutters and surviving by eating dandelions.

It is thought Hutchinson's motive when he ended up in the affluent suburb of Dore after three and a half weeks as a fugitive was to commit armed robbery of the wealthy Laitner family - his crime would prove to be far worse.


Basil Laitner, 59, was a respected solicitor with offices in Hartshead and prominent member of Sheffield's Jewish community.

His wife Avril, 55, who had survived cancer, was a popular and respected doctor in the city while the couple's son Richard, 28, a qualified barrister, was also hoping to follow in the medical profession.

Richmond College student Nicola, then 18, was the only member of the family spared by Hutchinson. Why he spared her after her rape ordeal is unknown. Her evidence helped to bring Hutchinson to trial.


Hutchinson's identity was quickly established by police thanks to the description given by Nicola and scientific evidence in the form of fingerprints left on a champagne glass.

An incident room was set up in the village hall in Dore and police forces across the country were put on alert.

It emerged that after his escape in Selby, he had been treated at Doncaster Royal Infirmary on October 2 and 4 for his injuries.

Following the murders on October 23, he stayed in the Carlton Road guest house in Worksop the following night and a week later was spotted drinking in The Drum pub in Bentley, near Doncaster.

He also moved from place to place - from Barnsley, Nottinghamshire, Manchester, York and Scarborough - and used disguises to alter his appearance.

It was during this time he gave himself the nickname The Fox, using the name in a letter sent to the Yorkshire Post.

Police also took the unusual step of releasing his photo - and his mugshot was splashed on the front pages of newspapers across the world.

He called a reporter at the Yorkshire Post to say he had been roaming around Doncaster and his voice was played on Radio Sheffield as the manhunt intensified.

He was eventually recaptured on a farm in Hartlepool on November 5 after police tapped his mother's phone and a call which revealed he was "coming home."


The area around Hutchinson's family home in Hartlepool was flooded with police and dogs on Bonfire Night, 1983.

He was eventually brought down by a police dog, just a few yards from his mother's home after making a break across open countryside to reach safety and in the ensuing scuffle, managed to stab himself with his own knife.


During his trial, on 11 September 1984, Hutchinson accused Mike Barron, then a reporter with the Sunday Mirror, of committing the murders.

However, Hutchinson was found guilty of all three murders and the rape on 14 September 1984 after a four-hour deliberation and sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommended minimum term of 18 years, which could have seen him released from prison in 2002 in the event of the Parole Board deciding that he no longer posed a risk.

After the conviction, the then Home Secretary, Leon Brittan, placed Hutchinson on the list of prisoners whose life sentences should mean life, meaning that he would probably never be released.

At the time the court took the unusual step of allowing Nicola to be named, due to the massive public interest in the trial which saw huge queues form for the public gallery at Durham Crown Court.


The family's funerals at the Sheffield Synagogue in Wilson Road were attended by hundreds of mourners and were the focus of an intense media spotlight.

Hutchinson later appealed against the Home Secretary's ruling.

His case was in 2008 at the High Court, where solicitors argued that a whole life tariff was a breach of his human rights. However, his appeal was rejected and the High Court agreed with the Home Secretary's ruling that life must mean life.

A second appeal was rejected and the Euorpean Court of Human Rights also dismissed an appeal in 2015.