Nominated BEST TRUE-CRIME PODCAST at British Podcast Awards 2018, The Telegraph's Top Five True-Crime Podcasts and an iTunes Top 25 podcast. Subscribe via iTunes, Spotify, Acast, Stitcher and all podcast platforms.
Welcome to the Murder Mile UK True-Crime Podcast and audio guided walk of London's most infamous and often forgotten murder cases, set within London's West End.
On Saturday 18th September 2004, at 3:10am, on the South bank of the River Thames, David Morley met Chelsea O'Mahoney; two very different people raised by very different parents under very different circumstances; one was loving and kind, the other was heartless and cruel, and yet, having met by chance, their lives would be changed forever.
As many photos of the case are copyright-protected, below are photos taken by me and to view the others, take a peek at my social media accounts - Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
I've added the location of Queen's Walk on the South Bank where David Morley was murdered with a purple exclamation mark, just south of the river, and I've included the other locations, mentioned in the episode with red skull and cross bones around it. If you want to see the other murder maps, such as King's Cross and Paddington, you can access them by clicking here.
I've also posted some photos to aid your "enjoyment" of the episode. These photos were taken by myself (copyright Murder Mile) or granted under Government License 3.0, where applicable.
Top left: Lower Marsh where David Dobson was attacked. Top middle: Queen's Walk where David Morley was attacked. Top right: Embankment where the students were attacked. Bottom left: Jubilee Gardens where Nigel Elliot was attacked. Bottom Middle: Leake Street where Wayne Miller was attacked. Bottom right: The Admiral Duncan pub.
Ep73 – The Raising of David & Chelsea
SCRIPT: Welcome to Murder Mile; a true-crime podcast and audio guided walk featuring many of London’s untold, unsolved and long-forgotten murders, all set within London’s West End.
Today’s episode is about the upbringing of David Morley and Chelsea O'Mahoney; two very different people raised by very different parents under very different circumstances; one was loving and kind, the other was heartless and cruel, and yet, having met by chance, their lives would be changed forever.
Murder Mile is researched using the original police files. It contains moments of satire, shock and grisly details, and as a dramatisation of the real events, it may also feature loud and realistic sounds, so that no matter where you listen to this podcast, you’ll feel like you’re actually there.
My name is Michael, I am your tour-guide and this is Murder Mile.
Episode 73: The Raising of David & Chelsea.
Today I’m standing on the South Bank, on the south side of the River Thames; a short walk down from the dubious suicide of Roberto Calvi under Blackfriars Bridge, a short walk up from the terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge, a brisk dawdle right of the failed bombing of the Houses of Parliament by Guy Fawkes, the strangely successful assassination of sitting British Prime Minster Spencer Percival, and a few feet from the murder of Timothy Baxter on Hungerford Bridge - coming soon to Murder Mile.
Officially called Queen’s Walk, as a grotty fifty foot wide concrete pavement between Lambeth Bridge and Tower Bridge, this side of the South Bank whiffs of 1950’s modernist architecture, as slabs of drab grey are pockmarked with wilting trees, rusty railings and the brownest river you’ve ever seen, which teems with local fish like the bum-trout, the arse-salmon, the stinkleback and the shit-haddock.
Oddly, having been redeveloped from an ugly industrial shipping port full of docks, wharfs, cranes and the former Lion Brewery. Now, the South Bank has bloomed into an ugly tourist trap, where every year thousands of sightseers flock to explore the “real” London, only to see long lines of market stalls serving traditional English foods like hotdogs, candy floss, curry and paella; to see aquatic mammals in the Sea Life Centre (none of which are native to London), to see drummers from Tonga in the Royal Festival Hall, to be briefly scared by an out-of-work Aussie actor in the London Dungeon, and to go up a bit on the London Eye, see nothing through the city smog, and then go down again. Great days.
That said, the South Bank is a great place for families, as it’s always full of mums, dads and kids sharing quality time; laughing, playing and learning invaluable lessons about life. Admittedly, some may be screaming little bags of snot, shit and piss who bleed you dry, but the importance of good parenting can never be undervalued, as the first seven years of a child’s life defines their personality forever.
And although, just to the south side of the Hungerford Bridge, a bench has since been replaced by an anonymous tree, as parents and children play, they are unaware - that fifteen years earlier - two strangers (raised by very different parents) would meet here for the first and the very last time.
As it was here, on Saturday 30th October 2004, that 37 year old David Morley, a good man who had survived so much, was kicked to death by 14 year old Chelsea O’Mahoney… and all for fun. (Interstitial)
On Saturday 8th May 1999, in the heart of Soho, the bell of St Anne’s rang three times. Three solitary bells reverberated off the walls of Dean Street, Wardour Street and Old Compton Street, their echoes audible in an eerily quiet city, as each ring – one for each victim - peeled-off towards the setting sun.
As the last bell tolled, thousands of people stood, heads bowed, as they observed a minute’s silence. A sea of grief; all hugging, weeping and holding hands in a mix of mournful black clothes and bright rainbow flags, barely one hundred feet from the boarded-up remains of the Admiral Duncan pub.
One of those mourners was the pub’s assistant manager David Morley.
Barely one week after the bombing – which had killed three and injured seventy-four – with the images still as fresh and the pain was still as raw as the burns to his face and hands, having narrowly escaped with his life when a nail bomb ripped the pub apart, although deeply traumatised, as a good decent man who was described as loving and kind, he wasn’t there to mourn his loss, but to comfort others.
David Morley was born on the 3rd October 1967 in a small West Midlands village, as the adopted son of Geoffrey & Doreen Morley. As an only child who was raised by a late-thirties married couple in good careers - being smart, stable and level-headed - although they showered their baby boy with love, he was never spoilt, so blessed with a good education, they raised him as a fine young man.
Likewise, although they weren’t his blood, David adored his parents; calling them every week without fail and going with them on holidays. But being quiet, conservative and almost two generations older than himself, although the lie ate at his soul, being worried about how the truth might embarrass his beloved parents, by thinking of their feelings instead of his own, he kept his homosexuality a secret.
In 1988, aged 21, David moved to London and (more importantly) to Soho. As a gay man working in a gay pub in openly gay part of town, here David could be himself, and as his confidence blossomed, he became a real showman behind the bar, who the regulars nicknamed Sinders. Described as "big, jovial, fun and hugely camp", David was “the life and soul of a party. He made a good night into a great night. There was never a sad face when Sinders was around", as David wasn’t just loved, he was beloved. And with his parents living a quiet village life and rarely coming to London, he kept both worlds apart.
But on Friday 30th April 1999 at 6:40pm - for better and for worse - his life would be changed forever.
(Explosion) Left in a rucksack by the bar of the Admiral Duncan pub was a homemade bomb built by a deluded Neo-Nazi consisting of six pounds of explosives made from fireworks and fertiliser, a wind-up alarm clock in a transparent sandwich box as a crude timer, and as shrapnel, the bomber had filled the bag full of over one thousand steel nails, so whoever the blast didn’t kill, these four-to-six inch high-speed projectiles would; three people died, seventy-four were injured and hundreds were left traumatised.
Deafened by screams, blinded by smoke and disorientated by sirens, as the caustic smell of fertiliser stung his eyes, David’s focus wasn’t on saving himself, but escorting the injured to safety.
At 7pm, as David’s parents switched on the news, they saw their son’s pub, all smashed and smoking, the street outside a sea of blood, as unconfirmed reports spoke of injuries and deaths. Knowing they’d be distraught, twenty minutes later, from amidst the carnage, David called his parents to reassure them “I’m fine”.
Over the coming weeks, although physically and mentally scarred, David stood side-by-side with his fellow survivors at the memorial service at St Anne’s, he spent his spare time visiting the injured in hospital and (being promoted to manager) David saw it as his duty to the community to rebuild the Admiral Duncan, and - fighting through his own pain and trauma - it re-opened just nine weeks later.
The next day, having caught the earliest train to be with their son and seen every newspaper headline emblazoned with the words ‘gay pub bombed’ - with his secret out and being riddled with guilt - David apologised to his parents saying “I’m sorry you had to find out this way”. But loving their boy without question, being happy that he was happy, his homosexuality wasn’t a problem. In fact, although being born in a generation where they rarely expressed their feelings, Geoffrey wrote a letter to his son in which he said 'Your mum and I are so proud'.
David Morley was a rock; a generous, kind and loving man who put others before his own pain, having been the product of two parents who taught him how to be a decent human-being. He was strong for those who needed him to be strong, but when asked how he was coping, David would shrug it off with a jovial “I’ve had better days”. And although he always laughed loud, his smile was painted-on, his eyes were full of sadness, and struggling to cope, he partied hard and drowned his fears with booze.
In 2004, five years after the bombing; David quit drinking, partying and working at the Admiral Duncan, and with the support of his faithful friends, loyal colleagues and loving family, he finally began to turn his life around. And then, on Saturday 30th October 2004, by chance, he met a broken girl from a very different upbringing and her name was Chelsea O’Mahoney. (Interstitial)
Chelsea Kayleigh Peaches O'Mahoney was born on the 16th November 1989 in Edgware hospital, West London; the middle-child of five to Susanne Cato, a single mother and an unknown convict father, and with both parents being hopeless heroin abusers, Chelsea was born an addict.
As a junkie, living in squalor and half-starved, Susanne didn’t give a shit about anything except her next fix, as her wailing babies saw her strung-out, shooting-up and with blood spurting from a ripped vein. With no love, care or support, left to fend for herself, a severely neglected Chelsea was found by social services wandering the city streets, alone and at night, aged just three.
Unable to rehabilitate her mum, aged seven, Chelsea taken into care. To give her an ounce of stability, instead of being fostered out to strangers, she was placed with an aunt and uncle in South London, and to try and maintain some kind of a normal relationship with her mum, she was granted regular phone calls, but being too drunk to speak to her own daughter, Susanne forgot and the calls ceased.
Seven years later, aged fourteen, with her exasperated aunt and uncle unable to cope with the violent, emotional and unruly girl, who stayed out all-night, smoked cannabis and daubed graffiti, Chelsea was fostered out to yet another aunt, this time on the Ethelred Estate in Kennington, South London.
That year, with her aunt becoming seriously ill, Chelsea was fostered again.
Being rejected and displaced by a succession of substitute parents, her most formative years were a fragmented and chaotic mess, as Chelsea was bounced from house-to-house, with no love, no routine, no role-model, and always feeling like she was a burden. No-one cared for her and she cared for no-one… and then, she found a new family in Darren Case, Reece Sargeant and David Blenman.
Supposedly the leader of the gang, 20 year old Reece Sargeant was an easily-led lad who attended a special needs school for his learning difficulties, speech impediment and emotional problems. Raised by disabled grandparents, following an abusive upbringing, 17 year old Darren Case left school aged 13 and was described as aggressive, hyperactive and psychologically damaged. And 16 year old David Blenman, having never met his father was abandoned by his mother, bounced between relatives, suffered from emotional and behavioural problems and had prior convictions for mugging.
A broken band of brothers brought together by an unusual bond, but in each other they found a family.
In her diary, scrawled in a mix of pidgin English and Jamaican patois, as the love-sick Chelsea mimicked the West Indian roots of her boyfriend David Blenman, she wrote about the gang’s violent assaults: “Yesterday I done an allniter wiv Barry, Darren and Reece. Them lot bang up some old homeless man which I fink is bad, even doe I woz laughen after”.
Prior to 2004, Chelsea had no criminal record, but simply as a way to entertain herself - with the boys being of limited intelligence, easily-led and eager to impress - having slugged back several bottles of vodka and toked on a few spliffs, the feral gang engaged in an all-night spree of muggings and violent assaults on strangers, which she filmed on her phone, in a sadistic craze known as “happy slapping”.
At a little after 1am, in the early hours of Saturday 30th October 2004, with the gang of six - two black boys, two white boys and two white girls, including 19 year old Barry Lee and an unidentified girl – all dressed in hooded tops; having chosen their victims at random and attacked with no rhyme nor reason, as they did it for kicks, the gang set out from Kennington to the South Bank for a night of violence.
In hindsight, their first victim of the night was remarkably lucky.
At 2:30am, David Dobson, a 24 year old actor at the nearby Old Vic Theatre was confronted by the gang on Lower Marsh, a side-street running parallel with the Thames. As part of a pre-rehearsed plan, when one of them asked “do you know what time it is?”, as the lone victim glanced down at his watch, being briefly distracted, the cowardly pack pounced and rained down a volley of punches and kicks, as (on her phone) Chelsea filmed the assault. David Dobson fled with little more than cuts and bruises.
Sadly, their second victim was not so lucky.
At 3:10am, on the dimly-lit pavement of Queen’s Walk, on the south side of Hungerford Bridge, barely a few hundred feet from their last attack, the gang sidled-up to two men, quietly sitting on a bench, chatting by the river. The night was cool and calm, as the two friends savoured the soft autumn breeze having spent a pleasant evening at Heaven, a popular gay club on the Embankment. One was called Alastair Whiteside and the other was his friend of six years, a Soho bar manager called David Morley.
Five years after the bombing of the Admiral Duncan, being physically well but mentally scarred and eager to move on, David uprooted to Chiswick, started a less stressful job at Bromptons (another gay pub over in Earls Court) and enjoying an occasional garden party with his boyfriends and his parents, he had finally begun to find his inner peace and to put the horrors of his past behind him.
With the two men facing the river, having stealthfully approached from behind, neither David nor Alastair heard a thing as the gang surrounded them; the two girls either side, the four lads behind.
Being just fourteen years old - with a pale cherubic face, neatly parted brown hair and deep blue eyes - Chelsea looked so innocent, like a little girl who could do no wrong. And with her left eyebrow raised, a jovial lilt to her voice and an amused smirk on her thin red lips, raising her camera-phone to meet David’s eye, she quipped “we're doing a documentary on happy slapping. Pose for the camera!” And at that, the gang attacked.
Kicked to the ground, as David and Alastair lay helpless on the cold concrete slabs, the gang jumped and stamped on the cowering men, pummeling them with a volley of frenzied fists and flying feet, as having been robbed of their personal possessions, the savage beating continued. All the while, Chelsea excitedly captured the moment, on her phone, so they could all watch it again later, and laugh.
Bloodied and bruised, as Alastair lay by the foot of the bench; too disorientate to flee and too terrified to fight back, as with the attack being so swift it was impossible to register, as he turned - slumped by the river railings like a sack of discarded rags - he saw the battered mess of his good friend.
David was loving and kind, Chelsea was heartless and cruel, and yet, they had met by chance. But as two very different people raised by very different parents under very different circumstances, it was here that their lives would be changed forever, as the bomb-blast survivor met his sadistic killer.
Unlike David, the big-hearted barman who always put others before himself; having rescued strangers from an explosion, visited the injured in hospital and comforted those who grieved, Chelsea had no love, no respect and no compassion for those she had hurt, as unable to attack back those who had hurt her, David was little more than a faceless stranger and the next-best-thing to a punch-bag.
A few feet away, Chelsea stood.
Seeing the bleeding man collapsed on the pavement, his hands by his side as he drifted in and out of consciousness; with a glint in her eye and a grimace on her face, having taken a quick run up, with a fast right foot, Chelsea kicked David hard in the head, booting it like a football as his skull jolted backwards. And feeling a buzz of exhilaration - as the gang dashed away, whooping and cheering at the fun of their night’s entertainment - she kicked his head again, and again, as David Morley lay dying.
At 3:15am, just five minutes later, three students sitting on a bench on the opposite side of Hungerford Bridge were subjected to a violent assault, a mobile phone was stolen and the gang fled.
At 3:20am, as Nigel Elliott sat in Jubilee Gardens by the London Eye, having missed his train, the gang attacked; he was tripped, kicked, robbed, beaten and smashed over the head with a beer bottle.
At 3:30am, on Leake Street near Waterloo Station, the gang violently assaulted a homeless man called Wayne Miller as he lay sleeping rough in a shop doorway; stamping and jumping on his back and head, as the cowardly gang ran-off into the darkness, once again, they whooped in celebration.
By 5am, having returned to the Ethelred Estate in Kennington, they divvied-up the loot which they had stashed in Chelsea’s blue trainer’s bag, sparked-up a few spliffs and cackled like demented loons as – crowded around the phone - they watched back the grainy footage of their night of terror.
To them, it was all just big laugh.
David was transferred to St Thomas’, a trauma hospital, a few hundred metres from the scene of these five violent assaults. Arriving in A&E - unconscious, swollen and bloodied - having sustained forty-four injuries, a doctor later said it was as if he had been hit by a car or had fallen from a great height. As when the feral yobs had jumped, stamped and kicked David, five of his ribs had snapped like twigs, causing his left lung to collapse and his spleen to rupture, so 60% of his blood leaked into his body.
Geoffrey & Doreen Morley were on holiday when they received the fateful call that their son had been attacked. Just as they had after the bombing, they took the next train to London to be by the side of their beloved son… but having suffered a heart-attack in surgery, he was pronounced dead at 7.40pm.
A thorough police investigation was conducted, but with each area being quiet, unlit and not covered by security cameras, with the gang’s faces hidden by hoodies, identifying them would be impossible.
Except, with rough sleeper Wayne Miller having been assaulted near Waterloo Station, a CCTV camera had captured his attack in full, forensics found fingerprints, blood matched a broken beer bottle found Jubilee Gardens and with the feckless yobs having used two of the stolen phones, the Police tracked their movements and identified six youths; Darren Case, Reece Sargeant, David Blenman, Barry Lee, an unspecified female and (seen filming the assault on her phone) was Chelsea O’Mahoney.
One week later, as Police entered her foster parent’s home in South Norwood, Chelsea pointed to the easily identifiable blue trainer’s bag (as seen on the CCTV) and glibly stated “That's what I wore on the night”. And although, in her diary, they had found entries relating to the attacks - “Yesterday I done an allniter wiv Barry, Darren and Reece. Them lot bang up some old homeless man which I fink is bad, even doe I woz laughen after” – when they examined her phone, the footage had been erased.
Chelsea O’Mahoney was arrested for the murder of David Morley; but with no CCTV, her phone wiped and being just fourteen, although she had sadistically kicked David three times in the head which contributed to his death, with the evidence unsteady and her defence that she was merely as a spectator, it was likely that she would walk away from the serious charge of murder. (End)
On the evening of Friday 5th November 2004, five years after the bombing, another memorial service was held at St Anne’s, and as a single church bell rang out, and its sombre echo reverberated off the crowded Soho streets, once again, more than a thousand misty-eyed people stood in silence.
Only this time, one man was missing… but stood in his place was his proud parents.
David Morley was a beautiful man; kind, loving and caring, who was abandoned at birth, grappled with depression, hid his homosexuality and survived a terror attack, and yet, still blossomed into vital part of the gay community, who always put others before himself and even risked his life to save strangers.
On 23rd January 2006, following a trial at The Old Bailey; Reece Sargeant, Darren Case & David Blenman were sentenced to twelve years for the lesser charge of manslaughter and a six years for conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm. And although Chelsea O’Mahoney claimed she hadn’t filmed or taken part in the attacks, she was simply “checking her phone”, she was found guilty and sentenced to a total of thirteen years for manslaughter and conspiracy, which she served in Peterborough Prison.
After the trial, Geoffrey Morley said “I didn't see any signs of remorse on the defendants' faces. I think they were sorry - but only because they got caught". Having lost his only son, although still grieving, with some of the families of his son’s killer causing a disturbance in the public gallery, David’s friends and family had to be escorted out of court to safety in Police vans, having been threatened with throat-cutting gestures, as someone shouted "my cousin got twelve years because of your faggot friend".
We are all responsible for our actions - there is no denying that - but how we are educated and raised by our parents plays a big part in the actions we take; whether we become a kind and loving person who rescues others from a bombed building, or a cruel and heartless yob who beats others to death. No-one is born good or bad, but the lessons we learn from those we love can change our lives forever.
In September 2009, just four years after the murder of David Morley, 19 year old Chelsea O’Mahoney was released on licence from prison – where she is now… is unknown.
OUTRO: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to Murder Mile.
For all of Mickey’s cakey-covered crazy what-nots, there’s more doobie-doobie quack-quack after the break, but before that, here’s my recommended podcasts of the week. (PROMO)
A huge thank you goes out to my new Patreon supporters, who are Adele Mol, Selina Dean and Linda Cardinale, I thank you. With a special thank you to Luisa Timothy for the yummy goodies (sadly, Police Constable Arsenal Guinness confiscated the Guinness caramels, under section bladdy bladdy blah of the 2006 Coppers Getting Fat Act), and extra thank you’s to Kim Nixon for the scrummy cakes and Maritha, Maarten and Preston for the fabulous waffles, all of which have mysteriously disappeared.
A special thank you to everyone who left reviews of Murder Mile on iTunes, it is really helping get the show higher up the rankings and is very much appreciated.
As always, if you want to see what the murder locations look like, every Thursday I upload a blog for each episode, with a map, location videos, photos etc. There is a link to this in the show-notes.
Murder Mile was researched, written & performed by myself, with the main musical themes written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name.
Thank you for listening and sleep well.
The Murder Mile Threadless Store
Credits: The Murder Mile true-crime podcast was researched, written and recorded by Michael J Buchanan-Dunne, with the sounds recorded on location (where possible), and the music written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name. Additional music was written and performed as used under the Creative Common Agreement 4.0.
The music featured in this episode include:
Sources: As no National Archive files on this case were available, I used the court transcripts from The Old Bailey and other verified sources. Oh, and some newspapers, if I had to :-)
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian, podcaster and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tor of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten curious, quirky, unusual and different things to do in London”, nominated "one of the best true-crime podcasts at the British podcast Awards 2018", and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totaling 50 deaths, over just a one mile walk
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster & tour guide of Murder Mile Walks, hailed as one of the best "quirky curious & unusual things to do in London".
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