Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Shootings Linked

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Shootings Linked

Article excerpt

Two men were arrested yesterday in connection with three apparently random Tyneside shootings dating back to the mid-1980s.

John Matthewson, Howard Jackson and Edward Towart were all family men with no criminal links and did not know each other. But all three were shot in the space of two years near their homes in Newcastle - Mr Jackson fatally.

Police treated each as a separate investigation but - 20 years on - new information has come to light, leading detectives to believe all three shootings were linked.

Mr Jackson's death in April 1984 is now being treated as murder and the shootings of Mr Matthewson in 1984 and Mr Towart in 1986 as attempted murders.

An inquest into Mr Jackson's death, beside a bowling pavilion in Leazes Park, Newcastle, reached an open verdict.

Although a thorough investigation was carried out at the time, his death baffled officers. But the new information has led to the case being linked to the two other shootings, where Mr Matthewson and Mr Towart were both shot in the head but survived.

Mr Matthewson, then 39, was shot in Church Walk shopping centre, Walker, Newcastle, on March 31, 1984. And Edward Towart, then 36, was shot in the head in March 1986, in a public toilet in Barrack Road, Newcastle. He survived after surgery.

Detective Superintendent Steve Bolam, heading the inquiry, said: "Although the offences took place almost 20 years ago, new lines of inquiry have been opened. I would urge anyone who has information about any of the shootings to come forward now and assist the inquiry."

He added that both suspects were arrested at their homes, one man aged 47 in Newcastle and the other, aged 40, in Strathclyde, Scotland. It is understood both are originally from the Walker area of Newcastle.

The `body-in-the-park' mystery of Mr Jackson's death remained a mystery for nearly two decades. Over 100 officers began a murder-style hunt after the ex-musician was found shot in the front of the head in a bowling pavilion. Despite a massive search, police found no clues to hint at whether he was murdered, accidentally shot or committed suicide. …

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