Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Murder Victim Had Stabbed a Man to Death

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Murder Victim Had Stabbed a Man to Death

Article excerpt

LATE on Monday, March 19, 1990, science teacher Jack Royal and his wife Sonia were at home in Laburnum Grove, Sunniside, reading together in their sitting room.

At 11.35pm that night, someone rang the Royals' doorbell. Mr Royal, 57, got to his feet, walked through the hall and unlocked the inner door between the house and the glazed front porch.

As soon as he stepped into the porch, he was blasted in the face and neck with a shotgun. He died almost instantly.

The killer was seen running to a white Montego stolen earlier that day. Less than 20 minutes later, the fire brigade found the vehicle ablaze three miles away.

Three years earlier, on January 10 1987, Mr Royal had stabbed a man, David Thompson, to death outside the village chip shop.

A jury accepted his version that he acted in self-defence. The killing of Mr Royal was widely believed to have been in revenge for Mr Thompson's death.

Soon the police had a suspect. Walter Hepple, then 21, was a local man from Sunniside. …

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