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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 May, 2005, 07:33 GMT 08:33 UK
Life for killing peace campaigner
Hilda Murrell
Hilda Murrell froze to death
A labourer has been sentenced to life for kidnapping and murdering an anti-nuclear campaigner 21 years ago.

Hilda Murrell was stabbed and left to freeze to death in a wood at Hunkington, Shropshire, in March 1984.

Andrew George, 37, of Harlescott, Shrewsbury, who had denied the killing, was jailed for life and told he must serve a minimum term of 15 years.

Stafford Crown Court heard his DNA was found on a garment worn by Miss Murrell on the day of her death.

He was only 16 at the time of the murder.

The last hours of poor Mrs Murrell were truly awful
Mr Justice Wakerley

Conspiracy theories

Miss Murrell was a prominent anti-nuclear campaigner and her killing spawned several conspiracy theories, including that she had been murdered by a security operative.

The court was told that George abducted the victim from her home in Sutton Road, Shrewsbury, on 21 March 1984.

Miss Murrell's body was found three days later. She had died of hypothermia after being sexually assaulted and stabbed four times.

Artist's impression of Andrew George
Andrew George was 16 at the time of the murder

Recommending that George should serve at least 15 years before being considered for parole, Mr Justice Wakerley described the killing as unspeakable, adding: "The last hours of poor Mrs Murrell were truly awful."

The judge told George he passed sentence on the basis that he had committed the crimes as a juvenile.

He added: "If you had committed that crime recently as an adult, I would have considered a whole life order: no release ever."

George, of Meadow Farm Drive, was arrested in June 2003 after a cold case review of the murder uncovered the DNA evidence linking him with the crime.

'Slow death'

One of the conspiracy theories sparked by the killing was that Miss Murrell had been killed at the behest of the nuclear power industry because of her plans to present a paper to the public inquiry into the Sizewell B power station.

During the multi-million-pound police inquiry, officers were also forced to investigate claims that MI5, British intelligence or other agents of the state had killed Miss Murrell.

Speaking outside court, Detective Chief Inspector Chris Knight said: "Andrew George left Hilda Murrell to die a slow and painful death.

"He has lived with this knowledge for more than two decades and with the fear that one day justice would catch up with him.

"Today is that day."

The circumstances that led to Hilda Murrell's death

DNA puts end to conspiracy theory
06 May 05 |  Shropshire
Murrell case witness 'unreliable'
26 Apr 05 |  Shropshire
Murrell defendant admits he lied
21 Apr 05 |  Shropshire
Murrell accused blames brother
20 Apr 05 |  Shropshire
Peace campaigner died 'confused'
12 Apr 05 |  Shropshire

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