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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 April 2007, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
Man admits brothel hammer deaths
Garry Harding
Garry Harding had studied murders on the internet
A 22-year-old man has admitted killing two women with a hammer at a brothel in Shropshire.

Garry Harding, of Welshpool, Powys, had denied murdering prostitute Samantha Tapper, 23, and receptionist Annie Eels, 55, at the parlour in Shrewsbury.

But he changed his plea during the first day of his trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

Harding had previously used prostitutes at the massage parlour, called Rachael's Health Studio.

The court heard Harding, who had gambling debts of up to 16,000, thought he would find at least 2,000 at the parlour but came away with around 330.

He was armed with a hammer and bludgeoned them to death
Stephen Linehan QC, prosecuting
His gambling debts had preyed on his mind, the prosecution said, causing him to use the internet to find a solution.

But police found he had also used the web to look for information on how to commit murder.

Mrs Eels, of Llansantffraid, Powys, was a receptionist and Miss Tapper, of Wolverhampton, West Midlands, worked as a prostitute.

World Cup

The two women were on the premises, in Frankwell, on 1 July 2006, when Harding arrived. Their bodies were found during the early hours of 2 July by a group of men on a night out.

They had suffered severe head injuries with Mrs Eels receiving at least 16 blows to the head and face. Miss Tapper was said by the prosecution to have suffered 14 blows.

Garry Harding CCTV picture
Harding realised he would be identified from CCTV pictures
Stephen Linehan QC, prosecuting, said Harding had previously used prostitutes at the parlour. He would have known there would have been just two women there at the time.

"What the two women could not have known is that he had not come for sex but to kill them.

"He was armed with a hammer and bludgeoned them to death," he said.

After killing the women, Harding returned home and watched the England v Portugal World Cup match on television with his brother.

Several weeks later police released CCTV images of a suspect. These showed Harding walking to and from the massage parlour on the day of the murder wearing gloves, despite bright, sunny weather.

Letter written

They also showed him carrying a bulky plastic bag with him beforehand and a holdall after he had left.

Mr Linehan said the holdall contained the hammer which he had at first hid with the plastic bag.

Once the CCTV pictures were released Mr Linehan said Harding realised it was inevitable he would be identified.

"That night he wrote a letter in which he confessed to the killings and handed it to his brother, telling him not to read it until after he'd left."

The court heard that in the letter Harding admitted stealing money from the massage parlour.

It also said he used a hammer from his mother's garden shed to carry out the murders.

Afterwards, he dipped it in paint to destroy evidence. He also took a CCTV monitor from the parlour when he fled, fearing he had been recorded.

Harding was arrested the day after the CCTV pictures were released.

Outside the court Det Ch Insp Sheila Thornes, who led the investigation, said she welcomed the guilty pleas.

"This means the relatives of Samantha Tapper and Annie Eels have been spared the ordeal and anguish of sitting through a lengthy trial."

Harding, who was unemployed, will be sentenced on Thursday.

Shock at brothel double murder
18 Apr 07 |  Shropshire
Women died from hammer-like blows
14 Nov 06 |  Mid Wales
Funeral of parlour murder victim
16 Aug 06 |  Mid Wales
Killer also 'stole CCTV monitor'
07 Aug 06 |  Shropshire
Bodies found in 'massage parlour'
02 Jul 06 |  Shropshire

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