By Dan McLaughlin
A new take on a decades-old unsolved murder, told by the reporter who covered it at the time, is the first case for a new true crime podcast series launched by Laudable.
The two-part documentary revisits the unsolved murder of Lisa Hession on the 36th anniversary of the Leigh schoolgirl’s murder.
Testimony looks back at the case that haunts Leigh in Greater Manchester - and the journalist who first covered the story in 1984.
Neal Keeling, chief reporter at the Manchester Evening News, speaks to those who knew the 14-year-old victim, the campaigners who are fighting for justice, and the Cold Case Unit that is still trying to find the killer.
The making of Testimony
He explains that recording the podcast under the Covid restrictions has been a “daunting prospect”, but he was determined to “get the story told”.
Neal said: “When I listened to the 'rough rushes' it dawned on me that we had found the most powerful way of explaining an unsolved murder which has haunted my career.
“A 14-year-old girl was strangled 200 yards from her front door. I have revisited the case many times over 36 years.
“As a 61-year-old, incurable newsprint addict, I believe a podcast has delivered the poignancy, pain, tragedy, and burning desire to see justice better than a thousand words.”
The first episode - ‘The tragic murder of Lisa Hession’ - establishes what happened on the night of the murder on December 8, 1984.
Theories on the killer
Martin Bottomley, head of Greater Manchester Police’s Cold Case Unit, discusses the case with Neal, explaining how Lisa died in an alleyway behind Rugby Road in Leigh.
Neal also speaks to friends of Lisa, including Andrea Aldred, who offers her own theory about the murder. She tells Neal that the killer was “infatuated” with the Leigh schoolgirl.
Andrea said: "I think Lisa's killer was infatuated with her. She was a very liked girl. Where she lived is where he is from.
"She had rejected him in some kind of way as a friend or coming on too strong.
"And that led him into wanting to be with her more and more in his head to eventually doing what he did on that night.”
The second part of the podcast - ‘A shadow hanging over Leigh’ - examines the original investigation in 1984, and looks into the theories about who attacked Lisa that night.
Neal also explores the potential links between the killer and a serial sex attacker who assaulted three young girls in the Leigh area in the four months before Lisa’s murder.
There will be further cases examined by the Testimony team in 2021.
Testimony is a Laudable production from the Manchester Evening News. Laudable is a collaborative project between JPIMedia and Reach, which puts audio journalism at the heart of local news storytelling.
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