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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Millom killings ‘have made community closer’

AS the summer sun shone on a quiet Millom street on June 8 last year, residents had little idea what horrors were about to unfold.

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KILLER’S HOME Above, Newton Street, Millom, where axe killer John Jenkin lived. Left, the alley behind 126 Newton Street where the Jenkin family dog was found dead in the yard

Newton Street had already seen one tragedy when in 2009 Claire Marshall, a mum of three, was knifed to death in a frenzied attack in front of her children by former partner Ben Cooper.

As the memories of one of the town’s biggest tragedies began to fade, the residents were oblivious to the horrendous attack taking place behind the doors of 126 Newton Street in what would become one of the most brutal killings in Millom’s history.

John Jenkin, a 24-year-old vegetarian, Christian and nature lover killed his mother and sister in the house next door to where the frenzied attack took place on Ms Marshall four years earlier.

In the quiet terraced street there are no clues that two brutal killings have taken place, and in the yard behind the house where Jenkin made his escape towards Millom Pier, there are few signs of life.

Despite the tragedies, residents in Newton Street have said the gruesome deaths of three people in their street in five years have not changed the atmosphere or the attitudes of people in the town.

One man witnessed the immediate aftermath.

He said: “I was in a cast at the time up to my thigh. I saw him come out of the house and do the dog.

“He didn’t look warped, I don’t think there was anything wrong with him.

“He was dead cool and he just walked off as if he was buying a pint of milk.”

Residents have described the family as “keeping themselves to themselves” and Jenkin was noted to always “have his head in a book”.

His mother, 58-year-old Alice, was described as a dedicated mother who followed her daughter to South Wales where she studied media, to keep the trio together.

Bryan Lawson has lived in Newton Street for 12 years.

He said: “I don’t think what’s happened has had much of an impact. If anything, people seem closer now. People will speak to you that little bit more.”

Another resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “It’s a quiet street. It was a shock but it’s not changed too much. I still love living here.”

Councillor Brian Crawford was mayor of Millom at the time of the killings. He said the community will continue to work together to generate a positive image.

He said: “It was horrendous and in the aftermath I think there was focus on it and a lot of people were expressing condolences to the community at mayoral functions.

“I think it has raised some concerns, it is the second incident in houses next door to each other and I think as the community got over the death of Claire Marshall there has been another tragedy.

“It’s taken almost a year to get to this stage. It doesn’t just stir up the feelings of the last death but there is also the aftermath of Derrick Bird.

“It will be sad for the area for the case to be highlighted again but people do understand that it is part of the process.”

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