Murderer found dead months after release from prison

Kieran McLaughlin
Kieran McLaughlin

A CONVICTED Wigan killer has mysteriously died just months after being released from a 25-year jail sentence.

Kieran McLaughlin was involved in a minor road smash three days earlier but, after a hospital check-up, was allowed to go home.

The Wigan Observer coverage of the muder in 1989

The Wigan Observer coverage of the muder in 1989

But then last Sunday week it is believed his wife Wendy woke to find him dead in bed beside her.

They had only wed last September after he was freed.

The 45-year-old from Scholes was jailed in 1990 for the brutal murder of Wigan nightclub worker Gerald Massam.

McLaughlin enjoyed only seven months of marriage and freedom before his sudden death.

Gerald’s family have been incredibly upset with what has happened because it has brought that terrible time back up again. It never goes away

A friend of Mr Massam’s family

For the last quarter of a century the Scholes man had been serving a life sentence for the savage murder of nightclub glass collector Gerald Massam, 42.

McLaughlin would probably have been released earlier had he not escaped from Sudbury open prison in 2009 and, when the authorities were finally prepared to let him go, he was put on a life licence.

But on tasting liberty he wasted no time in wedding his sweetheart Wendy, managed to get a job and moved into a home in Bolton.

It was there on the morning of April 19 that he was found dead. Police say there are no suspicious circumstances and the matter has been passed on to the coroner.

Gerald Massam

Gerald Massam

One line of inquiry as to the cause is a possible delayed or undetected reaction to a road accident he was involved in three days earlier.

McLaughlin was driving towards Bolton along the M60 on Thursday, April 16, when it crashed near the Croft Interchange. Although not apparently seriously harmed, he was required to attend hospital because he had been at the wheel of a company vehicle.

He received treatment but was then discharged after being deemed well enough to come home.

But a Greater Manchester Police spokesman said that at 8.26am on the Sunday morning, officers received a call from the ambulance service to say that McLaughlin had been found collapsed at his home and that paramedics had already pronounced life extinct.

McLaughlin was 19 when he was arrested for Gerald Massam’s murder.

The battered and near-naked body of the Worsley Mesnes victim was found by workmen in an alleyway between King Street and Library Street in Wigan town centre in the early hours of August 17, 1989. It was just yards away from the Turnkey Cellars Pub where he worked.

He had been battered and died from haemorrhage, shock and multiple injuries which included fractures to his jaw, nose, shoulder, 12 ribs and a bone in his neck.

Mr Massam also had a ruptured kidney, many lacerations and bruises. There were also shoe heel imprints on his body.

His death shocked the Wigan community, with flowers and sympathy messages laid upon the iron staircase where he was found.

During his four-day trial Liverpool Crown Court heard McLaughlin had been involved in a dispute with Mr Massam earlier in the evening in which he had accused the staff member of drinking some of his lager, although they had later been seen dancing together.

But when the diminutive and bespectacled Mr Massam had finished work at 2am, he was followed out.

The hearing was told McLaughlin went to a friend’s house in Scholes at around 3.30am covered in blood and told her he had been fighting and that he had thought he had killed a man.

It was thought that a number of people had been involved in the murder but only McLaughlin, who denied murder throughout the trial, was convicted.

A friend of Mr Massam’s family, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Gerald’s family have been incredibly upset with what has happened because it has brought that terrible time back up again. It never goes away.

“Gerald had lots of friends and no matter who he was, he had no right to be killed.”

McLaughlin’s funeral will be held on Wednesday, May 6, at noon at St Patrick’s RC Church, Scholes, followed by a wake at Whelley Ex-Servicemen’s Club, Vauxhall Road, Scholes.

An inquest opened last week at Bolton Coroner’s Court into his death and was then adjourned pending further inquiries, with a provisional date of August 28 set for its resumption.