Life and death of tragic Wigan schoolboy Steven Shepherd

Our top columnist Geoffrey Shryhane looks back at the mysterious death of a young lad from Ince...

Thursday, 2nd August 2018, 2:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd August 2018, 3:53 pm
Geoffrey Shryhane
Geoffrey Shryhane

The battered old pocket diary from half a century ago had an entry in January which reads: “Ince boy missing.”

Six weeks later Steven Shepherd was found dead in a ditch at Newburgh.

The tragedy hit the national headlines – and now all these years later his life and tragic death are in the news again.

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Questions are being posed. And the most important one will be: Was Steven murdered?

Looking back, the Ince schoolboy was a victim of bullying at school and was a sad lad by anyone’s standards.

The facts suggested that in his turmoil Steven, of Brook Street at Ince Bar, had returned to the strawberry fields of Newburgh where he had once been happy.

How he came to be found dead in a ditch has remained a mystery and sadly, his body was so decomposed, it was impossible to find a cause of death. Forensics drew a blank. But little

Stephen (above) who lived with his nan has never been forgotten.

Over a decade ago a book on bullying featured him, and now a writer in the South is putting together his story with the hope of making a documentary film.

Richard Andrews, writer, says he became interested in the life and death of Steven after reading a book dealing with the tragedy.

He said: “The story was heart-wrenching and was taken by a small theatre group and they dramatised it for the stage.

“I have now written a film script and feel that quite a few questions about Steven’s disappearance remain to be answered.

“I feel the script should fall into the drama-documentary category and once finished, I’m look forward to making the film in and around Wigan, despite the fact that the town has altered since Steven disappeared.

“So many questions remain unanswered. It is known that the boy went to a local cinema before his journey to Newburgh.

“The following morning he was seen by two women.”

I know it’s a long time ago, but if you are able to help Richard, he can be contacted at

For more from Geoffrey Shryhane, see My World in the Wigan Observer out every Tuesday.