BRITAIN'S longest serving prisoner, who was born in Bordon, died on Monday, November 19, after spending 55 years in jail. John Straffen, who was born in the town in 1930, was imprisoned for murdering three young girls. Straffen was living in Bath, when aged 21 he murdered Brenda Goddard, 6. Police interviewed him at the time, but could not convict him due to lack of evidence. A few days later at a cinema in Bath, Straffen persuaded nine-year old Cicely Bathstone to follow him. She was strangled in a field. Straffen was arrested the following day, and confessed to both murders. Straffen appeared in front of magistrates, but as his mental age was that of a ten-year-old, he was deemed to be unfit to plead. He was taken to the mental hospital section of top security prison, Broadmoor, where he began his sentence. However, within the year, Straffen escaped for four hours during cleaning duties. During this short period before recapture, a third girl, aged five, went missing. Her strangled body was discovered shortly afterwards in a nearby field. Following the third attack, doctors found that Straffen was fit to plead, and he was put on trial again. He was found guilty and was sentenced to hang. However, Straffen avoided the death sentence, as he was still seen to be 'feeble minded' and was instead sentenced to life imprisonment. Since that time, Straffen has been held in top security prisons across Britain. He died after an illness, in the health care centre of the County Durham prison, Frankland. It is believed that Straffen died of natural causes, but a post mortem is to be held. The prison service are unsure if Mr Straffen has any next of kin, as he has been in prison for so long.
Britain’s longest-serving prisoner was from Bordon
Friday 23rd November 2007 12:00 am