Podcaster shines light on ‘horrific’ murders

John Shaw and Geoffrey Evans are led away by police after being arrested
John Shaw and Geoffrey Evans are led away by police after being arrested
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The story of two vile borough murderers who planned to slay “one woman a week”, has been retold internationally.


Paul Sutherland, host of the popular True Crime Enthusiast podcast - which is listened to by hundreds of thousands across the globe - has released an episode focused solely on two of the area’s most “deviant” killers: John Shaw and Geoffrey Evans.

Victims Elizabeth Plunkett and Mary Duffy

Victims Elizabeth Plunkett and Mary Duffy

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Sutherland, who specialises in covering unfamiliar cases, said he chose to spotlight the murderous pair because their tale is one “worth being told”.

The episode, released this month, recounts the story of Shaw and Evans from their seedy beginnings as petty criminals through to the horrific acts of rape and murder committed against women in a sick promise they made to rape and kill a victim each week.

John Shaw, a former Wigan resident, had racked up 26 convictions at various courts by the age of 31, the majority of which were for theft.

However the now 73-year-old, who is described in the podcast as a “sexual deviant”, did not stop at theft and by the late 1960s he had been convicted at Wigan Crown Court of the indecent assault of a young boy, for which he received a seven-and-a-half-year sentence.

Once behind bars, Shaw met his soon-to-be deadly accomplice, Geoffrey Evans - from Shakerley in Tyldesley - who had been jailed for a number of thefts and robberies.

The podcast goes into the relationship between the pair, likening them to notorious serial killers Fred and Rose West.

Paul says: “Two like-minded evil people meet and they spark off each other. Shaw and Evans decided that theirs was a partnership worth keeping.”

The story, which goes into detail about the pair’s life before the murders, explains how Evans and Shaw fled to Ireland following a series of rapes against young women - one of whom was the teenage daughter of a high-ranking police officer in Manchester.

It was after they made their escape that they began to hatch the plot to carry out their “chilling and perverse” plan.

After committing a number of thefts and burglaries around Cork and County Tipperary, Shaw and Evans were jailed in Dublin’s Mountjoy prison for just two years.

In 1976, following their release - the evil couple decided to put their plan into action and went to McDaniel’s pub near Brittas Bay where they sat for several hours waiting for a target.

Elizabeth Plunkett, who was to be their first victim, left the pub late at night after a few of her friends began to argue.

As she walked back to her accommodation, Evans offered the 23-year-old a lift. According to Shaw in a later confession, he got out of the car prior to this, so that the lift would seem less daunting from a single male.

Elizabeth was savagely raped and beaten in a horrific assault that lasted for hours, before being strangled with the sleeve of a nylon shirt.

The next victim, Mary Duffy, was killed just days later after Shaw and Evans stole and painted a Ford Cortina before travelling to the small town of Castlebar.

The 24-year-old cook was preyed upon while she was alone. Residents heard Mary screaming in the street but only saw a dark-coloured car driving away.

She too was repeatedly raped, beaten and eventually suffocated. Evans, who died in May 2012, fell into a coma in 2008 and never saw the light of day again. John Shaw remains in prison to this day.

Paul said: “I had never heard of this until I came across it by chance. I would be intrigued to hear about such an unfamiliar close to home case myself. Their crimes are awful, I found them chilling. It’s so horrific that it’s a tale worth being told."

In September 1976, John Shaw and Geoffrey Evans were arrested after a member of the guardi (Irish police) spotted their unusual car, which had been reported by the operator of a nearby garage.

Once they had been taken into the station, the killers made full confessions to their crimes.

Police heard how the depraved pair had disposed of Elizabeth Plunkett’s body by tying a lawnmower to her waist and throwing her into the sea. Mary Duffy’s body was callously thrown into a lake with a concrete block tied around her legs.

Shaw and Evans were both given life sentences.

In 2008, having suffered a stroke after major heart surgery, Evans fell into a coma from which he never reemerged.

Shaw, who remains in prison 42 years later, is now Ireland’s longest serving prisoner. According to Irish national media, Shaw is calling for his release, saying it is “inhumane” to make him live out his final days behind bars.

At a court hearing, his solicitor said that the double-killer feels “remorse and shame” for his actions and needs to know there is a “light at the end of the tunnel”.

But appeals have so far fallen on deaf ears.