How victims of a Sunderland serial killer have helped each other get by

John Hanson and Sheila Hanson, parents of David Hanson, in 1994.
John Hanson and Sheila Hanson, parents of David Hanson, in 1994.
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AS serial killer Steve Grieveson starts his fourth life sentence for the murder of 14-year-old Simon Martin, CRAIG THOMPSON talks to the families of his other victims.

THREE years after child killer Steven Grieveson murdered Simon Martin at a derelict house in Roker on May 18, 1990, he went on a killing spree that shook Wearside.

On Friday, November, 26, 1993, the body of Thomas Kelly was found in a burning allotment shed behind Monkwearmouth Hospital. He was 18.

Little more than two months later, on Tuesday, February 8, 1994, David Hanson’s body was found in a derelict house on Roker seafront. He was just 15.

Then, on Friday, February 25, 1994, David Grieff’s body was found in an allotment shed at the rear of Monkwearmouth Hospital, close to where Thomas had been discovered. He was 15.

Grieveson, 43, initially denied he was the killer responsible for strangling the victims and setting their bodies alight, but he was convicted by a jury and given three life sentences after trial in 1996.

Today, the parents of David Hanson, John and Sheila Hanson, and those of Thomas Kelly, Tom and Judy Kelly, reveal how they have learned to cope with life following the loss of their boys and how the tragedies have brought them together forever.

Sheila, 60, said: “John and I never left the house during daylight for about a year after it happened.

“We would sometimes pack a flask and drive to Seaham car park at nights, just so we could get out without having to see anyone.

“We became close to Judy and Tom. Only they knew what we were going through because they were going through it too.

“In the months and years that followed the boys’ deaths, we have helped and supported each other.

“The pain never goes away, but having them here helps. We were on holiday together once and were walking back to the hotel, when we just stopped in the street and hugged each other. We just knew what the other was thinking.”

It was in January 2012, 16 years after he was jailed for the boys’ murders, that Grieveson, in a Leeds police station, confessed to killing Simon Martin.

Judy, 58, said: “We weren’t surprised. We’ve known all along he was responsible and that, one day, it would come out.

“When we heard he’d been charged, there was a real mixture of emotions. We
were glad that it had finally happened but, at the same time, we knew everything would be raked up all over again.”

Sheila added: “After the original trial, we took a bouquet of flowers around to Simon’s parents home and told them that one day, they would see justice done for their son.

“Over the years, we’ve always thought a lot about Simon’s family and hoped that one day they’d be able to get some kind of closure.”

The couples said it was important that they attended last week’s court proceedings to see Grieveson answer for what he has done.

Sheila, of Monkwearmouth, said: “He just looks the same. I suppose he has nothing to worry about, being locked up in jail. He’ll get his three meals a day that we, as taxpayers, are paying for.

“I would like to have the chance to ask him why? Why David? Why my son?

“If he hadn’t been caught, he would have kept going. Even the police said that. He would have gone through all the friends, all the boys. He wouldn’t have stopped.”

Despite last week’s verdict, the family say their torment will continue. Judy added: “We won’t rest until he’s dead. If I had my way, I’d have him hanged.

“We don’t know what happened or why it happened, so we’ll never be able to put an end to all this.

“When you drive up Newcastle Road, we always look round at the hospital. It’s always there with you. Everywhere has got a memory.”

Sheila added: “It’s like when we go down for a walk along the beach. We look up at the place. You can’t pass it without thinking about it.”