BRIAN Blakemore killed and buried Darwen teenager Julian Brookfield, whose body was unearthed during the building of Ewood Park. It was a grisly find and one that ended a ten year search for the talented youngster who dreamed of a career in Hollywood. In the third of his six-part series retracing the steps of some of East Lancashire's most notorious killers, crime reporter NICK EVANS looks back at the case.

IT had all the ingredients of a best-selling crime thriller. A football club basking in the glory of being back in the big time, a millionaire sponsor, sex and a dead body.

It was 1994 and the year before Blackburn Rovers' glorious crowning as English football champions, and local boy made good Jack Walker was ploughing his millions into transforming Ewood Park into a stadium fit for the 21st century.

But as the gleaming steel and concrete was taking shape in the summer sunshine, a deadly secret was waiting to be unearthed in the shadows of the new arena.

For workman John Griffiths, Tuesday, July 19, was another ordinary day as he busied himself digging a boundary trench at the edge of the stadium.

Thoughts of the nearing lunch break vanished, however, when a crack was followed by the sickening sight of a human head, lolling forward out of the side of the ditch.

The sound of the diggers was soon replaced by the wail of police sirens as detectives descended on the scene and sealed off the area as a murder investigation was launched. The site of the shallow grave was the former back yard of 84 Nuttall Street, a terrace house demolished to make way for the new Ewood Park. But although tracing the former owner of the house was easy, detectives were at a loss as to the identity of the dead man.

At first they toyed with the idea that it might be a boyfriend of Heidi Blakemore, the house owner's daughter. But he turned up alive and well in Oswaldtwistle.

They also thought it could have been the body of a man known as Gay Geoff, following a tip-off to the murder incident room.

But it was a stroke of luck that helped provide the final piece of the jigsaw when an old friend of missing teenager Julian Brookfield saw the TV publicity surrounding the grisly find and contacted police.

Dental and health records soon proved the identity of the corpse was indeed that of 19-year-old Julian, who had disappeared ten years earlier in August 1984.

The news brought to an end ten years of hell and uncertainty for Julian's mother, Annette, who had spent the previous decade hoping and praying she would see her boy again.

While at school, Julian had dreamed of an acting career and got as far as being given a place at the prestigious Manchester Youth Theatre Company.

But somewhere along the line the dream had faded. After school, Julian drifted from one lowly job to another until he ended up working at a sex shop on Darwen Street in Blackburn, a job that would bring him into fateful contact with his killer, Brian Blakemore. Blakemore appeared to be a loving family man and a local notable around Accrington, where he had lived for 15 years. He had a wife of 29 years and three children and had gained some measure of fame by writing the Centenary song for Accrington Stanley FC's 100th birthday celebrations.

But behind the family man facade Blakemore hid an interest in soft porn and erotica.

During his trial at Preston Crown Court Mr Justice Kay said it may have been this shared interest in pornography that led to Blakemore killing Julian, either when they were engaged in some sort of simulated hanging while taking erotic photos or because they had fallen out over some pornographic pictures. Either way, the judge said Blakemore, 51, had taken advantage of the much younger man and jailed him for 12 years, seven for manslaughter and five for perverting the course of justice when he denied knowing anything about Julian's disappearance.

The killer had gained the fame he so longed for, only for the wrong reasons.