SONGWRITER Brian Blakemore was today sentenced to 12 years in prison for killing Darwen teenager Julian Brookfield and burying his body in the shadow of Ewood Park.

The 51-year-old father-of-three of Rose Place, Accrington, was sentenced by Judge Mr Justice Kay at Preston Crown Court.

He was found guilty of manslaughter and perverting the course of justice by a jury yesterday.

Judge Kay said the circumstances remained largely a mystery because of Blakemore's actions once he had killed his 19-year-old victim and said that he had told lie after lie about his involvement.

He said for 10 years the fate of Julian had remained unknown and would have remained so but for the freak chance of the backyard of 84 Nuttall Street, where the body was buried, being excavated during redevelopment work at Blackburn Rovers ground.

He said the police were presented with almost impossible tasks but congratulated their first class detective work in identifying the body and the fact that Blakemore had killed him.

The judge said there were a number of possibilities why Blakemore had killed Julian, including that they were engaged in some sort of simulated hanging during the taking of pornographic pictures or there was a falling out between the two men in connection with pornographic pictures.

He said: "He was still a young man and you were old enough to know better."

Justice Kay sentenced Blakemore to seven years for manslaughter and five years for perverting the course of justice to run consecutively.

He said: "Your actions have frustrated any proper inquiry into the death of this young man.

"It is the most awful thing to do from the point of view of this man's family.

"For them not to know what happened to him must have been awful. His mother telephoned you twice but that did nothing to shame you into revealing what happened."

The judge said that was the evil of Blakemore's act.

BRIAN BLAKEMORE was the man who owned 84 Nuttall Street in the mid 1980s, and who had renovated it around the time the body was buried.

He wasn't just a quiet family man with a wife of 29 years and three children. He was a well-known character in and around the Accrington area, where he had lived in a secluded house on the edge of Bullough Park for 15 years.

In the mid 1970s he had lost part of a finger in a serious accident, when he fell through a window while window cleaning. And in the early 1980s he was involved in a head- on collision while working as a taxi driver for Super B Taxis in Blackburn.

Injuries sustained in the smash meant he had to have a metal bolt inserted in his ankle and forced him to walk with a limp.

He also developed serious problems with his spine, arthritis in his hip and was blind in his left eye.

But compensation from the road accident gave him the money to buy 84 Nuttall Street for the princely sum of £4,000.

Blakemore was born in Rishton but was brought up in the Bolton area, although his parents split up when he was relatively young.

His first job was working in a gents outfitters but he soon turned his attention to the Merchant Navy, joining the New Zealand Shipping Company in 1964 and working in New Zealand for a short time before returning to the North West of England.

He met his wife Hilary at the Bolton Mecca and in between other jobs, he ran a soft drink delivery business for two years, starting off as an assistant before buying the round for £700.

Despite his disabilities, Blakemore refused to let his spirits drop. He kept himself busy writing, books, songs and jokes, regularly sending them off to cabaret stars such as Norman Collier and Keith Harris and managing the odd TV and radio appearance himself.

He even wrote the Centenary Song for Accrington Stanley FC's 100th Birthday celebrations.

And he had a notion to write a similar song for Blackburn Rovers.

An Stanley spokesman recalled: "We heard from him out of the blue. He said he had written this song and wanted our permission to market it.

"Our dealings with him were really quite sketchy. He has never been a supporter or come to games regularly. After the tape I don't think we ever saw him again."

Keighley musician Chris Lazenby worked with Brian and sang on the Accrington song.

He recalled: "He thought the song was going to be a biggy. He came across when I had finished the record and added some sound affects.

"He was always very nice and friendly and honest, paying his bills by return."

Blakemore was a loving family man. In the mid 1980s, he had battled to have a complaint upheld against two local doctors after they failed to discover a serious condition which had made his young granddaughter Emma seriously ill.

After having his complaint upheld by the Lancashire Family Practioner Committee, he finally won his case after appealing to Health and Social Security Secretary John Moore.

But Blakemore also had another, more secretive side. He was interested in soft porn and erotic material.

He dabbled in taking adult photographs in a bid to make money after being told he might never work again because of his injuries.

He once recruited a model from an agency in the Piccadilly area of Manchester to pose for bondage-style photographs, picking her up from Blackburn station and paying her £50.

He sent off for a bondage catalogue from a firm in Nelson and bought videos from at least one local sex shop as well as answering adverts for erotic material in the adult section of Exchange and Mart.

A DREAM was taking shape in the July sunshine at Ewood Park.

Jack Walker's millions were transforming Blackburn Rovers' old ground into a new, 21st century stadium.

And the soon-to-be-completed Jack Walker stand, a monument to the man who had led a small town club into the big time, was about to become the final piece in the jigsaw.

For workman John Griffiths, Tuesday, July 19 1994, was just another day on site as he busied himself excavating a boundary trench with JCB operator Tony Rowe.

The work was small change compared to the giant stand going up piece by piece nearby.

Everything was slightly behind schedule but as the clock ticked past 11am John's mind began drifting towards his lunchtime pie order.

Then he saw it. An eerie crack was followed by the sight of a human head falling forward out of the banking only feet from where he stood.

A flurry of blond hair covered most of the face but nothing could hide the empty stare of two, wide open eyes and the silent gasp of an open mouth.

The curiosity of local residents, originally pricked when the irritating grind of the diggers faded away, grew even more when the first police cars, sirens wailing, descended on the site.

Within half an hour a small group of detectives was huddled over the site of the grisly find, shirt collars loosened in the heat.

Det Supt John Debicki and Det Chief Insp Mick Langdon had only been in Blackburn a matter of weeks when they were confronted by a case with all the hallmarks of a bestseller.

A football club, a millionaire and a body - complete with brilliant white film-star teeth.

Although workmen originally thought it was that of a woman, it soon became clear it was a man.

As the hours passed more and more information became available. He was between 15 and 25 years old, with a pierced left ear and two fillings, one in his top set of teeth and one in the bottom.

He was wearing a pair of blue Levi jeans and a pale-coloured Ben Sherman shirt with a 15-inch collar.

The site of the grave was in the former back garden of 84 Nuttall Street, a house knocked down to make way for the Ewood development.

But most importantly, detectives believed the body had been buried for at least 10 years. The discovery came as no surprise to at least one former resident, who claimed she was plagued by an eerie feeling during her two-and-a-half years living in the house.

She said: "The house haunted me at the time and now it is coming back to haunt me again."

The identity of the corpse remained a mystery. But, despite that, police began looking for a suspect.

JULIAN Brookfield was a talented youngster - a brilliant actor.

His early life had been beset by trauma after his father Robert, who had a history of mental problems, committed suicide when Julian was six.

As he grew up, he was prone to temper tantrums and rages and spent some time in a children's home.

But interest in drama and classic literature seemed to have given him self-confidence and helped develop his personality.

He progressed from a starring role as the Lion in Darwen Vale High School's production of the Wizard Of Oz to a prestigious place at the Manchester Youth Theatre company.

Julian was one of only two teenagers from Blackburn and Darwen to be selected from 4,000 aspiring actors.

He told the Lancashire Evening Telegraph at the time: "I am hoping this could be a big break for me.

"My sights are frankly set on an acting career."

And a glittering career beckoned. Michael Taylor, one of Julian's closer friends, admitted: "I always expected to see him on television some day because of his talent."

Michael added: "He was a bit of a loner without many close friends, but I think that is because he was too extrovert for most people and they didn't make the effort to get to know him.

"If you got to know him he was a really nice lad. I remember sitting down and talking to him about things and he wouldn't hurt a fly."

But, somewhere along the line, Julian Brookfield drifted away from his acting dream.

After leaving school he started a brick-laying course and also completed stints as a pools collector. It was while he was collecting pools money that he met Sandra, the divorcee several years older than him who was to become his girlfriend.

The couple enjoyed a holiday in Paignton in the summer of 1993, but their sometimes stormy relationship ended shortly after they returned from a break in Margate in July 1994.

Julian's mum also got him a job with her employers at the Reliance Mutual. Employment as an insurance worker gave him an opportunity to shine and he was successful for a time before being sacked in January 1984.

He spent time working at a sex shop on Darwen Street in Blackburn, a job he started shortly after his 19th birthday on February 23.

The job brought him into contact with Brian Blakemore, who tried to sell him his erotic stories and pictures.

Then, in August 1984, he disappeared. The disappearance raised eyebrows. But it wasn't the first time a member of the Brookfield family had gone missing. Julian's brother Ben sparked a massive police operation when he ran away from home two years earlier, at the age of 15.

Murder hunt detectives and Interpol joined the search for him before he eventually turned up, unharmed, on the East German border.

Julian had spoken to the Press about the disappearance on behalf of the family because his mother, Annette, was too upset.

Now it was assumed Julian, prone to flit about, had emulated his brother.

Annette, who had been Blackburn's youngest-ever councillor in the 1960s at the age of just 23, tried to carry on with her life.

But that was not before she had searched through her son's possessions, looking for a clue about where he was.

Among the items she found was a piece of card bearing Brian Blakemore's name and telephone number.

THEY say every major investigation needs a slice of luck.

Detectives got theirs as they struggled to identify the Ewood Park body which had lain undiscovered for ten years.

Officers at first toyed with the idea that it was that of a former boyfriend of Heidi Blakemore, the house owner's daughter.

But they abandoned that theory when he turned up alive, living in Oswaldtwistle.

Police also thought the body could be that of a man nicknamed Gay Geoff, following a call into the incident room.

They even thought it could be a woman.

It was a massive police operation, with detectives being drafted in from other areas to help with the investigation.

Within days, officers had managed to trace more than a dozen witnesses who had an involvement with the house ten years earlier. Pathologists, scientists and doctors were all called in to help.

Little over a month after the gruesome find, detectives had clocked up 6,000 hours as part of the investigation.

The vital breakthrough in identifying the dead man finally came after four days - thanks to a father celebrating a new life.

It had been a busy time for Anthony Rogerson and his family as they prepared their modest Darwen home for the arrival of a new baby.

Dad had hardly had chance to sit down, let alone watch the TV, with his wife due to give birth any day.

Purely by chance, he caught a glimpse of the publicity surrounding the grisly find at Ewood.

And his thoughts immediately went back to Julian Brookfield, the old friend who had disappeared in the early 80s.

Police quickly matched up hospital and dental records and were finally able to reveal the identity to the public.

But where was Julian's family?

Annette and her second husband Archie Anthony had gone for a holiday in Newquay totally unaware of what was going on back at home.

Detectives travelled down to the south west and put out appeals for the couple on local radio in a bid to find them.

But it wasn't until the Sunday, five days after the body was found, that Annette discovered the nagging doubt in the back of her mind had come true.

Her son was dead. Brian Blakemore was arrested by police six hours after the body was found.

At 4.02pm on Saturday July 23, after 11 interviews, lasting eight hours and taking up over 700 pages of notes, he was charged with murder.

"I wish to deny the charge" was his only reply.

Julian's body was finally laid to rest on October 11 1994, at Pleasington Cemetery.

More than 70 close friends and family paid their last respects during a service at Sacred Heart and St Edward's RC Church, Darwen.

During the service, the church echoed to the poignant words of a Gerard Markland hymn: "While you dwell in the exile of a stranger, remember you are precious in my eyes."

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