BACK in 1871 Bradford prostitute Liz Shepherd met her death after being hurled from a window.

She crashed to the ground when ejected from a building at the junction of Manchester Road and Little Horton Road, dying instantly.

Liz had gone to a workshop in the building owned by one of three men - Barraclough, Gray and Harte - she had earlier met in the nearby Queen’s Hotel. After a drinking session, they planned to have group sex with Liz, but it soon turned nasty.

A passing policeman heard a man say ‘Make less noise or I’ll fettle your canister for you,’ followed by a woman’s scream. He witnessed a woman scrabbling about on the window sill before falling.

Liz had been punched before being forced out of the window. Richard Gray was convicted of wilful murder.

The tragic case is one of 168 murders, manslaughters and executions featured in Yorkshire Murders, a book that gives short accounts of some of the most gruesome murders and punishments carried out across the region in times gone by.

Looking back at cases prior to 1945, the paperback includes a number of Bradford cases, such as that of Liz.

Some accounts take up more than a page, others are far more brief. Some, perhaps deserve more. Just one paragraph is devoted to the terrible case of Bradford child John Gill, who was playing with friends near his home when he disappeared. ‘He was found behind some stables’, the writes Chrystal, ‘his limbs had been cut off and his heart ripped out; a piece from his coat tied round his neck.’

The murder had the hallmarks of London’s Whitechapel ripper. A dairyman, on whose cart John was last seen, was arrested but later discharged. Noone was ever prosecuted and the crime remains unsolved.

Gory details are not spared in this book, and I felt sorry for those who were unfortunate enough to discover the bodies.

In 1864 Sarah Terry, 35, was found in as stable at Green House Farm near Keighley; she had been virtually decapitated and there was a gash from one ear to one breast. All evidenced pointed to her husband Brian, who neighbours described as being in a ‘low and desponding state of mind.’

It turned out that Terry was watering his cows and Sarah was giving milk to a calf; Terry complained that she had not given the animal enough milk and came up behind her and hit her with an iron bar. She ran towards him and slit her throat with a razor. Her dying words were ‘Oh Brian, the Lord save me’.

Insanity ran in the family, writes Chrystal, and Brian was found not guilty on the grounds of diminished responsibility. But on hearing the verdict he shouted ‘Oh but I am guilty! What have they brought me in not guilty for?’

The book also examines people and places linked to the crime of murder, including the appeal process, the use of arsenic, asylums for the criminally insane, Armley prison and the gallows.

The book is lacking an index, which I for one would have found extremely useful as I dipped in and out of it, and wanted to check facts associated with certain characters.

Aside from that, it is a fascinating read, with many distressing cases like that of Anthony Owston, who cut his wife’s throat, then his own, and ended up in Broadmoor where after years of worsening mental health, he died. For many years after his children sent wreaths to Broadmoor to be placed on his grave.

And the sad tale of Irene Wray, who, in 1939, lived in Calverley with her husband Norman ‘a philanderer of the first order’. Irene, who loved him despite his behaviour, pulled out a gun one night to scare him into fidelity. But she struggled with the trigger and shot him in the back of the neck.

Norman died later in hospital. Irene - who, it emerged, who also had to deal with abuse towards her and their children - was found not guilty of murder by a court and walked free.

Helen Mead