For over a decade, rumours of a serial killer lurking down the canals of Manchester have been rife – however, there’s yet to be any evidence of any such killer.
So why is the Manchester Canal Pusher such a famous phenomenon, and is this so-called killer even real?
Let’s start from the beginning…
Rumours of the ‘Canal Pusher’ were born on January 11th, 2015 when the Daily Star Sunday published a two-page article headlined ‘Manchester’s Killer Canals.’ The article cited sixty-one deaths in the canal way, which stretches for over ten miles through central Manchester, since 2006 – though since then, that number is estimated to have grown drastically to eighty-five, though an exact figure for more recent years is unknown.
The paper labeled the mysterious pusher as a ‘serial slayer’ while pointing out that it’s ‘extremely unlikely such an alarming number of bodies is the result of accidents or suicide.’
A number of the alleged victims have since been identified – in 2011, the body of trainee sports teacher Nathan Tomlinson was discovered in the River Irwell two months after he went missing following a Christmas night out.
According to Nathan’s mum, he had texted her regularly throughout his evening, saying he had been pacing himself on shandies. And, when his body was found, his coat, wallet, phone and passport were all missing, leading his mum to believe there had been foul play and that his death was not an accident. However, thanks to the lack of evidence, the coroner recorded an open verdict in his case.
A year on from that incident, twenty-one year old student David Plunkett was found dead in Manchester Ship Canal in 2012 after attending a music event in Trafford Park. A coroner ruled his death as an accident, though his parents protested otherwise, saying they had heard ‘screaming and howling’ in their last phone call with him.
GMP insisted that they had ‘no evidence’ of foul play and, similarly, a pathologist said there was ‘absolutely no evidence’ that David had been assaulted and that the most likely cause of death was drowning.
Have there been any witnesses?
While any evidence of this so-called murderer is yet to be unearthed and the countless deaths remain either unaccounted for or labeled as tragic accidents or suicides, there is one man who claims to have escaped with his life from one of the infamous canal attacks.
Speaking anonymously to the BBC, a man known under an alias name as ‘Tom’ recalled the moment a mysterious man ‘swung at him’ as he was cycling home along the Bridgewater Canal one evening in April 2018.
He fell into the icy waters of the canal as a result of the push and, when he tried to pull himself out, the man allegedly kicked his hand away. Tom recalled: “I started to think, ‘This is quite serious. It’s pitch black down there. There’s no lights. You look up, someone catches your eye and then in four seconds you’re in dirty water.”
Eventually, Tom was able to haul himself out of the water. However, following the assault, the city’s police and coroner continued to deny that there was any evidence of a serial attacker. Greater Manchester Police said the ‘speculation’ surrounding the deaths has been made without ‘examination of all the facts and evidence.’ The force said it would reinvestigate if ‘new credible evidence comes to light.’
And what have the police had to say on the matter?
To this day, the police have continued to insist that the canal pusher doesn’t exist – Pete Marsh, a Detective Superintendent of GMP, pointed to a review the force had conducted into eighty-five waterway deaths and insisted that ‘most have definitive explanations,’ adding that ‘there’s no evidence to support the theory that a serial killer is at large,’ The Mirror reported in 2018.
And, to support the myth theory further, former Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Blockley said in a Channel 4 documentary: “If a serial killer decided to cause their deaths by pushing them into the water, how could that person guarantee they would die?
“In which case survivors would have come forward. Also none of the individuals have marks [on their bodies] which are consistent with a violent attack which one would expect to see. In the three cases I have looked at I don’t feel there’s a serial killer involved.”
If the notorious Pusher doesn’t exist, what on Earth is going on?
It’s probably worth mentioning that a large proportion of Manchester canal deaths are blamed on drugs and alcohol – hundreds of people make their way home along the narrow pathways of the canals after a heavy night out every year, making the likelihood of people tripping up and falling in all too high.
The risk of waterway deaths in Manchester has also risen dramatically over the last few decades during which the city centre has boomed, with more people living and working there than ever before.
And after all these years, the lack of any clear evidence – or even a suspect, for that matter – suggests that the notorious serial killer doesn’t exist at all. Serial killers are known for making mistakes, slipping up, and eventually giving themselves away. This simply hasn’t happened with the so-called Canal Pusher, suggesting that the myth could sadly be a product of grieving families searching for an explanation for their loved ones’ tragic deaths.
UK’s ‘most dangerous prisoner’ begged for a pet in prison and promised ‘not to eat it’
Officers decided that Maudsley was not to be trusted with any animals…
The UK’s ‘most dangerous prisoner’ reportedly begged for a pet to keep him company in his underground solitary confinement with the promise to ‘not eat it’.
However, this man isn’t any ordinary prisoner; as a result of his heinous crimes, serial killer Robert Maudsley has spent the last four decades of his life alone in a solitary glass cell. He was just twenty-one years old when he committed his first murder – however, his final three murders were carried out behind bars.
Maudsley’s first victim was alleged child abuser John Farrel, who had paid Maudsley for his ‘services’ as a rent boy. However, Maudsley killed him when he allegedly showed him images of children he’d abused.
Once sentenced and sent to Broadmoor Hospital, however, he went on to torture and kill a convicted peadophile with another inmate, allegedly using a sharpened spoon to consume his brains, a brutality that earned him the nickname ‘Hannibal the Cannibal.’
From there, he was moved to the maximum security Wakefield Prison in Yorkshire where two more murders took place in one spree – first he strangled and stabbed forty-six-year-old Salney Darwood before creeping into the cell of Bill Roberts, fifty-six, who had sexually abused a seven-year-old girl.
It was at this point where staff decided that Maudsley was too dangerous to be around other inmates, and thus his life in solitary confinement began.
In 1983, a special two-unit cell was constructed for Maudsley – measuring just 5.5m by 4.5m and containing bullet-proof windows. According to the Guardian, inside the cell there’s just a bed, table and chair, along with a toilet and sink that are bolted to the floor.
The publication also reported that the serial killer spends twenty-three hours a day in confinement, is escorted to the yard by six prison officers at a time, and isn’t allowed any contact with other prisoners… Or animals, for that matter.
In 2000, Maudsley allegedly wrote to the prison system back to ask for a pet to keep him company in his cell. His letter read: “As a consequence of my current treatment and confinement, I feel that all I have to look forward to is indeed psychological breakdown, mental illness and probable suicide.
“Why can’t I have a budgie instead of flies, cockroaches and spiders which I currently have. I promise to love it and not eat it?
“Why can’t I have a television in my cell to see the world and learn? Why can’t I have any music tapes and listen to beautiful classical music?”
His requests were denied.
He also filed an application for suicide by a cyanide capsule – however, this was also denied. His applications for classical music and a television were also rejected.
In 2010, Maudsley reportedly asked officials to let him play board games with prison officials, claiming it would help ease some of the gloominess and monotony of life in solitary confinement – due to his crimes, however, officials remain reluctant to grant him any benefits.
The prisoner remains in this confinement to this very day, with no glimmer of any normality on the horizon – but should this case have been treated any differently?
Six-year-old Man United fan to walk from Stockton Heath to Old Trafford to raise money for school
Harvey Goodman will be walking the fifteen miles from Stockton Heath to his favourite football ground to raise funds for his school
A six-year-old Manchester United fan is set to embark upon a massive fifteen-mile charity walk from Stockton Heath to Old Trafford to fund a new playground for his school.
Harvey Goodman will be going the extra mile to make a difference for Stockton Heath Primary School, which has been in desperate need of a new playground for quite some time, despite various fundraising efforts.
The Year 1 pupil hopes that by combining two of his favourite things – school and Manchester United – he will help to raise the funds needed to give the school and its pupils the playground and green space they deserve.
Harvey’s mum Naiomi said her son’s determination to train and practice for the walk, which will take place on January 29th, has been ‘fantastic’, noting how he is ‘really looking forward to it.’
She told Proper Manchester: “We’re blown away by the amount of support we’ve had from friends, family, locals and avid Manchester United fans. We have hit the halfway target within a matter of weeks, it’s incredible to think so many people are supporting him with his walk.
“This walk is a huge challenge for anyone, never mind a six-year-old boy, but the determination he has is incredible to see. I know he will do a fantastic job on the day. We are so proud of him.”
And when Harvey mentioned his idea to the school’s head teacher Dan Harding, who’s also a Manchester United fan, he offered to accompany him on his walk, as did his class teacher Mrs. Realff.
Mr. Harding described Harvey’s efforts as ‘truly outstanding’, saying in a statement: “Harvey is a School Councillor and has really enjoyed learning about our plans to redevelop the EYFS and Forest School outdoor areas.
“He knows that a huge amount of money needs raising for our plans to become a reality. Being an avid Manchester United fan like Harvey, I am delighted to be taking part in the walk myself and will support Harvey all the way to Old Trafford.
“To think a child of this age can be so generous, selfless and thoughtful for the benefit of his peers and the wider school community is truly humbling and I am so proud of him for even suggesting this challenge, never mind undertaking it.”
Naiomi has organised for friends and family to surprise Harvey on one of the stops along the route, as well as at the finish line at Hotel Football, who she hopes can get behind the charity walk.
At the time of writing, Harvey’s JustGiving fundraiser has reached £1,920 out of it’s £3,000 target. For more information on his walk and to donate to the cause yourself, click here.
People are sharing the craziest things to have kicked off in their local Facebook groups
Ah, the weird and wonderful world of Facebook community groups…
If there’s one true blessing Facebook has bestowed upon the human race in its nearly two decade-long run, it’s undisputedly the humble local community group.
Every area has one; a private Facebook group in which people can partake in discussions and share any local news and events with their neighbours and wider community.
Yet while these groups tend to consist mainly of missing cat appeals, bad parking and people asking for DIY advice, they can be the perfect spot to sit back, relax, and scroll through page upon page of neighbourly drama and shenanigans.
So, when one Reddit user decided to share the craziest thing to ever ‘kick off’ in his local Facebook group, he was inundated with thousands of hilarious (yet somewhat bizarre) tales from within the dark depths of these private groups.
The initial question read, ‘What’s the craziest thing that’s kicked off on your local Facebook group?’, and told the tale of an Amazon delivery, a suspicious bloke lurking on a porch, and a forgotten collection deal between two neighbours.
The post quickly grew in popularity and gained hundreds of stories from other local page members from all across the UK, ranging from arguments over murderous swans, dog muck drama and people getting off the bus too early.
Highlights include the story of a woman posting in their local group to share that her car had been stolen, in which she began the process of hunting down what happened to the car, and the requisite ‘what is the world coming to when you can’t park your car any where. Wouldn’t have happened back in my day’.
The post concluded: “A couple of days later, she posts that her car has been found – someone had found it slightly further up the road than where she was looking, and it was exactly where she’d parked it. She’d gone in one entrance to the park, and walked out of another a little bit further along the road.” Awkward.
Another response involved the nationally hated issue of owners not picking up after their dogs; this Reddit user recalled the time incriminating Ring doorbell footage showing a pair of dog owners in the act was shared into their Facebook group.
However, the whole group became divided over the footage, with some residents feeling ‘unsafe’ being videoed all the time and branding the owner of the Ring doorbell as ‘perverts’, while others were quite rightly sickened by the dog muck.
Pure drama and ‘brilliant entertainment’.
Another post read: “Woman posted in absolute rage saying someone had just tried to abduct her dog. The story goes that a van (which she had detail of) had followed her up and down the road. Eventually they rolled down the window and thrown some drug laden food to her dog – she evidently then ran home terrified and posted all over Facebook.
“Not long after there was a post from the owner of the van, a local tradesman, explaining not only was the reason they were driving up and down because they’d been given a wrong address and couldn’t find it; but the ‘drugged food’ was actually just a pepperami his passengers had thrown at each other and accidentally chucked it out the window.” Whoops…
The Reddit thread included stories of majorly paranoid neighbours, too; one woman explained that a photo of her husband on his commute home had been posted into her local group after he was seen repeatedly getting off the bus too early.
She wrote: “Same thing happened to my husband! ‘Suspicious guy gets off the bus at the same stop but walks in the direction the bus is going past other stops. Maybe casing out houses!’ With a photo of him for good measure.
“Truth is the bus gets too crowded after that stop so he gets off and walks the last 15 minutes home.”
One post read: “Someone put some litter off the street into a neighbours bin that neighbour kicked off and put a chicken carcass down the drain of the person who put the litter in her bin. Completely denied it but was caught doing it on cctv!”
Another memorable entry comes courtesy of swan shenanigans, with a member of the community page allegedly appealing for help with splitting up two swans attempting to ‘murder’ another swan.
The post reads: “Got an argumentative one brewing at the moment. Local park has a lake with swans on it. Someone asked this morning if there was anyone who could help a swan that was being ‘murdered’ by 2 other swans, as she’d tried to split them up but the murderers were relentless. Half the replies are saying well done on helping the other half saying to leave alone as its nature. It’s all getting a bit nasty.”
A classic ‘suspicious man in a van’ post told an unfortunate tale of mistaken identity: “Our new build estate has a WhatsApp group, and was in uproar one day with images of a suspicious van driving slowly around the estate and some guy getting out and going up to different houses.
“It was the milkman.”
There were also plenty of lockdown dramas, with many saying their local community pages ramped up the mayhem while Covid was at its peak.
One person recalled one of her neighbour’s somewhat irrational fear of the virus after she reported a runner coughing outside of her house, writing: “Lockdown was a ‘brilliant’ time on the local pages. We had a woman complaining because a runner had coughed outside her window. Full description of the runner and their clothing included.”
For more local community group mayhem, visit the full Reddit thread here.