Complex search after brutal murders

TM Motors, where Tony Marrocco's body was found.
TM Motors, where Tony Marrocco's body was found.

Late in the evening of January 23 1995, the families of Antonio Marrocco – known as Tony – and Paul Sandham raised the alarm after the pair failed to return home from work at Tony’s garage on White Lund.

Arriving at TM Motors in Northgate at 1.30am, officers found the body of 49-year-old car dealer Tony. The Italian dad-of-one had been beaten to death with a wrench.

His colleague Paul’s body was found the following morning. The 29-year-old – who had recently fought a cancer battle – had been stabbed 40 times and dumped in a field off Powder House Lane, a mile from the garage.

A police hunt was now on for a double killer who seemed to have murdered the men, both from Bolton-le-Sands, for just a few hundred pounds and Tony’s gold chain. Detectives believed the killer had asked Paul to take him for a test drive, before stabbing him to death and returning to the garage to murder Tony.

A complex investigation involving 40 officers in Lancashire and a further six in London eventually identified 24-year-old Terry Clifton, a Londoner who had moved to Morecambe and attended Morecambe High, as the man they wished to question.

Evading capture several times, including a dramatic escape from a seventh floor flat in London, Clifton was finally arrested at a property in Erith, Kent.

Officers discovered Clifton had done business with TM Motors on New Year’s Eve 1994. They believed Clifton either thought he’d been ripped off or that he saw the amount of cash Tony Marrocco had.

Even after his capture, Clifton continued to cause a scene, holding his own solicitor hostage for 21 hours at Lancaster Magistrates’ Court before police stormed the cell.

Before his trial at Preston Crown Court in January 1997, Clifton sacked his barristers and said he intended to defend himself. But when the trial began he refused to be brought up from his cell. Having pleaded not guilty at an earlier hearing, the judge agreed the trial could go ahead.

Clifton was found guilty of both murders, and, ordered by the judge, it took nine prison officers to drag the struggling killer into court to be handed his life sentence.

Tony Marrocco’s widow Geraldine was in court to see Clifton jailed. Paul Sandham’s widow Susan, however, had previously moved back to her home town of Scarborough to escape the memories.