Britain's very own cannibal killer
It was during the early hours of Thursday, 24th April 2008 that Anthony Morley of Bexley Avenue in the Harehills district of Leeds walked into the nearby Desi Khana Restaurant on Roundhay Road clad only in a white dressing gown and flip flops and announced "I've killed someone, call the police". As one restaurant employee later explained, "We thought he was joking at first, but then he sat down in the shop and we realised he was covered in blood and knew he was not. He sat with his head in his hands. He was really upset and wasn't making much sense." The staff therefore took him at his word and dialled 999.
Officers from the West Yorkshire Police duly attended Morley's flat at Bexley Avenue at 2.30 am that morning where they soon discovered the body of a naked man lying face up on the bedroom floor. Since the man in question was lying in a pool of blood and had clearly died from multiple stab wounds, the officers attending the scene naturally felt obliged to ask Mr Morley for an explanation. He informed them that "It's this lad, he tried to rape me so I stopped him." When the police then asked for further details on how he had stopped the assault, Morley replied "I'm a chef, how do you think I stopped him?", and when asked for confirmation that this meant that he had stabbed the victim, Morley further responded by saying "Yes. Lots of times. He's dead.". Sometime later he also provided the police with the useful information that the "rib cage is hard to get through, especially from the back, harder than you think".
Media enthusiasm for the story was heightened by two important points of interest.
The first of these was that Anthony Morley had been the very first winner of the Mr Gay UK title back in 1993 when, as one of twenty-one finalists, he had beaten off the "stiff competition" in "front of a packed Flamingo nightclub in Blackpool" to win the first prize of £1,000 together with a holiday in Gran Canaria and some clothing. At that time he was described as a "former costumier now a chef from Leeds" whose hobbies were dancing and body building and apparently liked "to please people". More significantly however, a preliminary examination of the corpse showed that there was a chunk of flesh missing from the victim's right leg, whilst the police also found what was referred to as "a diced up section of flesh on a kitchen worktop which had been cooked". When tests soon confirmed that the flesh was indeed human, the police were forced to "consider the possibility" that Morley had consumed some of this flesh. It was later established that the flesh in question had been seasoned with fresh herbs and fried in olive oil, and whilst there were indeed six pieces of cooked flesh on the worktop, a seventh piece found in a bin bag showed clear indications of having been chewed.
Whilst a gay murder might have been worth a column inch or two, a gay cannibal murder was quite another thing, as it was not every day that the press could run such headlines as 'Mr Gay cut up pal for eating'.
Anthony Morley was a former student of the Bruntcliffe High School in Leeds and the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. After winning the Mr Gay UK in 1993, he moved to London where he pursued a career in modelling and dance. He later returned to Leeds where he trained as a chef at the Thomas Danby College, or Leeds Thomas Danby as it now calls itself, and was employed as a sous chef specialising in seafood at the SAS Radisson Hotel in The Headrow, Leeds.
The murder victim turned out to be one Damian Oldfield, an advertising manager who worked on the male escort section of Bent magazine, a publication which was owned by All Points North, a company which "ironically" also owned the 'Mr Gay UK' brand. It seemed that the two men had been involved in "some kind of relationship" in the past and had arranged to meet for a drink on the evening of the 23rd April. It was believed that they had originally met through an internet dating site, although the press later made much of the fact that Morley had once appeared on the late night dating game show God's Gift, otherwise known as 'Blind Date for the post-pub crowd', which was hosted by Davina McCall for a single season in 1995-1996, and that Damian Oldifeld was a member of the audience during the show.
In any event, it seemed that Morley and Oldfield had met that evening, after which what the papers described as "sexual activity" had taken place in the bedroom. Morley had subsequently attacked Oldfield, cut open his throat and stabbed him numerous times. In addition to removing an eight by four inch portion from Oldfield's right leg, Morley had also excised a section of his chest and right nipple and then placed a Lloyds TSB bank card over the wound.
The case came to trial at Leeds Crown Court on the 6th October 2008 with Andrew Stubbs QC appearing for the prosecution, Robert Smith QC for the defence, and Judge James Stewart presiding. Of course there wasn't the slightest doubt that Anthony Morley had indeed killed Damian Oldfield. However whilst admitting manslaughter, Morley pled not guily to murder, on the grounds of both provocation and/or abnormality of mind.
The prosecution produced a witness named Shaun Wood, who had lived with Morley between 1996 and 2002, and who testified that Morley had once attacked him with a meat cleaver after a disagreement about money. Fortunately for Mr Wood, Morley then fell over and the cleaver failed to make contact with his head, although Morley then trashed the bedroom as he shouted "I'm psychotic, I'm mad, get me a doctor". An ambulance was called, although the paramedics declined to become involved and called the police, although nothing much happened other than Morley spent some time in a cell at Stainbeck police station.
It also transpired that at the time that he won the Mr Gay UK title in 1993, Morley had a steady girlfriend named Wendy Stuart, and was merely "harbouring feelings" towards men. He also claimed that "an older man", who could not be named for legal reasons, whom he had previously respected as a "role model" had forced himself upon Morley when he was in his teens, and that it was this incident that was the source of his confusion about his sexuality. Indeed Morley had spent the afternoon of the 23rd April out drinking with his "best friend" Michael Graham, and when Graham had called Morley later that evening at 11.45 pm he was somewhat surprised to discover that Morley was "in bed with a male", since he'd always seen his friend as perfectly heterosexual in orientation.
According to Morley's version of events, both he and Oldfield had met for a drink on the evening of the 23rd, and then returned to his flat where Morley cooked a meal. They then "kissed and cuddled" before retiring to bed to watch a DVD of Brokeback Mountain, although nothing else happened as they had "already discussed that nothing was going to happen that night". Nevertheless Morley later awoke to find Damian Oldfield "performing a sex act on him". According to Morley this triggered a flashback of that traumatic episode of his teenager years which led him to fear being raped once more.
As far as the actual killing of Damian Oldfield was concerned, Morley claimed that he had no particular recollection of events, and all he had to say about his subsequent treatment of Oldfield was that the "body had just become like something I deal with at work, a piece of meat". The defence therefore argued that Morley had killed Oldfield whilst in a disordered mental state, whilst the prosecution claimed that the story of being raped as a teenager was "nonsense", dismissed the whole idea that Morley suffered from flashbacks, and so regarded the killing of Damien Oldfied as simply "an act of punishment, revenge, or retribution", which was "borne out of hatred for what he felt and what had happened to him, hatred for his own sexuality and now for the homosexual who was in his bed".
Whether the jury paid any heed to these arguments is not known, but it took them just two hours and twenty minutes to deliver their guilty verdict on the 17th October, after which it was reported that several jury members left the court in tears. Judge James Stewart therefore had the luxury of a whole weekend to consider his decision. On the 20th October His Honour Judge Stewart took his seat at Leeds Crown Court. Having described the case as "one of the most gruesome murders" he had ever encountered, he noted that not only had Morley murdered his victim by cutting his throat and stabbing him, but that he had then "cut him up, cooked him and ate part of him", and so sentenced Morley to life imprisonment with a recommendation that he served a minimum of thirty years.
Curiously enough there was another Anthony Morley who was also a chef and who had also found himself on trial for killing someone earlier that same year.
This Anthony Morley of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk punched his wife after an argument following a family barbecue on the 24th June 2007. Unfortunately this single blow ruptured an artery in Joanne Morley's neck which resulted in her unconsciousness and subsequent death. Anthony Morley was later convicted of manslaughter at Ipswich Crown Court in April 2008, and on the 21st May 2008 Judge John Devaux sentenced him to twenty-one months imprisonment. Whilst this might have seemed a comparatively light sentence for terminating someone's life, it was an accident after all, and the perpetrator had at least managed to resist the temptation to toss any part of his victim on the family barbecue.
This article is largely based on the reports of the trial of Anthony Morley in the Yorkshire Evening Post (http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/) and Bramley Today (http://www.bramleytoday.co.uk). Some help was also provided by;
- Mr Gay UK Heat Winners 1993
- David Bruce, Leeds victim 'cut up and cooked', Yorkshire Evening Post, 26 April 2008
- Robin Perrie, Mr Gay 'cut up pal for eating', The Sun, 02 May 2008
- Andrew Parker, Gay 'cannibal' seasoned body, The Sun, 06 Oct 2008
- Nico Hines, Leeds chef Anthony Morley accused of murder and cannibalism, The Times, October 7, 2008
- PA, Chef who cooked boyfriend guilty of murder, The Independent, 17 October 2008
For the other Anthony Morley see:
- Man is remanded on murder charge, BBC News, 26 June 2007
- Single blow to neck 'killed wife', BBC News, 7 April 2008
- Eagle Walk manslaughter: Wife killer sentenced, 28 May 2008