How the sadistic murder of Wendy Speakes cast a shadow over Wakefield until her killer was caught

Wendy Speakes
Wendy Speakes

Dogged police attempts to match a fingerprint fragment eventually trapped shoe fetishist Christopher Farrow six years after the brutal killing of Wendy Speakes.

Farrow was jailed for life in November 2000 for the rape and murder of the woman he picked at random off the street.

Christopher Farrow

Christopher Farrow

Farrow, a father of three, killed Mrs Speakes, a 51-year-old divorcee by stabbing her stabbing her in the face and neck after subjecting her to a prolonged sex attack.

Detectives said at the time that they believed Farrow, then a 39-year-old painter and decorator, would have become a serial rapist or killer if he had not been caught.

A charge of trying to break into another woman's house in Huddersfield was left on file at his sentencing hearing.

READ MORE: Family's outrage as Leeds shoe fetish killer who raped and murdered mum in her home set for release

Leeds Crown Court also heard that Farrow, who forced his victim to wear an old pair of shoes and tied her up with black stockings, had stalked a 24-year-old woman for days before the killing on March 15 1994.

Angry when she refused to answer her door, he then saw Mrs Speakes get off a bus and followed her home instead.

Farrow, of Cookridge, Leeds, was caught after his fingerprints were taken following a drink-driving offence in June 1996 and compared with part of a print left on the handle of Mrs Speakes's front door.

Apparent similarities led the police to attempt a match, which they did inconclusively three times using a computer system based in the US.

However, a final, fourth attempt left little doubt that the print had been left by Farrow. Bloodstains at the scene were matched with Farrow's blood and he admitted the murder.

Robert Smith QC, prosecuting, said that Farrow had told detectives: "I just saw her get off a bus as I was getting off another bus.

“I had been... thinking how crap my life was.

“My sex life... was absolute zero and I had a lot of upset and anger towards my girlfriend.

“I decided to do something that day to someone. I just wanted someone to suffer the same way as I was feeling."

Sentencing Farrow to life, with two concurrent 14-year sentences for rape, a further serious sexual offence, and four years for attempted burglary, the judge, Mr Justice Morland, said: "The woman who was your intended victim was fortunate you failed to gain entry into her house.

READ MORE: 'He has never said sorry' - Daughter of murdered Wendy Speakes opens up as killer set to be released

“But you then located a second victim - another complete stranger - and you forced your way into her house."

The judge said he would recommend to the home secretary that Farrow should not be released from prison for "very many years".

Former Wakefield MP David Hinchliffe said he still recalls how the murder shook his constituents.

He said: "I have a vivid recollection of this because it took so long to bring anyone to justice for it.

"I think the vast majority of people in Wakefield still will.

"I would personally be very uneasy about this man being released.

"It was a great shock to the city."