Flowers in Gods Garden - Documents




Shaun Anthony Armstrong was born at the Littlethorpe Maternity Hospital in Easington, County Durham, to Rachael Teal, who was then unmarried and aged eighteen years. His father was Joseph James Steel, his mother's own father. He was apparently a blue baby, being delivered by forceps and as a result of obstetrical problems his mother was unable to have any further children.

For the first three years of his life Shaun Armstrong was brought up by his maternal grandparents as his mother was either working or in and out of hospital with psychiatric problems from which she had apparently suffered from about the age of fourteen. When he was three years old his mother married George Armstrong who was then fifteen years older than herself and Shaun Armstrong was brought up believing that he was the son of George Armstrong.

Shaun Armstrong alleged that his stepfather showed little affection for him but when his mother and stepfather subsequently separated Shaun Armstrong stated that he really looked up to his stepfather and indeed visited him on a regular basis until October 1989 when all contact ceased following Shaun Armstrong's second marriage.

As an only child Armstrong appears to have been somewhat isolated and lonely and developed a close relationship with a maternal cousin, Andrew Christopher Steel who was almost exactly the same age. Andrew was tragically killed in a road accident in 1969 when both children were aged seven years. This event had a profound effect on Armstrong and led to an immediate deterioration in his behaviour and in his own words "I became a bastard. I became hateful and got mad at everyone". He was apparently referred to a Child Psychologist and possibly a Psychiatrist but no further details of the referrals are available.

Approximately one month after Andrew Steel's death, when Armstrong was aged seven years and two months he was subjected to inappropriate sexual behaviour by his mother. This continued until he was thirteen years when it progressed to full sexual intercourse which took place on an intermittent basis until he was sixteen.

Approximately five months after Andrew Steel's death his mother and stepfather separated when his mother moved back to her parents home taking Armstrong with her. Although they were reconciled about a year later they finally separated in 1974 when Armstrong was twelve years old. His mother in fact finally left to live with Thomas William Matthews whom she subsequently married. However Mr Matthews was described as being excessively jealous and the marriage only lasted four years.

Attended Easington Secondary Modern School. Described as being overweight and a loner, he made few friends as his mother insisted that he went straight home from school and he was not allowed to play with friends.

Aged fourteen he attended the Nautical School at Campden Square, Seaham, where he stated that he did well academically passing five 'O' Levels and two CSE's in Seamanship and Navigation. During holidays he found occasional work in sawmills and as a delivery assistant for a TV retail company.

Letter written by Dr MR Whalley, consultant Child Psychiatrist to Armstrong's GP refers to contact with Durham Joint Child Guidance Services having been referred on account of overt sexual advances made towards his mother. Letter stated that Armstrong came from a broken home and his mother was concerned as to whether the circumstances of his birth meant he had a permanent mental disability. Dr Whalley stated that he reassured the mother but did consider that Armstrong was a very disturbed boy. There was a suggestion that Armstrong required psychotherapy and Dr Whalley considered discussing this with an Educational Psychologist but there is no further documentation in the GP's Notes.

Enlisted for Naval training at Plymouth aged sixteen.

Appeared before Easington Juvenile Court when convicted of offences of dishonesty for which he was given a two year Supervision Order.

Discharged from the Navy on the grounds that he was psychologically unfit. This was allegedly following stress due to the death of his girlfriend from cervical cancer at the age of seventeen years. This association was alleged to have lasted over two years.

Easington Juvenile Court. Convicted of offences of Burglary and Theft and given two year Supervision Order.

After his discharge from the Navy, Armstrong returned to the North East where he obtained employment in the sawmills at Carrville and then in the Horden Colliery where he worked for five years until he was made redundant in April 1985. He then worked for a number of employers including a two year spell in London but did not work after 1992.

June 1981
Armstrong left home at eighteen to marry CBM who was born on the 30th December 1954 and who was therefore nearly eight years older than himself. CBM already had two children, a daughter (A) who was seven and a son who was four. After the marriage the family lived at Horden.

Easington Magistrates Court. Convicted of two offences of Theft and given a 120 Hour Community Service Order.

Armstrong's marriage to CBM broke down. According to his wife this was a result of (a) violence towards her, (b) her discovery of Armstrong having sexual intercourse with his natural mother and (c) sexual abuse by Armstrong of her daughter (A) which she did not disclose at that time. According to Armstrong the breakdown was due to his jealousy when he saw her talking to another man and read more into the situation than actually existed.

First contact with Health Authorities. Took overdose of mother's Parnate and admitted to St. Hilda's Hospital, Hartlepool for two days. During admission he saw a Psychiatrist but on his discharge no follow up arrangements made except a referral to his GP.

Easington Magistrates Court. Obtaining by deception. Fined £100.

Easington Magistrates Court. Three offences of dishonesty. Sentenced to three months imprisonment suspended for two years.

Divorce proceedings initiated by CBM. On receipt of Decree Nisi Armstrong inflicted cuts to both of his arms in an apparent attempt to kill himself and was admitted to St Hilda's Hospital, Hartlepool.

Easington Magistrates Court. Four offences of dishonesty sentenced to three months imprisonment.

November 1984
Armstrong met EJA who was a friend of his mothers, seventeen years older than Armstrong and with alcohol problems. She was also a divorcee with four children and lived at Peterlee, Co. Durham.

Easington Magistrates Court. One offence of Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (to his mother) and five offence of dishonesty. Community Service Order for 160 hours. Armstrong subsequently stated that the assault on his mother followed her disclosure to him of his true paternity, but some doubt exists about this statement in view of his subsequent statement that his mother only disclosed this information after she had been diagnosed as suffering from carcinoma in 1989.

Referred by his GP to St Hilda's Hospital in Hartlepool because of depression. After treatment with antidepressants he was discharged with no Out-Patient follow up.

Easington Magistrates Court. Two offences of dishonesty. Sentenced to three months imprisonment.

Teesside Crown Court. Three offences of dishonesty. Sentenced to two years imprisonment.

Teesside Crown Court. One Criminal Damage and four offences of Dishonesty. Sentenced to 21 months imprisonment.

September 1988
Released on Parole (to February 1989).

Armstrong married EJA.

October 1989
Armstrong's mother diagnosed as suffering from malignant melanoma. Until then Armstrong had believed that George Armstrong was his father but his mother now disclosed for the first time that Armstrong was the product of an incestuous relationship with her own father which had occurred from when she was twelve to seventeen years old when she became pregnant with Armstrong.

Armstrong's mother died and Armstrong declined to attend her funeral.

Armstrong seen at Peterlee Health Centre at request of his GP by Dr F Gowans a Clinical Psychologist from Hartlepool. Armstrong stated that his natural father was his mother's father and that he (Armstrong) had been abused by his mother from the age of eight throughout his school years. He also stated that he had had a nervous breakdown in 1982, after he had left his first wife, when he had just laid in bed shaking and crying.

Armstrong failed to attend follow up appointment with Dr Gowans, who simply notified the GP of this fact by letter, but gave no details of any assessment or of the information supplied by Armstrong.

Peterlee Magistrates Court. Fined £50 for Public Order Act offence and £10 for Theft.

July 1991
Attending Alcoholics Anonymous.

Peterlee Magistrates Court. Fined £100 for Theft.

March 1992
Armstrong assaulted by stepson KA (adult son of EAJ).

First admission to Ward 15 of Hartlepool General Hospital following a telephone request from his GP Dr Pearson. At the time Armstrong was low and anxious stating that in the past he had self lacerated his arms, had overdosed on his mother's prescribed Parnate, and was afraid that he might harm himself again.

On this admission Armstrong made the following statements to his Consultant or to the Nursing Staff: -

(A) He had received a Dishonourable Discharge from the Navy for shooting a Chief Petty officer.

(B) He had found his wife in bed committing adultery and had thrown the man through a plate glass window. As a result he had been sentenced to two years imprisonment and had in fact served 14 months.

(C) He was constantly fighting with his stepson who was one of the children of his then current wife EJA, who was herself 17 years older than him.

(D) He was annoyed because his step daughter (B) was going out drinking almost daily leaving him to care for her two children aged three and two years respectively.

(E) He was separated from his wife.

(F) He agreed he had both a drink and drugs problem particularly with regard to the drug DP118.

(G) His mother had sexually abused him as a child.

(H) His mother, his current wife EJA and his stepdaughter (B) had all been patients on the Unit.

His Consultant advised Armstrong that he could stay in hospital for a short while until his marital problems were resolved but that there was no medication which was appropriate for his treatment. He was advised that on discharge he should attend either the North East Council for Addictions or the Alcohol and Drugs Advisory Centre to discuss his drink and drugs dependency but failed to do so.

Armstrong stated that he felt unable to return to live with his current wife EJA and was exploring the possibility of taking a bedsit in Hartlepool. EJA subsequently stated the marriage had broken up because of violence towards her by Armstrong, her discovery of Armstrong wearing women's clothing and the allegation that Armstrong had abused one of her daughters in 1986.

Social Worker contacted with regard to Armstrong's housing problem. An interview was arranged for Armstrong to go and look at Benedict House at Park Road, Hartlepool but following a short leave from Hospital, Armstrong returned saying that he had seen his first wife CBM and she had agreed to Armstrong going to live with her in Plymouth. The matter had allegedly been discussed with EJA who was in agreement.

Armstrong discharged from Hospital. Diagnosis of personality disorder. No follow up appointments were made as Armstrong's new address in Plymouth was not known.

Armstrong's stepdaughter (B), then aged 22 years, alleged that she and her sister had been sexually abused as children by Armstrong who had subsequently abused her daughter (C) aged two years. As a result of those allegations EJA threw him out of her home.

29 & 30.11.1992
Joint interviews took place between the Police, Social Workers and the child (C) but as nothing conclusive emerged the Social Services Department made the decision that, as Armstrong was no longer residing at his wife's home and no contact was to be allowed between Armstrong and the child (C), there were no further protection issues in respect of the child.

Armstrong's second admission to Ward 15, Hartlepool General Hospital. Armstrong stated that as a result of pressures in his social life for a period of two months he had slashed both of his forearms and taken an overdose of prescribed medication including Ferricolin Folic, Co-codamol, Tagamet and Temazepam.

Armstrong seen by his Consultant who diagnosed "Personality problem with addiction problems".

Armstrong asked to see a Social Worker as he was separated from his wife and homeless.

Consultant mentioned discharge from Hospital whereupon Armstrong became very threatening and spoke of harming himself in order to stay in Hospital. He threatened to walk under a bus and also talked of nightmares about when he was in the Navy and had killed a man.

Discharge from Hospital. Non-committal about where he was going and follow up therefore impossible because of lack of address.

Consultant carried out Domiciliary Visit at Armstrong's Wingate home at his GP's request in relation to Armstrong's drinking problems. Subsequently wrote to Armstrong's GP describing him as suffering from Psychopathic Personality.

Armstrong failed to attend Out Patient Clinic.

Police interviewed Armstrong about allegations made on 29.11.1992 by his stepdaughter (B). Totally denied by Armstrong and in the absence of any further proof Police decided to take no further action.

Admitted to Hartlepool General Hospital Ward 7 (General). Stated that he was of no fixed abode and had taken an overdose following the curtailment of a relationship.

He requested assistance with his housing problem and arrangements were made for him to go to Union House at Southgate. He was accompanied to Union House by a temporary Social Worker attached to the Community Mental Health Team at Hartlepool General Hospital but only stayed one night and left with no forwarding address.

Admitted to Medical Ward 5 at Hartlepool General Hospital from his Wingate address after an overdose following an argument with his girlfriend CA. Stated that he would take another overdose if things did not work out between himself and CA.

Armstrong discharged from Hospital with no forwarding address.

Admitted to Medical Ward 5 in a deeply unconscious state following a serious overdose of at least 28 Noctec and 28 Temazepam which he had taken as a result of an argument with CA. During this admission he stated that his girlfriend had thrown him out without any clothes, he was homeless and needed help with accommodation. He also stated that he intended to kill his girlfriend and then himself.

Subsequently transferred to Ward 15 where he stated that his girlfriend was drinking heavily and she had attempted to set fire to the house on two occasions. He had submitted an application to the Homeless Department at the Civic Centre and expected to be rehoused within two weeks. He had been offered a place at Benedict House but had turned that down as being too rough. His Consultant was asked to write a supporting letter to the Housing Department when he would be allocated a house or flat almost straight away.

Armstrong established a relationship with AS who was also a patient on Ward 15 and this caused some concern to the staff. Armstrong was transferred to Ward 16 but the relationship continued.

Consultant wrote to Homeless Section at Hartlepool Civic Centre supporting Armstrong's application for Council accommodation.

Armstrong discharged. Stated that he would contact the Unit with a forwarding address.

Peterlee Magistrates Court. Fined £60 for Theft.

Attended Out-Patients Clinic. Had changed address twice and was then living at 32 Lancaster Road, Hartlepool.

August 1993
Armstrong moved to 51 Frederick Street, Hartlepool, an upstairs Council flat.

Attending Out-Patients Clinic. Still associating with CA who was allegedly pregnant. Also still seeing AS.

Admitted to drinking two litres of cider per day and Consultant made note that admission to Hospital likely in the near future. Advised to contact Keith Appleby at the Alcohol and Drugs Advisory Centre but failed to do so.

Attended Out-Patients Clinic. Marked improvement noted. Stated that he had a job and a BMW car, was not taking drugs or drinking and was coping well in his flat, all of which were untrue.

Failed to keep Out-Patients appointment. New appointment notified for 3.11.1994.

Rosie Palmer murdered.

Armstrong arrested.

Armstrong pleaded Guilty at Leeds Crown Court to Murder and sentenced to Life imprisonment by Mr Justice Ognall.
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