GARAGE MURDERS 20 YEARS ON: Most shocking crime for many years

Former Visitor editor Mike Whalley.
Former Visitor editor Mike Whalley.

Mike Whalley was editor at The Visitor at the time of the murders.

He remembers the shock with which the news reverberated around the area.

He said: “It was one of the most shocking things that had occurred in Morecambe for many years. The brutality of it absolutely stunned everybody in the town.

“I remember it came through that the body of Tony Marrocco had been found and then the news filtered through that another body had been found of the man who worked with him. It started to dawn on everyone that something really terrible had happened.

“Tony was a popular guy. They were hardworking chaps and they were subjected to an absolutely appalling crime.”

Such a huge incident meant it was all hands to the deck at the Visitor offices.

Mr Whalley said: “We had to clear the desks at the Visitor. Just about everybody went onto the story because there was so much to be brought together. It was like a jigsaw.

“It had a massive impact on the paper because people were so horrified but at the same time they wanted to read more about it. The story went on and on because Clifton escaped detection and there was a national hunt for him.

“It was absolutely incredible. Week after week it was virtually the sole topic of conversation in Morecambe because people hadn’t experienced anything like it before.

“The week of the trial the Visitor sold out everywhere first thing in the morning.

“We were following the court case word for word with everything else swept aside.

“We had one word on the front page – Guilty – and everyone knew what it referred to.

“In all my years I have never known a story have such an impact as that. I was at the Visitor nearly 40 years and saw a lot of tragedies but this one act stood out for me as being the most brutal of everything I had seen.”