June 2019: Now released

June 2016

Notorious ‘Monster of Worcester’ is being prepared for release’


A triple child killer who impaled his victims on spiked garden railings is reportedly being prepared for release from prison. 

David McGreavy – dubbed the ‘Monster of Worcester’ – murdered siblings Paul, Dawn and Samantha Ralph while babysitting them at their home in 1973.

The then 21-year-old McGreavy was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 20 years. 

He has since spent time in an open prison and was allowed to stay in a Liverpool bail hostel on temporary license before being returned when the public found out. He has also applied for parole at least nine times.

Prison insiders claim McGreavy, 65, is now detained at HMP Warren Hill, in Suffolk, and is being prepared for release through a programme that bypasses the open prison stage.

He is also said to ‘live as he pleases’ in prison, with his own cooking facilities and trips to the library. 

A source said he is enrolled on a scheme for prisoners who are due for release but can’t be transferred to an open prison.  

The source said: ‘They tried to release him into a bail hostel in an open prison and that didn’t work because people found out about him. So now they are trying to release him in this way. 

‘I think it is basically a back route and totally underhand. For what he did, he shouldn’t be released ever, but if he is, I think the public have a right to know where he is.

‘It’s a category C prison, and basically it means that people can bypass category D, where they are released to a hostel from an open prison.’

McGreavy committed one of Britain’s most notorious crimes when, on Friday April 13, 1973, he murdered the three children of Clive and Elsie Ralph.

McGreavy was a lodger with the couple and had been babysitting at their Worcester home when the youngest child, nine-month-old Samantha, began crying for her bottle.

McGreavy went berserk, battering Samantha to death. Her brother Paul, four, was strangled and Dawn, two, had her throat cut. Police found their mutilated bodies impaled on a neighbour’s railings.

He was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 20 years. Since this term expired, he has been trying to secure his freedom but has yet to be released by the Parole Board.

A key step on the road to freedom is moving to an open jail. McGreavy has previously spent two years in an open prison, where he was allowed out on day release, but was returned to a closed prison at an undisclosed location. 

In 2013, McGreavy launched a legal challenge against the Parole Board’s latest refusal of his bid to move to an open jail.

In an extraordinary ruling, the judge agreed to a request by his lawyers that his identity should be kept secret throughout the proceedings. 

They used the Human Rights Act to claim that – if inmates found out what he had done – he could be attacked.

Newspaper groups – backed by then Justice Secretary Chris Grayling – immediately challenged the ruling to defend the principle of open justice.

The High Court later quashed the secrecy order. 

McGreavy is understood to now be detained at HMP Warren Hill, which since 2014 has run a programme for Category C prisoners who cannot move to open conditions.

Called the ‘Progression Regime’ it is designed to ‘encourage prisoners to take more personal responsibility to produce the evidence which they need to secure release from custody on completion of tariff’, according to Ministry Of Justice guidelines. 

A source said: ‘He keeps himself to himself but he can basically live as he pleases. He has him own cooking facilities, and can go to the library and get out any book he wants. But nobody speaks to him.’

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: ‘We do not comment on individuals. The release of prisoners serving a life sentence is entirely a matter for the independent Parole Board.

‘They must be satisfied that an offender can be managed safely in the community before they direct release.’

It remains unclear if there was more to the killings and prison psychologists who interviewed McGreavy explored the possibility that there may have been a ‘sexual motive’.

In 2013, Mrs Urry, who took an overdose six months after losing her children, and has since moved from Worcester, said she had lived through ’40 years of hell’.

‘If he was released, I’d be waiting outside with a gun,’ she said after McGreavy’s Human Rights petition was quashed. ‘Life should mean life and he should never get to walk free. He got off lightly with a life sentence – he should have been hanged.

‘I think about what he did every minute of every day because he took my life away. I can’t go to family parties any more, I can’t celebrate anything. Put yourself in my shoes, how would you feel?

‘I can’t and will never move on. For what he did to my three children and me, he deserves the same treatment that they got – death.’ 

Butchered because the baby wouldn’t stop crying

This is the first picture of david Mcgreavy 21 who was remanded in custody at Worcester yesterday accused of murdering Paul Ralph Four and Pauls two sisters Dawn two and Samantha nine months McGreavey who lodged with the childrens parents Mr & Mrs Clive Ralph in Gilliam Street Worcester

Three children were murdered, apparently for no other reason than to silence the crying of a nine-month-old baby.

Then, their small bodies broken, they were impaled on garden railings in an act of grotesque savagery that shocked the nation.

The date was Friday, April 13, 1973. Mother Elsie Ralph, was 23 and working as a barmaid in Worcester.

Her husband Clive Ralph had gone to collect her from work and had left their children in the care of David McGreavy, a family friend and lodger.

The children knew him well, and had played with him happily in the past. The couple thought they had no reason to worry about the welfare of their children.

Yet, when they returned to their home in Gillam Street, Worcester, they discovered that the police were waiting for them. 

An officer escorted to them to the local police station and broke the news: Paul, four, Dawn, two, and baby Samantha were all dead.

The couple were told McGreavy had admitted killing them, but that police were still looking for their bodies. Later that night, they were found in a row, impaled on a neighbour’s spiked garden railings.

McGreavy, 21, who had been kicked out of the Royal Navy, reportedly told police that Samantha had wanted her bottle and wouldn’t stop crying.

‘I put my hand over her mouth and it went from there,’ he said. ‘It’s all in the house. On Paul I used a wire. I was going to bury [Paul] but I couldn’t… I went outside and put them on the fence. All I can hear is kids, kids, kids.’

Paul was strangled, Dawn had had her throat cut and Samantha died from a compound fracture to the skull.

May 2013

Monster’s bid to be moved to open prison CAN be revealed

Pictured above during day release from prison in 2006, child killer David McGreavy can be named after a High Court order

  • David McGreavy murdered three children he was babysitting in 1973

  • Child killer requested anonymity saying he feared his life was in danger

  • Wanted to keep identity a secret after he asked to be moved to open prison

  • McGreavy’s lawyer argued he should be protected under Human Rights Act

  • He is currently living in closed conditions in a vulnerable prisoners’ unit

A triple-child killer dubbed the Monster of Worcester has today lost his High Court battle to remain anonymous.

Murderer David McGreavy used the Human Rights Act to secure a gagging order that would prevent him being named by the media.

The 62-year-old is considered to be one of the UK’s most notorious and longest-serving prisoners after killing the children of Dorothy Urry.

He was lodging with the family in 1973 and was babysitting them when nine-month-old Samantha Ralph began crying for her bottle.

He strangled her then cut the throat of her sister, Dawn, two, before also strangling her four-year-old brother, Paul. 

The children were then mutilated before being impaled on railings outside the house.

The verdict is a huge victory for the Daily Mail and Press freedom. 

The Mail led the legal challenge against the anonymity order – which would have kept the public entirely in the dark about the monster’s bid for freedom.

But in a victory for the Daily Mail and Press freedom we can now reveal details of McGreavy’s request to be moved to an open prison – one step from being free on our streets.

Mrs’s Urry’s former sister-in-law, Dorothy Fields-Urry, said today that the killer should stay in jail.

‘He is the scum of the earth for what he did and he should never be let out.

‘It was unbelievable what he did to those children – I think it was the worst thing I have ever heard.’

Mrs Fields-Urry, from near Andover, Hampshire, added: ‘I don’t think he has shown any remorse for what he has done and he should stay in prison until he dies.’

The Mail led the legal challenge against the anonymity order – which would have kept the public entirely in the dark about the monster’s bid for freedom.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling supported the Mail’s challenge. Today he said: ‘I welcome the Court’s decision. This is a clear victory for open justice.

‘The public has every right to know when serious offenders are taking legal action on matters which relate to their imprisonment.’

Counsel to the Press Guy Vassall-Adams told the court that ‘the full facts are exceptionally horrific by even the standard of murders.’

The order restricted the media to saying they were ‘three sadistic murders – but that doesn’t even give you the half of it’, said Mr Vassall-Adams.

Mr Vassall-Adams told the judges McGreavy’s lawyers were arguing the case was about ‘whether the media should be allowed to imperil (McGreavy’s) life or scupper his chances of rehabilitation’.

He said those arguments really applied to a different type of case in which individuals – like Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, who killed James Bulger – were provided with a new identity and there were injunctions against the media aimed at protecting them from being attacked while living in the community.

‘The injunction protects confidential information, which is the new identities. It doesn’t prevent the media reporting what is already public,’ said Mr Vassall-Adams.

McGreavy had already been in prison 40 years serving multiple life sentences and there was no imminent prospect of him being released – ‘furthermore his identity has not only been public but received massive previous publicity’.

Anyone interested in finding out about his crimes could do so by a click of a button on the internet, Mr Vassall-Adams said.

Not allowing the nature of his victims to be identified ‘masked’ what the case was about, which was the Parole Board’s refusal to recommend that he was fit for open conditions.

‘Understanding the nature of the victims and the terrible treatment meted out to them gives a completely different complexion to this whole case,’ Mr Vassall-Adams said.

Today Lord Justice Pitchford, sitting in London with Mr Justice Simon, ruled the anonymity order must be discharged.

The judge said that the course adopted by McGreavy’s legal advisers when applying for anonymity was ‘wrong’. Lord Justice Pitchford said: ‘This has been frankly accepted by them.’

The High Court heard McGreavy has now served 18 years in excess of his 20-year tariff – the minimum term he had to serve to meet the demands of retribution and deterrence. Post-tariff, it is for the Parole Board to deem whether it is safe to release him.

But it has become clear that publicity surrounding McGreavy is affecting the parole process and is a key reason, along with fears for his safety, why a cloak of anonymity was first thrown round McGreavy as long ago as 2009.

His counsel Quincy Whitaker told the court that naming him would be in breach of Article Two of the Human Rights Act – the right to life – put him in danger from other prison inmates and he had already been the victim of a serious assault.

He had previously spent two years in an open prison until ‘hostile media coverage’ led to him being returned to closed conditions ‘for his own safety’.

Ms Whitaker said the triple killings were ‘notorious’, but no concerns had been subsequently raised about his behaviour.

There were ‘more than reasonable grounds’ for believing that a fair parole hearing could mean him being returned to open conditions, which was a pre-requisite for release from custody.

McGreavy was first transferred to category D open conditions as long ago as 1994, but the transfer to Leyhill Prison in south Gloucestershire broke down after other inmates learned of his offence.

He was subsequently returned to Category C closed prison conditions, though he retained Category D status.

Since then he has launched a series of bids to win parole. In February 2009 he unsuccessfully challenged the Home Secretary’s decision that he must remain in Category C conditions while undertaking further assessments and work.

The 2009 bid was rejected by Mr Justice Silber – but it was during that case that the judge made the anonymity order that has shielded his identity until today.

McGreavy is currently living in closed conditions in a vulnerable prisoners’ unit.

Lord Justice Pitchford described in his ruling how McGreavy was the victim of a serious assault in 1975, and then again in 1996, while serving his sentence within the general prison population.

An attempt was made by several prisoners to attack him in May 1995 while he was in an open prison but the attempt was thwarted.

In January 1991 his cell was fouled when he had been back in closed conditions for only four days.

He was threatened with violence in 1978 and 1994.

The judge said: ‘Threats of violence or a risk of violence appeared to have been precipitated by press reports in 1994, 1996 and 2005.

‘On only one of those occasions was an assault committed.’

The judge held out the possibility that in future McGreavy could be allowed a change of name to protect him.

The judge said McGreavy’s ninth parole review was under way, with August 1 the target date for a hearing, though it was ‘doubtful’ that date would be met.

If it was, and there was a recommendation that he be returned to open conditions, it was improbable that could occur before October, said the judge.

If he did go back to open conditions the board review would have to consider steps that could be taken to protect him – ‘they might include a change of name’

Pictured in the 70’s



The sheer brutality of the murders carried out by David McGreavy shocked and horrified the nation.

To this day, 40 years on, his crimes remain some of the most horrific of modern day killings.

McGreavy murdered three children in Gillam Street, Rainbow Hill, Worcester, then impaled their bodies on railings.

The youngsters – Paul Ralph, four, and his sisters Dawn, two, and nine-month-old Samantha were all killed in different ways.

When nine-month-old Samantha Ralph began crying for her bottle, he strangled her. 

He cut the throat of her sister, Dawn, two, before strangling her four-year-old brother, Paul. 

He then impaled them on the spikes of a neighbour’s metal fence. 

They were the children of Dorothy Urry, who now lives in Andover, Hampshire.

McGreavy, who was lodging with the tots’ parents, was babysitting in April 1973 when he carried out the killings, earning him the title Monster of Worcester.

He was jailed for life for the children’s murders in 1973.

1973: David McGreavy murders the three children of the family he is lodging with

1975: He is the victim of a serious assault in prison

1978: Threatened with violence

1991: Prison cell fouled by other inmates just four days after he goes into closed conditions

1994: Threatened with violence after press reports

1995: Several prisoners try to attack him in an open prison but their plan is thwarted

1996: Victim of another serious assault while serving in the general prison population

2005: Threatened with violence after press reports

2009: Unsuccessfully fought Home Secretary’s decision that he must remain in Category C prison but was given anonymity order that lasted until today

January 2013: Keeps anonymity as he applies to be moved to an open prison

May 22, 2013: Anonymity order overturned