How police solved puzzle of Simon Holdsworth’s murder

Shaun Wainwright
Shaun Wainwright

A ‘complex puzzle of deceit and lies’ was meticulously pieced together by police and experts to catch a killer who left a co-worker to die over a minor grievance.

Police and prosecutors used CCTV footage, witness testimonies and the suspect’s own lies to secure a conviction against Shaun Wainwright, aged 46.

Detective Superintendent Phil Etheridge gave a press conference at the scene where Simon's body was discovered in a field off Birley Spa Lane, Hackenthorpe.

Detective Superintendent Phil Etheridge gave a press conference at the scene where Simon's body was discovered in a field off Birley Spa Lane, Hackenthorpe.

Police were able to piece together his movements before and after Simon was attacked to prove he had killed his colleague.

It is believed a simple dispute at work between Wainwright and the victim was the catalyst for Simon’s mindless, unprovoked and violent murder on December 16, 2013.

On that day, Simon was the only key holder at FBS Prestige, Birley Vale Avenue, where both men worked.

Wainwright left his wallet at work and police believe he approached Simon at a nearby bus stop and asked to let him inside. Police believe that when Simon refused, Wainwright planned to take revenge.

FBS Prestige, Birley Vale Avenue. Picture: Andrew Roe

FBS Prestige, Birley Vale Avenue. Picture: Andrew Roe

Wainwright claimed he had finished work and drove straight home but CCTV opposite his home in Dagnam road, Arborthorne, proved he arrived 40 minutes later.

The journey should have taken five minutes.

The court heard Simon got off the 120 First bus in Birley Spa Lane and intended to cross a field to reach his home in West Field Avenue.

CCTV shows an unrecognisable figure walk on the field and then, two minutes later, Simon can be seen entering the same field.

A minute later, one figure is seen leaving the field and get into a parked car before driving off. Simon was found dead at the same location the following morning.

Through meticulous examination of CCTV footage, police were able to prove Wainwright’s car had been at the scene, despite his claims that he had gone straight home.

A key piece of evidence was that Wainwright’s blue Vauxhall Astra had a number of unique faults – including one headlight that dipped more than the other, an up-lit number plate and other distinctive features.

By closely analysing CCTV, police and experts were able to prove that Wainwright’s car, which was completely unique due to faults and modifications, had been at the crime scene. When he was shown the footage of his car at the crime scene, Wainwright refused to comment.

In the 48 hours after Simon’s death, Wainwright was seen revisiting the scene 11 times, even talking to police on some occasions.

Police discovered a gold chain Simon had been wearing around his neck before he died was missing.

The day after Simon’s death, CCTV captured Wainwright visiting a store in Ecclesall Road. Police discovered he had pawned an item of jewellery there for £90. The chain has never been recovered, but police believe it was Simon’s.

Officers who scoured the crime scene also found a pair of gloves in the field, which had Wainwright’s DNA on them, though he offered no explanation as to why they were there.

Detective Chief Inspector Phil Etheridge, the senior investigating officer in the case, said: “We know that Shaun Wainwright has a history of holding grudges against people for relatively minor things.

“He’s had workplace disputes before where he has physically assaulted people. We believe Wainwright was angry that Simon would not allow him to get his wallet back.

“Something so simple, we believe, cost Simon his life.”

In the weeks after Simon’s death, police also discovered that Wainwright had discussed details with others that only the killer could have known.

He told a friend that Simon had been robbed and his chain, as well as phone, stolen. The information was only made public on January 3, 2014.

Det Chf Insp Etheridge added: “This was clear evidence he knew much more than he was admitting to.”

A post mortem found Simon had been hit with a blunt instrument, which caused fatal head injuries. The murder weapon has never been found, although police believe a metal bar taken by Wainwright from his workplace, which he had told colleagues was for ‘protection,’ was used for the attack.

DCI Etheridge continued: “Wainwright is a man who claimed to be Simon’s friend at work and has lied constantly and repeatedly. He’s physically much bigger than the victim and overpowered him, leaving him for dead – all of this points to the actions of a violent bully.

“He knew where Simon would be that night and he drove to the scene intent on revenge for a dispute he had with him. The defendant has a short fuse and responded with maximum force over a minor grievance.

“Simon’s family have lost someone they loved dearly and Shaun Wainwright’s family have lost someone too – there are no winners here.”