Real-Life Psychic Sleuths In UK
Dervla Kirwan and Stephen Tompkinson play ghosts in new ITV thriller, Shades, later this year, which features a psychic sleuth who's tracking down a killer by contacting the dead. Pat Moore spoke to real-life mediums who help police crack their toughest cases
When Sharon Neill heard police were searching for four-year-old Marie Payne, she knew they were looking in the wrong place.
Blind from birth, Sharon "saw" outbuildings and a sports car.
"I didn't know what a sports car looked like, but I described what I saw to Scotland Yard. I also saw land with derelict buildings near a forest."
Two weeks later, Marie's body was found in Epping Forest, 10 miles from her home in Dagenham, Essex. Lorry driver Colin Evans was later convicted of sexually abusing her and battering her to death.
Sharon, 34 and living in Belfast, has been involved in some 70 criminal cases.
"Being blind doesn't bother me. I'm glad I've been given this gift.
I discovered it at 17 when my grandmother appeared to me and now she's one of the people who help me."
Others guides are a Scottish GP and an Egyptian who has been dead for more than 2,000 years.
Sharon amazed a detective over the murder of 21-year-old Carol Gouldie in Belfast.
Police had said Carol was found in an armchair. Sharon told him: "She was lying on her side, hands tied behind her back, and a red silk scarf over her mouth."
"No one's supposed to know that!" he gasped. All the more remarkable - Sharon's never seen red, or silk.
"Being blind doesn't bother me - I'm glad I've been given this gift "
She was asked to the funeral to see if the killer was there. He wasn't.
"I told them he lived nearby and wanted a relationship with her."
Sharon also told police they'd missed a vital footprint at the scene.
Later they used the footprint left by the killer to identify Kenneth Callaghan, 21, who lived just three doors away.
An RUC spokesman said: "We'll make use of any legal means thought useful in any investigation."
Psychic detective Ann Anderson, left, took one look at the picture of missing Lynda Hunter and said: "She's been murdered."
Social worker Lynda, 30, had vanished three months earlier, while on her way to tell her parents in Fife, Scotland, that she was pregnant.
Her car was found in Manchester. Ann told police she had been strangled, left in a wood, a wheel was missing from her car, and that her killer knew prostitutes.
Ann also revealed: "She'd been killed with her dog's lead, and I told the police they would find her near Ladybank, Fife, where she was later found.
I also gave a description of the man."
Detectives were stunned as they had not revealed an original front tyre had been taken off the car and replaced with the spare.
Lynda's body was discovered more than 30 miles from her home in Carnoustie.
"Sometimes it's so agonising I'd rather live without my gift "
Husband Andrew, 42, was convicted of murder.
Police learnt he was part of a depraved sex ring, once paying for six prostitutes.
Ann also "saw" Hunter would die in jail - he died of a heart attack six years into his life sentence.
Ann, 52, of Fife, has helped with cases worldwide, but does not enjoy the powers that emerged at age six, when she saw a black aura around a friend who died shortly after.
She "sees" flashes of crimes, reliving what the victim has experienced.
"Sometimes it's so agonising I'd rather live without my gift," she says.
She accurately described Robert Black who murdered schoolgirls Caroline Hogg and Susan Maxwell.
And, in the murder of 10-year-old Christine Lee, she warned police the killer was watching their every move.
Retracing Christine's last steps through a Glasgow estate, she built a picture of the killer, a teenager.
She knew he saw Christine so often the girl didn't fear him.
At the incident caravan, Ann described the killer and told police he was aware of their activity.
John Dowling, 19, later jailed for life for murder, lived in a house overlooking the caravan.
Ann described his bedroom, including a huge picture of a motorbike on the wall.
After his conviction, detectives said her description was accurate.
A spokesman said: "Ann's contacted us several times. We welcome any information in the hope it might help solve a case."
Police forces are unwilling to admit they turn to psychic sleuths when they are stumped by a case. Scotland Yard's official line is: "Any information brought to our attention will be considered, and all of it will be checked because it could be a potential lead." The Home Office denies keeping a list of approved psychic detectives. But, in 1994, the Metropolitan Police gave a special dinner in honour of the late, famous medium Nella Jones. She was the only psychic ever to receive a letter of thanks from Scotland Yard's Organised Crime Branch.
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