Batters and Detective Constable Andy Smith interviewed
Christine Holohan who was claiming to have been contacted by
the spirit of the murdered woman, Jacqueline Poole. After going
into a trance both officers were surprised at the detailed
information Holohan provided. She not only described the murder
scene but seemed to know a great deal of personal information
about the victim. For example she mentioned her divorce, that
she was suffering from depression and that she had just been
given a prescription by her doctor. She also knew her maiden
name (Hunt). But that’s not all. She
gave a detailed description of the killer and with ‘automatic
writing’ wrote down the name “Pokie” which
we now know to be the killer’s nickname. In relation
to the missing jewellery she wrote down “garden”.
Batters states that out of around 130 points made by Holohan
more than 120 have now been shown to be correct. The two officers
found this quite remarkable but what apparently clinched it
for them was an impromptu psychometric reading from Holohan
to D.C. Andy Smith in which she told him quite personal
information that she could not possibly have known prior to
case has now been investigated by Montague Keen and Guy Playfair
from the Society for Psychical Research who
seem convinced that this represents solid evidence of post mortem
communication. The basis of this claim is that it was impossible
for Holohan to have obtained this information by normal means and
therefore must, by default, be paranormal. They believe it must
have been either telepathy or mediumship. Another secondary aspect
of this hypothesis seems to focus on a pullover that was retrieved
from Ruark’s dustbin following a search by police officers.
It is argued that without the timely recovery of this piece of
clothing Ruark may well have once more escaped justice. Montague
Keen issued a statement which was quoted in a discussion forum
the pullover he says;
the fact is that, without the help of the medium's statements,
the police would not have retrieved the pullover or interviewed
and taken statements from everyone with whom Ruark came into
contact with that evening. Nor, according to Tony Batters,
would they have checked and verified all Ruark's movements
during previous fortnight.”
then elaborates further;
pullover became vital as it was his only garment retained for forensics,
and it showed numerous exchanges of blood and saliva from Jacqui
Poole to him. This proved an act of violence, as opposed to the
intimacy which he claimed in his defence at Court.”
believe the above fairly accurately summarizes the case for the
believers. At the time of writing Keen and Playfair’s report
has not been published. When it is I may add to the above.
interest in the case
I first became interested in this case following an email from Professor
Chris French (See: http://www.goldsmiths.ac.uk/apru/)
who was looking for background information about this case. My
initial thought was that Holohan had had this information passed
to her by someone who wanted to alert the police to the identity
of “Pokie” Ruark and yet remain anonymous. There may
still be some truth in this but further investigation shows that
there is rather more to it. I should state at this point that there
is very little chance of anyone conclusively proving that any particular
theory is the correct one, however the task Adrian and I set ourselves
was to discover whether an alternative natural explanation was
began to look further into the case after Montague Keen mentioned
it in The Skeptic magazine
and had asked, somewhat rhetorically, for a non-paranormal explanation.
I obtained photocopies of articles published in local newspapers
at the time and went over as much of the other information as
was readily available on the Internet. Following this my letter
was published in The Skeptic
to which Montague Keen later responded. It was shortly after this
that I was contacted by ASKE
member Adrian Shaw, a currently serving police detective, who shared
an interest in the case. We decided to work together and pool
our information and began by identifying people who had worked
on the case in order to seek their help.
Batters very kindly supplied me with a copy of his notes along with
how they related to the crime. We exchanged numerous emails. My
impression was that Tony Batters, whilst persuaded by the paranormal
explanation, was always ready to listen to my arguments and was
extremely helpful on a number of occasions. I believe that he and
I are essentially agreed about the facts but arrive at different
conclusions. His role during the original investigation was largely
administrative but he feels this gave him a good overview of the
case and he was one of the few officers who remained involved throughout.
Shaw spoke to Detective Chief Inspector Norman McKinlay as well
as the detective who originally took Ruark in for questioning and
also retrieved the pullover from his dustbin. I managed to contact
ex-Detective Superintendent Tony Lundy who now lives in Spain. Lundy
was the officer in charge of the original investigation and McKinlay
dealt with the 1999 re-investigation. We did contact other officers
who either did not wish to discuss the case or never returned our
The argument for the paranormal hypothesis relies on the apparent
lack of opportunity for Holohan to have come by her information
by normal means. I suggest that if we can show that it was possible
for Holohan to provide the information without recourse to mediumship
then, as this is the simpler*
explanation, it should be regarded as more likely. However
it would be true to say that just because something is possible
it doesn't follow that that's what actually happened.
(*By "simpler" I
mean in the Occam's
Razor sense of the word, "plurality should not be posited
without necessity." )
explaining our findings let me summarise what Adrian and I believe
to be the series of events in 1983;
11th February 1983: Jacqueline Poole
is murdered sometime during the evening approximately around 9
Sunday 13th February 1983: Body discovered by
P.C. Batters following a call from the father of Jacqueline Poole's
current boyfriend who was concerned that she was not answering
14th February 1983: Ruark voluntarily attends the local
police station to make a statement following a police appeal for
those who knew her to come forward.
This information was supplied by Tony Batters and this seems
to conflict with account from other people connected with the
case. However I am happy to assume this date is correct for now.
Unfortunately we are dealing with events that took place 20 years
ago and understandably memories fade.
15th February 1983: A local Detective Sergeant who acts
as "pub liaison officer" makes enquiries at some of
the local pubs. Whilst at The Windmill it is suggested
to him that the person he should speak to is "Pokie" Ruark.
As luck would have it during this visit Ruark entered the pub.
The detective then put Ruark into a police car and took him in
for questioning. Ruark has scratches
on his hands which he later claims was due to coming off his
Also on this date the murder is briefly mentioned on the front
page of the Hillingdon Mirror which describes Jacqui
Poole as a "local divorcee".
At this point I am unsure as to when Ruark
was released. During the investigation Ruark was detained a number
of times but I do not have exact details.
17th February 1983:
Detective Constable Andy Smith and Police Constable Tony Batters
visit Holohan and note her information. They are impressed by
her knowledge of the case and the fact that she gave out accurate
information about D.C. Smith during
an impromptu psychometry reading. The local paper the Ruislip
and Northwood Gazette ran a front page story about the
murder and along with Jacqui's picture gives a list of the
jewellery taken from her flat. See here
for a copy (without photo). In her book 'A
Voice from the Grave' Christine Holohan confirms that she first contacted the
police on Thursday.
Friday 18th February 1983: Ruark
is arrested and during a search of his premises a pullover is
discovered in a dustbin and retained as evidence. In fact this
may have happened earlier but we can't be sure.
is surely reasonable to assume that this murder is going to be
the subject of intense local gossip (see note below). Particularly
in places like The
Windmill which was not only the place from which Ruark was
taken but where he also regularly drank with his girlfriend as
indeed did Jacqui Poole and her boyfriend. Jacqueline Poole had
a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, including a close friend
who told the police of Jacqui Poole's rejection of Ruark's attempts
to flirt with her along with a great deal of personal information
about Jacqueline herself.
(14.10.06. In 'A
Voice from the Grave' Holohan acknowledges that she overheard
two women discussing the murder on Monday morning - three days
before she contacted the police.)
this point the address of Christine Holohan becomes very significant.
She lived only 1.3 miles from The Windmill Pub.
the actual information Holohan supplied about the victim and her
murderer I’ll return to in a moment, but as for the psychometry
reading given to the Detective Constable at the time I’m
afraid I dismiss this as simply cold reading doing its work.
Police, no less than anyone else can be fooled. As far as I
know there are no contemporary notes of what was actually said
as opposed to what was remembered. If the information was what
I think it was then I can see why the Detective was impressed
but how he interpreted Holohan’s words may not be what
she had actually intended. That he was amazed I have no doubt
but by itself this is not very compelling. Although Andy Smith
appears to have readily assisted the SPR he has refused to discuss
the matter with either myself or Adrian.
to D.C.I. McKinlay who spoke to Adrian there are no official notes
of this meeting but Tony Lundy does remember Holohan being discussed
and asked if she could provide some information that they didn’t
know already, such as the location of the missing jewellery.
Alas it appears she couldn't, which is a pity as this would
have been of considerable use to the investigation team. Lundy
my first conversation with Lundy he said Ruark was "suspected immediately"
and held in custody within the first 24 hours of the
investigation and it would have been during this time that Ruark’s
premises were searched and the "vital" pullover discovered
(at the time if a suspect was under arrest no search warrant
would be required). This would have been at least 3 days before
Holohan was interviewed. The officer who brought Ruark in (but
not actually under arrest) also thought this happened within
the first 24 hours. However according to Tony Batters Ruark attended
voluntarily on that first Monday, but even if his being taken
in wasn't until Tuesday this was still two days before Holohan
was interviewed. Unfortunately there seems to be no way to pin
this event down. Ruark was interviewed on a number of occasions
and the pullover may well not have been retrieved until after
she was interviewed.
the above information it can be seen that it would certainly be
possible for Holohan to obtain at least some information. Jacqui
Poole would have no doubt been discussed in some detail as would
Ruark. Both Tony Lundy and Norman McKinlay said it was common knowledge
that Ruark was regarded as a suspect. At the time Holohan was 22
years old and lived with her sister. The probability is high that
they would have mixed with other people of a similar age. In 1983
Ruark was also 22. However Holohan came out with other details that
helped make an impression on Tony Batters and his colleague.
did Holohan actually say?
Tony Batters has generously given me permission to publish his notes
which can now be read here. If you
remove all the personal references about Jacqui Poole and Anthony
Ruark, which I believe would have been easy to find out about at
The Windmill and other local pubs, the notes are reduced
quite drastically. There are also some references to the jewellery
such as the St. Christopher that was mentioned in the local paper
(here). Holohan also provides details of the
crime and as it would be upsetting for her family to have these
debated in public this text has been removed. Nevertheless certain
things can be inferred from what was stated in the newspaper article
above i.e. she was beaten, sexually assaulted and strangled. It
is impossible to know what sort of information was discussed publicly
by the many friends and acquaintancies who knew Jacqui Poole. People
like to play amateur detective and aspects of the crime could have
been discussed. This is just conjecture on the part of Adrian and
me and we leave others free to disagree.
are a few trivial items that impressed Batters and his colleague
and latterly Montague Keen, e.g.,
cups in kitchen. 1 washed up. She made cup of coffee"
What might these words actually mean? How many ways
could they be interpreted? Is she saying that Jacqui Poole only
had two cups in her entire kitchen? One in a cupboard or one the
work surface and the other washed up on the draining board? Did
she make coffee for the murderer, a friend? Or perhaps it implies
she made coffee for herself. When did she make coffee?
Batters fits the remarks to the facts, "Kitchen 1st left
of hall as enter. 2 cups on view, others stored. 1 washed and upside
down on draining board. Other cup unwashed, quarter full of coffee."
Whatever was meant by this particular piece of trivia it did not
provide any relevant information regarding the crime. It is entirely
possible this was simply a guess. In his article when referring
to some of the information Batters himself says, “These could
have been guesswork.” I tend to agree. Unsatisfying as this
suggestion might be it remains a possibility as even if it was
wrong it would be difficult to disprove. If one cup, washed or
unwashed, had been found would Holohan's statement still fit? There
is another possibility. When the body was discovered the father
of Jacqui Poole's boyfriend entered the premises with Tony Batters.
Maybe he saw something and maybe he didn't but the flat was quite
small and this remains a possibility. Perhaps he looked through
the window (as far as I know the front window of the flat looks
out from the kitchen). This man was also one of the last people
to see Jacqui alive and left her flat about an hour prior to the
murder. Were these cups there at the time? I don't know but if
they were then obviously he already knew about them and if they
weren't then maybe he caught sight of them later and thought
this was significant. Of course he didn't just run off and tell
Christine Holohan but perhaps if the cups puzzled him he may have
mentioned it to someone.
fairness I cannot fully explain this away and neither am I likely
to be able to, but if all the other details had been removed would
the police have been so impressed with what information was left?
Personally I doubt it.
men called earlier. She didn't want to go."
According to Tony Batter's comments two people were due to take
Jacqui to her new temporary bar job at Whispers Night Club
and called for her at 7:45pm. Also according to the same notes the
father of her boyfriend didn't leave until 8:05pm and thus may have
known about the earlier callers. Either because he was there or
because she told him afterwards. Again, did he mention this to anyone
actual content of Tony Batters’ notes sounds suspiciously
like cold reading to me. As Adrian noticed sometimes Holohan talks
as if she is Jacqui Poole speaking directly through the Medium whilst
at others she slips back into the third person. She says things
like, “You have got the right group” rather than, “You
had the right man in custody last Monday.”
his article Tony Batters writes, “She knew that in the course
of robbing her, the killer had left two of the many rings she always
to Batters' notes what she actually said was, “Someone knows
about the jewellery. She had some stolen. Some left. Was there
another ring from these 2?”
that the theft of jewellery had been reported extensively in the
local paper so general comments about jewellery
are not that remarkable. She doesn’t actually say two rings
were left behind. These notes were taken from a verbal statement.
Perhaps Holohan actually said, “…Was there another ring
from these too?” which was then misinterpreted by Batters.
As this jewellery has never come to light the statement about "someone
knowing" about it might also be wrong. Tony Lundy feels sure
that had he tried to sell it, something would have eventually surfaced.
Holohan help the investigation?
Much has been made of the pullover retrieved from Ruark's
dustbin and how if it wasn't for Holohan's information this might
never have been seized. But just how significant did this piece
of evidence turn out to be? When asked by Adrian Shaw, D.C.I. McKinlay
couldn’t even remember the pullover. Tony Lundy does recall
"fibres" being mentioned at the trial but he and McKinlay
are emphatic that the conviction was achieved by the DNA evidence
from semen and from skin found underneath the victims fingernails.
The pullover played no part and even if it did it was not due to
anything Holohan had said. I find it curious that Holohan gives
a pretty detailed description of Ruark but not once describes what
he was wearing at the time. If this pullover was of such significance
why didn't she say what he was wearing? One explanation might be
because she didn't know. What Tony Lundy is sure of, and he has
re-stated this unequivocally, is that at no time during the investigation
did he take any action based on information supplied by Holohan.
He only ever followed normal police procedure.
could be argued that Lundy ordered various gardens to be dug up
but if so all that did was to waste police time. I can't be sure
if this garden digging did in fact happen but let's suppose it did.
Let's also suppose Ruark was arrested because the entire investigation
team was so impressed with Holohan that they went straight out and
arrested Ruark and searched his premises. Does this affect the claim
that the source of her information was an discarnate spirit? Of
course not. As far as I can tell with any certainty she provided
no information that affected, influenced, or progressed the investigation
in any way whatsoever.
solved this case?
Last of all both Adrian and I would like to point out that the case
was eventually solved as a result of the diligent and professional
investigation carried out by the police combined with the tremendous
advances in forensic science. This is where any credit for solving
the case should be focused. In the end the hard work of the original
investigation team enabled DCI McKinlay to eventually get a conviction.
Had Tony Lundy had access to modern DNA techniques (as opposed to
a medium) Ruark would have been serving his sentence that much sooner.
Let’s look once again at Holohan’s information. Anthony
Ruark was already identified as a major suspect at least two days
before Holohan wrote down his nickname, “Pokie”. According
to both McKinlay and Lundy it was common knowledge that he was
a suspect and apart from his arrest he had been seen hanging around
both Jacqui Poole’s flat and her place of work.
Holohan only lived about three miles from the murder scene and
and less than one and a half miles from The Windmill pub.
It would be entirely possible to discover much of this information
from local gossip. Due to a similarity in their age it is quite
likely that they moved in similar social circles and it may be
that Holohan knew something about either Ruark or Poole long before
the murder had taken place. We cannot even be certain that a close
friend or even Jacqui Poole herself had not consulted Holohan in
her capacity as a psychic. In Lundy's final report he wrote that, "of
all the people interviewed Ruark was still the most likely person
to have committed the murder."
There still remain questions that need to be answered and if you
can provide any further information about this case then Adrian
and I would be very pleased to hear about it. You can email
or write in confidence to:
PO Box 5994
- Comment) Montague Keen has made comments about
me in reference to the recent programme The Ultimate
Psychic Challenge. It seems out of regard for Jacqui Poole's
relatives the show asked him not to mention the above case. Into
this Keen reads the following:
may be wrong, but this arbitrary prohibition is suspicious, all
the more so since I learn that Youens, desperate to find holes in
the evidence, has contacted the police officer responsible and found
his theories shot to pieces by facts."
Far from 'desperately
looking' I discovered so many holes in the evidence (see all of
the above) that Keen's case resembles a Swiss cheese. As far as
I am aware the investigation carried out by Keen and Playfair never
included the questioning of the two most senior and highly respected
detectives involved. A serious omission surely? Still I'm certain
he interviewed the medium herself with the typical thoroughness
we've come to expect of an SPR investigator.
On a JREF discussion
forum Keen attempts to discredit Tony Lundy and the information
he supplied by writing, "I have not spoken to Lundy for
reasons previously given. I see no reason to now, especially when
it is clear that his memory of events at the trial two years ago
is almost as fallible as his recollection of the sequence of events
twenty years ago."
Later in this
communique Keen adds,
"It is obvious that anyone other than a purblind bigot to whom
Batters or Smith reported the outcome of the
interview would have been impressed and spurred by it, but more
than likely, such is the nature of memory and wish-fulfilment --
that Lundy would not wish his pride to be dented by any recollection
of any statements made by a medium, especially if he felt it somehow
reflected on his achievement as the man primarily responsible for
solving the only outstanding murder mystery of his career."
Regarding the possible explanation put forward by
Adrian Shaw and I, Keen dismisses it thus;
"However one juggles around with the dates,
the hypothesis is wildly improbable that Holohan, even had she
the time, knowledge and incentive to gather all the information
which came in unsequential bits and pieces during the interview,
would have been able to acquire all the information normally."
current scientific view of mediumship Keen tells us;
"Shaw dismisses all the literature of apparent
evidence of discarnate communication as mainly anecdotal "as
in this case". It is not altogether surprising that a detective
unfamiliar with the psychical research literature he is criticising
should display crass ignorance of this sort; but presumably this
also reflects the views of Tony Youens who certainly should know
better. In no way can the evidence in the present case be described
as anecdotal. No more can the vast accumulation of recorded readings
and automatic writings which have been the subject of intensive
and thorough analysis for well over a century be disregarded as
In Keen's worldview
it seems communication with the dead is somehow entirely likely
whereas a natural explanation is "improbable". Sentiments
no doubt passed on to him by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
feel free to make up your own mind.
2003 © Tony Youens
Batter's interview notes
from local newspaper