Leanne Tiernan: Leeds family tell of murder ordeal

GRIEVING: Leanne Tiernan's mum Sharon and sister Michelle.
GRIEVING: Leanne Tiernan's mum Sharon and sister Michelle.
Have your say

Three generations from the family of murdered Leeds schoolgirl Leanne Tiernan will talk about their battle to cope with her death 10 years ago in a TV documentary.

Screened this month (August) the programme will see the grandmother, mother and sister of tragic Leanne relive the ordeal of her disappearance and murder a decade ago.

16-year-old Leanne had been on a Christmas shopping trip in November 2000. She was on her way home to Bramley but never arrived.

Her sister Michelle said: “I suppose at the time it was just easier to think maybe she has just run away and she just didn’t want to come home. But at the back of my mind we knew she wouldn’t do that.”

Grandmother Hilary added: “I knew she wouldn’t run away. She couldn’t keep a secret, so somebody would have known. I had a horrible feeling to start with [but] we had to hang on to hope.”

Police launched one of their biggest missing person’s hunts but it was not until August 2001 – nine months later – that Leanne’s body was found in a shallow grave by a dog walker. She had been strangled, bound with cable ties and wrapped in plastic.

Leanne’s mother Sharon said: “Going from a mother of two to a mother of one is very hard – especially when we were so close [with] just the three of us there all the time.

“It’s like somebody has pulled your arm off.”

A major police investigation eventually saw detectives arrest John Taylor, a 44-year-old divorcee.

Taylor had snatched Leanne from Houghley Gill and taken her back to his house where he had strangled her. He had kept her body in a freezer before dumping her. He pleaded guilty to abduction and murder and was given to two life sentences.

Sharon said: “One of the worst things is people mentioning his name. I did have a problem where I used to work – I was writing a letter for a guy who was called John Taylor. It wasn’t him but I just couldn’t do it I had to give it to somebody else to do.”

Michelle added: “I’m always going to feel like there is something missing. No matter what you try and do to fill that, you just can’t do it.”

Someone’s Daughter Someone’s Son – The Murder of Leanne Tiernan will be shown on August 19 on ITV 1.