The killing of members of the public by the police is nothing new. On 16th January 1976, Chester-le-Street man Liddle Towers was arrested by PC Goodner for being drunk and disorderly outside the key Club.
He was released the following morning and told a friend “They gave us a bloody good kicking outside the Key Club, but that was naught to what I got when I got inside”.
He died on February 9th due to the injuries he’d received from the beating.
There was an inquest a verdict of justifiable homicide was returned.
The case was raised in parliament.
South Shields punk band the Angelic Upstarts released a record in 1978 highlighting the case and the record became a rallying point against police brutality. The record originally came out on the Dead label. The record, and it’s B side ‘Police Oppression’ became a classic punk single and is a passionate call for justice.
Mensi: “Liddle Towers was our protest single. It was the story of a boxing coach who was arrested for being drunk and disorderly. He was examined by a doctor and was perfectly healthy. Then in the morning was discovered dead and had injuries which the police surgeon described as being similar to that of a person who had been in a serious 70 miles-an-hour head-on collision. His injuries were absolutely horrific. He was basically kicked to death.
“We done a couple of shows and got the money together and we pressed 500 singles, and then Small Wonder/Rough Trade re-released it, and it got to number one in the indie charts. With no radio play. Apart from John Peel, nobody else played it, and it was actually banned off any sort of play list in the northeast. Fair play I say.”
from Smash Hits
The Sex Pistols producer Dave Goodman was outraged by the case and released a single, ‘Justifiable Homicide’ in July 1978. Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook also play on the record.
The Tom Robinson Band dedicated their 1979 album, TRB Two to Mrs Mary Towers, the mother of Liddle Towers. The song Blue Murder on the album goes: ‘Well they kicked him far and they kicked him wide / He was kicked outdoors, he was kicked inside / Kicked in the front and the back and the side / It really was a hell of a fight… / He screamed blue murder in the cell that night / But he must have been wrong cos they all deny it / Gateshead station – police and quiet/ Liddley-die… / Lie lie lie diddley lie /Die die die Liddley die’.