Man who murdered Eddie Forrester in Blackpool and dismembered his body jailed for life

Appearing at Preston Crown Court today (January 19th) William Wilkinson, 65, of Seafield Road, Blackpool, was told he would have to serve a minimum of XX  years before he is eligible to apply for parole. Picture: Lancashire Police JC 19.01.24
William Wilkinson was jailed at Preston Crown Court today. Credit: Lancashire Police.

A man has been jailed for life for murdering his neighbour Edward Forrester in Blackpool and then dismembering his body.

Appearing at Preston Crown Court on 19 January William Wilkinson, 65, of Seafield Road, Blackpool, was told he would have to serve a minimum of 19 years and three months before he is eligible to apply for parole.

Edward, 55, who goes by Eddie, was last seen in Seafield Road, Blackpool, on the afternoon of 1 September last year.

The last image of Eddie Forrester alive. Credit: Lancashire Police.

He was reported missing the following day.

When police attended Eddie’s property in Seafield Road on 3 September, Wilkinson wasn't present but they found traces of blood at the door and evidence of a clean-up.

Forensic experts later found Eddie’s blood in other areas of Wilkinson’s flat, including the carpet, walls, skirting boards and stairs, as well as in the communal hallway.

The weapon recovered from William Wilkinson's flat. Credit: Lancashire Police.

Officers found a broken wooden stick with a heavy metal bung at one end in a bin liner. Wilkinson used this stick – thought to be the murder weapon – to strike Eddie to the head multiple times.

Wilkinson was subsequently arrested by officers from Cumbria Police in Windermere on 5 September.

Police interviews

During his initial police interviews, he denied knowing where Eddie was and denied having any dispute with him.

He answered no comment to questions put to him in further interviews.

As officers pieced together Wilkinson’s movements in the period between Eddie’s disappearance and the defendant's arrest, they scoured hundreds of hours of CCTV footage.

This showed Wilkinson walking around Blackpool on 1 September, 2 September and 3 September, disposing of carrier bags which are thought to have contained Eddie’s remains and personal belongings.

During this period, Wilkinson went about his daily routine as normal to try and throw officers off the scent.

This included shopping, going to a car boot sale, going to a pawnbrokers and placing bets at a bookmakers.

He also went to the barbers – changing his appearance from having long hair and a beard to being clean-shaven with a crew cut.

Footage shows Wilkinson at the barbers – changing his appearance from having long hair and a beard to being clean shaven with a crew cut. Credit: Lancashire Police.

Wilkinson also used his white Peugeot Boxer van to drive to multiple locations around Blackpool and Cumbria to discard evidence, including Eddie’s remains.

William Wilkinson's Peugeot van. Credit: Lancashire Police.

Following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service and before the discovery of Eddie’s remains, Wilkinson was charged with murder and later further charged with perverting the course of justice.

'Good luck'

He continued to deny any wrongdoing at this stage, although he did say “good luck” to an officer as he was being led back to his cell.

On 13 September, Lancashire Police were contacted by Cumbria Police to say that they had found partial human remains – which later transpired to be Eddie’s - in a suitcase on land off Ashes Lane, Staveley, Kendal.  

The suitcase found on land off Ashes Lane, Staveley, Kendal. Credit: Lancashire Police.

Further discoveries were made in Cumbria over the following days and weeks. On 17 November, and having been presented with overwhelming evidence of his criminal wrongdoing, Wilkinson pleaded guilty to murder and perverting the course of justice.

'Savage, brutal and diabolic'

In a statement, Eddie’s family wrote: “As the siblings of Edward, we cannot believe that this savage, brutal and diabolic murder has happened.

“This was inflicted on our brother Edward - a quiet and harmless individual, who wouldn’t hurt a soul.

“We, as his family, have had to live with what happened to Edward, leading to sleepless nights, nightmares and flashbacks.

“When we were initially told that Edward had been murdered we thought it would be a single act, possibly a punch, an irrational act, someone who would be sorry for what they had done.

"But what we have found to have happened to Edward, to disregard him as a human being and prevent him from being laid to rest as a whole person has sickened our family and is something that we will never get over.

“Edward will be sadly missed and loved by many and we are happy that today, justice has been served.” 

Following today’s sentencing Det Supt Mark Haworth-Oates said: “On the afternoon of Friday 1 September 2023, Edward Forrester was captured on CCTV as he walked home with his beloved dog.

"There was no indication that this would be the last time he would be seen alive.

Eddie Forrester. Credit: Lancashire Police.

'Eddie was a quiet man'

“Eddie was a quiet man, a creature of habit, and when he failed to meet a friend for dinner the following day the alarm was raised.

"A missing from home investigation quickly developed into a murder investigation with the notable absence of his neighbour, William Wilkinson, and signs of blood and a clean-up inside Wilkinsons flat raising concerns.

“Wilkinson was tracked down and arrested whilst sleeping in his van in Cumbria. He denied all knowledge of Eddie’s disappearance or any dispute with him.

"He explained that it was a coincidence that he had fled to Cumbria and that he was just enjoying a holiday in the countryside.

“Through close co-operation with the CPS, Wilkinson was charged with Edward Forrester’s murder prior to any of Eddie’s remains being recovered – based on the forensic evidence found at his address and piecing together of Wilkinson's movements.

“Sadly, the investigation that followed revealed a horrific sequence of events. Eddie had likely been attacked shortly after returning home on that Friday afternoon.

"The reason for that attack remains a mystery but Wilkinson repeatedly struck Eddie around the head with a heavy wooden stick and killed him.

"Having done so, he systematically dismembered Eddie’s body in his kitchen, before wrapping the body parts in plastic bags and putting them into his van.

“Over the course of the weekend, Wilkinson made attempts to keep up appearances. He kept his usual routine of going to a car boot sale, going shopping and placing bets at the bookmakers.

"His movements were tracked on CCTV for four days up until the time of his arrest and revealed that he had visited dozens of waste bins around Blackpool, depositing items and destroying evidence.

"He also changed his clothing and drastically changed his appearance with a trip to the barbers – all again in an effort to cover his tracks.

“He then fled to Cumbria, where a search investigation lasting several weeks, covering miles of open land and involving dozens of officers resulted in the gruesome discovery of Eddie’s remains.

"They had been disposed of carefully and separately, some in suitcases thrown into woodland and covered with undergrowth.

“The joint focus and perseverance of Lancashire and Cumbria Police and in particular the CCTV and search officers deployed in this harrowing task led to the recovery of the majority of Eddie’s remains.

“Sadly, for Eddie’s family, some of his remains were never found, and such is the passage of time that it is unlikely that they ever will be.

"William Wilkinson had his chance at the outset, to do the right thing, to assist the police in recovering the remains and to allow the family and friends of Eddie the opportunity to properly lay him to rest.

"He never took that opportunity. Instead, he frustrated the investigation, destroyed evidence and only admitted his guilt in the face of overwhelming evidence against him.

“William Wilkinson was a man of previous good character and only he knows what happened on that Friday afternoon that led him to commit this most appalling crime.

"I welcome the life sentence imposed upon him today and hope that the family and friends of Eddie can have some comfort knowing that the person responsible for the offence will likely never be released.”