Last week, we learned about a group of Texas youths who decided killing one young man’s parents was the best get-rich-quick plan. It ended badly for everyone—as does the tale of Manchester, England’s Stephen Seddon, who was more than old enough to know better.
He was also determined enough to try twice.
In March 2012, Seddon (who was in his mid-40s), his parents Robert and Patricia (both in their late 60s), and Seddon’s teenage nephew Daniel, who was being cared for by his grandparents, were in a terrible car crash.
Terrible, and odd.
Somehow, en route to a belated Mother’s Day meal, the rented BMW Stephen was driving plunged into Bridgewater Canal. Though he was disabled, Daniel was still able to free himself from the waterlogged car and claw his way to safety. Stephen, who conveniently had a seatbelt cutter and a steering-wheel lock—suitable for smashing out windows—within reach, also made it to the surface.
With his parents trapped in the back seat, slowly running out of air, Seddon managed to act both helpfully (screaming for assistance) and suspiciously (climbing onto the roof of the car, as if encouraging it to sink even faster). Fortunately, firefighters were quick to respond, and the seemingly doomed couple was saved. Questioned by police canal-side, Seddon had a hard time keeping his story straight.
According to the Independent:
He told a police officer at the scene that he had a problem with his heart, clutched his chest and the car ended up in the water.
He then collapsed to the ground but tests in hospital showed nothing to indicate he had suffered a heart attack.
Seddon also suggested that the car had hit a brick, but no debris could be found and experts thought it would be “highly improbable” for that to be the cause of the crash.
Still, the incident was marked as an unfortunate accident, and Seddon even got some media attention for his dramatic re-telling of the “close shave” his family experienced that March day.
“I’m not the hero. I saved people who I loved!” he insisted, praising the firefighters instead. But it was all lies, as the above BBC News clip reveals. Seddon’s true intention was to kill his parents to hasten his inheritance.
The elderly Seddons, who were married for 47 years, were not insanely rich by any means, but they had a comfortable amount saved up that would go to their son if they died: some 230,000 pounds (equal to nearly 350,000 US dollars). Described as doting parents, they’d never deprived their son of anything, and had stuck by him when—in his teen years—he started amusing himself by robbing houses and stealing cars.
Stephen turn himself around once he reached adulthood—or so it appeared. And he’d very much enjoyed his brief taste of the good life, as the Manchester Evening News reported:
By the late nineties he seemed to have put his criminal past behind him, building up a successful business which secured European funding grants for firms across the north.
He enjoyed a champagne lifestyle with a chauffeur-driven Bentley, a Porsche, a boat moored in the Lake District and luxury cruises on the QE2.
But, in 1999, it emerged Seddon’s empire was built on fraud and he was jailed, leaving a string of creditors behind him.
Following his release he worked a number of sales jobs, and most recently worked as electoral agent for his pal Paul Massey, once described as Salford’s ‘Mr Big’, in his bid to become mayor of the city.
But, he was increasingly dependent on his parents for cash after being sacked from his last sales job and still determined to live the high life.
After buying Stephen and his family a house and giving him £40,000, his parents remortgaged their own home—a generous gesture which Stephen was well aware would cut into his precious inheritance. Hence, the car “accident”—which Robert Seddon soon began to suspect wasn’t what it appeared to be, as the Daily Mail recounted:
[Robert] became suspicious after noticing that his son had recorded a TV programme about how to escape from a sinking car. In July he told his GP he thought his son had tried to kill him.
That was it. Four months after the canal crash, and the day after Robert Seddon began giving voice to his suspicions, Stephen Seddon made sure his second attempt to secure his inheritance would be a success.
This time, he made his move armed with a sawed-off shotgun and three cartridges; the third was apparently intended for Daniel—who very fortunately wasn’t at home. (Much later, Seddon vehemently denied that he’d planned to kill the teen, blustering at “the sick assumption I would want to kill a disabled child.”)
But the older Seddons were not so lucky; they were both home that July day. Stephen shot his mother first as she tried to fight back, then turned the gun on the man who’d started to suspect the worst about his own flesh and blood. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Stephen then staged the crime scene to make it look like a murder-suicide. But the police saw right through his clumsy attempt to cast the blame elsewhere. His self-centered behavior after the bodies were discovered didn’t help his cause, as the Independent reported:
Seddon’s reaction when police called with the “news” of his parents’ murders, was: “What am I going to do now? I’m going to lose the house, the mortgage is in my dad’s name.”
He denied the shooting and said it was “ridiculous” to claim he had tried to kill his own mother and father.
What’s worse, it was discovered that he’d tried—clumsily, again—to provide himself with an alibi to further distance himself from the crime. After committing double murder, he drove 150 miles to buy beer, making sure he appeared on the store’s surveillance cameras. (He must’ve used his last dollar on this scheme, because it was later revealed Stephen was so broke that day, he had just £5.45 in his bank account.) He then drove to meet his wife and two of their three children for one last stay in the caravan that his parents had bought for them.
But Stephen never got his inheritance. He was arrested and charged with two counts of murder and attempted murder, found guilty, and sentenced to life in March 2013. As the Guardian reported, contempt for Stephen Seddon was sky-high in the courtroom. After calling him “a monster,” Judge Nicholas Hamblen really let him have it:
“Despite the fact that your parents had always been very generous in supporting you, you wanted more and you wanted it now – hence the plan to kill them and get your inheritance up front.
“The attempt at murder having failed, you decided on a more ruthless and definitive method of killing. You obtained a sawn-off shotgun from criminal associates.
“In Greek mythology, someone who killed a parent would be pursued until death by the Furies.
“Throughout time it has been recognised as a terrible and unnatural crime. You have killed not one parent but both of them. You have done so for gain. You have done so having first tried unsuccessfully to kill them by other means. You have done so by the barbaric act of shooting them at point-blank range with a sawn-off shotgun.”
The judge also said that Seddon’s life term would really mean life, and assured the murderer that he would never get parole, and would never be released.
Photo of Bridgewater Canal by Robert Linsdell.