The illustrious and successful career of a Cheshire Detective

Pipe smoking Detective Chief Superintendent Arthur Benfield commenced his career with Cheshire Constabulary aged 25 in January 1939 at Ellesmere Port

He was the son of George Benfield a Cheshire police sergeant, before joining the force he worked for an insurance company. Arthur rose steadily through the ranks spending time in CID as a Detective Constable at Runcorn and Detective Sergeant at Stalybridge and Altrincham where he also had a spell as Detective Chief Inspector.

Promotion to head of Cheshire CID

He was promoted to Detective Chief Superintendent to head Cheshire CID on the 1st of October,1965 and within a week of taking over he was to lead the investigation into the case which was to become known as the “Moors Murders” the largest investigation in the history of the force at that time.

The Arrest of Brady and Hindley

On Thursday 7th October 1965 Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were arrested at 16 Wardle Brook Avenue, Hattersley, near Hyde where they lived together following information from David Smith Hindley’s brother-in-law. Officers found the body of Edward Evans, 17 years trussed up in a plastic sheet in a bedroom, he had been picked up in Manchester the previous evening by Brady and Hindley and taken to the house at Hattersley where Brady had savagely attacked him with a hatchet, so started a massive investigation that would lead to Brady and Hindley being linked to the abduction and murder of four children over the previous two years, Lesley Ann Downey, Keith Bennett, and Pauline Reade who had gone missing from Manchester and John Kilbride had disappeared from Ashton-under-Lyne .

A painstaking search for the truth

Arthur Benfield set up his incident room at Hyde Police Station from where he directed the investigation which included officers from Cheshire, Manchester City, Lancashire, Derbyshire, West Riding of Yorkshire and the newly formed No 1 Regional Crime Squad, his team numbered more than 100 detectives who spent 7 months sifting evidence and conducting a widespread search of Saddleworth moor where the bodies of Downey and Kilbride were discovered, the body of Pauline Reade was found later and that of Keith Bennett has never been found.  Brady & Hindley faced trial at Chester Assizes in 1966 and despite their not guilty pleas they were convicted and sentenced to whole life imprisonment.

The murder of Jane Taylor

Benfield went on to head several further notable murder cases in Cheshire, seventeen in total. In 1966 he investigated the disappearance of 10-year-old schoolgirl Jane Elizabeth Taylor from Mobberley where he gathered all the village children together in the parish hall and appealed to them for any information or sightings that could help the investigation, before the children left the hall, he provided them with soft drinks and chocolates, for this tactic he was dubbed ‘Uncle Arthur’ by the press.  It was to be five years before there was a breakthrough when the body of Jane Taylor was discovered buried in North Wales and her murderer arrested.

Death by shooting of the camping group

In 1971 he investigated the grisly murder of three French campers at Mouldsworth, they had been shot at point blank range, the murderer a man from Staffordshire had stolen a rifle and ammunition from a shooting gallery in Rhyl and had come across the campers tent on his drive back to Staffordshire and murdered the three occupants, two days later his body was found in his car, he had taken his own life, the rifle and a confession were found with the body.

Honours for Detective Chief Superintendent Arthur Benfield

Arthur Benfield had an illustrious career in Cheshire Constabulary, he was known for his dedication, he believed in old fashioned detective work saying, “There is nothing mystical about it, we just keep going keeping our eyes and ears open, leaving no stone unturned”. He was awarded the Queens Police Medal in 1969 and retired in December 1972. He died in 1995 aged 82 years.

Compiled by Will Brown, Researcher at the Museum of Policing in Cheshire.