In 1991 the police held the view Graham Stafford had helped dye Leanne’s hair in the bathroom and things became sexual, he got carried away and he killed her.

This is what was said by the defence at the 1999 Appeal ( I have not added the explanatory notes)

Confusion relating to the dyeing of the deceased’s hair

30.  An issue arose in the original investigation of the case regarding the deceased’s hair being dyed. The original Police hypothesis seems to have been that the killing was sexually motivated[1] and was precipitated by the Petitioner dyeing the deceased’s hair in the bathroom[2]

 31.  When the body of the deceased was found her hair was a burgundy or titian colour[3].  It was originally posited by the Police that the deceased’s hair was dyed[4]. The Police case lacked a motive for the murder and the hypothesis of the hair dye provided a link to a sexual motive.  This hypothesis was supported by Dr Ashby in her autopsy report and in her evidence at trial[5]. It was raised by Police in their interviews with the Petitioner[6] [Disc 1- 36:50mins, 40:00-40:25mins 28/09/91, Disc 2- 7:00-7:40 mins & 20:18-22:00, 28/09/91].

 32.  There was no evidence found by Police to support their hypothesis[7] and subsequent scientific tests showed that the hair of the deceased was not dyed[8]. In fact, despite Dr Ashby’s evidence at trial, the Police had abandoned this theory as early as the Committal hearing[9].  The evidence quite clearly indicated that the deceased’s hair had not been dyed.  The Crown did not otherwise suggest a motive for the murder.

 33.  Unfortunately the hair dyeing hypothesis went before the jury in the Police interviews and was unwisely raised by Defence Counsel with a number of witnesses at trial[10]. Further, the issue of the deceased’s hair being dyed was mistakenly revived by later courts[11]. This misconception added an extra element to an already complicated case. The Prosecution had a responsibility to make it clear at trial that their case did not suggest the deceased’s hair had been dyed and that they were not relying on it. Unfortunately the confusion remained and was exacerbated by the evidence the Crown led regarding the wheelie bin.

Fast forward 21 years to 2012 and the police now hold the view Graham Stafford had helped Leanne put peroxide in her hair in the bathroom and things became  sexual, he got carried away and he killed her.

The Commissioner of Police wrote, in part, to the DPP on 23 August 2012: ” Leanne Holland had applied peroxide bleach to her hair but had not been able to fully spread the bleach through the hair before the process inexplicably ceased. This has been confirmed by microscopic and chemical examination of Leanne Holland’s hair. It was Leanne Holland’s stated desire to bleach her hair on 23 September 1991 with the assistance of Graham Stafford”.

What the chemical analysis would not show is the date and time the peroxide was placed in  the hair and whether this occurred in the bathroom at 70A Alice St Goodna. A rather quantum leap, in my humble opinion, for the Commissioner to make that connection.

And of course that theory only has legs if it can be proven the murder occurred in the bathroom of 70A Alice St Goodna; and that claim is seriously questioned.

I wonder whether the scientists and the police considered the chemical reaction between peroxide and blood. (see youtube video below). I am not a scientist so help me out here. Would this be evident in the hair? Would it would make a lot more mess to clean up? In addition to the blood from the bashing to the head?


  1. Mate good points – just gets back to the need for the evidence to be tested and put into its correct perspective.

    cheers Brad >


  2. Prior to 23 September 1991, I am unaware if Ms. Holland had her hair died. However, I assume, like the police did, that the dyeing process would not have “inexplicably ceased”. Dyeing hair is usually always a completed process.
    The reaction between peroxide and blood in the video is not an accurate representation by any means: it involves a very large quantity of H2O2- far beyond what would have been applied to Holland’s hair. He initially drops in a small amount of blood into the bowl- given that Holland’s injuries were consistent with seepage of blood (with initial “sprays”) this reaction, on a massively larger scale, shows what would have happened. Furthermore, it depends on the concentration of catalase in Holland’s blood. Lastly, DILUTED H2O2 (around 2-10% ), mixed with ammonium hydroxide, is used in hair bleach. Not like the video.

    From reading all the evidence available- including Mr. Crowleys book- it is sufficiently clear that Mr. Stafford, although being an otherwise good character, did indeed murder Ms. Holland.


  3. There is no accurate way to judge when hair is dyed. An approximate estimate can be made by regrowth, that is new hair being exposed from the scalp. Saying that he was dyed at a particular exact time is not scientifically possible. Furthermore, I would be interested in the tests which claim to have shown peroxide in the hair at all.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s