CHELMSLEY Wood residents have spoken of the moment - 25 years ago - that they discovered a body had been unearthed in a drain near to their homes.
The gruesome find was made back in 1987 in Bluebell Drive but it is only recently a 43-year-old man has confessed to killing his best friend 25 years ago.
Mark Masefield was due to be sentenced for the manslaughter of 17-year-old Anthony Pryke yesterday (Thursday).
Anthony was reported missing in August 1987. Locals thought the teenager had left the area as his father had recently died.
But his body was found four months later by workmen clearing out the drainage system at his home in Chelmsley Wood, north Solihull.
An 86-year-old resident who has lived in the area for 50 years told the Solihull News she can remember vividly the moment the body was discovered. She said: “We were all out there, trying to find out what was going on. We knew it must have been something serious. It’s a terrible thing really.
“I knew of both of the lads. I didn’t know much about Anthony but I can remember him as a lad. I thought Mark especially seemed like a nice lad. This is something he has had to live with and will continue to have to live with for a very long time.”
The elderly resident’s son added: “I was in my 20s at the time, I remember both lads well. I can remember being on my way home from Fort Dunlop and my mom telling me that a body had been discovered. Everyone was just in complete shock.”
A post-mortem examination was unable to determine a cause of death as Anthony’s body was too badly decomposed.
It was thought the teenager had climbed into the drainage shaft and died after being suffocated by sewer fumes. An inquest recorded an open verdict.
But last July, friend Mark Masefield handed himself into police and admitted the killing.
He denied murder and claimed he had killed Mr Pryke in self defence by hitting him over the head with a scaffolding pole during an argument.
The 43-year-old pleaded guilty to manslaughter at Birmingham Crown Court earlier this month.