Journalist Stan Nicholls and his photographic colleague Geoff Beech of The Reporter newspaper were part of the pack of journalists who descended on Coronation Street when the true story behind the Richard Hillman murders broke. They first encamped outside the Hillmans' house, taking pictures at every opportunity and harassing the residents with their constant questions. When Stan tried to speak with Kevin Webster and Tommy Nelson, he was quickly sent on his way with neither a story nor quotes to use. Gail Hillman underwent a terrifying ordeal when the press pack, including Stan and Geoff, descended on her and her family as they left the house and tried to get in their car, causing a watching Norris Cole to comment that it made him almost ashamed as a newsagent to be part of the profession! The undiplomatic Stan then called on Ashley Peacock and Fred Elliott at No. 4 where he was told brusquely where to go.
Later, drinking in the Rovers he overheard a conversation between Norris, Emily Bishop and Ken Barlow in which Norris expressed doubt in Gail’s part in the affair. Sticking a dictaphone under their shocked noses, he started firing questions at them. A riled Peter Barlow interjected and physically ejected Stan from the pub.
A couple of days later, Stan and Geoff were given an offer by Craig Nelson of all he knew of the murders and Stan muttered that a reporter from The Beano would be along soon to interview him. They then descended on the pub where they offended undertaker Archie Shuttleworth with a comment about all the business that Richard must have brought his way. Harry Flagg tried to scare the men off by claiming he was part of an undercover SAS team who had their guns trained on the Street as they expected Richard back any time soon and the bullets would start flying. Stan, though, was diverted by a conversation between Jack and Vera Duckworth about the £20,000 that they had invested with Richard. Although Jack quickly pushed her out, it wasn’t to stop her talking but to stop her talking for free. They negotiated a fee of £500 to tell the press their story and Geoff took their picture pointing at the Hillman’s house. The picture appeared in the paper under the headline, “Killer Suspect Robbed us Blind.”
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