'I had a killer in my taxi for six hours and I didn't know'
When taxi driver Ian Morley was called to Gillespies pub on Topping Street, Blackpool, in the early hours of the morning, he had no idea the man he picked up was a cold-blooded killer.
Mark Tindill looked “cool as a cucumber” when he got into the 60-year-old granddad’s taxi, and even managed to sleep for most of the six-hour journey he paid for from Blackpool to Kent.
Just minutes earlier, he had strangled and stabbed his girlfriend Lisa Chadderton to death in a jealous rage in the flat they shared above the pub, before hiding her body in a utility room while her 18-year-old son slept nearby.
He changed out of his blood-soaked clothes – which he put in the washing machine – before calling resort-based C Cabs and asking to be taken down south.
Mr Morley, who has worked as a taxi driver for 35 years, said: “Over the years you get a sixth sense, the hairs standing up on the back of your neck when you think somebody’s a bit off, but with this one I got no inclination, no feeling about anything. He just wanted to get to where he was going as quickly as possible.
“I think it was at 3.30am. It was just a normal Sunday night. I was parked up waiting for a job. When it’s not a local job the office always rings the driver saying ‘do you want to go out of town?’ Obviously if the driver is too tired they’re going to say no.
“I was called to outside Gillespies. There was nothing strange about it. You get these jobs going out of town for various reasons. Obviously, it’s going to be expensive. Generally it’s when a family emergency is going on; you get ones where people are at death’s door, or children are being taken to hospital. It’s nothing extraordinary.
“He got in. He didn’t seem bothered or troubled. I started to make conversation with him and he very politely said that he had a lot of things on his mind, and if I wouldn’t mind not talking to him.
“At 3.30am, that usually means they want to go to sleep, so I decided to leave him alone.”
For six hours, Mr Morley drove with the killer in his back seat as they journeyed from Blackpool to Sevenoaks, Kent, in ‘nightmarish’ Monday morning traffic, unaware of the chaos that was unfolding in the pub he left behind, on the morning of November 27, 2017.
Ms Chadderton’s son, Mason, had woken up and found his mum missing – with signs of a struggle in the living room. Cushions had been thrown off the sofa. The curtains were covered in blood.
He rang his mum’s phone and heard it ringing inside the flat, along with the sound of Ms Chadderton’s beloved dog, Cookie, snuffling behind the utility room door.
Her injuries, a court was later told, had left her unrecognisable.
Paramedics were called, and police officers, cars, vans and horses swarmed the street. A manhunt was now under way.
Meanwhile, Mr Morley said, Tindill seemed to be figuring out his own confession.
“He had just called someone, but there was no vibe coming off him. He was cool as a cucumber,” Mr Morley said. “He wasn’t looking over his shoulder. He was very calm. That was the shocking thing about it.
“He woke up for a short time and spoke to his son on the phone. He said he had something to tell him face to face, not on the phone.
“He got out of the car, went past a couple of houses and walked up the drive to the door. It was the last I heard of him until 8.30pm that night.”
After paying the £450 fare, Mr Morley dropped Tindill off at around 9.30am and travelled home – before there was a rap on the door.
“It was the police asking if I had taken somebody down to Kent,” he said. “They said: ‘You’re not in trouble, but we think he’s killed someone’.”
Mr Morley told police where he had taken Tindill, and the former Cedar Tavern owner was found and arrested.
He went on to admit murdering Ms Chadderton, who was originally from Tredegar, Wales, and used to work at Abingdon Street Market, where she was popular among fellow stall-holders.
They described her as “lovely” and “full of smiles”.
At Tindill’s sentencing at Preston Crown Court on March 23 last year, the prosecution revealed how Ms Chadderton had confided in a friend that she felt “suffocated” by Tindill’s controlling nature.
The pair had recently moved in together in the flat above Gillespies, which is now a sports bar owned by Ma Kelly’s.
The court heard how Tindill had a history of domestic violence, once repeatedly punching and trying to strangle a former girlfriend after reading texts on her phone.
In a police interview he said he had “flipped” after Ms Chadderton told him she had been unfaithful.
He was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum of 15 years before he can be considered for release.
He cried: “I’m so sorry to Lisa and Mason,” as his sentence was announced.
Mr Morley, who did not have to speak in court because of Tindill’s guilty plea, said: “It came as a shock, to say the least. He was just a normal guy. There was nothing special about him.
“I said to the police that he didn’t look like the sort of guy that would do that sort of thing.
“But they told me that he had a very violent temper.
“They told me what he did to her, how many times he stabbed her, which was very disturbing. I think they knew that he was the one from the very start.”
He told The Gazette that, despite the shock of discovering the man in his back seat had minutes earlier ended somebody’s life, it was not the scariest thing that had ever happened to him on the job.
In the 1980s he was carjacked by two knife-waving villains from outside a Blackpool hotel and forced to drive them around the town for 45 minutes before they made off with his car and house keys.
“They warned me not to go to the police, but I did straight away. They got let out on bail, and the first thing one of them did was go to the place I was working and ask for me,” he said.
“I’ve had knives pulled on me, guns pulled on me. The stories a taxi driver could tell you could make a best-seller. It’s not a safe job at all. As a taxi driver you’ve got to be like the three wise monkeys.”