Ghostbusting in the North East

Friday, February 15, 2008 0:56 | Filed in Faith & Forteana, Life, Local Interest, Oddities

Come on, don’t pretend you didn’t hear about it.

Easington Council in County Durham paid for an exorcism to help get rid of a poltergeist that was disturbing the tenants. You might have come across the story on BBC News, on Sky News, in The Sun, the Daily Mail and rather oddly in this is London (except surely this isn’t London?) and even in the Canadian National Post.

If you just want to point and laugh at the Northerners, this blog post probably isn’t for you. If you actually want to know the story, read on.

This story is going to start with neither of the following two assumptions:

  • What a load of nonsense
  • Their house had a ghost in it

…partly as I believe it’s perfectly possible that neither of those assumptions are true.

It all started before Christmas. We were away and my sister’s husband had the keys.

He let himself in one night and heard whispering and banging from upstairs. He shouted out: ‘You better get out or I’m calling the police.’

He said my dressing gown then came floating down the stairs and landed at his feet.

He ran out and rang me crying like a girl saying something awful had happened — I thought he was drunk, but when we came back we heard the bangs and whispering.

Resident, quoted on BBC News

Okay, let’s start here. Resident said that she thought he was drunk, until she too heard the noises. This would rather suggest that she was somewhat sceptical about the event, and that she wasn’t convinced that there was a ghost, at least initially.

Unfortunately however, the same person is quoted elsewhere giving a somewhat different impression:

When Sabrina Fallon heard banging noises coming from her attic, she was understandably concerned and called the police.

Officers found no sign of a break-in, however, and joked that it might have been a ghost.

Unfortunately, Mrs Fallon didn’t see the funny side.

She claims the banging was followed by a series of strange happenings, including doors slamming shut, the ghost of a little girl appearing on the landing and, bizarrely, even her own dressing gown floating down the stairs.

The Daily Mail

In the first case, she was sceptical, and more importantly “ghostly phenomena” were experienced before the notion of there being a ghost had been conceived. In the second, the idea that there might have been a ghost seems to have triggered the “supernatural” phenomena.

Unfortunately, I’ve got no way of knowing which report is more accurate. However, in this case I have a number of reasons for coming down on the side of scepticism (as you’d maybe expect for a self-declared sceptical quasi-Christian agnostic scientist).

Firstly, we have the indication above that different stories are coming across as to whether the term “ghost” or the supernatural happenings occurred first. Secondly, there appear to be doubts over how they found out about “the murder” (there’s always a murder) in the house fifty years earlier:

Suzanne said: “Sabrina rang me two days before Christmas telling me she had lots of problems in her house. When I spoke to her I realised there was a very bad spirit in the house and there had been a murder there.The Sun

Right, so it was the psychic — Suzanne — who realised, after talking to the resident? Are you sure?

Mrs Fallon, whose 24-year- old husband quit his job as a lorry driver to protect his wife and children, was later told by a council worker of a murder at the property 50 years ago.This Is London

Thirdly, according to the psychic, the poltergeist was called Peter, and was the spirit of a man who had killed his wife with a poker and then hung himself. Right. Well, assuming that’s possible, it should be relatively easy for someone to verify that there was a murder in Peterlee approximately 50 years ago where the husband beat his wife to death with a poker and then hung himself — oh, and by the way, was called Peter. Right?

No-one seems to have found anything. Mind you, journalists being lazy buggers, chances are none of ‘em have looked. But that would be relatively simple — a murder/suicide would be noted at the time. If there’s anyone with access to court records and the like going back 50 years or more, they ought to be able to either quickly prove the psychic wrong or lend credence to her story. Anyone?

Obviously, most people have already made their minds up: Bad — who I’d presumed from the name weren’t the most staunch of believers in the spirit world — have gone so far as to dispute words like ‘medium’, ‘exorcist’, and ‘possessed’ by placing them all in quotes. It’s reasonable to show dispute, but at least do it properly:

After the ‘visit’ by Hadwin’s spirit guide, the family reported that the situation deterioratedBadPsychics

…this would seem to suggest that they are quite happy to believe Hadwin has a spirit guide, only they’re not sure whether he/she turned up this time. I’d suggest ‘spirit guide’ ought to have been the bit in quotes, but never mind… I didn’t expect they’d have a balanced viewpoint. Not when they refer to the resident like this:

Of course, that is if you share your gene pool with a tennis shoe, and have the IQ of a boiled

And don’t you think that is offensive and unnecessary? Shows poor judgement? Undermines your ability to be taken seriously? Have you actually met the woman in question, or have you based all of your opinions on a couple of newspaper reports? Have you just twisted the facts to serve your previous beliefs?

…well, at least they’ve done some research. They point out that this psychic has found the ghosts of murdered people before — in 2004 the Evening Chronicle featured The Chilling Tale Of The Psychic And The Ghost Of The Murdered Girl, where rather amusingly

She claims the premises had 37 spiritsChronicle Live

Hmm. Yes. Fourteen whiskies, four rums, three gins…

Having said that, what possible reason could a psychic have for making this stuff up? Apart from her exorcism fee, of course. Oh, and the fact that according to the Shields Gazette, she’s hoping to have a book published in July. Oh, and she’s got a charity night on soon, too, which the paper mentions.

Suzanne Hadwin’s entry in the 999 Sunderland Directory also provides a web address: yet that web address returns nothing and apparently the domain is available for registration. Strange.

Now I’m not saying it’s definitely nonsense; the family were certainly scared of something, although whether it was a mixture of self-suggestion and further suggestions added on by a ‘psychic’ (note quotes) or whether it was because they were genuinely scared by a ghost that a psychic (note lack of quotes) helped them identify, I don’t honestly know. All I’m saying is, for me, this one has too many holes in it to be used as a foundation for belief.

I’m not accusing anyone of lying; I’m quite happy to believe the family believed the house was haunted, and that Suzanne Hadwin believed she’d exorcised the ghost. I’m just not convinced that either of them are right

Interestingly however, someone does suggest that if it wasn’t a poltergeist, then at least the bangings and noises in the attic which causes the fuss in the first place would presumably be likely to recur at some point, as an exorcism wouldn’t prevent the recurrence of something with a perfectly material cause…

So what about Easington Council, the people who helped fund the exorcism? Surely they’ve been getting some stick for it (yes).

But to be honest, whether or not they believe in ghosts, they’ve got a perfectly sensible, pragmatic and hard-headed answer which makes sound sense to me — bear in mind the Council paid £60 towards the exorcism, and when you compare that against the per-night cost of emergency accomodation…

A spokesman for Easington District Council said it agreed to pay half of the exorcism because the family were “extremely distressed” and the alternative was £40-per-night emergency accommodation.

She added that the council is committed to preventing homelessness by a number of measures, “albeit none of them quite as unusual as this”.

Daily Mail

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Comments to Ghostbusting in the North East

  1. Collegue Man says:

    March 3rd, 2008 at 1:41 am

    OK old bean here is the deal we invite this organisation in to investigate a property (probably mine as it fits the bill as an older house) make up a story which in nonsense but believable, and see if they fit an explination to it which requires a financial cost to fix.

    I mean sometimes I am convinced I see people moving in the shadows when go to get a drink without turning the kitchen lights on..

  2. Devon says:

    August 13th, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    It seems that anyone not sharing the viewpoint of badpsychics is harrassed and bullied until they leave the messageboard. There’s rumours that’s why the main site was taken down as well. Though the owner states it was because of being “the subject of blackmail attempts, constant abuse, threats and much more.” However, the only people who seem to agree with this statement, are his own band of little followers.

    Sadly what could’ve been great sites are now just laughing stocks.

Leave a comment