This is an experience my mother had, long before I was born.

My parents were both born and raised in a small coastal town in northern England. They married in the 1960s and their first home was a terraced two bedroom house in a larger neighbouring town. To begin with they didn’t have a refrigerator so had to keep the milk in a cupboard, but they were both working so things were financially stable enough. As the days and weeks progressed, my mother found that some of the property made her feel uncomfortable and that feeling got worse as time went on, to the point where she couldn’t go into the spare bedroom on her own. Then one night she woke up in the dark and saw, sitting in the armchair in the corner of the bedroom, an apparition of a gaunt, hunchbacked old man wearing outdated clothing. He was just sitting there, looking at her, and it happened on a few other occasions over the following months. She never mentioned my father’s reaction to this or whether he could see the man too, but knowing Dad I can imagine that he would have tried to comfort her while being inwardly sceptical about there being a ghost in the house.

My father worked as an engineer and was occasionally sent on overnight stays as part of industrial training courses, so when he was due to go for his next one my mother decided to visit my grandmother and stayed there overnight, sharing a bed with one of my aunts. The following morning my aunt told her that she’d been talking in her sleep, saying “He’s here, he’s in the corner, he’s followed me.”

My parents moved to another town soon after, and a little while later my mother was reading a local newspaper when she spotted a photo of the man she’d seen sitting in the armchair. The article named him as Tom Lionel Burns, and eleven years earlier he’d been imprisoned at her majesty’s pleasure for the rape, murder and cannibalism of two children. The bedroom my mother wasn’t able to go into overlooked the house where he’d committed his crimes.