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THE ADVERSARY … Between the covers

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The bare – and true – facts are these. Jean-Claude Romand, the son of a well-to-do forestry official in the Jura region of France went off to study medicine. He never took any exams, but fooled his parents and university administrators into believing that he was – for years – on the verge of qualifying as a doctor. He pronounced himself a fully accredited physician. He married, had two children, and went to work for the World Health Organisation as a researcher into the causes and treatment of arteriosclerosis. As his career developed he became closely connected with several important figures in the world of international politics and medicine. His was a glittering career, except for one small problem. It was all a fantasy. He never qualified. There was no job. No connections with influential decision makers. No international conferences in exotic locations.

The AdversaryTo this farrago of lies and deception add fraud on a grand scale. Romand was able to keep himself and his family in relative prosperity by claiming that he had access to investment opportunities which would pay handsome dividends to those fortunate enough to be ‘in the know’. He relieved relatives and members of his wider family of hundreds of thousands of French francs – every one of which went into his numerous personal bank accounts. Separating his mistress and her vast personal fortune was his undoing. She was sharp enough – eventually – to call him out and, with his fantasy world on the verge of unraveling, Romand, on an icy weekend in January 1993, killed his wife, two children, and both of his parents.


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is portrayed as a shabby Prospero, and the Caliban he commands is a breathtaking fantasy world of warped imagination and fraud. Such was his belief in his own plausibility – and the gullibility of others – that he had one final trick to play. He returned to his house (and the cold corpses of his family) and set it on fire. Suicide in a fit of remorse? Carrère – and the French criminal justice system – thought otherwise. Romand was carried alive from the inferno. The flames were real enough, but Romand calculated that he would be rescued. At the point where he had recovered enough to speak to the police, he would then tell of the masked intruder who killed his family and left him for dead.

Jean-Claude-Romand_width1024Inevitably, Romand was found guilty of murder, and in 1996 was sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for at least twenty two years. Prior to the trial, Carrère had begun a correspondence with Romand (right) with a view to writing an account of the case. In this account, aside from the factual detail, Carrère invites us to ponder the true nature of evil and insanity, and makes us wonder if the two states are totally separate, or whether or not they are actually bedfellows.

Carrère does his best to keep a neutral tone of voice as he describes the road Romand took, from his eighteen years of astonishing duplicity, via the terrible murders, through to journey’s end where he seems to have rehabilitated himself in prison, at least in the eyes of some. It would have been cheap work to write a bloodthirsty piece of tabloid jornalism, where shock falls upon shock, and adjectives become ever more spectacular, but Carrère is flesh and blood, and a compassionate human being; there is a note of bemusement as he describes the tortuous labyrinth of deception Romand builds around himself. The killings? He does no more than lay out the facts. The callousness, the brutality, the sheer casual depravity of the deeds speak for themselves. Carrère saves his contempt for the captive Romand, who seems to have cast a spell on many otherwise decent people who have been profoundly impressed with how the killer has turned to God.

Emmanuel-Carrère-1Carrère (left) concludes:

“He is not putting on an act, of that I’m sure, but isn’t the liar inside him putting one over on him? When Christ enters his heart, when the certainty of being loved in spite of everything makes tears of joy run down his cheeks, isn’t it the adversary deceiving him yet again?”

 Up to this point, I had wondered about the book’s title, but reality dawned as I recalled the vivid and terrifying image from the first epistle of Peter, chapter 5:

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”

 L’Adversaire was first published in 2000, and has been the subject of several films and documentaries. This new edition, translated by Linda Coverdale, is published by Vintage Books, which is part of the Penguin Random House group of companies.

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KILLING GOLDFINGER … by Wesley Clarkson

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Even if it seems faintly indecent to make such comparisons, British gangsters and crime bosses have usually paled into insignificance when compared to their transatlantic cousins. Even The Krays, whose legend grows ever more lurid with the passing of the years, were regarded as nickel and dime operators by American crime syndicates. Reg and Ron, by the way, were not even the nastiest gangsters in Britain. That dubious crown rests securely on the heads of the deeply dreadful Richardson brothers from ‘Sarf London.’ British gangsters have generally been like lightweight boxers in the ring with heavyweights, and nothing epitomises that gulf like the painful demise of Harold Shand in The Long Good Friday, who perishes like a pygmy among giants.

Goldfinger035Perhaps the world has shrunk, or maybe it is that organised crime, like politics, has gone global, but more recent British mobsters have become bigger and, because we can hardly say “better”, perhaps “more formidable” might be a better choice of words. No-one typifies this new breed of gang boss than John “Goldfinger” Palmer. His name is hardly on the tip of everyone’s tongues, but as this new book from Wensley Clarkson shows, Palmer’s misdeeds were epic and definitely world class.

Born in Warwickshire in 1950, Palmer found that school and conventional education offered him nothing. After working with his brother for a spell, he started dealing in gold and jewellery from a Bristol address, and first came to the attention of the police in a significant way with his involvement in the Brinks Mat gold bullion heist in 1983. Palmer’s part in the affair sounds scarcely credible, but it was to melt down the gold bars into more saleable items – in his back garden. It was this action which earned him his nickname, but his claim that he didn’t know where the gold had come from convinced the jury at his trial in 1987.

Clarkson036Meanwhile, Palmer had not been idle, at least in the sense of criminality. He had set up in the timeshare business, perpetrating what was later proved to be a massive scam. When he was eventually brought to justice, it was alleged that he had swindled 20,000 people out of a staggering £30,000,000. In 2001 he was sentenced to eight years in jail, but his ill-gotten gains were never recovered.

Despite his prodigious earnings, it seemed to go against Palmer’s grain to go straight, and he continued to dabble in fraudulent timeshare selling and money laundering. He had semi-retired to a Ponderosa style property in Essex (where else?) but it seems clear that no-one spends their life stealing on a grand scale without making enemies, and he was shot dead in a professional hit on 24th June, 2015.

This brief account is all in the public domain, but Wensley Clarkson can tell the full story because of his intensive research ‘on the inside’. His knowledge has not been gathered without cost, as he and his family have been subject to death threats by criminals terrified of being exposed. Killing Goldfinger is the definitive account of an extraordinary life – and death. It is published by Quercus, and is due to be published on 1st June.

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“and OVER HERE!” … Wartime executions of American servicemen at Shepton Mallet

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“OVER-PAID, OVER-FED, OVER-SEXED, and OVER HERE!” The phrase is attributed to the comedian and entertainer Tommy Trinder, but for many British people his barbed catchphrase rang all too true. American servicemen had left a country unaffected by German bombing, rationing and austerity, and brought with them an abundance of delights in the way of cigarettes, alcohol, chocolate and nylon stockings. For some women, young and not so young, the brash appeal of these loud and confident young men was irresistible. But things did not always turn out for the best for either the hosts or the visitors. The American men sometimes strayed from the straight and narrow path, and in the most severe cases, justice was swift and terrible. In all, eighteen American servicemen were executed within the forbidding grey walls of Shepton Mallet Prison in Somerset. Two met their death by firing squad, but sixteen were hanged. This is the story of some of them.

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NOOSE1THE MOST HORRIFIC  of the crimes occurred not on the British mainland, but in the sleepy countryside of County Tyrone, one of the Six Counties of Northern Ireland, in September 1944. The victim, Patricia Wylie was just seven years old. There is something about a child killing that curdles the blood of even the most hardened observer of criminal misdeeds. Private William Harrison was known to the Wylie family, who lived in a cottage near the remote village of Killclopy, and when he called at the house on 25th September, he found Patricia there on her own. She said she had to go into the village to do some shopping for her mother, and Harrison went with her. Patricia never reached the village, however, and after an extensive search her bloodied body – sexually assaulted – was found in a field, casually covered up with hay.

Harrison was quickly arrested and at his subsequent court martial in Cookstown his defence was that of diminished responsibility due to being drunk, and having had a traumatic childhood in Ohio. It was stated that when he was born, his mother was a mere 14 years old, and that he had his first sexual experience at the age of 15, partly due to being drunk. Prior to his arrest he had been court martialled no fewer than 5 times for being drunk or absent without leave. The submission by his lawyer that he had insufficient moral awareness to realise that the assault on Patricia  (which he admitted) was wrong fell on deaf ears, and he was sentenced to death on Saturday 18th November 1944.

He was removed to Shepton Mallet, and was hanged on 7th April 1945, by Thomas Pierrepont and Herbert Morris.

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NOOSE1Death is no respecter of persons, but the most high profile victim of American violence during WW2 in Britain was certainly Sir Eric Teichman. He was a distinguished career diplomat, and had written books about his experiences in the far flung corners of what remained of the British Empire. He was no dour and over-cautious emissary, however, and was described as “a flamboyantly enigmatic explorer-cum-special agent.”

Sir-Eric-Teichman-2-780x1024On 3rd December 1944, whilst at home at Honingham Hall, his estate in Norfolk,  Teichman (left) heard the sound of gunfire nearby. He went out to confront two poachers (Private George E. Smith of Pittsburgh and Private Leonard S. Wijpacha of Detroit) who were trespassing in the grounds of his estate. Both intruders were American soldiers based at a nearby USAAF airfield and each was armed with an M1 carbine. Sir Eric was killed during the confrontation, receiving a fatal gunshot wound to the head.

Private Smith (army serial number: 33288266) was subsequently court-martialled at RAF Attlebridge, convicted of murder and executed by hanging  at Shepton Mallet on 8th May 1945 (i.e. VE day), despite appeals for clemency, including one from Lady Ellen Teichman. His companion, Private Wijpacha was charged with being an accessory to murder, but was not sentenced to death. The hangman on this occasion was, again, Thomas Pierrepoint, assisted by Herbert Morris.

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Doris StaplesNOOSE1Perhaps the most dramatic of the  murders occurred on a peaceful  street in the well-to-do Oxfordshire town of Henley on Thames. Doris Staples was 35 years old, and had been ‘courting’ an American soldier who was currently on active service in North Africa. It seems, however, that Private John H. Waters, a 38-year-old soldier from Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and the old adage “while the cat’s away..” on his mind. Doris worked in a dress shop at 11A Greys Road. The building is still there, but is now a solicitors’ office. On the afternoon of 14th July 1943, locals were disturbed to hear gunshots coming from the premises. The police tried to force an entry to the shop, but it wasn’t until a tear gas grenade was lobbed in through the window, and the local fire brigade called to direct powerful jets of water into the building, that the authorities felt safe enough to enter. Once inside, they found a very dead Doris Staples, and a seriously wounded John Waters. It seems that Waters was driven to madness by his unrequited passion for Doris Staples, and after mortally wounding her, he turned the gun on himself.

Either by accident or design, Waters survived, but his appointment to meet his maker was only postponed, not cancelled. At a court martial in Watford he was found guilty, and sentenced to death. He was removed to Shepton Mallet and on 10th February 1944 he was hanged by Thomas Pierrepoint and his assistant Alex Riley.

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NOOSE1Along with other great forested areas in ancient England such as Sherwood, Arden, Epping, and Charnwood, Savernake Forest in Wiltshire owed its development to the love the English royalty and aristocracy had for hunting. In late September 1943, however, the historic woodland was the scene of a different kind of hunting – and the prey was human. It needs to be remembered, not in any sense of expiation for these terrible crimes, but by way of establishing what life was like in wartime Britain, that hundreds of thousands of husbands, boyfriends and other eligible young men were all away at the war, leaving women very much on their own. Someone once unkindly likened the situation to a careless farmer leaving the chicken run unlatched with a hungry fox in the vicinity.

Lee A. Davis was another young G.I. who could not resist the temptation of the hen coop door swinging open. near Marlborough Wilts., as On the night of 28th September, two young women walked back from the cinema near Marlborough Wiltshire. Davis asked the girls what they were doing and one, Muriel Fawden, said she was returning to the hospital where she worked as a nurse. They tried to get away from Davis who shouted after them “Stand still, or I’ll shoot”. He instructed the terrified girls to go into some bushes beside the footpath. Muriel’s companion  June Lay decided to make a run for it and Davis shot her dead.

Lee A Davis2He now forced Muriel into some bushes and raped her but surprisingly did not kill her. When she recovered from her ordeal she was able to give a full statement to the police and as a result all the rifles of the American soldiers stationed nearby were examined. Davis’ was found to have been fired and forensic tests matched it to the shell cases found near June’s body. Davis admitted he had been at the scene of the crime but said he had only meant to fire over the heads of the girls. He was court-martialled at Marlborough on the 6th of October for the murder and the rape, both crimes carrying the death penalty under US Military law. He was hanged on the 14th of December, 1943 by Thomas Pierrepoint, assisted by Alex Riley.

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The full list of military executions of American servicemen at Shepton Mallet is as follows:

Pte. David Cobb, a 22 year old G.I. was the first to be hanged. He had shot and killed another soldier and was executed on 12th March, 1943.

Pte. Harold Smith a a 20 year old from LaGrange, Georgia shot and killed Pte. Harry Jenkins  He made a full statement admitting his guilt and was duly hanged on the 25th of June, 1943 by Thomas and Albert Pierrepoint.

20 year old Lee A. Davis (see main article) was executed for rape and murder in 1943.

John Waters from Perth Amboy in New Jersey was, at 39, rather older than the rest of these soldiers. He was hanged on the 10th of February 1944 by Tom Pierrepoint, assisted by Alex Riley. (see main article)

J.C. Leatherberry, a 22 year old from Hazelhurst, Mississippi, was executed for the murder of Colchester taxi driver Henry Hailstone on the evening of 5th of December 1943.  Leatherberry was sent to Shepton Mallet to be hanged by Thomas and Albert Pierrepoint on the 16th of March 1944.

25 year old Pte. Wiley Harris Jr. from Greenville, Georgia, was another soldier who was stationed in Belfast in Northern Ireland. After a fight broke out in a bar, Harris stabbed a local pimp called Coogan 17 times. The court martial were not prepared to accept self defence in view of the number of stab wounds and so Harris was convicted. He was hanged by Thomas Pierrepoint, assisted by Alex Riley, on the 26th of May 1944.

20 year old Alex F. Miranda from Santa Ana, California, became the first American serviceman to suffer death by musketry as the US Army called shooting by firing squad, at Shepton Mallet. He was executed on Tuesday the 30th of May 1944 for the murder of his sergeant, Sgt. Thomas Evison at Broomhill Camp in Devon.

25 year old Eliga Brinson from Tallahassee Florida and 22 year old Willie Smith from Birmingham Alabama, were hanged by Thomas Pierrepoint on the 11th of August 1944 for the rape of 16 year old Dorothy Holmes after a dance at Bishop’s Cleeve in Gloucestershire.

Madison Thomas, a 23 year old from Arnaudville, Louisiana, was another soldier convicted of rape. His victim was Beatrice Reynolds.  He was court martialled at Plymouth on the 21st of August and hanged by Thomas and Albert Pierrepoint on the 12th of October 1944.

35 year old Benjamin Pyegate from Dillon, South Carolina, was the second and last US soldier to face a firing squad at Shepton Mallet. The crime – stabbing a fellow soldier –  took place at Tidworth Barracks in Wiltshire on the 15th of July 1944.

24 year old Ernest Lee Clark from Clifton Forge, Virginia and Augustine M. Guerra aged 20 from Cibolo, Texas were jointly convicted of the rape and murder of 15 year old Elizabeth Green at Ashford Kent on 22nd of August 1944. They were hanged side by side on the 8th of January 1945, by Thomas and Albert Pierrepoint.

Robert L. Pearson, a 21 year old from Mayflower, Arkansas and 24 year old Parson (also given as Cubia) Jones from Thompson, Georgia, were convicted by court martial of the rape of Joyce Brown at Chard in Somerset on the 3rd of December 1944. They were tried at Chard on the 16th of December 1944 and hanged side by side on the 17th of March 1945 by Thomas Pierrepoint, assisted by Herbert Morris.

22 year old William Harrison Jr. from Ironton, Ohio sexually assaulted and strangled seven year old Patricia Wylie in Killycolpy Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland. (see main article)

George E. Smith Jr. aged 28 from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, (see main article) was hanged on 8th May, 1945  by Thomas Pierrepoint, assisted by Herbert Morris.

Aniceto Martinez, a 23 year old Mexican American soldier from Vallecitos New Mexico was the last person to be hanged for rape – that of an elderly woman –  in the UK,  when he went to the gallows on the 15th of June 1945. Thomas Pierrepoint, assisted by his nephew Albert, carried out the execution.

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There is a macabre postscript to this story. Initially, the bodies of the executed soldiers were interred in the huge cemetery at Brookwood in Surrey. Later, though, the remains were transferred to Plot E, Oise-Aisne American cemetery near Fère-en-Tardenois, Aisne, Picardy, France.

Plot E is approximately 100 metres away from the main cemetery and is a separate, hidden section which currently contains the remains of 94 American military prisoners, all of whom were executed by hanging or firing squad under military authority for crimes committed during or shortly after World War II. Their victims were 26 fellow American soldiers (all murdered) and 71 British, French, German, Italian, Polish and Algerian civilians (both male and female) who were raped or murdered. No US flag is permitted to fly over the section, and the numbered graves literally lie with their backs turned to the main cemetery on the other side of the road.

A CRIMINAL ANCESTOR

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Many will tutt and nod their heads sagely when told I confess that I am a direct descendant of a criminal. “I thought as much,” might be the common response. The crime for which this ancestor of mine – John Prestidge – was sentenced brings to mind the old adage that suggests someone might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, and in this case the reference is literal.

moreton_pinkney_church_623x400This first child of John Prestidge and Elizabeth Hickerson was named John like his father and grandfather before him, and was baptized in the Church of St. Mary at Moreton Pinkney (left) on 6 January 1765. Also, like most of his forebears John would have no formal education and was therefore unable to read and write. He would have worked as a casual farm labourer on farms in the district from quite an early age, perhaps 8 or 10 years, at whatever suitable employment was available. At the age of 22 John married Elizabeth Lovell in the parish church of St. Mary Magdalen in Wardington, Oxfordshire (below) on 9 July 1786.

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Some three months before their marriage, the first of the couple’s eight children, a daughter Esther was baptized on 8 April 1786 at Moreton Pinkney. If life had been hard for John before his marriage it became harder still as his family increased. On 23rd November 1795, by this time John and Elizabeth had five children and another on the way, John appeared at the Northampton Quarter Sessions before Samuel Blencowe convicted of stealing several faggots of thorn wood, the property of Joseph Gilkes. John’s friend Robert Talbot was also accused of the same offence at the Quarter Sessions at Thorpe Mandeville,.

Six years after the first offence, the Northampton Mercury of 14th November 1801 reported. “On Tuesday was committed to the gaol of this county, by Samuel Blencowe Esq. John Prestidge, charged with having feloniously stolen a wether sheep, the property of Wm. Painter, farmer of Sulgrave”. By this time John and Elizabeth had eight children, and faced with so many hungry mouths to feed John was tempted to steal a sheep. He was tried at the Northampton Assizes in March 1802, found guilty, and sentenced to death. He was later reprieved by the Lord Chief Justice, Baron Graham (right)john-singleton-copley-baron-graham-1804, and sentenced to transportation for life. John was subsequently transferred from gaol to a prison hulk at Langston, Portsmouth to await transportation.The ship was HMS Calcutta, commanded by Captain Woodruff.

On 9th October 1803 after a stormy passage across the Indian Ocean, the Calcutta arrived at Port Phillip Bay (modern Melbourne) After disembarking, the fledgling colony was set up at the site that the Governor, David Collins, named Sullivan Bay near present day Sorrento in the State of Victoria.
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Governor Collins
(left) soon became aware that the site chosen for the colony at Port Phillip was less than ideal. Searches had failed to discover adequate supplies of fresh water, the soil was poor and he was aware of increasing antagonism between elements in his party and the local aboriginal tribes. He therefore sought permission from Governor King to abandon Sullivan Bay and remove the settlement to Van Diemen’s Land.

Arriving in what is now Tasmania, the convicts were quickly put to work helping to build shelters and clear land and establish the permanent camp that eventually grew into the township of Hobart. Clearing of land to plant crops must have been a priority and convicts like John Prestidge who were experienced in agricultural work would have been valued. Perhaps it should be mentioned here that the Calcutta convicts appear to have been selected as being non-violent and indeed larceny was the crime of which most were convicted.

The colony was becoming desperately short of food. Supplies coming in by sea arrived irregularly and were often in poor condition and of indifferent quality. Much of the salted meat arrived unfit to eat and the colony depended on supplies of kangaroo and emu meat, and whatever else in the way of birds and fish that could be caught. Gov. Collins could see the necessity to restrict the taking of too much wild life, in order to ensure future food supplies for both the colonists and the local aboriginal population.However, seeing the problem and being able to control it was a different matter.Problems with the local aboriginal population over diminishing supplies of game soon became evident.

On Wednesday 8th May 1805 eight convicts, including John Prestidge, were apprehended.They were accused of conspiring to make away with the new government whaleboat and escape in it to New Zealand.The eight were brought before Lt. Gov. Collins and the appointed magistrates, Rev. Robert Knapweed and William Sladden Esq., at 11 am on the 9th May. Although thoroughly questioned they were not convicted. Perhaps hunger and fear of starvation was the reason for this attempted escape. During August 1805 Rev. Knapweed, the Chaplain to the colony, records in his diary that the ration allowance per person from the government store was 2 lbs 10oz of very bad salt pork, 2 lbs flour, 2lbs wheat and 2 lbs fresh kangaroo meat per week.The threat of starvation must have been a very real and frightening one.

Despite all the difficulties, the food shortage and the constant hard labour John Prestidge seems to have managed to keep out of trouble and worked satisfactorily. He was granted one of the earliest conditional remissions in 1806.This conditional pardon meant that whilst he remained in Tasmania he was no longer a convict, but a free man. However he was unable to legally return to England unless he obtained a full pardon.

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In 1813 he was granted 40 acres of land at Iron Creek in the District of Gloucester, present day Sorell. The grant document signed by Gov. Lachlan Macquarie (above) declares that the land is “granted unto John Prestage, his heirs and successors to have and to hold forever”. This must have seemed a monumental step to John, by now aged 49, taking him from convicted felon to free man, farmer and landowner in just ten years. Never in England could he have achieved land ownership, and one can sense his determination to succeed, for, from this time on John became as he is described in the Hobart Town Gazette on 31st May 1817, “an industrious settler”.

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There is evidence to suggest that John had been in communication with his family in England from time to time during the sixteen or so years that he had by now been in exile. Although he could not read or write, it seems that verbal messages were passed on by ex-convicts and others returning to England or coming back again to Van Diemen’s Land for whatever reason. However on at least one occasion John had a letter written for him, which was sent to his second son Thomas, by then aged about 30, married to Maria Wells and still living in Moreton Pinkney. In this letter dated 5th January 1821 at Hobart Town, John tells Thomas that he intends to return to England when he is able to arrange his affairs in Van Diemen’s Land, however the “state of his property would detain him abroad for some years longer”.

Several reasons present themselves for John’s delay in returning to England, if that was truly his intention. The life he had built for himself in Tasmania must have seemed like paradise compared with the poverty which had led him to commit the original crime, and he must have suspected that his family would – in many ways – have become strangers to him.

Throughout this long period of her husband’s exile, Elizabeth had a life to lead and a family to raise. Six years after her husband was transported “Anne daughter of Elizabeth Prestidge” was baptized on 21st February at Moreton Pinkney, but no name is given for the father of the child. Edward Franklin and his wife Susannah nee Haddon were neighbour of John and Elizabeth and had raised their families in Morten Pinkney at about the same time.Susannah died in early 1821 and less than six months later Edward and Elizabeth made arrangements to marry. However at a reading of the banns John and Elizabeth’s second son Thomas objected, declaring before the congregation that he knew of just cause why Elizabeth and Edward Franklin should not be married.

On the 12th August 1821 Rev. J.L. Tyler, then Vicar of St. Mary’s in Moreton Pinkney wrote a Memorandum concerning the event.Thomas stated that his father was still alive in Van Diemen’s Land, and in a letter had said he was “desirous of returning to his wife and family, when he could arrange his affairs.” This letter, written for John was from Hobart Town and dated 5th January 1821. The memorandum concluded that it would be impossible for Elizabeth and Edward to have their relationship sanctified by a church wedding.

Elizabeth Prestidge was certainly a woman of distinction, by village standards. Tyler wrote:

“I had not at first identified the object of this long attachment; but I did soon, for I must have seen her, and much admired her, every day from my arrival. I frequently saw from my window a tall, thin, singularly upright, graceful figure, twirling a mop before a cottage door.” A hundred yards off she might still be thought young. She was near eighty, and, including husbands and wives, had a hundred descendants.She was the mother of most of the Prestidge including five large families bearing her name”

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Elizabeth Prestidge died in Moreton Pinkney in 1848 aged 78 and was buried on 20th July 1848. Such was the concentration of the Prestidge family in Moreton Pinkney, that a row of cottages bears the family name to this day. The supreme irony is that the cottages are now top drawer real estate, an estate agent’s dream, a far cry from the grinding poverty of the families who once lived there.

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Sadly for the family name, the Prestidge clan had an unenviable reputation for villainy throughout the 19th century, and regularly made the court reports for the Northampton Mercury.

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Much of the information in this feature is taken from research conducted by Margaret Prestege and Sheila Frewin.

THE PLOUGHBOYS MURDER

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--90000--81799_product_1230582107_thumb_largeJuly 1953
. Queen Elizabeth was scarcely a month crowned, children were drinking National Health Service orange juice from their Coronation mugs, and Lindsay Hassett’s Australian cricketers, including the legends Richie Benaud, Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller, were preparing for the Third Test at Old Trafford. John Reginald Halliday Christie was sitting in the condemned cell at Pentonville, awaiting the hangman’s noose for multiple murders.

The new Elizabethan age was certainly experienced differently, depending on which part of society you lived in. Most large towns – and all cities – still had pockets of Victorian terraces, tenements and courtyards which would have been familiar to Charles Dickens. Diphtheria, tuberculosis and polio were only in retreat because of the energetic vaccination programme of the relatively new NHS.

Teddy BoyA social trend which had the middle-aged and elderly tut-tutting was the rise of the Teddy Boy. So called because their outfits – long coats with velvet collars, tight ‘drainpipe’ trousers and crepe-soled shoes – vaguely harked back to the Edwardian era. In truth, they were more influenced by the fledgling Rock ‘n’ Roll culture which was scandalising America. Every generation has a sub-culture which, at its most harmless is just clothes and hairstyles, but at its worst is just a cover for male violence. Teddy Boys, Mods, Rockers, Chavs, Gangstas – each generation reinvents itself, but each is depressingly the same – a cloak for male testosterone-fuelled rivalry and aggression.

On the evening of Thursday June 2nd, 1953, the green sward of South London’s Clapham Common was teeming with people – young and old – out to catch the last rays of midsummer sun. There were Teddy Boys from different gangs showing and strutting about in front of their female admirers, but the lads who were sitting on a park bench away from the ‘parade ground’ were not ‘Teds’, nor were they affiliated to any particular gang. The young men sitting on the benches included seventeen year old John Beckley, an apprentice electrical engineer, Frederick Chandler, an eighteen year old bank clerk and Brian Carter.

One of the Teddy Boy gangs was known as The Plough Boys, from their patronage of a local pub, The Plough. Spotting the young men on the benches, and interpreting their different clothing and behaviour as an explicit challenge, members of The Plough Boys decided to provoke Beckley and his friends. A fist fight broke out but Beckley and his mates, realising that they were outnumbered, ran off..

Beckley and Chandler managed to get aboard a number 137 bus, but such was the determination of the Plough Boys to right imagined wrongs that they ran after the bus, and when it stopped for a traffic light, they boarded the bus and dragged Beckley and Chandler out onto the road.

Chandler, despite bleeding from stab wounds to the groin and stomach managed to scramble back on to the open platform of the bus as it was pulling away. John Beckley was not so lucky and became surrounded by the attacking Plough Boys and he was struck repeatedly. He eventually broke away and managed only to run about a hundred yards up the road towards Clapham Old Town.

All of a sudden he stopped and fell against a wall outside an apartment block called Oakeover Manor. He eventually sagged down the wall ending up sitting in a half-sitting position on the pavement, his life literally ebbing away from him.

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Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 09.50.10The remaining Plough Boys, realising that the situation had become more serious than a simple punch-up, ran off. One of the bus passengers, made a call from the Oakeover Manor flatsand another passenger improvised a  pillow for the victim with a folded coat.  Eventually, at 9.42 pm a policeman arrived and just one hour later, John Beckley was found to have six stab wounds about his body and one to his face. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

There was no shortage of suspects among the South London gangs. Police swiftly narrowed the field down to six suspects.  All were arrested and charged with John Beckley’s murder.   Two of the gang denied having been on Clapham Common; two admitted being there, but denied involvement.  but all under persistent questioning, later confessed to having taken some part in the attack, though all denied using a knife.

 

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Five youths were initially charged by the Police, with one more charged a few days later, and they were remanded to Bow Street.  After a three-day hearing, the case was sent to the Old Bailey for trial. The charged were a 15 year-old shop assistant Ronald Coleman, Terrance Power aged 17 and unemployed, Allan Albert Lawson aged 18 and a carpenter, a labourer Michael John Davies aged 20, Terrence David Woodman, 16, a street-trader and John Fredrick Allan, aged 21, also a labourer.

Michael-John-DaviesMichael John Davies, (right) the 20 year old labourer from Clapham, never denied being in the fight. “We all set about two of them on the pavement” he said “I didn’t have a knife, I only used my fists.”

humphreysOn Monday 14th September 1953, at the Old Bailey, Ronald Coleman and Michael John Davies pleaded not guilty to murdering John Beckley. The four others were formally found not guilty after Christmas Humphreys, (left)  the prosecutor for the Crown, said he was not satisfied there was any evidence against them on this indictment. However they were charged with common assault and kept in custody.

A Daily Mirror headline during the trial simply said Flick Knives, Dance Music and Edwardian Suits.

The trial of Coleman and Davies lasted until the following week when the jury, after considering for three hours forty minutes, said they were unable to agree a verdict.
Mr Humphreys, for the prosecution, said that they did not propose to put Coleman on trial again for murder and a new jury, on the direction of the judge, returned a formal verdict of not guilty. Coleman was charged with common assault along with the four others for which they all received six or nine months in jail.

Michael John Davies’ trial for the murder of John Beckley began on 19th October 1953. Counsel for both the defence, Mr David Weitzman, QC  and Mr Christmas Humphreys for the prosecution were the same as for the former trial and the same witnesses appeared.

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Having seen the attack from the top deck of the 137 bus, Mary Frayling told the Police that she had seen a particular youth whom she described as the principal attacker put what appeared to be a green handled knife into his right breast pocket.  He was wearing a gaudy tie which he removed, putting it in another pocket.  She later identified him as John Davies.

How reliable a witness was Mary Frayling? It was late in the evening and her view of the fight on the moving bus with its internal lights on must have been obscured by both the relatively small windows of the bus and the large trees along side the road. In fact Mary Frayling had initially picked out John Davies as the main perpetrator while he was standing in the dock of a local south London court and not in an organised identity parade.

Despite the absence of the knidfe that killed John Beckley, the jury took just two hours to return with a guilty verdict, and Davies was sentenced to death.

Although the actual murder weapon was never found there was a knife that was almost treated as such by Christmas Humphreys and the prosecution during the trial. It was a knife bought by Detective Constable Kenneth Drury in a jewellers near the Plough Inn for three shillings ostensibly as an example of what could have been used by Davies. Incidentally, Drury, (right) Druryone of the investigating officers in the Beckley murder case, would later become Commander of the Flying Squad in the 1970s and in 1977 was convicted on five counts of corruption and jailed for eight years.

Almost immediately after the guilty verdict there were suspicions to many that there had been a gross miscarriage of justice. Michael John Davies’ case went to appeal and eventually to the House of Lords both to no avail. However after many petitions to the Home Secretary he granted a reprieve for Davies after 92 days in the Condemned Cell. In October 1960 Michael John Davies was released from Wandsworth Prison after seven years, although not officially pardoned, he was now a free man.

The killing of John Beckley had a chilling resonance many years later with another notorious stabbing, the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Once again, there would be attack by a gang of young men. Once again, a knife would be the weapon, but would never be found. Once again it would be very much open to doubt as ti who struck the fatal blow. Although Stephen’s death was due to a racist attack, the killing of John Beckley was equally tribal – a young life taken because he was different.

 

THE MURDER OF STEPHEN LAWRENCE

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Some would say that no murder in British history has resonated so loudly – and for so long – as the killing of Stephen Lawrence on the night of 22nd April 1993. While waiting for a bus home on a street in the London suburb of Eltham, Lawrence was surrounded by a gang of white youths and fatally stabbed.

It has become axiomatic in the reporting of murdered black youths to say that they were promising footballers, ambitious musicians or innocent victims in gang warfare, but Stephen Lawrence was a genuinely decent person, with caring and supportive parents. He was working his way through the education system, and had no connection with the debilitating street culture which still condemns many such young men to lives of crime and hopeless underachievement.

Although immediate investigations into Stephen’s murder identified credible and likely suspects, the police who were involved at the time have been forever tainted with accusations of – at best – total incompetence, and – at worst – breathtaking corruption. The young men who were suspected of Stephen’s murder were all part of the criminal underworld in that part of London. Their parents were career criminals, and the grip that such people can have on a community has been seen time and time again, as in the case of the dreadful Sonnex family, whose fiefdom is the south east London district of Deptford.

Jamie Acourt, Neil Acourt and Luke Knight were the initial suspects in the investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, alongside Gary Dobson and David Norris. All were, to differing degrees, the product of their upbringing by adults on the fringes of – if not deeply embedded in – institutionalised criminal behaviour, contempt for the law, and a visceral hatred of anyone outside their own tribal group.

After a bungled, and possibly corrupt, police investigation failed to bring anyone to court, Stephen Lawrence’s parents brought a private prosecution in 1994. Despite top QCs working pro bono, the case failed due to grave doubts about the reliability of the key witness, Duwayne Brooks, who had been with Stephen at the time of his murder.

KillersIn 1997, at the long-delayed inquest into the murder, the five men suspected of the killing refused to co-operate and maintained strict silence. Despite direction to the contrary by the Coroner, the jury returned the verdict that Stephen Lawrence was killed “in a completely unprovoked racist attack by five white youths.” Later that year, The Daily Mail named the five as Stephen’s killers, and invited them to sue for defamation. Needless to say, none of the five took up the challenge. Below, the five suspects run the gauntlet of a furious crowd after the inquest.

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Also in 1997, the Home Secretary Jack Straw ordered an enquiry into the affair, headed by Sir William Macpherson. The findings, in 1999, were sensational. Among other conclusions, Macpherson stated that the original Metropolitan Police Service investigation had been incompetent and that officers had committed fundamental errors, including: failing to give first aid when they reached the scene; failing to follow obvious leads during their investigation; and failing to arrest suspects. Most damning of all was the view that The Metropolitan Police was institutionally racist.

Despite the devastating views of The Macpherson Report, the five suspects continued their criminal lives, occasionally being convicted, serving short sentences, and then returning to their normal lifestyle. It wasn’t until November 2011, eighteen years after Stephen Lawrence had been struck down, that two of the five suspects were brought to court for his killing. In conditions of absolute secrecy and press lockdown, Gary Dobson and David Norris were tried at The Old Bailey. On 3 January 2012, Dobson and Norris were found guilty of Lawrence’s murder. The two were sentenced on 4 January 2012 to detention at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, equivalent to a life sentence for an adult, with minimum terms of 15 years and 2 months for Dobson and 14 years and 3 months for Norris. The relative leniency of the sentences reflects the age of Dobson and Norris (below) at the time of the killing.

Dobson and Norris

And the legacy of that night on a chilly spring evening on a suburban London street, almost a quarter of a century ago? This is from a recent article in The Daily Telegraph.

“Ennobled last year (2013), the Baroness, 60, maintains a relatively high profile as an activist and arbiter on community relations, and has appeared everywhere from the Tate gallery (as the subject of a Turner Prize-winning painting) to the Olympic Games opening ceremony and Desert Island Discs. In public, she comes across as imperturbable, even detached from the fiercely emotional issues that surround her. There is an unmistakeable Britishness about her that speaks both to her generation and the manner in which she was brought up.”

Neville Lawrence, however has fared differently.

“Today, Mr Lawrence lives in Jamaica, a short distance from Stephen’s grave. The only public memorial to the teenager in Britain is a pavement plaque in Eltham, south-east London, close to where he died. It has been repeatedly defaced with eggs, excrement and racist graffiti, and the family decided that Stephen would rest more peacefully in their ancestral homeland.

The distance – physical and otherwise – between the Lawrences now is so great that neither can really say if it was Stephen’s death that ended their marriage. Baroness Lawrence has hinted that it was headed for trouble anyway, but Neville tends to differ.

“Our world began falling apart from the moment the hospital staff told us our son had died,” he has said. “For some reason that I have tried to understand, and can’t, we couldn’t reach out to each other. We stayed together for another six years, but from that day we never physically touched each other again.”

Below – Doreen and Neville Lawrence

Doreen and Neville

 

 

 

THE NEW CROSS DOUBLE MURDER

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BonomoThere have been many murders where a perpetrator has been allowed to roam, free to kill despite – with the glorious clarity afforded by hindsight – there being loud alarm bells ringing throughout the criminal justice system and, sadly, the offices of mental health professionals. One grim and grisly case was the double murder of two French students in New Cross in 2008. Laurent Bonomo (left) and Gabriel Ferez were gifted research scientists from Clermont Ferrand University finishing their Masters Degrees at Imperial College London.

FerezBonomo and Ferraz (right) were tied up, gagged, tortured and then subject to frenzied multiple stabbings over several hours. They were then doused in an accelerant, and set fire to. Their bodies were discovered by firefighters attending the blaze in their rented apartment at Sterling Gardens, New Cross, on 29th June 2008.

On 6 July 2008, police issued an image of a suspect, based on the descriptions of witnesses who had seen him running away from Sterling Gardens just after 10.00pm on the day that the two young Frenchmen were killed.He was described as “white, 30 to 40 years of age, of slight or slim build and wearing light coloured baseball cap, a dark top with the word Junfan on, blue jeans and white trainers”.

Following the precise description of the wanted man, a thin 33 year-old whose face and hands were badly burned had walked into Lewisham police station, apparently to confess to the killings. When he was told to wait in line at the reception by a civilian worker, he said: “I’ve got third degree fucking burns and they are not doing anything about it.” He was taken to hospital, eventually released,  and then nterviewed in custody by the police.

FarmerOn 10 July, Nigel Edward Farmer, 33, (left) unemployed and of no fixed abode, was charged with double murder, arson and attempting to pervert the course of justice when he appeared before Greenwich Magistrates’ Court. He was remanded in custody until 16 October,  at which point the case would be transferred to the Old Bailey.

The very next day, armed police arrested Daniel “Dano” Sonnex, 23, (below) in Peckham, south-east London, after Scotland Yard issued an alert to trace him. Described as “extremely dangerous” he was detained and investigated after his brother, Bernard, 35 and a woman, 25, handed themselves to the police and advised officers as to his whereabouts.

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The trial of Daniel Sonnex and Nigel Farmer began on 24th April 2009 at the Old Bailey. The jury began to consider their verdict on 29th May 2009, and on 4 June 2009, Sonnex and Farmer were found guilty of murder. Sonnex was sentenced to serve a minimum of 40 years in prison, and Farmer was ordered to stay behind bars for at least 35 years.

And what of the two murderers?

Farmer had worked as a decorator on projects including the ITN and ICI buildings in central London, but his life spiralled downwards after his relationship with the mother of his twins broke down. He drifted between the homes of various associates after leaving the family home, and his drug-taking and self-harming worsened.

Farmer developed a £100-a-day crack and heroin habit and eventually ended up lodging with the Sonnex family in Deptford. He was given residential treatment for his mental health problems, but he walked out after four days saying he was not getting the help he needed. At his trial his barrister attempted to paint him as a bemused figure watching from the periphery while members of the Sonnex family committed a series of violent attacks.

Sonnex was a member of a notorious criminal family in the area, but the scale of ineptitude from the authorities beggars belief, as this chronology reveals.

8th February 2008: Sonnex is wrongly categorised as ‘medium risk’ and released from jail with only low level supervision after multi-agenct public protection meetings are cancelled, in part because of a broken photocopier at a probation office.

10th February 2008: No action is taken by either police of probation officers after Sonnex and an accomplice tie up and threaten a pregnant woman and her boyfriend.

23rd April 2008: Sonnex is charged with handling stolen goods after stealing a handbag in a pub, but the probation service is not informed for five days. Eventually, Sonnex was found, and remanded in custody.

16th May: Sonnex, who has been in custody for the handling charge, is granted unconditional bail by Greenwich Magistrates. he then goes on the run. During June, the legal process requiring Sonnex to return to prison is finalised, but the police fail to execute the warrant for his address.

29th June: The murdered French students are discovered. Police officers, unaware that Sonnex is involved, go to arrest him under the terms of the previous warrant, but he escapes over a garden wall.

This catalogue of ineptitude, misplaced trust and woolly minded optimism by liberal-minded members of the criminal justice system takes some beating, and would be hilarious were it not for the fact that two young men, with the world at their feet have been lying in a French graveyard for the last nine years. A final thought for those who believe that criminals are equally traumatised by their actions, and that they are secondary victims who deserve our sympathy and guidance. If you want to know how the Sonnex family was chastened and sobered by the actions of one of their own, you may like to read this extract from a north Kent local newspaper in 2014.

Louise Sonnex – older sister of the brutal killer Dano – last week admitted driving a car into a double decker bus full of passengers while drunk in June. The mother-of-two, from Ash View Close in Deptford, was arrested after police found her to be three times over the limit with drugs also discovered in a car she claimed belonged to a friend.

The 40-year-old has previously been convicted for glassing a woman while screaming “I’m going to open her up like a can of beans”. In 2009 she was also given a five-year sentence for attacking her father’s girlfriend with a golf club. She is just one member of a family which has haunted the area for many years with a string of disgracefully violent incidents.

When arrested for the killings in Sterling Gardens, Dano – nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’ – turned to a detective and said: “I’m going to bite your face off”. After his sentence, the 28-year-old, who needed to be sedated during his murder trial – mouthed the words: “Fuck you” to the father of one of his victims.

Since his conviction, he has appeared in court again for trying to escape from Broadmoor prison by fashioning a pair of wings made from refrigerator shelves. Meanwhile, Louise’s father Bernard Senior has more than 26 convictions and has been to prison six times while other brother Bernard has been in prison 10 times for at least 34 offences.

Louise, who turned up to an earlier hearing in a leopard-print onesie before toppling over in the courtroom, admitted drink driving, reckless driving, driving without insurance and driving without a licence on Thursday (November 20) at Bexley Magistrates’ Court.

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JILL DANDO

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Celebrity killings in Britain are rare, and in London itself almost unheard of. But on the morning of 26th April 1999, a woman who was, ironically best known to millions of TV viewers as the co-presenter of a True Crime TV show, became the UK’s most talked about victim. To this day, her killer remains unknown to the police and, in all probability, will ever remain so.

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-19-45-16Jill Dando was an elegant woman, a typical English Rose with more than a little of the Princess Diana about her. As on-screen partner to Nick Ross in BBC’s Crimewatch, she had become one of the best known faces in living rooms across the country. Dando had spent the night with her fiancee in Chiswick, West London, but as she turned the key to enter her own house in nearby Gowan Avenue, Fulham (right), she was attacked. The investigative journalist Bob Woffinden describes what he believes happened next.

“As Dando was about to put her keys in the lock to open the front door of her home in Fulham, she was grabbed from behind. With his right arm, the assailant held her and forced her to the ground, so that her face was almost touching the tiled step of the porch. Then, with his left hand, he fired a single shot at her left temple, killing her instantly. The bullet entered her head just above her ear, parallel to the ground, and came out the right side of her head.”

Dando was found slumped on her front porch, but her final journey to Charing Cross Hospital need not have been accompanied by sirens and a speeding ambulance. The single shot, from a 9mm handgun, had killed her instantly.

It had been a mere two years since the British public had been robbed of another celebrity icon, Diana Princess of Wales, and there was an intense clamour for Jill Dando’s killer to be brought to justice. No-one was really sure who was responsible for Diana’s death, but surely it wouldn’t be beyond the wit and wisdom of the London police to track down a man assassinating a much-loved public personality, in broad daylight, on a peaceful suburban street?

barry-georgeIn a move which seems more bizarre as every day passes, police arrested a man named Barry George (left) for the killing. George had extensive mental problems, was a fantasist, and had form as being a total indaquate who was obsessed with celebrities. He was convicted of Jill Dando’s muder on 2nd July 2001 but, beyond the jury at his trial, and a few desperate police officers, no-one really believed that he was the killer. After a retrial, he was acquitted of the killing in August 2008. To say he was a loser is misleading, because since his acquittal he has won substantial damages from various newspapers and media outlets. How much of this money has been retained by the wronged man is uncertain: what is more likely is that opportunist lawyers and publicists have trousered much of the loot as a reward for their services.

Dando’s killer will never be found. It was clearly a professional job, and has all the hallmarks of a state-sponsored hit. The hats of many possible suspects have been thrown into the ring including a killer in the employ of the Serbian government. As off-the-wall as this sounds, there is a faint thread of logic running through the claim. Dando had presented televised appeal for donations to a fund in aid of Kosovan refugees fleeing Serbian aggressors. Bear in mind that in the late 1990s the Balkans were the scene to some of the worst atrocities of an already blood-besmirched 20th century. Remember that Serbian military and political leaders at the time have subsequently been convicted for war crimes. Consider the unpalatable fact that execution, assassination and brutality had been a common tactic used by Serb nationalists over decades.

Jill Dando’s murder remains one of the enduring unsolved killings to have occurred on a London street. Usually murders are personal and the killers are so stoked up with passion or the desire for revenge that they leave traces and are soon brought to justice. Not so with the death of the much-loved TV presenter. The conspiracy theorists have had a field day, but the case is cold. As Blackadder might have said, as cold as a frozen icicle clinging to an ice-wall in a Siberian refrigerator.

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MURDER IN MT MARTHA … Between the covers

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Some novels tread a well-worn path. The path is well-worn because it is safe, easy to follow, and will guarantee that the traveller arrives at his or her destination with the minimum of unnecessary effort. Crime fiction genres tend to operate like paths, with familiar landmarks and way points. Just occasionally a book comes along which jumps away from these genres and, in doing so, steps off the path and heads off into unknown territory.

jsMurder In Mt Martha is one such book. For those who have never visited Melbourne, Mount Martha is a town on the Mornington Peninsula, best known as what we Brits would call a seaside town. The ‘Mount’ is a shade over 500 ft, and is named after the wife of one of the early settlers. Author Janice Simpson (left)  has taken a real-life unsolved murder from the 1950s as one thread, and created another involving a present day post-grad student who is interviewing an old man about his early life in the post-war Victorian city. Simpson has woven the two threads together to create a fabric that shimmers, shocks and surprises.

Nick Szabo is a pleasantly feckless second-generation Australian, whose parents and grandparents were Hungarian. His source of anecdotes and atmosphere is the elderly Arthur Boyle. Arthur lives alone apart from his cat, and watches with a mixture of incomprehension and anger modern Melbourne streams past his window.

mimmSimpson keeps Szabo blissfully unaware that Arthur Boyle is a relative of Ern Kavanagh. Arthur only recalls him in fits and starts, believing that he was his uncle, but Simpson lets us into the secret as she describes Ern’s life over half a century earlier. The book opens with a graphic description of the brutal murder of an innocent teenager whose parents have reluctantly allowed her to travel alone to her first party. There is never any doubt in our minds that Ern Kavanagh killed the girl, but we are kept on a knife-edge of not knowing if he will get away with the murder.

I have to declare an interest and say that I lived and worked in Melbourne back in the day, and so the minutiae of suburban life, particularly the way people spoke, the obsession with horse-racing and, of course, the ‘footy’, struck a chord with me. I would like to think, however, that readers who have never been within a thousand miles of Australia will be convinced and drawn in by Simpson’s superb writing.

Aside from the murder mystery, there is a beguiling sub-plot involving Szabo, his determinedly Hungarian grandmother, and a visitor from Budapest who may be about to turn on its head their conception about their family tree. Again, history is embedded in the narrative. In 1956, when Melbourne hosted the Olympic Games, there was international turmoil when 48 Hungarian athletes chose not to return home. ‘Home’ was, of course, suffering under the brutal Soviet repression of a national uprising against communist rule.

The writing is beautifully nuanced throughout. The dialogue, whether it is contemporary or taking place in a suburban 1950s kitchen, zings with authenticity. This is not a long novel, being just short of 300 pages, but it is one that hooked me in very quickly, and I was genuinely sad to reach the end. That being said, there are few crime novels whose structure and substance allow them to be read through again at a later date, but I suspect that is one such novel.

Without, I hope, spoiling the conclusion to this remarkable book, it might be said that justice was eventually done, albeit in a roundabout sort of way. But then again, the last hanging in the state of Victoria was in 1967; depending on one’s views of capital punishment, a convincing argument could be therefore made that justice was not only blind, but bereft of its other senses too.

Murder in Mt Martha is already published and is available here.

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