Whatever happened to Harry
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HARRY?
great many World-revolutionising events occurred in the early years of the 50’s. 1950 saw the start of McCarthyism in <st1:country-region w:st="on">America</st1:country-region>, the Danes found living organisms 10,000 feet down on the floor of the Atlantic and <st1:country-region w:st="on">China</st1:country-region> invaded <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Tibet</st1:place></st1:country-region>.
In 1951, <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Japan</st1:place></st1:country-region> finally signed the peace treaty with most of her Second World War adversaries. The Royal Festival Hall was opened during the Festival of Britain and, for the first time, atomic energy was used for peaceful purposes.
In 1952, Nasser kicked out King Farouk of <st1:country-region w:st="on">Egypt</st1:country-region>, which led up to the <st1:place w:st="on">Suez Canal</st1:place> crisis. <st1:country-region w:st="on">Morocco</st1:country-region> went into revolt against <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">France</st1:place></st1:country-region>. The occupation of <st1:country-region w:st="on">West Germany</st1:country-region> by <st1:country-region w:st="on">Britain</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">France</st1:country-region> and <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">America</st1:place></st1:country-region> ended. <st1:country-region w:st="on">Britain</st1:country-region> exploded its first atomic bomb, <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">America</st1:place></st1:country-region> its first hydrogen bomb, and the contraceptive pill was ‘born’.
In 1953, the year that interests us in this story, Stalin died. The French occupied Dien Bien Phu in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Vietnam</st1:place></st1:country-region>. The Korean War ended. DNA was found to be made up of a double helix. Hilary and Tensing scaled Everest. The Piltdown Man was found to be a fraud. <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Russia</st1:place></st1:country-region> exploded its first hydrogen bomb, and, late on Saturday afternoon of the 10th of January of that year, the sleepy peace of Dylan Thomas’ ‘Timeless, mild beguiling island” of Laugharne in Carmarthenshire was disturbed by the screams of a woman being murdered.
The brutal, mindless slaying of 78 year old Miss Elizabeth Thomas in the hall of her home at No. 3 Clifton Street Laugharne began a police investigation which could have almost been, had it not been for the real life tragedy involved, the plot for one of Dylan Thomas’ bitter comedies.
Almost, but not quite, because had it not been for a compassionate judge, Mr. Justice Devlin, who still believed in the rights and freedoms of the individual, the blind obsession with finding a culprit at any price, could have meant a second tragedy compounding the first.
The small coastal town of <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Laugharne</st1:place></st1:city> was also the home and birthplace of one George Thomas. In January 1953, George was 46 years old, unmarried and living with three of his uncles in Ferry House. George was a well known sight in and around Laugharne where he worked as a labourer, unskilled motor mechanic and handyman.
He asked little from life or his fellow man beyond enough money to buy his cigarettes and comics, and a kind smile or wave; because George Thomas had lived since birth within the silent uncommunicative world of the deaf and dumb. As someone whom the law defined as ‘mute by the visitation of God’, George had grown to manhood without the benefit of any form of schooling, or training in the use of the deaf and dumb sign language.
Those people who he had either worked or done little jobs for over the years, managed to communicate with George on a very rudimentary level and even then, more often than not, understanding on both sides was little more than minimal.
For the inhabitants of Laugharne, in out of whose houses he popped at will, and to everyone else who knew him, George Thomas, or ‘Booda’, the nickname by which he was generally known, was no more than a large, friendly good tempered simple child in a man’s body. A who, due to his affliction existed mainly in a world of his own.
On the afternoon of that dismal Saturday in January, Booda's movements are not hard to follow. Dressed, as he often was in a light coloured raincoat and <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Wellington</st1:place></st1:city> boots, he spent most of that afternoon walking about the town.
At one point during the afternoon he wandered into the home of 75 year old retired Headmistress, Miss Elizabeth Lewis, who lived in <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Clifton Street</st1:address></st1:street> and who was a neighbour of Miss Elizabeth Thomas. Miss Lewis was not in the least surprised to see him, her front door, like most in of them in Laugharne, was always open and anyway, Booda used to occasionally chop up sticks for her fire.
At approximately 4p.m. he was in the street again because he waved to a Mrs Davies, and a few moment later after bumping into Thomas Langdon, showed him his torch in which the batteries were dead. A little later he called at Schoolmeisters Garage where he replaced his torch batteries.
Between 5.45 and 5.50 p.m., Gomer Perkins, one of Elizabeth Thomas’ nephews, called at his aunt’s cottage, which to his surprise he found locked. Every evening Elizabeth Thomas went to Perkins home in <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Horsepool Road</st1:address></st1:street> where she cooked a meal for her nephew and his two brothers.
On leaving his aunt's Perkins noticed, and waved, to Booda who was standing outside the Ceinon Stores which stood opposite <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">No. 3 Clifton Street</st1:address></st1:street>. For Perkins, the sight of Booda standing opposite his aunt's house was not unusual, as Booda often shopped at the Ceinon Stores for a Miss Vaughn.
At 6.15, Benjamin Edwards of <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">East Hill Farm Clifton Street</st1:address></st1:street> saw Booda outside his front door, and at 6.30 he was seen by Gwyneth Lewis as he passed in front of her house.
By 6.40 Booda had left <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Clifton Street</st1:address></st1:street> and was on his way home, because as he passed the Bakery in <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Victoria Street</st1:address></st1:street> he gave a wave to Thomas Rawles of Jubilee Bungalow.
To the suspicious mind of a policeman, George Thomas’ presence in a street between the times of 4 p.m. and 6.15 p.m. of an afternoon and evening when a murder was committed might well take on a sinister significance. To all the people who saw him there, at the time, it was the most ordinary and natural thing in the world.
Its highly possible that the murder victim, Elisabeth Thomas, was among the people who saw Booda that evening. She was certainly still alive when at 5 p.m., just as the foggy January night closed in on Laugharne, Elizabeth popped across the road from No. 3 to the Ceinon Stores, which had been owned by her brother up to his death 2 years earlier.
From the shop, she bought a quarter of her favourite mints and, on seeing the shopkeeper's wife, Mrs. Phillip boiling an egg, was heard to comment that she would have an egg for her own tea once she got home.
Elizabeth Thomas was considered by everyone that knew her as a kindly, cheerful old lady. She had for many years been the caretaker and cleaner of St. Martins Church and for fifty years of her life she had been in service at The Glen, a local manor house. Although officially having retired a year earlier due to ill health, every Sunday she still went to The Glen to clean.
The morning of the last day of her life she had spent watching a very ‘smart’ wedding in the company of her friend, the retired schoolmistress, Elizabeth Davies.
In the short space of time between leaving the shop at just after 5 p.m., and her nephew, Gomer Perkins calling and finding the door locked shortly before 6 p.m., Elizabeth Thomas had a visitor, her killer.
A few minutes after 6 p.m,, a local man, Ronald Thomas Jones was walking down Clifton Street towards the Clifton Garage passed No. 3 and noticed a light burning in the front room window, an almost sure sign that the elderly occupant was entertaining a visitor. He had taken no more than another couple of steps before he heard the sound of a woman screaming, the screams appearing to come from the hallway directly behind the front door of No. 3.
The nineteen fifties still being a time when one citizen was not afraid to, or considered a criminal for going to the aid of another, Jones tried the door but found it locked.
He then heard Elizabeth Thomas cry out for help and in return he shouted through the locked door to “Leave her alone”. He then heard Mrs Thomas cry out a name which Jones claims he couldn’t quite make out, although later, when asked by the police if the name could possibly have been Booda, Jones replied “I’m not going to say that is wasn’t Booda, but it was something like Harry”.
However, leaving the question of the name for a moment, Jones unable to break open the locked door, ran on to the garage to try and get help, which , by coincidence he found in the person of St Clears Police Sergeant T.J. Morgan, who was having a conversation with the garage owner.
Breathlessly Jones blurted out what he had heard.
All three men quickly ran back to No.3, where by this time silence reigned although the light was still burning behind the curtain in the front room. Sergeant Morgan tried the front door, then shouted to open up. Getting no reply, Morgan then knelt down and looked through the keyhole and, in the dim over spill of light from the living room saw the figure of someone bending over.
At the time Morgan got the impression that the person was wearing a light coloured cap although he said later ‘’I cannot say whether the person was a man, woman or child.’ Straightening up, Morgan banged hard on the door; the only response being the sudden extinguishing of the lamp in the front room.
Giving up on trying to break open the front door, it took about 2 minutes for Sergeant Morgan to force the living room window and climb inside, where by the light of his torch, he found crumpled body of Elizabeth Thomas lying in a pool of her own blood in the hall.
At this point Elisabeth Thomas was still alive, although only just. This unfortunate elderly lady had been beaten savagely around the head with a broom handle she usually kept in the hall to use as a draft excluder in windy weather. She had also been stabbed in the chest and back with a knife which was never recovered and had suffered a fractured skull and arm.
She succumbed to her injuries one day later at the <st1:placename w:st="on">West</st1:placename> <st1:placename w:st="on">Wales</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Hospital</st1:placetype> in <st1:place w:st="on">Carmarthen</st1:place> without ever regaining consciousness.
At approximately 6.15, about the time Sergeant Morgan was kneeling beside the unconscious Elizabeth Thomas, Arthur Jenkins was in the garage attached to his home, Upton House, <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Clifton Street</st1:address></st1:street>, when he heard his dog begin to bark, then growl.
Opening his garage door he saw the figure of a man crossing an area of wasteland to the rear of Elizabeth Thomas’ cottage. Jenkins called out good evening, but the man, who Jenkins was unable to identify, turned away, pulling up the collar of what Jenkins took to be a grey coloured raincoat.
As far as Jenkins could tell in the dark, the man was bareheaded.
Now, accepting that it was dark making recognition difficult, it is possible that this hurrying figure could have been Elizabeth Thomas’ friend and murderer, George Roberts known as Booda, furtively trying to escape from the black deed he had just committed.
However, Arthur Jenkins was a motor mechanic and he and George Roberts had worked together in the Clifton Street Garage for the best part of 16 years, so is it really credible, remembering that although night, it was light enough for Jenkins to see the man turn up his collar, he wouldn’t have recognised his work mate, Booda.
In addition, if the times stated by the various witnesses are correct, when Arthur Jenkins was calling out to this unknown figure crossing the wasteland behind <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Clifton Street</st1:address></st1:street>, Booda was seen passing in front of <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Clifton Street</st1:address></st1:street> going past East Hill Farm by its owner, Benjamin Edwards.
While the unconscious Mrs Thomas was lying in her hall waiting for the ambulance to take her to hospital, her two nephews, Gordon Thomas Perkins and Gomer Jones Perkins arrived at the cottage. Both men had been summoned by the police; and Gordon, at the request of the police, went into his aunt’s bedroom, looked under the mattress and found £200 tucked away in a paper bag.
This money, not an inconsiderable sum in the 50’s, at least provided the police with a motive, one which left them with the theory that the robber had been beating up the old lady to make her reveal her hiding place, and had stabbed her and fled when disturbed.
Why police suspicion for the attempted robbery and murder of Elizabeth Thomas should have fallen Booda, the deaf mute is somewhat of a mystery in itself. Certainly he was in the area at the time, but then so were a lot of people and anyway he was often in the area, working at garage, doing odd jobs or just plain visiting, as he had Elizabeth Lewis’ cottage earlier in the afternoon. On top of which, everyone in Laugharne knew Booda, and nobody could be found to claim that he had ever shown signs of violent or aggressive behaviour.
However, fall it did, possibly because there was no other immediately available suspicious character, on George Roberts and around 12 p.m. on Sunday he was picked up by the police and taken in for questioning. Although he was not either formally arrested or charged on this occasion, he wasn’t allowed to leave until the following Wednesday. This incarceration alone was flagrant infringement of his civil liberties. Booda, of course, wouldn’t have known that and even if he had, how could he have complained, he could neither speak nor write.
The initial investigation into the murder of Elizabeth Thomas was begun by Police Superintendent David John Jones who, on the Sunday, with the help of Booda’s uncle, ‘invited’ him to go to <st1:place w:st="on">Carmarthen</st1:place> police station for questioning in the presence of an interpreter.
According to Jones, Booda, “a suspected violent murderer” was kept in a rest room where he was very contented and happy and reluctant to leave, most of which being probably true.
Then, its highly doubtful that Booda understood that the nice policeman was trying to pin a murder rap on him.
On Monday, January 11th, the celebrated Detective Superintendent Spooner and a detective sergeant Miller arrived from Scotland Yard to take charge of the case. The subsequent investigation appears to have been thorough; a flagstone was removed from the cottage floor for forensic tests and an alien Wellington boot footprint that appeared on it.
Hundreds of people in the town were interviewed and those found to be owners of <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Wellington</st1:place></st1:city> boots had their boots ‘boot printed” for comparison. Samples of plaster and distemper were taken from the hall and walls of Elizabeth Thomas’ cottage and tested against traces found on Booda’s coat. The distemper matched, the plaster didn’t. The distemper, green in colour was not conclusive proof however, as it was a standard commercial brand, bought for use in thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of homes.
Booda’s <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Wellington</st1:place></st1:city> boots were also found to be innocent, although had all three items been a perfect match all it would have proved was at that some time or another Booda had visited the murdered woman, something everyone knew he had been doing for years anyway.
Booda was officially questioned by Spooner and Miller on the Monday. There were two interpreters present, Mr Beddoe Davies, who was the Honorary Superintendent for the deaf and dumb in <st1:place w:st="on">South Wales</st1:place>, and deaf and partially dumb himself, and his wife Ceirwen who was the official deaf and dumb translator for the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Llanelli Court</st1:address></st1:street>.
Despite the vast experience they shared between them, both translators had difficulty in communicating with Booda and were of the opinion that only someone who had known him for a long time would have a chance of understanding his gestures and signs. In effect, out of four days of “questioning” the only thing anybody could be reasonably certain off was that Booda had known Elizabeth Thomas and liked her, which again, would have come as no surprise to most people in Laugharne.
According to Spooner, Booda made three sketches of Elisabeth Thomas’ cottage, though what that proved was anybody’s guess.
The first person Booda went to see following his release on Wednesday was Mrs Ethel Mary Watkins, who was the housekeeper at Cliff Cottage Laugharne. After shaking hands with Ethel, Booda sat down at the table and burying his head in his hands, began to cry. Told to cheer up by Ethel Watkins, Booda indicated by means of the simple sign language they had developed over the 14 years they had known each other, that he was crying for Elisabeth Thomas and that he would never do anything to hurt an old lady.
He also showed her the marks on his arm where the police had taken a blood test and the stains on his fingers where they had fingerprinted him. In Ethel Watkins’ opinion, a woman who obviously wasn’t afraid of being in the company of this ‘suspected’ murderer, Booda, rather than being reluctant as Superintendent Jones suggested, appeared overwhelmed with relief at being allowed to leave the police station.
He wasn’t relieved for long because by the 18th, he was once again in police hands. One of the statements the police had taken in the interim came from a Mr. John Davies of Wood Cottage. Davies told the police that a short while before Christmas, he had seen Booda take a kitchen knife out of his inside pocket and give it to a friend so that he could sharpen a pencil for him.
Although in no other statement given to the police did anyone else recall seeing a knife in Booda’s possession, the suspicion was enough for the investigating officers to take Booda back into custody
Superintendents Spooner and Jones interviewed Booda at Laugharne police station around lunchtime. According to Spooner, Booda looked worried, not surprisingly as he was suspected of being a murderer, and indicated he wanted to say something. Spooner gestured the outline of a woman’s body and Booda is supposed to have nodded. Spooner then showed him two photographs of <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Clifton Street</st1:address></st1:street> and Booda pointed out Elizabeth Thomas’ cottage.
Spooner claims that then, Booda gestured that he wanted to write something and he (Spooner) gave him a pencil and some paper. Booda drew a sketch of a house which the police considered to be identifiable as Miss Thomas’(not forgetting we are talking about a terraced house), and gesturing g the shape of a woman’s body, bowed his head and touched his eyes with his handkerchief.
He then drew two houses to right of the first one, pointed to the end house and put two fingers to his teeth. Then he drew two houses to the left and made a gesture that Spooner, with no experience whatsoever of dealing with deaf and dumb people and having no skill whatsoever in the sign language used by them (he had also decided that no interpreters needed to be present on this occasion), took to mean that there were children living in this house.
Finally Booda drew a sketch of himself, once again gestured the shape of a woman and made thrusting motions with his hands. Spooner then claims to have then produced a knife and Booda nodded.
A short time later, in the company of Sergeant Miller, Spooner’s trusty assistant, Booda was taken along Cliff Walk just outside Laugharne. At certain point he is supposed to have stopped, made the action of cutting a piece of wood with a knife, then drew his arm back and made the action of throwing something out to sea.
This action, coupled with the sketches and gestures made earlier in the police station was considered by the two super sleuths of Scotland Yard to be a clear indication that Booda was confessing to the murder of Elizabeth Thomas.
They were of course other possible, but less convenient, interpretations. Booda could have been saying how sad he was that his friend Elizabeth Thomas was dead, maybe the so called thrusting motions were a question as to how she died, rather than a statement that he had stabbed her. Maybe they meant something else entirely, though what, only Booda knew.
In drawing the extra cottages on the right and by touching his teeth with his fingers he could have been saying he had eaten there at sometime, or even that there was someone there who knew about the crime.
Perhaps Spooner was right when he believed Booda was telling him that there were children in the second cottage on the left, though what relevance that had is hard to tell as Spooner made no effort to check. Who knows, maybe they had seen something, maybe Booda was talking to them at the time of the murder. Maybe there was another interpretation of the knife throwing episode, had Booda seen someone throwing a knife out to sea or had thrown his own knife away (if he had one) because he didn’t want anymore.
When dealing with someone with Booda’s disabilities, who can be sure, maybe someone who had known him all his life, and expert in communicating with deaf and dumb people, most certainly not the police.
There is of course another faint possibility concerning the identity of the killer.
Another witness, who had been with Miss Thomas in the morning, but had been out at the time of her murder was Miss Elizabeth Martha Davies. In her statement, Miss Davies who lived next door to Miss Thomas and like the murdered woman occasionally employed Booda to take care of her garden on do odd jobs, stated that as far as she was aware, there was a man called Harry, lodging a few doors away.
Still, Harry is not an uncommon name, and as mentioned earlier, it is possible that perhaps Ronald Jones, the person who heard Miss Elizabeth Thomas cry out a name that sounded like Harry may have mistaken it for Booda. Who knows, there is no mention in the available documents of the police ever taking Miss Davies’ statement, or Mr Jones’ recollection seriously.
Spooner convinced that he had found the culprit decided to charge Booda with the wilful murder of Miss Elizabeth Thomas. It was Spooner’s contention that George Roberts, known as Booda, was, despite his handicap, intelligent enough to be aware that he was making a confession and fully understood the charge against him.
Not espousing Booda’s severe handicap with a lack of intelligence appears to be the only sensible deduction Spooner made in the case.
Booda was formally charged in the presence of the court interpreter Mrs Ceirwen Beddoe Davies, and Mrs Davies stated that he nodded his head to confirm that he understood the charge.
George Roberts came before the St Clears Magistrates Court on Monday the 19th of January charged with the murder of Miss Elizabeth Thomas. Superintendent Jones, the officer who had actually charged Booda stood up and told the magistrates “I cautioned him and he replied ‘I understand’. That is all I have to say.”
Superintendent Jones had missed his vocation, George Roberts, after 46 years of being deaf and dumb had miraculously learnt to both hear and speak whilst in the custody of the wonder working policeman. At the end of the hearing, when the magistrates in their wisdom found there was a primae facie case to answer and committed Booda to trial at the next Carmethenshire Assizes, the interpreter, Mrs. Beddoe Davies told the court that Booda did not know enough sign language to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
Booda stood trial at <st1:place w:st="on">Carmarthen</st1:place> on March the 18th and luckily for him came before a judge, Mr Justice Devlin, who believed not only in the law, but also in justice, and perhaps more importantly, had some common sense.
Called on by the Clerk of the Court to plead, Booda, not unsurprisingly made no reply. The defence then submitted to the judge that as he was unable to plead, he should therefore be considered unfit to plead, thus rendering the main prosecution evidence, which was based on Booda’s supposed statements to the police, inadmissible. If the judge ruled in favour, they argued, there was no case to answer.
In reply, Mr Justice Devlin pointed out that, under the law, if there was no primae facie case against their client, and if he was deemed unfit to plead, the only order he could make was to have Booda detained indefinitely without having been found guilty, or insane.
The judge added, that in his opinion it would be totally unjust to make such a detention order if Booda was in fact innocent of any crime and, with this in mind, he was going to defer the case until the next Assizes to be held in Cardiff in order to give the defence more time to consider what course of action they should take.
The morning of the second trial, once again before Mr. Justice Devlin, was taken up by legal arguments and therefore the jury were not present. During this hearing, Booda was formally found to be a Deaf Mute by Visitation of God and not Mute of Malice and, once again, the judge pointed out that if Booda was found unfit to plead the court would have no alternative but to make an order committing him to an asylum for the criminally insane; an order that would preclude any inquiry into whether he was actually innocent or guilty.
He then reiterated his previous sentiment that it was horrifying that a person, in this case Booda, could be denied their right to trial, based on the merits of the case, due to an affliction of birth.
For this reason, the judge decided that a plea of “not guilty” be entered on Booda’s behalf, so that the general issue of guilt or innocence could be determined. To do otherwise he judged, would be to make the assumption that Booda was guilty without him ever having been tried; an action which was not only unjust but one which would, should Booda actually be innocent, effectively stop any further search for the real culprit.
This decided, the jury were then called and sworn in.
In his opening speech for the defence, Booda’s Counsel, Mr. H Edmund Davies, told the court that it was ridiculous that the prosecution were, on the one hand accepting that his client was incapable of following the proceedings, and were on the other, attempting to convict him based on the fact that he could understand the questions that had been put to him by the police. Moreover they were claiming that the main part of the prosecution’s case involved the contents of the depositions that had been drawn up as a result of those questions.
The judge, Mr. Justice Devlin asked the prosecution if their only additional evidence to these statements was the fact that Booda had been seen in the vicinity of <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Clifton Street</st1:address></st1:street> that night, and that three weeks before the murder he had been seen with a kitchen knife.
When the prosecution agreed that such was the case, he then asked if the prosecution meant to present as evidence statements supposedly made by a man with whom there could be no certain means of communication.
Again, the prosecution agreed that this was their intention.
The judge then asked, if these statements were set aside for the moment, did the prosecution have any evidence on which they believed they could ask jury to convict, Mr. Lloyd Jones, acting for the Crown replied “I don’t think I could on those circumstances.”
To which Mr. Justice Devin commented dryly “I should have though it would be utterly impossible!”
The police and both interpreters were called to give evidence as to the validity of the various statement attributed to Booda. When this was over, the judge told the jury that the ‘statements’ apart, the case for the prosecution was so slender it was hardly worth considering. He added ‘If the only material we can ask a jury to consider is a statement by a man we have spent the morning contending that there was no proper means of communication with, I think perhaps you might consider this case from that point of view?”
He concluded “If the prosecution can say that these witnesses (the police) obtained material from the accused that can be properly put before a jury, it shall be put before them, but for the moment I have a little difficulty in appreciating it from that point of view”.
Mr. Justice Devlin, expressing his concern over Booda’s detention said “that while the police had a difficult task investigating crimes, they had, at the same time, to be careful that the liberties we cherish are not infringed”.
George Roberts, Booda to his friends, was found “Not Guilty” of the murder of Miss Elizabeth Thomas, and released.
Who knows whether the police were right in their beliefs and wrong in their methods. Did Booda in fact batter and stab this elderly lady to death? Was the police attempt to convict Booda simply a way of going for the easiest solution, innocence or guilt being merely a side issue.
If this was the case, Booda could easily have become a latter day victimised Child of God. The law abolishing the death penalty for murder didn’t become law until 1965.
Was this unknown “Harry”, the culprit, or some other undisclosed person. Certainly no attempt was made to either interview him after Booda’s acquittal nor did anyone look for another suspect.
The truth, now as then, remains a mystery and with the exception of one murdered old lady, one of very little importance on a World scale.
 Ironically, in 1875, the year Elizabeth Thomas was born, France, Japan, Korea and the Suez Canal were also in the news. The French inaugurated the third republic, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Japan</st1:country-region> recognised <st1:country-region w:st="on">Korea</st1:country-region>’s independence, and <st1:country-region w:st="on">Britain</st1:country-region> purchase 42% of the shares in the <st1:place w:st="on">Suez canal</st1:place>.
 At this point she would have been 76 years old.
 Speculation of course; but Elizabeth Thomas may not have called out a name at all but hearing someone at the door, cried out something like ‘Hurry’, but then again, ‘Harry’ fits.
 Thus giving the lie to the old adage that you can never find one when you need one
 It had been, then a Detective Inspector who in 1946, had arrested the notorious sex murderer Neville Heath, thus earning himself the appellation Spooner of the Yard
 Distemper: Not used much today, it is a type of paint that did not contain oil and is used for painting directly onto plaster
 What is almost totally sure is that, despite their allegations, neither Detective Superintendent Spooner, Superintendent Jones or Detective Sergeant Miller were qualified to interpret Booda’s crude sign language, any more than Booda was capable of clearly telling them what he knew, if anything.
 One gets the impression that this is not always the case with their Lordships.
 Just in case you think the judge was being naive, he wasn’t, in his day, policemen wore uniforms with numbers on them and helmets on their heads, not unidentifiable black pyjamas and balaclava helmets.
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