Posts Tagged ‘london’

This case is interesting because it was in 1804 and set out a legal precedent in the UK about self-defense; could someone be held liable for their actions even if they were the consequence of a mistaken/misguided belief…

Near the end of summer in 1803 a number of people claimed to have seen and even been attacked by a ghost in the Hammersmith area, London. It was believed that the ghost was a man who committed suicide the year before and was buried in the Hammersmith churchyard. It was believed he should not be buried in consecrated grounds, it was thought that suicide victims would not find rest if that happened.

3rd January, 1804 and a member of the armed patrols set up in response shot and killed a plasterer, Thomas Millwood. The man mistook the white clothes of Millwoods trade for the ghost and 29 year old Francis Smith was found guilty of murder. Mr Smith was tried for willful murder, and a witness stated she had warned the victim he might want to put on something that stopped him being all white, she had said he had already been mistaken for the ghost on a previous occasion.

Millwood’s sister testified that Smith had called on her brother to sop or he would shoot but he then fired almost immediately. The Lord Chief Baron Macdonald advised the jury that Smith’s character before may well have been good and there may have been no malice but the question was more if he had at that point shot with intent to kill.

Smith had not been provoked and had not made any attempt to apprehend the ghost, therefore he felt that the jury should be directed to find him guilty if they believed the facts presented. It took an hour for the jury to come back with a verdict of manslaughter. MacDonald said they could not deliver that response, it must be either guilty or acquittal, the belief that he was a ghost was to him irrelevant to the case. The jury then came back with guilt… MacDonald stated he intended to pass the case to the king, who had the power to commute the sentence.

Initially the trial stated that it was a sentence of hanging and dissection. It was commuted to a year’s hard labour. The publicity meant that the true culprit of the ghostly encounters came forwards, John Graham had been pretending to be the ghost so that he could frighten his apprentice, and his apprentice had been scaring the local children with stories of ghosts.

The impact on the law was that a question arose about whether the action taken under a mistaken self-defense would be chargeable, and it went to the Court of Appeal. It wasn’t clarified until 1984, when appellant, Gladstone Williams, had seen a man dragging a younger man along the street, the younger man was shouting for help. Williams thought that an assault was taking place and intervened, Williams had not known but the person being dragged had been caught trying to commit theft. Williams was then convicted of assault with actual bodily harm, and the Lord Chief Justice Lane referred to the debate when the appeal came up.

It was a problematic issue, Williams was trying to help albeit without understanding the situation he had seen someone in peril and thought he was doing the right thing. It was not unreasonable perhaps, that he stepped in trying to assist, the man was crying out for help. So in the end for Williams an appeal was allowed and his conviction was quashed… the decision was also later written into a more concise reference for law, Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, section 76.

And all this because a man dressed up in a white sheet and tried to scare his apprentice!

Hammersmith Ghost.PNG
Public Domain, Link

 

Stripper. Go on let out the groan, it feels better.

JTS is the nickname attacked to an unidentified serial killer from 1964 to 1965. I am going to detail the victims of the serial killer that are confirmed:

  • 2nd February 1964, Hannah Tailford was found dead near Hammersmith Bridge, the 20 year old was strangled, several teeth were missing and her underwear had been forced down her throat.

  • 8th April 1964 saw Irene Lockwood found dead on the shore of the Thames; a 57 year old man named Kenneth Archibald confessed three weeks alter but it was inconsistent and a third victim came to light. She was 26 years old.

  • 24th April 1964, Helen Bathelemy was found dead in an alleyway. The 22 year old case yielded the first evidence, paint flecks used for car manufacturing, it was felt it likely came from the killers workplace.

  • 14th July 1964, Mary Flemming’s body was found in an open street, close to heavy police presence and again paint spots were found on the 30 year old’s body.

  • On the 23rd October 1964 Frances Brown was last seen alive by a fellow prostitute, Kim Taylor, who saw the 21 year old picked up by a man who is now believed to have been her killer. She was found a month later, 25th November.

  • Bridget O’Hara’s date of death could not be confirmed as her body had been stored in a warm heated area, she was found in a storage shed. Once again the body had flicks of paint on them.

Possible victims also include a 21 year old Elizabeth Figg, she was found five years before the Stripper murders started, 17th June 1959. She was in the area and had also been strangled. The other was Gwynneth Rees who was found dead in a rubbish tip near the Thames, she was 22 years old and again had been strangled, she also had several teeth missing. She was discovered 8th November 1963.

7,000 suspects were interviewed and at an initial conference Chief Superintendent John Du Rose falsely stated that they had narrowed it down to 20 people. After a short period it was claimed to be 10 and finally three, but what is known is that after this no more Stripper murders occurred.

There have been theories put forwards about who the murderer was, one of them was that it might be a man named Mungo Ireland. He was picked up as a suspect for O’Hara’s murder and worked as a security guard near Heron Trading Estate. The estate was linked to the paint and shortly after the link Ireland committed suicide, but research suggests that he was in Scotland at the time that she was most likely murdered.

Howard Jones, convicted murdered from Wales, was also put forward as a suspect as he killed two girls in 1921, he did not get the death penalty because of his age and was released in 1941 where they think he went back to his home town, of Arbetillery. In 1942 he was in London and had come to marry and have a daughter. He was not considered for it at the time but it seems that much of the speculation about him comes merely from coincidence and not fact.

What do you think?

Hammersmith nude murders suspect identikit.png
By Source, Fair use, Link

 

England’s history for a small island is quite varied and bloodied, there are lots of ghostly tales but as a result of the Royal Commissions probe the Public Record Office gave Edgehill the official recognition of having paranormal activity.

23rd October 1662 was the first fight of the English Civil War, Royalist troops were marching to London to support the King but they were intercepted by Parliamentarian troops at Edgehill. Edgehill lies between Banbury and Warwick and the fight went on for three hours with casualties on both sides. The fighting proved to do very little, both sides saw death, the Parliamentarian troops went to Warwick Castle and the Royalists then did not venture on to London. It was a senseless death score for both sides in pretty much every regard.

Even after the smoke and bodies had cleared the battle raged on. Only a few weeks afterwards reports came in about how the terrible scene kept being regularly re-enacted. King Charles 1 was so intrigued by the reports he sent out a Royal Commission to investigate it. They witnessed the events and were able to point out faces in the crowds, including the King’s Standard bearer, Sir Edmund Verney. Slowly the frequency of replays died down until they eventually stopped altogether.

Incidentally Verny’s story does not end there, during the battle he refused to give up his role and the Parliamentarian’s cut off his hands that gripped on the standard. His hands were later identified due to a ring he wore, it bore the resemblance of the king. His hands were then returned to his home, Clayton House, for burial.

Since then Verney is said to be seen around the house, his body was never recovered from the Edgehill Battlefield and so it seems he might be trying to find a way to get himself back together one day, as he cannot rest as he is.

http://www.paulmeekins.co.uk/?page=shop/flypage&product_id=32090

GHOSTS OF EDGEHILL

Alan Moore created the comic book character of John Constantine, later adapted into a film that starred Keanu Reeves playing the character, but Alan Moore may well have come face to face with his ceration before then. In his words:

One interesting anecdote that I should point out is that one day, I was in Westminster in London – this was after we had introduced the character – and I was sitting in a sandwich bar. All of a sudden, up the stairs came John Constantine. He was wearing the trenchcoat, a short cut – he looked – no, he didn’t even look exactly like Sting. He looked exactly like John Constantine. He looked at me, stared me straight in the eyes, and then just walked off around the corner to the other part of the snack bar. I sat there and thought, should I go around that corner and see if he really is there, or should I just eat my sandwich and leave? I opted for the latter; I thought it was the safest. I’m not making any claims to anything. I’m just saying that it happened. Strange little story.”

In the snakes & ladders book a fictionalised version added he once came up to say “I will tell you the ultimate secret of magic. Any c*** could do it.”

Now either Alan Moore was telling another good tale, delusional, had subconsciously made him and had seen the guy before or possibly he had brought Constantine into existence. This has been discussed before as something called the Tulpa effect, essentially this is a Buddhist belief that a thing or being can be willed into existence with the right spiritual and mental discipline. The concentration and the power of the mind is what creates it but with enough vitality the creation can free itself from its maker. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Alan Moore’s story, or come to think of it, a child with an imaginary friend….

DC Comics' Constantine No. 1 cover.jpg
DC Comics’ Constantine No. 1 cover” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

The pneumatic railway was built near Crystal Palace in South London, around 1864 and was effectively a vacuum-driven train that ran for about a year. The power came from a giant steam-powered fan and the fan was reversed for the return journey where the carriage used brakes at each end. Remnants of the tunnel were uncovered around 1992 in the Crystal Palace Gardens.

In 1978, 19 year old Pamela Goodsell claimed she had found the tunnel and within it was an old railway carriage. Her story also included the bizarre details that the occupants were in the train still and were skeletons still dressed in their Victorian garb. The tunnel however was not found at that stage, some believe it was destroyed by construction work in 1911 for the Festival of Empire celebrations. The celebrations were to celebrate the coronation of King George V.

The story may have more origins as a creepy tale in the 1930’s from local school children, the exact origin of the story does not seem to have been found however. The children’s tale says the tunnel was shut down as a commuter train was trapped when the tunnel collapsed. The local tale goes that they couldn’t get out the train or the passengers and so walled it up with the souls left trapped inside. From looking around on the internet if there ever was a train there then it was more likely retrieved and used for scrap not left buried with people inside.

I cannot help but think it’s more likely a themed ride at Disney than an actual event! It makes for a good story… but I am going to go with urban legend on this one.

Crystal Palace Athmosperic Rly.1864