Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Murder of Kate Lee

This is an old case from the East Coast in 1908.  The scene of the crime was the small seaside town of Withernsea, a place for people to have a getaway from suburban life in chalets or caravans.  Many people use it as a weekend retreat.  Not much happens here but in 1908, the local Police Chief, Superintendent Maw, did get a shocking surprise one Sunday morning.  He had finished his breakfast in the local Station but was startled by a loud banging on the door.  Outside was a small crowd of townspeople.  One stepped forward and asked Maw to take him into custody.  Maw enquired as to why.  Then one person from the crowd spoke up saying that this man had killed a girl on the beach, and her body still lay there.  The man said that he was Charles Woodman, aged 22.  Maw took him into custody and locked him in a cell, whilst he went to check the beach.

    Maw reached the beach where a young boy handed him a knife.  There were bloodstains on the blade.  Maw looked out and saw the body of a young woman.  Maw tried to preserve the scene but this was near impossible with the morbid crowd of onlookers making life difficult for the Police Photographer and other Officers.  Maw headed back to the station to question Woodman.  He was now saying nothing, acting very withdrawn.  He was told that he would be charged with the murder of the as yet, un-named girl.

     Maw and his men made numerous enquiries and discovered the girls` identity.  She was 21 year old Kate Lee, a barmaid at a local pub, though she lived in Hull.  Woodman himself, lived in Hull and worked in a tramway shed.  He had met Kate Lee and found himself besotted with her.  When he discovered she was working at a pub in Withernsea, he travelled there, staying for the weekend, but got enraged when he spotted her in the company of another man.  He went for a stroll on the beach with her on the Saturday night, and it was there and then that he brutally murdered her by cutting her throat.

    Woodman went on trial at York Assizes but the court heard that the father of Woodman had been incarcerated in a mental hospital for a long time.  The court decided that Woodman was unfit to stand trial and was sent to a secure hospital for an indefinite sentence.