Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Murder of Olive Balchin & The Execution of Walter Rowland PT 1

This case is of a man sentenced to death but being repreived and then years later, receiving another Death Sentence and subsequently being hanged.  This man was Walter Graham Rowland.  He had originally been condemned in 1934 for the murder of his two year old daughter, but was reprieved by the Home Secretary.  Long time prisoners were allowed out of jail if they agreed to fight in the Army and so Rowland was paroled in 1945, to fight in Europe.  He did not need to fight for long as the war soon ended and he was demobbed.  But just over a year later, he found himself in the dock facing another Capital Murder charge.

    This time, the victim was a forty year old woman named Olive Balchin, a prostitute from Birmingham, who used a number of different names, including Balshaw, and carried different ID cards.  Her body was discovered on a bombed out site near Deansgate, in Manchester, on October 20th, a Sunday.  She had suffered blunt force trauma injuries, from a hammer which was lying close to her body.  Also near by was some brown wrapping paper that had an impression on it.  Police concluded that it had been recently purchased.  The hammer was of a type used in the leather trade, so Police focused on leather workers and suppliers.  Soon, they had three witnesses, but as we will see later, the evidence they gave in court was highly suspect and showed "help" or "prompting" from the Police.

    The first witness, Norman Mercer, a pub landlord, was walking his dog around midnight when he saw a man and woman arguing, close to the spot where Olive Balchin was found.  His description was that of a man 30-35, round faced, dark haired, proportionately built, wearing a blue suit.  Salesman Ted McDonald described a man to whom he had sold a hammer.  The description was similiar in ways to Mercers`, however, he could not say that the murder weapon was the one he sold.  He also stated that the brown paper was similiar to the paper he used for wrapping.

    The third witness was a waitress from a cafe, Elizabeth Copley.  She stated that on the afternoon of the murder, there were three people together she served.  Two women and a man.  She identified Olive Balchin was one of the women.  The man was carrying a brown parcel, which she thought MAY have had the murder weapon inside.