Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Murder of Lillian Collins

Another death for the murder casebook was that of Lillian Collins, 25, a quiet, newly married young woman, whose life was cut short brutally by a young man who thought that she was just a woman who should have sex with him.  It led him to the Condemned Cell but he was subsequently reprieved.  Yet it was murder in furtherance of a sex attack.  Lillian had only months before, in August of 1954, married Ray Collins, a Navy man, whom she had met three years before in Southsea.  The ceremony was at Moxley Parish Church, near Wednesbury. After a honeymoon in Bridgnorth, he had to return to his base in Rosyth, but this did not trouble Lillian as she was completely devoted to him.  She worked as a machinist at the Rubery Owen factory in Moxley.

    1st December 1954, Lillian left work with two colleagues, Liz Freeman & Joyce Collett, then left them to make her way to her home in Arden Place.  She never made it home.  Three hours later, her brother, Jack Lloyd and her brother in law Stan Worrell, went out to search for her.  At 10pm, they made a grim discovery.  Her body was found by a wall and a piece of waste ground, known locally as "The Patch."  DCS Tom Lockley of Staffordshire Police led the investigation.  First person of interest was reports of a stocky man attempting to molest nurses from the local hospital.  He was not traced but a guard was put on nurses.  Then there was thought to be a connection to the murder earlier on in the year, of Olive Bennett, but this proved to be unconnected.

    Then, officers were dispatched to an army base in Chester.  (This would have been Sealand Camp which for decades has now been used by the RAF)  They interviewed a Moxley man doing National Service.  He was 19 year old Private Ken Causer.  He had been seen around the area the night of the murder.  Causer had been on leave then returned to camp three days after the murder.  He claimed to have gone to the cinema but the detective, DI Bill Gray, pushed harder.  Then Causer confessed.  He had not meant to hurt her.  All he wanted to do was make love to her.  He admitted being on the corner of Queen Street, where he lived, spotted Lillian making her way across the Patch towards her home.  He caught up to her and put his hands on her and tried to kiss her.  Then both were on the ground where he discovered she had fainted.  So, sportingly, he dragged her body towards a wall and then left her.  He went home, washed himself, then caught a bus and went to the cinema.

    Causer went on trial at Staffordshire Assizes in March 1955.  Lillian had died from a combination of shock and asphyxiation, due to a hand being clamped over her nose and mouth.  He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.  The Jury made a strong recommendation for mercy, which was duly granted by the Home Secretary, and he was reprieved.  What do conclusions do you draw from this?  Simple.  It was attempted rape.  If Causer wanted sex, why did he not try and find the nearest red light district?  Or failing that, using his hand?  Of course there is the standard "suddenly the victim was dead and I do not remember" syndrome.  She was suffocated because he had to silence her screams.  Of course, a sudden sex attack is a harrowing event for a woman, and nobody knows how that person`s body is going to react to the shock.  He decided to go after Lillian with one aim.  Rape was premeditated, and how many rape or attempted rape victims die at the hands of their assailants?  Causer go off easy.  Ray Collins did not, nor did both families, but how many apologists give a toss about victims?  Enough said.