Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Colin Chisan - Lucky To Escape The Noose

This is another of the obscure cases that nobody seems to have heard about, but did involve divided opinion by medical experts in court.  The story kicks off way back in August 1962, and a garage owner named Colin Chisan, who was extremely intolerant on many subjects, was a very opinionated man, and thought to have been somewhat paranoid.  He was very intolerant towards young men, despite having an adopted son.  What was more disturbing, though is an indication of the thinking at the time, was that Colin Chisan had a firearms licence, despite the obvious signs being displayed by his behaviour.  He had a number of firearms plus a deadly collection of bayonets & knives.   He needed all these to protect his family from any tearaways or "Teddy Boys", even though most of the teddy boy era had passed.

    Events turned tragic  at around midnight on August 5th 1962.  Three young men were strolling past his home, listening to a small radio and having a little singsong.  But this innocent pastime was too much for Chisan.  He went out and confronted them, to turn the radio off, which they did but Chisan labelled them teddy boys.  This upset them so they turned the verbals back on to Chisan, who ran back into his house and came out brandishing a .22 rifle.  He fired two shots in the air to scare them off, but instead of running, they confronted him so he shut his door.  They kicked the door in, as Police were called but in the hallway, two of the youths, Henderson & Tait staggered out of the house.  An ambulance took them to hospital but Tait died.  Police found two shell casings by the gate, blood in the hallway, then took possession of the rifle and a sword stick.  Later, it was determined that the sword stick was exactly the same diameter of a .22 bullet.  This would be the cause of divided opinions on what killed Tait.

    Because of a firearm being used, if convicted, Chisan could hang because it would be deemed a Capital Crime.  The autopsy carried out by Dr Colin Corby concluded death was from a .22 bullet.  Two pathologists called by the defence stated they believed it was by the sword stick.  Dr Walls, head of the Police laboratory at Scotland Yard, could conclusively say which it was.  Chisan was cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to life.  Dr Walls was not wholly convinced the sword was responsible.  He found traces of lead around the hole in the dead man`s jacket.  He remembered that unjacketed lead ammunition was toughened with antimony.  He sent the coat to a government laboratory that used an electron beam.  This discovered lead and antimony, proving Tait had indeed, been shot.  But Chisan was already convicted and now he had been certified as clinically paranoid.  He remained incarcerated.