Monday, 31 August 2015

In The Land of Morse & Lewis

My little play on the title of a Caravan album - "In The Land of Grey & Pink" - is to have a look at crimes in the tv murder capital of England: Oxford.   The home of Inspector Morse & Inspector Lewis, despite it`s nearly three dozen colleges, has a rich criminal history.  A notorious city for drugs in the 60`s and 70`s, where undercover cop Martyn Pritchard started his career and kicked off Operation Julie, fraudster Robert Maxwell lived there.  Actually, close to where I used to stay with friends, 3 times in 1988 and once in 1992.  I stayed  in the St. Clements area, where this murder I am about to present, occurred.  There is also the question of whether an innocent man was executed wholly on circumstantial evidence, and that six witnesses stated they saw the victim alive, well after the time Police believed the murder took place.  The victim was widow Anne Kempson, in her mid to late 50`s.  Mrs Kempson was to have gone to stay with friends in London, but failed to show.  Her brother, Albert Reynolds was contacted, and he went to her home to check if she was still there.  It was the beginning of August 1931.

    Albert climbed in through a window, and to his horror, found his sister battered and stabbed to death.  The time of death was estimated to have been 11.am at the latest, due to the fact that a deliveryman tried to make a delivery at that time but received no answer.  Police enquiries found that a door to door salesman had been around the immediate area, and a business card was found in Mrs Kempson`s house.  The salesman was Henry Seymour, but was not at the address on the card.  He was later traced to Brighton, where he was arrested.  Police had been given a description of a man whom had bought a hammer and chisel.  Seymour fitted the description.  Seymour had visited a couple, the Andrews`, and told of being robbed of his money whilst swimming.  They lent him some money and off he went but later returned saying he had missed his bus.  They put him up for the night.  He had a parcel which, Mrs Andrews, contained a new hammer and chisel.  She read that a hammer and probably a chisel was used to kill Mrs Kempson, she phoned Police.  They also received a call from a hotel manager in Aylesbury, who had taken a hammer from a guest in lieu of a bill.  He said it had been washed and it`s labels removed.  The guest was Henry Seymour.  He was arrested and charged with murder.

    The case against Seymour was entirely circumstantial but trouble was brewing with the statements of six witnesses who saw her alive and well hours later.  Three had known her for many years.  Surely this was evidence of innocence.  Yet a jury took less than 40 minutes to convict him.  Seymour`s movements were verified except a gap of some hours on the morning of the murder.  He was said to have been evasive with answers under cross-examination.  At his appeal, the witnesses were dismissed as simply getting the day wrong!!!!  A business card and the purchase of a hammer and chisel had sealed his fate.  Yet, if the hammer was washed, and it was brand new, was he washing blood off it?  What about the chisel? Was there any trace evidence on it?  Had it been cleaned?  Or was it as spotless as when he bought it?  He was hanged at Oxford Prison on December 10th 1931.