Date: 28 Feb 1948
Evan David Harris was found dead at Swansea Docks, Swansea, at 6am on 28 February 1948.
He had lived at 21 Lon Draenen in Tycochm, Swansea and had been employed at the Consolidated Fisheries Dry Dock in South Dock, Swansea as a night-watchman.
He was found in about five feet of water in the fry dock between the wall of the dock and the steam trawler 'Brecon Castle' which was lying there for repairs.
His body was recovered by two members of the Swansea Dock Police who then called the Swansea Borough Police and requested an ambulance. Whilst the police were removing Evan Harris's body, a workman at the dry dock told them about some marks in the boiler makers shop and when they went in to see they noticed marks on the ground as if something had been dragged through the boiler maker's shop and over the railway lines towards a point on the quay opposite which Evan Harris's body was found. Also, about five yards from that point the police found an upper denture that was partly embedded in the earth. The police then marked the spot where the upper denture was found and put the upper denture in a piece of paper for later examination.
The police then made a further search of the boiler maker's shop and in the North West corner, near the anvil, they noticed marks on the ground that were consistent with a struggle having taken place. They also discovered a lower denture there, the top of an electric hand lamp, a piece of wood, about 2ft long which was broken about 5in from one end and bearing what appeared to be blood on it.
After discovering the items, the police then roped the area off to prevent workmen from disturbing the scene.
A police surgeon then examined Evan Harris's body at 8.45am on 28 February 1938 at the public mortuary. He said that he found multiple superficial abrasions to his face and head but no other apparent injuries and formed the conclusion that Evan Harris's death had occurred as a result of drowning.
Following the police surgeons’ findings, the police visited the scene again and after forming the opinion that Evan Harris had been murdered they decided to solicit the assistance of New Scotland Yard.
After receiving the request for assistance two detectives from New Scotland Yard left for Swansea at 5.55pm on 28 February 1948, arriving at 10.45pm. They met with the Chief Inspector and Chief Constable of Swansea Borough Police and then went off to the Consolidated Dry Dock.
The dock was described as being bounded by the river Tawe on the east, with the south dock on the West, the lock gate admitting ships to the south basin on the South, and Gloucester Place on the North. On the North side of the dry dock was situated the boiler maker's shop which was described as being constructed of corrugated iron and steel girders and being 58ft 6in wide and 138ft 7in long. Inside the boiler maker's shop against the north side there was a small steel shanty that measured 11ft 8in long and 7ft 1in wide, to which there was fitted a door 2ft 7in wide. The shanty was generally referred to as the 'rivet warmer's shanty'. Directly outside of the shanty and 5ft 2in away from it there was an iron anvil on a wooden block. Then, at a distance of 9ft 4in away from the anvil and 20ft 2in from the north side of the shop, there was a cutting machine that measured 9ft 2in long by 3ft 8in wide. In the North West corner of the shop there was a small round forge and a short distance away from that, against the west wall of the shop, there was a large oblong forge.
Outside the shop at the east end there was another shanty, which was generally referred to as the 'boiler maker's shanty' and on the outside of the west end of the shop there was a shed or hut that was used by the night watchman, which the police referred to has 'Harris' Cabin'.
Outside on the north of the boiler maker's shop there was situated a pump house. Then, running along the quay of the dock and the south side of the shop, there was a double pair of railway lines.
The main entrance to the dock was situated in the north west corner opposite East Burrows Road but access could also be gained from a gate at the rear of the pump house and from the south side of South Dock via the lock gates and bridge of the dry dock.
The boiler maker's shop had walls on the south and west sides and a portion on the north west side, which also took in the rivet warmer's shanty, but the remainder of the shop was open. There was a doorway to the shop in the south west corner near to Harris' Cabin and another large doorway on the south side about 3/4 of the length of the shop from the west wall.
The whole dock from the main entrance was surrounded by a corrugated iron fence, with the exception of the east where it was bounded by a warehouse on the South Dock.
The dock itself was the property of the Consolidated Fisheries Co. Ltd whose stores and other buildings were situated on the west side of the South Dock. The south side was occupied by the fish market, the north side by the Glasgow Wharf and the east side adjoined the dry dock and two locks.
The dry dock was used for the repair of trawlers that belonged to Consolidated Fisheries Co. Ltd and employed about 400 boiler makers, painters, carpenters and labourers. Two watchmen were employed, one stationed at the dry dock and the other at the stores and they both commenced duty at 5pm and were usually relieved at 6am. Evan Harris was the watchman at the Dry Dock and the other watchmand was a 61-year-old man who was at the stores.
When the police examined the boiler maker's shop, they found marks on the ground as though a struggle had taken place at a point near the anvil and close to the rivet warmer's shanty. Lying quite close to the anvil they found a piece of timber upon which there appeared to be blood stains and close to the piece of timber and half embedded in the dust, they found a lower set of dentures. Then, close to the dentures they found the top portion of an electric bicycle lamp. Outside the rivet warmer's shanty, they found a bronze 3d piece and further examination of the ground near the anvil revealed a dark wettish patch which the police said was apparently blood.
Leading from the marks near the anvil, the police found a trail of drag marks that went beyond the anvil in an easterly direction, skirting the north side of the cutting machine and from there diagonally across the boiler maker's shop to the door on the south side. Interspaced on the route the police found apparent blood stains. They said that the marks continued from the entrance to the boiler shop, went across the railway lines on the quay side and towards the edge of the dry dock. At a point in between the two sets of railway lines, was the spot where the upper denture was earlier found, where the police also saw a number of other blood stains on the clinker ash. Then, at the edge of the dock, the police found a number of apparent blood stains on a large water pipe.
The police also found Evan Harris's hat and the remainder of his electric lamp in the dry dock.
It was also noted that a blue cloth bag, which was apparently used to carry fish, was found by a workman at the door of the rivet warmer's shanty shortly after Evan Harris was found dead, and that the key to the pump house, which was usually kept on a window ledge near the door, was later found by an electrician in the lock of the pump house.
When the police then went to the public mortuary to examine Evan Harris's body, they found that with the exception of his trousers, examination of his clothing did not assist in the investigation. However, they said that the examination of his trousers did however confirm the theory that he had been dragged from where he had been assaulted to the edge of the dock as the knees were scuffed and stained and there was another large stain on the front of his thigh. It was also noted that subsequent enquiries revealed that the condition that his trousers were found in, with the scuffs and stains, was not the condition that they had been in prior to him going to work on the evening of 27 February 1948.
When Evan Harris was taken out of the dock, his body was dressed in:
When Evan Harris was searched, it was said that his pockets appeared to have been undisturbed. Possessions found included:
Evan Harris's body was described as that of an old man of short stature and fairly well built. His face shewed abrasions on the right side of his chin and right cheek and there was a deep cut on the right side of his nose near the middle line and abrasions were found on his forehead from the frontal area backwards to within 3in of the vertex of the skull. He also had a small cut in his forehead on the left of the mid-line and a second cut over his right temple about one inch long and running in a diagonal direction with the deepest part of the cut nearest the mid line. Blood was found to have oozed from his nose and his face and head were grimed with coal dust. He also had a tiny abrasion on the inner aspect of his right ear and another on the knuckle of his 2nd finger on his right hand. The back part of his scalp was swollen, but showed no signs of bruising, and nor was there any evidence of fracture and nor were there any signs of fractures to any of his limbs.
The police looked into Evan Harris's background and found that he had been born in Swansea on 17 September 1876 and was a widower, his wife having died in 1926. He had been an analytical chemist and for about 19 years had been employed by the English Crown Spelter Works in Port Tennant, Swansea. He then later worked in a similar capacity at Pritchard's Chemical Works in Crymlyn Burrows in Swansea and also at the National Oil Refineries in Skewen for a number of years.
Evan Harris had been unemployed from 1931 until 1942 and just prior to the outbreak of war he went to live with his elder daughter who was married. When his elder daughter's husband was called up for services with HM Forces, Evan Harris decided to get a job, as he not only wanted something to do, but he thought that it would assist his daughter with her housekeeping expenses and a nephew-in-law got him the job as night watchman with Consolidated Fisheries Ltd at South Dock in Swansea where he later met his death.
Evan Harris had two other children, a married daughter who lived in Apple Tree Cottage in St Nicholas, Duffryn, near Cardiff and a son who lived in Rivine Road in Colchester.
The police said that Evan Harris appeared to have been a very reserved man of simple habits and that his only amusements, so far as they could ascertain, was the occasional flutter on the football pools. He was a teetotaller, but a fairly heavy pipe smoker. He was described as thrifty and had saved approximately £350 in cash and National Savings Certificates. His weekly wage was approximately £5 and in addition to that, he was in receipt of an old age pension of £1 6. 0 per week. He then paid his daughter £2 per week for his board and lodgings.
His elder daughter said that on Friday 27 February 1948, at about 3pm, at their home at 21 Lon Draenen, she gave Evan Harris his dinner and prepared some food for him to take to work consisting of cheese sandwiches and an orange and then left the house. She said that when she returned at about 4.15pm Evan Harris had gone, which she said was customary as he usually left for work at about 4pm.
She said that she was unable to assist regarding what money he carried, except to say that he always had a few pounds on him. The police report noted that in fact Evan Harris never confided in her or anyone.
Evan Harris was next known to have called at 77 Tycoch Road in Tycoch, a grocer's shop and sub-post office where he had been calling for the previous 5 or 6 years to draw his old age pension. The grocer said that Evan Harris would allow his pension to accumulate for five or six weeks and then draw it, and with some of it, purchase national savings certificates. The grocer said that on Friday 27 February 1948, between 4.15pm and 5.30pm, he was not sure of the time, Evan Harris called and drew his pension. He said that he was due seven weeks up to and including that date and was paid £9 2.0d with which he purchased National Savings Certificates to the value of £5 viz two certificates of 5 units each. It was determined that the serial numbers were 5/B 506027 and 8, 8th issue B. It was noted that Evan Harris did not fill in and return the counterfoils, but the grocer said that he thought that Evan Harris placed the remainder of his money, £4. 2. 0d and the certificates in his wallet or purse. However, the grocer did say that he remembered that Evan Harris had been carrying a small brown paper parcel that was tied up with string.
A tobacconist at 319 Gower Road in Killay, Swansea, said that he knew Evan Harris very well, and that he purchased an ounce of St Bruno flake tobacco from him shortly after 4pm on 27 February 1948. The tobacconist said that Evan Harris's visit was a daily occurrence and that his daily purchase occasionally included a packet of Players cigarettes.
It was thought that Evan Harris then caught a bus and went to the Consolidated Fisheries Ltd premises at South Dock where the head storekeeper and timekeeper said Evan Harris reported to him at 4.45pm and collected his wages that amounted to £4. 18. 9d. Evan Harris then left the storekeeper's office and immediately made his way to his job at the dry dock, which was confirmed by his nephew-in-law, who had a few words with him at the stores before he left for the dry dock.
A welding plant attendant who lived in Berw Road in Maryhill, Swansea said that he had been working on the steam trawler 'Brecon Castle' which was at the time in dry dock and that at 4.55pm on 27 February 1948, on one of his visits to the boiler maker's shop, he spoke to Evan Harris and borrowed his evening paper. He said that a matter of minutes later he returned the paper to Evan Harris's cabin where Evan Harris had been chatting to an old friend of his. He said that at about 5.45pm he saw Evan Harris again in his cabin through the window but didn't speak to him.
Several other workers also spoke to Evan Harris that evening, the last one being a shore donkeyman who had lived in Powell Street in Swansea. He said that he called in to see Evan Harris in his cabin at 5.15pm on 27 February 1948, noting that he was talking to his friend at the time. He said that he joined them for a chat and that about 6.30pm Evan Harris made a cup of tea for him and that shortly after, at about 6.45pm he left. He said that when he left there were no other dry dock workers about and the lights in the boiler maker's shop was out and the light on the Quay, which shone into the dry dock when work was in progress, was also out.
The police report noted that at that stage, so far as they knew, that the only two persons in the dry dock at that time were Evan Harris and his friend.
It was noted that the other night watchman, a 61-year-old man, was actually the day watchman but was on duty that night as the regular man was then on the sick list although he had been doing the nightshift for the previous two weeks.
The other night watchman said that at about 8.15pm he visited Evan Harris in the dry dock, which was a walk of about five minutes from the stores. He said that when he arrived Evan Harris was in his cabin with his friend and that he stayed with them for about five minutes before returning to the stores.
The friend that Evan Harris had been with was noted to be undoubtedly the last person to have seen Evan Harris alive. He was 76 years old and a retired railwayman who had lived in Pier Street in Swansea. Although he was a well-read man, it was noted that his faculties were unfortunately not a hundred percent, which the police report noted that the other three witnesses that had seen him with Evan Harris had noticed, but that nonetheless, apart from that, he confirmed their statements.
The friend said that he had known Evan Harris for about 12 months. He himself lived a short distance from the dry dock and it was his custom to walk in that vicinity in the evenings and it was whilst taking those walks that he had become acquainted with Evan Harris. The police report noted that Evan Harris was an intelligent man and that apparently the friend had been able to converse with him on the same plane and that it was in those circumstances that their acquaintanceship ripened and it became customary for him to visit Evan Harris at his cabin each evening from about 6pm until 8pm.
The friend said that he visited Evan Harris at about 6.20pm on the Friday 27 February 1948 as usual, saying that he was on his own when he arrived, and said that they chatted together on the topics of the day. The friend said that about 7pm the other night watchman came in and stayed chatting with them until about 7.50pm when he left. He said that he then remained with Evan Harris in his hut until about 8.15pm, noting that when he left, Evan Harris was in his usual spirits and made no complaints to him about his health or anything else and appeared to have no worries whatsoever.
The friend said that when he left he went by the main entrance and walked along East Burrows Road towards his home in Pier Street. He noted that about half-way along East Burrows Road he passed a man who he said hello to, calling him by a name, 'Is that you ----', but said that the man replied, 'No' and walked on in the direction of the dry dock. The friend said that there was no one else in the vicinity at that time, and the police report noted that at that particular time that the area would have been deserted. The police report noted that the friend was unable to give any description whatever of the man he passed and noted that taking into account the fact that it was dark and that his eyesight was failing, that they could well believe his inability to do so.
However, the police report noted that when they pressed the friend to account for the question he had made to the other man, he said that he was under the impression that it was an unemployed night watchman who had also visited Evan Harris on several occasions, the last time being on the previous night, 26 February 1948. He could not explain what gave him the impression that the man was the other unemployed night watchman, but the police report stated that they were of the impression that it was because he was fresh in his mind from the previous evening.
The report noted that there was a discrepancy in some of the times given by the old man, in particular, his arrival at the cabin, which the welding plant attendant had said was more like 5pm, and the other night watchman's visit which he had said was not until 8.15pm, but the police report stated that they were more inclined to discount the friends statement of that rather than the others due to his failing faculties.
However, the police report noted that that was the last that was seen of Evan Harris until he was discovered in the dry dock at 6.30am on 28 February 1948.
However, the police report stated that they had been able to ascertain that Evan Harris had possibly been attacked and thrown into the dry dock before 11pm on 27 February 1948 and in all probability, sometime between the time his friend left and 9pm.
In his statement, the other night watchman said that at about 10.50pm he had left the stores and gone over to Evan Harris's cabin, by way of the swing bridge and Glasgow Wharf. He said that he entered the dry dock through the wicket gate of the main gate and as he was doing so he heard the Great Western Railway clock strike the hour of eleven. He said that he then noticed that the light in Harris's cabin was out and thinking that he might be in the boiler maker's shop, he went to the entrance near to Harris's Cabin and shouted, 'Evan', but received no reply. He said that he then looked around the yard at the east end of the boiler maker's shop and looked into the lavatory next to the boiler maker's shanty. He said that from there he then crossed the dry dock at the east end, went down the south side and crossed the pontoon bridge back to the dry dock. He said that after crossing the bridge that he heard the telephone ringing in Harris’ Cabin, estimating the time to be about 11.15pm. He said that he unlocked Harris's Cabin with his own key and answered the telephone and spoke to the sales manager who asked, 'Is that you Evan?', to which he replied 'No' and told him who he was. He said that the sales manager then told him that he had already rung the store and that as he had got no answer there, he had rung Harris's Cabin. He said that the sales manager then enquired whether there were any trawlers in yet and the other night watchman said that he replied in the negative and that that was the end of the conversation. The other night-watchman said that he then noticed that the fire was out in Harris's Cabin, but that water in a kettle on top of the stove was still warm. He said that he then locked up Harris's Cabin and went back to the Stores by the way that he had arrived.
The other night watchman said that at about midnight he telephoned to Harris's Cabin, but got no reply. He said that later, at about 1.30pm on 28 February 1948, that he again went to the dry dock via Glasgow Wharf and found Harris' Cabin still in darkness and the door locked. He said that he again looked in the boiler maker's shop and the side of the dry dock, but was unable to find Evan Harris and so again returned to the Stores. He said that between then and 4am he telephoned through to Harris's Cabin several times but got no reply and then went over to the dry dock again, but found the position still the same and returned to the Stores at 4.30am and then at 5am again telephoned the dry dock but still got no reply.
The other night watchman was relieved at 6pm by a yardman that lived in Rodney Street in Swansea and he told him that Evan Harris was missing. He later said that his reason for not reporting the fact that Evan Harris was missing earlier was that he thought that Evan Harris had gone home without permission. He then left the Stores and went home. Whilst going home and crossing the bridge he saw a dock policeman and informed him that Evan Harris was missing.
It was later noted that the other night watchman lived next door to a man with a criminal record who was also later suspected of possibly having been involved in Evan Harris's murder. The criminal was not considered a suspect in the early stages of the investigation as it was thought that he was in prison in Singapore after having been convicted of an armed robbery there, but it was later found that he had escaped and returned to Swansea. It was noted that he had a history of break-ins and was familiar with the docks.
The police carried out a test on the small stove that was in Harris's Cabin which was in the centre of his hut which showed that when fuelled that it would burn for about two hours. The report stated that it was known that it was Evan Harris's custom shortly after his friend had left to fill up his kettle, make up the fire, and then proceed to the stores with the evening paper for the other night watchman. It was said then that he would invariably return between 10pm and 10.15pm when he would have his supper. It was also stated that it was known that Evan Harris would urinate in the forge against the west wall of the boiler maker's shop. As such, the police report suggested that if Evan Harris had conformed to his customary routine on the night of 27 February 1948 that it could be supposed that he had made up his fire, locked his cabin, and prior to making his way to the Stores, and then entered the boiler maker's shop to urinate. It was then thought that he might have completed the act, but before having time to button his trousers his attention had been drawn by his assailant to the point where he was attacked by the anvil. The police report noted that that would probably account for his fly buttons being undone when his body was found.
The police report noted that it was hardly likely that Evan Harris was attacked later than between 8.45pm or 9pm as at 9.10pm the dredger Francis Gilbertson moored alongside the Consolidated Dry Dock, facing the Glasgow Wharf. She had come in from sea and would therefore have come through the lock gate into the South Dock and during that period, which would have been about 20 minutes, would have been in view of the Dry Dock.
The dredger-man that was in charge of the Francis Gilbertson said that he remained on deck until 10.30pm and that during that time he didn't see or hear anyone in the dry dock or roadway. He added that the remainder of his crew had left when the dredger had moored at 9.10pm.
It was noted that in support of that reconstruction, a dock gateman that had lived in Elgin Street in Manselton, Swansea, and who was employed by British Railways, Western Region, said that between 9.30pm and 9.35pm Friday 27 February 1948, that he had approached the Consolidated Dry Dock from East Burrows Road with the intention of going into the yard to have a look at the football draw posted on the window of Harris' Cabin, but noticed that the yard inside the gate appeared darker than usual and formed the opinion that there was no light in the cabin and so didn't go into the yard, but went on to the South Dock Pier Master's office and booked on duty at 9.40pm. He added that previously, whenever he passed the yard before, he had always seen a light in Harris' Cabin and had in fact formed the opinion that the light was never extinguished.
Another person that assisted with the theory that Evan Harris had left his cabin a considerable time before 11pm was another 66-year-old one armed night watchman who lived in Catherine Street in Swansea who was employed by James Pridmore & Co., Waggon Repairers in South Dock, Swansea whose premises were only a matter of yards distant from the main entrance to the dry dock. He said that on the Friday 27 February 1948, that he started work at 5.30pm and remained on the premises until 6.30pm, when, as a man of drunken habits, he went off and visited public houses in the vicinity of Wind Street and Pier Street between 6.30pm and 10pm. He said that the last public house that he called at was the Cambrian Hotel which was situated at the junction of Pier Street and East Burrows Road. He said that when he left the Cambrian Hotel at 10pm, he went back to Pridmore's but before entering the premises at about 10.05pm he noticed that there was no light in Harris' Cabin. He said that he then went into the office in Pridmore's and slept until about 4am on 28 February 1948 when he made a round of the works and then at 5am went home.
The Pridmore night watchman said that he knew Evan Harris very well and had visited him frequently at his cabin until Christmas 1947 and had since then not continued to visit him but would give no reason for ceasing to visit him, nor admit to having had a row with Evan Harris.
Although the Pridmore night watchman only had one arm, he was known as a man of bad temper and was treated as a suspect. Although he was strongly interrogated on more than one occasion, he denied all knowledge of the cause of Evan Harris's death and apart from the simple fact that he had the opportunity, no other evidence was obtained to implicate him.
The police report noted that as it was obvious from the outset that Evan Harris had been murdered, photographs were taken at the earliest stage of Evan Harris and the surrounding area and fingerprints were searched for. In addition, samples of clinker and coal dust was taken away for examination along with some of Evan Harris's clothing and it was also found that the apparent blood stains found on the route from the anvil to the quayside were in fact blood stains and that they did belong to the same blood group of Evan Harris.
Evan Harris's internal injuries, which were determined at his post-mortem examination on 1 March 1948 included very extensive commuted fractures of the skull in the area between the occiput and vertex on both sides of the mid-line. His skull was also fractured right across its base, which also involved the internal nasal bones and sinuses. The bone of his nose, in front in relation to the external cut, was also fractured. He also had haemorrhages in the coverings of his brain and cerebellum and the superficial tissues shewed bruising.
His spinal column was also fractured in two places and he had five ribs on his right side also fractured. It was noted that all of his fractured bones, skull and ribs were thin and fragile.
It was also noted that his lungs were completely flooded with water.
His cause of death was given as being due primarily to drowning and in the opinion of the doctor, the major part of his injuries were caused by his fall into the dock from the quay side, although he noted that it was quite possible that one or more of the cuts on the face and head were caused by some form of assault at the beginning of the episode. It was added that that remark applied particularly to the injuries to the front of his nose and the cut to the right side of his forehead.
It was noted that it had already been determined that Evan Harris had, prior to his murder, been in possession of £4 18. 9d wages, £4 2 0d from his old age pension and two National Savings Certificates to the value of £5 and that it was possible that he had in addition to that some other paper money, but how much, was unknown, and that all the money and certificates, with the exception of the coin money totalling 4s 3 1/2d was missing when he was found.
The police report noted that a description of the two Savings Certificates was circulated vide Express Message of the 8 March 1948 and Special notice of Police Gazette 10 March 1948. The GPO were also informed through the Chief Inspector of the GPO Investigation Branch, but no further trace of them was found.
It was later noted that the only possible development in the case might come if at some time the Savings Certificates were presented and cashed in some way or otherwise traced.
The police report noted that at that stage it was thought that the owner of the blue bag that was found on the step of the rivet warmer's shanty must have been in some way connected with the assault on Evan Harris and enquiries were made to trace him. He was eventually traced and found to be a rivet warmer employed at the dry dock and who lived in Ceri Road in Twonhill, Swansea. He stated that the last time he had seen the bag was about three weeks prior to the murder when he left it in the pocket of an old coat that he kept in the rivet warmer's shanty.
The police said that a considerable amount of time was spent in checking the rivet warmer's story and a statement was taken at some length, but the police said that he was able to satisfy them that he was not responsible or connected with the murder. The police report noted that the removal of the blue bag from the coat pocket did, however, suggest that the culprit was a petty thief who had been searching for something to steal. The report added that that view was strengthened by the fact that the key to the pump house, which was usually kept on the window ledge, was found in the lock of the pumphouse door. The key was discovered by a policeman with the dock police as he was searching for Evan Harris in the early morning of Saturday 28 February 1948. The policeman also enquired and ascertained that the man responsible for the pump house was the pump man who lived in Walter Road in Swansea.
The pump man said that he was responsible for the pumphouse and that he was positive that he had locked it at about 4.55pm on 27 February 1948 and put the key on the windowsill. The windowsill was to the left of the door and high enough to make it impossible for a person to see it. However, one could, by extending the arms upwards, feel for it. However, the police report noted that although it did appear to signify an attempt to steal something, it was just possible that he had in fact left the key in the lock.
The piece of wood that was found at the scene and which appeared to have been the weapon used to assault Evan Harris was determined to have been a piece of fish pound board that was used on the trawlers. It was a type of wood that when trawlers were in for repairs was very often taken home by dry dock workers for use as firewood and it was also known for workers to lay several pieces on the forge to dry. Although the police said that they had considerable difficulty in tracing how the piece of wood that they had found had come to be in the boiler maker's shop. However, they did trace an electricians mate who lived in Beach Street in Swansea who said that shortly after the body of Evan Harris was found, but before murder was suspected, that he had lit a fire in the forge with three pieces of fish pound boards that he had found in the forge (the small forge in the north west corner), although he didn't put the wood there, or know where it had come from. He said that the pieces of wood were each about 3ft or 3ft 6in long. As such, the police report concluded that it was safe to assume that the piece found on the floor of the boiler maker's shop was taken from the forge by Evan Harris's assailant.
It was noted that a curious aspect of that was that despite intensive enquiries amongst the dry dock workers, none of them would admit to having put it there. It was thought that it could not be because they were afraid to admit to taking the wood home as a considerable number agreed that they did.
It was also noted that there was the possibility that Evan Harris had put the wood there himself and that that could not be ruled out, but it was thought unlikely as they knew that when he did take wood home, which was very infrequently, he usually got it from the stores through someone there and it was of a different type altogether.
When the police considered the motive, they said that there could be two fields of thought. Firstly that Evan Harris disturbed a person of the beachcomber type, prowling around for something to steal, and was robbed after he was assaulted, and secondly, a theory thought more probable by the police, that he was assaulted by some person he knew who was acquainted with the geography of the dry dock. The police further noted that the larceny of his money was the motive but that his assailant had expected to find a much larger sum.
In connection with the first theory, the police stated that they took considerable steps in interrogating and taking statements from many beachcombers and potential suspects in the dock area and in addition, that enquiries had been made a cafes, seamen's missions and public houses regarding possible suspects. However, whilst enquiries were continued in that area, with the exception of three unidentified persons, enquiries in that direction had been exhausted with a negative result.
The first of the three suspects of the beachcomber type was a man that was spoken of by a 32-year-old woman who lived in Inkerman Street in St Thomas, Swansea. She said that at 4.45am on the Saturday 28 February 1948 she had left to catch a bus by the Midland Station which was situated near the main dock entrance. She said that when she arrived at the Midland Station she stood at the bus stop near a telephone kiosk and that at about 4.55am she saw a man come from between the Bridge Inn and the boiler maker's shed next to it. The boiler maker's shed was about half a mile from the scene of the crime. She said that he approached her and asked her 'Can you tell me where there is a place open to have a wash and brush up' and she said she told him that it was too early and that he then said, 'I've cut my hand badly'. She said that if his hand was cut badly that she could direct him to the police box about 100 yards away and said that he replied, 'Oh no, I won't bother'. She said that whilst they were talking, he kept looking back to the main archway leading to the dock and appeared nervous.
She said that he stood for a minute looking towards the Arch and then walked away over the river bridge towards Wind Street. The woman said that she remained at the bus stop for about another five minutes after the man left and then walked over the bridge towards Orchard Street where she caught the 5.20am bus to Gorseinon.
The woman said that when the man said that he had cut his hand that she could see no blood on his hands but said that she did notice that the middle finger of his left hand was missing to the knuckle. She described him as being 48 to 50 years old, 5ft 9in, with a big build, longish face, not thin and with about a week's growth of dark hair on his face. She said that he was dressed in a well-worn dark trilby hat which was out of shape, a stockingette type knitted khaki scarf and a long khaki overcoat. She added that he was wearing heavy dirty boots like colliers' boots and said that she saw a patch of blood on his left breast and a large patch of blood on his left thigh and streaks of blood on the bottom of his coat on the left hand side. She said that the patches of blood looked fresh to her and were a bright red.
The police said that the man's description was circulated to all South Wales forces at 5.20pm on 3 March 1948 as well as being flashed on to the screens of cinemas and published in the local and national press. However, although a number of persons answering the man's description were seen and interrogated and their clothing examined, no suspects were found. The police noted that a search was also made with the Criminal Record Office and photographs were shown to the woman, but she didn't identify anyone.
However, the police added that in view of the vivid description of the man that the woman had given and knowing that it was dark at the time, they went to the spot where the woman said that she had seen the man and noted that although the light was not too bad, that it was doubtful that she would have been able to have seen and retained all that she said she did in the limited time at her disposal and in consequence made enquiries into her antecedents and found that at one time she had been in a mental home.
The second of the three suspects of the beachcomber type was a man that had been seen by the proprietor of The Arches Cafe in Quay Parade, Swansea. He said that at 7.10am on Saturday 28 February 1948, shortly after he had opened his cafe, a man came in alone and purchased a cup of tea. He said that his attention was drawn to the man by his apprehensive attitude and condition and in consequence took a good look at him. He said that he was aged between 25 and 28 years, between 5ft 6in or 5ft 7in, of a medium build, clean shaven, with very light wavy hair and with a nose bent to the left at the bottom. He said that the man was wearing a light fawn raincoat and an open necked shirt. He said that he was in a dirty condition and that his hands, which he noted were not those of a workman, were particularly dirty. He added that on the right side of the man's raincoat he noticed between the breast and the waist a stain, which he said appeared to be a bloodstain. He said that the top of the stain at the top was about the size of a 6d piece and that it narrowed as it went towards his waist and looked like a spot of blood that had run.
He said that the man only drank half a cup of tea and then left, going off in the direction of St Thomas.
The police said that they showed the cafe proprietor photographs answering the description that he had given, but he failed to identify any. However, the police noted that as the floor of the boiler maker's shop was covered with clinker and coal ash, that Evan Harris's assailant would have undoubtedly have dirtied his hands considerably and so they felt that it was therefore essential to identify and interview the man that the cafe proprietor had identified and as no headway had been made they asked the cafe proprietor to attend New Scotland Yard to see their photograph albums, but he again failed to identify any person.
The police noted that the cafe proprietors cafe was frequented by most of the bad characters in the district and that the cafe proprietor was a fairly shrewd and intelligent individual and concluded that they felt that his statement could be relied upon. However, they failed to establish the identity of the person that he had seen.
The third of the three suspects of the beachcomber type was a man that had been seen on 12 February 1948 by the night watchman from the Stores at Consolidated Fisheries Limited who the other night watchman had been relieving at the time of the murder. He was a 68 year old man and had lived in Carlton Terrace in Swansea and said that at about 4am on 12 February he had occasion to go aboard the Barry Castle which was berthed in the South Dock and that whilst visiting the boiler room he had seen a man sleeping on the grating at the back of the ship's engine. He said that when he woke the man up and asked him what he was doing on board the ship, the man told him that he was a member of the crew. However, the night watchman said that he knew that he was not a member of the crew and ordered him off the ship. However, the night watchman said that when the man got off the ship and reached the quayside, he shouted back to him 'Come ashore here and I’ll take your life'. The night watchman said that he went ashore, and the man walked away and he lost sight of him.
The night watchman said that on 13 February 1948 at about 5am, he again saw the man on the Barry Castle and said that he asked him for his name, which he said he gave and then ordered him off the ship and said that the man left without demur.
The night watchman described the man as being about 50 years of age, about 5ft 10in tall, with a proportionate build, dark brown hair, an untidy appearance, clean shaven and wearing a dark coloured jacket, an open neck shirt, pin striped trousers that were in a soiled condition and badly worn footwear.
The police said that they showed the night watchman photographs of persons with the surname that the man had given him and answering the description that he had given, but he was unable to identify any of them. They said that they also made enquiries with local police forces in the dock areas and at shipping offices and fishing ports, but again without success. The police noted that they also took the night watchman to see photograph albums at New Scotland Yard but he again failed to identify anyone although he did pick out two photographs that he said would give them an idea of what the man he had seen had looked like on the Barry Castle.
The police noted that there was a fourth person of the beachcomber type whose movements they thought were worthy of checking up on. He was a seaman who lived in Old James Street, Peckham and who had a criminal record and who was an ex-employee of the Consolidated Fisheries. The police said that following information that he was believed to have been in the Swansea district on the night of the murder, his details were circulated vide Special Notice in the Police Gazette on 6 March 1948 as being wanted for interview. On 27 March 1948 he was traced to his Peckham address and a statement was taken from him. However, he was able to prove that he had not been in Swansea at the time of the murder. He said that between 8am and 9am on 27 February 1948 he had left Cardiff with the intention of going to Swansea and walked as far as 'The First and Last Cafe' which was a short distance along the Cardiff to Swansea Road, but said that as he was unable to get a lift on a lorry to Swansea, he finally obtained a lift on one going to Gloucester. He described the trip and an incident when one of the tyres of the lorry burst and of its repair by a firm in Cardiff. The police report noted that as he was unable to furnish details that could be checked, they all went to Cardiff and took him over the route that he had described and as such the police said that they were able to check his story and ascertain that the firm that had executed the repair to the lorry was Landsdowne Motors in Cardiff who were themselves able to supply the police with the name of the firm that owned the lorry that he had been in, Stevens Transport Ltd of Bristol Road in Gloucester who identified the driver for them who then confirmed the man from Peckham’s story, and as such concluded that the man had been in the lorry in Cardiff at the time of the murder en-route for Gloucester where it arrived at 11pm on 27 February 1948.
The police noted that before leaving the theory of the beachcomber type of suspect, they wanted to set out the reasons in support of it:
It was however, additionally noted that although the facts in point two could not be disregarded, it was possible that they had not connection with the murder.
However, the police report noted that a very strong point against the murderer being a stranger or a beach comber type was that Evan Harris's hat and electric lamp, both of which were recovered from the dock, were undoubtedly put there by his assailant. The police report stated that the fact that the hat and electric lamp were also in the dry dock suggested that an attempt had been made to make his death look accidental as though Evan Harris had fallen in as he had actually done some months previously in similar circumstances. The police report noted that the earlier incident of Evan Harris having fallen into South Dock was not likely to have been known to a stranger and stated that it very strongly supported the theory that Evan Harris knew and was known by his assailant.
As such, in connection with the theory that he was known by his assailant the police report went through the details of several persons who had had the opportunity to murder Evan Harris.
The first, and principle suspect, was the other night watchman, a 61-year-old man, who had been on duty at the stores. It was noted that he was not the regular night watchman and that he had only been employed as such for two weeks whilst the regular night watchman recovered from an illness. He was ordinarily the day watchman which he had been doing since 1946. He had actually commenced work with the Consolidated Fisheries Ltd as a ship's cook in 1925 and had followed that occupation until 1941 after which he had been employed variously as assistant in the Stores and a day and night watchman with an average wage of £5 10. 0. a week. He had been married for 14 years to a former widow and there were three children by her first husband.
The police report stated that in his initial statement he said that he had visited the dry dock at about 8.15pm on 27 February 1948 and that when he had arrived Evan Harris was in his cabin with his friend. He said that he stayed with them both for about five minutes and then left, leaving Evan Harris with his friend.
He said then that at about 11pm the same night that he had again visited the dry dock and found that Evan Harris's cabin door was locked and that the light was out. He then said that whilst he was there he had heard the telephone ring in the cabin and that he had opened the door with his own key and answered it and spoke to the sales manager who had asked whether there were any trawlers in the dock and that he had told the sales manager that there were none and that their conversation then ended.
He also said that before he left the cabin, he had noticed that Evan Harris's food was on a shelf untouched and that he had then had a look in the boiler maker’s shop and shouted out for Evan Harris but not got any reply and so thought that he might have been outside patrolling and so locked his cabin door up and went back to the Stores.
He then said that at 12.30am on 28 February 1948, he telephoned the dry dock but got no reply and that at 1.30am, feeling uneasy, he again went across to the dry dock and found Evan Harris's cabin as he had left it, locked and with the light out. He said that he didn't enter but made a further search of the boiler maker's shop with the aid of his torch. He said that by then he felt very uneasy but was in doubt as to what to do and so returned to the stores.
He then said that he telephoned Evan Harris' Cabin at 2am, 2.30am, 3am and 3.30am, but still got no reply.
He said that he then again visited the dry dock and looked for Evan Harris, noting that the position was the same as he had left it at 1.30am and that he was still unable to find Evan Harris. When he was asked why he had not reported the absence of Evan Harris he said that he was afraid in case Evan Harris had gone home without permission. He said that he then returned to the Stores at 4.30am and later telephoned the dry dock for the last time at 5am again without getting a reply.
He was then relived at 5.30am by the yards man who he then told about Evan Harris being absent. He also told a policeman as he was on his way home that Evan Harris was missing.
The other night watchman concluded his statement by saying that the only unusual thing that he saw at the dry dock was the light in Evan Harris's cabin being out as he knew that he always kept the light in his cabin burning whilst he was on duty.
He was further questioned on the same day and asked why he had called on Evan Harris at 8.15pm on 27 February and said that he had done so because he had wanted to borrow the Daily Herald newspaper from him.
The police said that they later took him over his movements again and said that they were more or less already what he had said in his first statement, with two exceptions. The first was that he had entered the cabin at 1.30am on 28 February 1948 when he had found that the fire was out, and the second was that he had telephoned at 2.30am and then every hour until 4am.
The police report noted that although they were only minor discrepancies, they felt that it was important to find out when he did discover that the fire had gone out and so they decided to see the other night watchman again, which they did on 5 April 1948 and took another statement from him.
In his 5 April 1948 statement he said that he had made his way from the Stores to Evan Harris's Cabin by way of the swing bridge and the Glasgow Wharf, entering the dry dock through the wicket gate of the main gate. He said then that the first thing that he noticed was that the light was out in Harris' Cabin and that he then heard the GWR clock strike 11pm. He then said that as the cabin was apparently unoccupied he went into the boiler maker's shop and shouted 'Evan' but got no reply and then went through the boiler maker's shop looking round with his torch, but said that he saw nothing unusual. He said that he didn't go into the rivet warmer’s shanty or go near the anvil. He said that he then went from the boiler maker's shop into the yard at the east end of the boiler maker's shop and entered a lavatory next to the boilermaker's shanty. He said that he then left the lavatory and crossed the dry dock at the east end, came down the south side to the pontoon bridge at the west end of the dry dock and crossed back over. He said that after he had crossed the pontoon bridge, he had heard the telephone ring in Harris' Cabin and estimated that the time would have then been about 11.15pm. He said that he then unlocked the cabin door an answered the telephone and spoke to the sales manager who asked him, 'Is that you, Evan?' to which he replied 'No, it’s me' and that the sales manager then told him that he had just telephoned the Stores but had got no answer and so had telephoned Harris' Cabin and then asked if there were any trawlers in to which he told him 'No' and then rang off.
The other night watchmen said in the 5 April 1948 statement that it was then, when he took the call, that he noticed that the fire was out but that the water in the kettle on top of the stove was still warm. He said that it was then also that he noticed Evan Harris's tea and sugar, in two small tins on a ledge by the locker. When he was asked how he knew that there was tea and sugar in the tins, the other night watchman said that he didn't know at the time, but said that on the Sunday night 29 February 1948, when he had gone on duty at the dry dock, replacing Evan Harris, that he looked in the tins and saw that there was tea and sugar in them.
The other night watchman said that he then locked up the cabin and left the dry dock and made his way back to the Stores in the same way that he had come.
The police said that they strongly interrogated the other night watchman on the 5 April 1948 and questioned him at some length on his movements and said that they asked him again why he had not reported the fact that Evan Harris was missing when he first found out or even later on, but he stuck to the story that he was afraid to do so in case Evan Harris had gone home without permission. He also denied any knowledge of the assault on Evan Harris.
Several of the people that he had mentioned in his statement all confirmed the parts of his statement where they were mentioned.
However, it was noted that Evan Harris's friend differed in regard to the time that he said that the other night watchman had called at Harris' Cabin, stating that it was at about 7pm and that he had stayed for about an hour. However, the police reiterated that they could not place too much reliance on the statement of Evan Harris's friend due to his failing faculties.
The other night watchman’s clothing was also examined at the Forensic Laboratory in Cardiff for blood stains. Examination revealed one spot of blood below the knee on the left leg of his dungarees and three minute blood stains on the outer side on the back leg of the same garment. Preliminary tests were also made on one small area of the cuff of the left sleeve of his navy-blue overcoat which indicated the presence of blood. However, the tests were not conclusive on the shirt and the samples on the dungarees were not sufficient for a grouping test.
The police said that they again interviewed the other night watchman on 5 May 1948 regarding the blood stains and said that he was unable to give any explanation for them apart from stating that he had in the past rendered first aid treatment to workers for cuts and other injuries.
The police noted that they also questioned him again at considerable length regarding his movements on the night of the murder and his associations with Evan Harris but were again unable to break him down.
The police report noted that although their enquiries shewed that the other night watchman was an inoffensive type of person and who, in the opinion of persons closely associated with him, been incapable temperamentally of committing that class of offence, murder, that they were still not satisfied that he did not. The police report stated that throughout his several interrogations he had remained perfectly cool and had displayed no indignation at the very pointed questions that were put to him.
The police report stated that another suspect that was known to Evan Harris and who could not be disregarded although he was 76 years of age, was Evan Harris's friend who would visit him each night. The police report noted that Evan Harris's friend certainly did not look capable of the deed. The police report noted that although he had been interrogated on several occasions, no evidence, other than he had the opportunity, had been revealed.
The police report noted that so far as his antecedents were concerned that there was no suggestion of anything detrimental to his character and that further, as far as they were aware, he was on the best of terms with Evan Harris.
The report noted that in connection with his statement detailing leaving the dry dock at 8.15pm on 27 February 1948 and having passed a man in East Burrows Road who he thought was an unemployed night watchman, the police identified the unemployed night watchman that he thought he had seen. The unemployed night watchman was a 66 year old man who lived in Benthall Place in Swansea and who had for the previous two years been engaged as a watchman on various ships in the Swansea Docks, but had mostly been engage by Easton Brothers, watching on their trawlers in the South Dock. However, he had been unemployed since November 1947.
When the police questioned the unemployed night watchman, he said that he knew Evan Harris and had spoken to him in his cabin in the dry dock and at the Consolidated Fisheries Stores on several occasions. He said that the last time that he had seen him was at about 7pm on 26 February 1948 when he had called at Harris' Cabin and stayed to chat with him and Evan Harris's friend until shortly after 8pm. He noted that whilst he had been in Harris' Cabin, Evan Harris had offered him and Evan Harris's friend a piece of flake tobacco each. The unemployed night watchman said that he told Evan Harris that it was no good to him as he had no pipe and said that Evan Harris then gave him a pipe. He added that as he was leaving the cabin with Evan Harris's friend, Evan Harris called him to one side and handed him a half crown and said, ''Here, have a drink'. He said that that was the last time that he saw Evan Harris.
The unemployed night watchman said that on 27 February 1948, at 5pm, he had had his tea at home and remembered listening to the 6pm news on the wireless and said that sometime later, at about 6.45pm he walked to his brother's house and had a chat with him and his wife, leaving at about 7.30pm. He said that he then walked about aimlessly through several streets in Swansea until he finally arrived at the lock gates at the North Dock.
He said that he spoke to the lock gateman and enquired as to what time high tide was on the following Sunday night and was told that it would be 9.40pm. He said that the lock gateman took him into his cabin to look at the tide timetable and said that the time then would have been about 9.30pm. He said that when he left the lock gateman, he walked along the river side, over the central dry dock locks and the new cut bridge and got home at about 9.50pm.
The police went to see the lock gateman who they sad was able to assure them that the time of arrival of the unemployed night watchman at his cabin must have been as he had stated as the lock gates, at that time, would be closed for a few moments, and opened immediately afterwards and to get to his cabin it would have been necessary for the unemployed night watchman to have crossed the lock gates and he could not have done so if he had been later or earlier than he had said.
However, despite that, the police report noted that it was curious that he north dock lock gates were only a matter of 100 to 150 yards away from the point where Evan Harris's friend thought he saw the unemployed night watchman at about 8.20pm on the evening of 27 February 1948.
The police report stated that following that, the unemployed night watchman was requested by them and asked to take them over the route that he had followed on the night of 27 February 1948 which was from his brother's house to Wind Street bridge, up Wind Street, along Oxford Street as far as the National School, back from the National School along Oxford Street and back down Wind Street to Somerset Place, and at Somerset Place, around the old Guildhall to the lock gates. The police report noted that Somerset Place was at the top of East Burrows Road and a right turn from there would have taken him to the spot where Evan Harris's friend said that he saw him after he left Evan Harris's cabin at about 8pm. However, the police report stated that the unemployed night watchman was adamant that he turned left and passed the Old Guildhall to the dock gates. The police report stated that the unemployed night watchman was quite capable of having murdered Evan Harris although there was nothing reported against him. They noted that he was a man who had lived a very varied life, principally as a seaman, and as such had travelled widely. The police report noted that he was questioned at some length but strongly denied having committed the crime. His clothing was also examined at the Forensic Laboratory, but with a negative result. However, the police report stated that they still thought that he was a suspect.
Evan Harris's son-in-law, a typewriter mechanic, who lived in Lon Draenen in Tycoch, Swansea, had resided with Evan Harris up until the time of his death. Police enquiries shewed that they had a joint bank account which at the time of Evan Harris's death had a balance of £81 in it. Examination of the account shewed that it was opened some time before with £110, but nothing further of interest was found about it.
Although enquiries revealed that Evan Harris and the son-in-law were on good terms, the son-in-law was questioned regarding his movements on the night of 27 February 1948. He said that he left his place of employment at Remington Rand Ltd at 20 Wind Street in Swansea at 5.48pm on 27 February 1948, but didn't go home, and instead went to Biddle's Cafe in Wind Street where he had something to eat. He said that from there he went to the Rialto Cinema, which was also in Wind street, alone, leaving at 9.45pm and then caught a bus at Castle street which took him to Tycoch, and that he arrived home at about 10.15pm after which he didn't leave the house again.
The police report noted that whilst Evan Harris's son-in-law’s wife corroborated his arrival home, enquiries at Biddle’s Cafe did not definitely prove that he had been there that night. It was determined that he frequently used the cafe and was well known there, but the best that they could get from them was that he might have been there on the night of 27 February 1948. Further, the police said that there was nothing to prove that Evan Harris's son-in-law had been to the Rialto Cinema during, what, in the opinion of the police, was the vital time. However, his clothing was checked with a negative result.
The police noted that there was one more aspect to the enquiry that might have had some bearing on the murder and that was that Evan Harris was of a generous nature and was known to have assisted persons in need with small loans of money. It was determined that that was fairly common knowledge, but that it was found that what was not so well know was the identity of the persons who benefited as Evan Harris was not given to talking about that or any other of his personal matters. However, the police report stated that their enquiries did glean one item of information from a 35-year-old public service conductor who had lived at 5 Holyhead Place in Fforestfach, Swansea. He had been employed by the South Wales Transport Co. and about three weeks prior to the murder had been the conductor on the 79 bus service which was the Exchange to Gors Avenue route.
When the police questioned him, he said that at 8am on 6 February 1948 Evan Harris, who he knew very well, boarded his bus at the Exchange and travelled as far as the Gwent Road stop where he got off. He said that he had never seen Evan Harris before on the 79 bus route and it was noted that it was certainly not a route that he would have taken to get home.
The conductor said that he saw Evan Harris again the following morning at 10am standing on the street corner at the Exchange bus terminus and said to him, 'You haven’t had much sleep dad', and said that Evan Harris replied, 'No. I am after some fellow who owes me £21. I lent it to him some weeks back and he is keeping out of my way'. However, the conductor said that Evan Harris didn't tell him who the man was and was unable to enlarge on the matter.
The police report stated that despite intensive enquiries in the Gwent Road area where house to house enquiries were made and circulars left asking for information from any person who might have seen Evan Harris in that district on 6 February 1948, coupled with requests in the local and national press for the persons who owed Evan Harris any money to come forward, the person that he had been chasing was never traced.
It was noted that as it was thought that the person might have been of the seaman class, shipping lists were studied for that date and their addresses checked to see which members lived in the Gwent Road area, but that was also unsuccessful.
It was also noted that the conductor was an ex-member of the Swansea Borough Police Force and as such was considered a reliable witness.
The police further stated that in connection with the alleged loan, they searched all of Evan Harris's correspondence thoroughly, but found no IOU or other record of the transaction.
It was noted that some 400 workers were employed at or in the vicinity of the dry docks and the police reported that they had taken statements from those in the immediate vicinity and interviewed many others but without good result and had failed to disclose the murderer, leaving the matter a mystery.
However, the report concluded that one slender hope remained and that was that the murderer would retain and eventually attempt to cash or sell the Savings Certificates that they had undoubtedly stolen from Evan Harris.
When Evan Harris's inquest concluded on 4 May 1948, a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown was recorded.
A further police communication stated, 'After reading this report one cannot but come to the conclusion the murderer was most likely a man who knew Harris, his habits and his movements. Two outstanding facts would indicate this, the murder was committed on the evening of a Friday when Harris drew both his Old Age Pension and his wages, but when the dead man was found only odd small change was found in his clothing, and secondly, bearing in mind that Harris had previously fallen accidently into the dry dock the assailant may have thought by throwing Harris into the same dock it would be concluded he had met with a similar accident'.
The communication continued, 'Unfortunately, the murderer left no clues that would connect him with the murder. With the passing of time it is most unlikely we shall get any further with this case unless the murderer is stupid enough to endeavour to dispose of the Savings Certificates which he took from the deceased'.
However, in August 1948 it was reported that another suspect had been identified, that of another criminal that was on the run from the police in Singapore and who had been living in Swansea at the time of the murder.
It was noted that in the early stages of the investigation, the name of the criminal had come up amongst the names of other known thieves, mainly by reason of his criminal activities in the dock area and the fact that he was known to have committed offences in the area of the scene of the murder. He was also known to have operated between the hours of 8pm and 9pm, which was a significant time in relation to the murder.
However, although the criminal was well known to local police officers, he had not been seen in the district for some years. It was known that he had joined the army and enquiries were made during the investigation establishing that he was abroad, and he was consequently eliminated as a possible suspect.
However, information that he might have been in Swansea arose after a communication was received from the Commissioner of police in Singapore that the criminal had escaped from Singapore Prison on 22 June 1947 where he was serving a sentence of eight years for armed robbery. It was recorded that his home address was in Swansea and thought possible that he might have made his way home. As such, in view of their previous interest in the criminal in regard to the murder of Evan Harris the chief Inspector of Swansea Borough Police notified New Scotland Yard. It was noted that the criminals fingerprints were received from Singapore on 10 October 1947 but that their extremely bad condition apparently precluded a correct classification formula being determined and the details of the criminal in Singapore where not identified as being identical to those of the criminal that they had on their records in Swansea. It was noted that the failure to link up the two files earlier was unfortunate. However, the police report added that they had no direct or indirect evidence against the criminal to link him to the murder, but noted that it would have been decidedly more satisfying if they had been able to interrogate him earlier in the investigation.
When the detectives from Scotland Yard arrived in Swansea after being informed about the criminal, they were informed that the Swansea police had reliable information that the criminal was in fact in Swansea and residing with his mother in Neath Road, Hafod, Swansea.
The police then made discrete enquiries to get some information and it was decided to take a man that lived next door to the criminal into their confidence, who by chance was the other night watchman that had been on duty in the Stores at the docks on the night that Evan Harris was murdered. It was found that the other night watchman and the criminal were related by marriage but that they knew before they approached him that there was no love lost between the two families. It was recalled in the August 1948 report that the other night watchman had known Evan Harris well.
As such, the police determined that the criminal was living in Neath Road, however, the other night watchman said that apart from seeing him on his discharge from the army, as he thought, in August 1947, he had had nothing further to do with him. It was reported that the other night watchman and the criminal were not on good terms and that he seldom, if ever visited the criminals home, which was two doors away and that he got his information from other family members who informed him that the criminal was there and was employed locally.
Following the intelligence, at 6.45am on 5 August 1948, the police surrounded the criminals house an took necessary precautions to prevent his escape and then entered his house where they found him in bed in a room on the first floor. He was then taken to Swansea police station and detained. The police made a thorough search of the whole of his house, yard and garden, but found nothing material to their investigation. They also interrogated each resident in the house but said that all they could get was that the criminal had never left the house since he had arrived 12 months earlier.
When the police questioned his mother, she said that the criminal had arrived home in uniform one morning in July or August 1947. It was determined that she apparently knew that he had been in Singapore Prison but that she was rather hazy as to who had informed her of that and further noted that she was in fact found to be quite hazy on a number of other points that the police said they felt were material, and the police said that they suspected, perhaps naturally, that she was lying to protect her son. It was also determined that she had not asked why he had been in Singapore Prison and seemed to show a most unnatural disinterest in what had happened in Singapore or his army career. She said that from the time her son had returned home that he had done no work and that she had supported him and given him a few shillings each week to buy tobacco and cigarettes. She said that in the twelve months that he had been home, he had only been out twice, once to go to the pictures and another time to go bathing.
The police report stated that the criminals mother admitted that she believed that her son had deserted the army, but could not help as to what he had done with his uniform and said that the suit that he had been wearing at the time of his detention was one that his brother had given him.
However, the police report stated that they were quite satisfied that the criminal’s mother had not told them the truth and that she knew a great deal more about her son's activities than she had disclosed. They stated that she was obviously extremely worried as to what they really did know of his movements and of what they were likely to discover.
The criminal was born in December 1923 and had the following convictions recorded against him:
It was noted that the facts of the third case were interesting, briefly being that he had entered a dry dock in the County Borough of Swansea during the night, boarded a vessel berthed there and stole from one of the cabins. He was discovered and detained, and on the arrival of the police, a .38 revolver was found in his possession.
He was noted as having twice escaped from Borstal.
After he was discharged from Borstal on 1 January 1944 he was called up for military service.
The next that was known of him was when he escaped from Singapore Prison where he was serving the 8-year sentence. He had engaged a taxi with another man to take them to the outskirts of the town and had then held him up with a revolver and robbed him of cash.
The Singapore Prison was Otram Road Prison in Singapore and after escaping he had gone to the Government Barracks in civilian clothes and entered a military camp where he stole a uniform into which he changed. He said that he later boarded a transit lorry for the transit camp and waited there for about 14 days until the next contingent of troops was due to leave for England. He said that no one questioned him and that after mixing with the other troops, he boarded the Empress of Scotland en-route for England and landed in Liverpool in late August 1947, disembarked and 'jumped ' a train from Lime Street Station and arrived in Swansea without mishap.
The police report noted that they would agree that that was quite an achievement if it were true but noted that they felt quite sure that without assistance from his fellow troopers that he could never have succeeded.
The criminal said that he told his mother that he deserted from the army and that after a month he went to Newcastle where he stayed with his married sister for some months before returning to Neath Road in Swansea in the middle of February 1948.
He said that he had done no work at any time since his desertion apart from making toys at his home address and said that he seldom went out, perhaps once or twice a week to the pictures or for a walk.
When he was questioned about the murder of Evan Harris, he said that he remembered reading about it in the newspapers and of hearing that the other night watchman, his neighbour, had been taken to the police station for questioning, but denied having been near South Dock since his return home.
However, in order to check his statement, the police questioned the criminals sister who denied that he had ever gone to live with her in Newcastle and who stated that the first that she had seen of him in some years was when she left Northumberland on about 9 January to reside with her mother in Swansea. She said that she had asked why he was at home and said that he had told her that he had done something silly but refused to discuss the matter further. She described her brother as being very quiet and moody and someone who would seldom speak in the house unless spoken to first.
The police stated that due to the discrepancies between the criminal and his sisters statements that they questioned the criminal again but he strongly adhered to his statement and even when the police made it quite clear to him that they knew he was lying, they said that his attitude was 'This is my story and I am sticking to it'.
The police report noted that no effort was spared to get the criminal to tell them the truth as to his activities in the previous twelve months and in particular during February 1948 and said that at one state of the interrogation they said that they got the feeling that he was about to break but that the moment passed and he again re-asserted his innocence.
The police said that they later found that the criminal was still subject to military discipline and were informed that if they could not find a charge against him that they would take him over. As such, the police report stated, that in the circumstances, not being able to lawfully detain the criminal much longer, they arranged travel back from Swansea and took him to the Provost Marshal's Department at Great Scotland Yard where they handed him over to the military authorities.
It was later noted that whilst in the custody of the military, that the criminal had inquired whether, in the event of him admitting offences committed by him in Swansea, whether he would be dealt with by the Army authorities and he was told by a Sergeant Major that he could be so dealt with but that he was not in a position to satisfy him definitely on the point.
The criminal did eventually agree to make a statement, but only to the military police in which he gave particulars of five cases of shopbreaking that he had committed in the Swansea area. When the police in Swansea learnt of the latest developments and determined that the offences admitted had in fact been committed, they requested Scotland Yard to re-arrest the criminal and detain him on their behalf and he was taken into custody at 10am on 10 August 1948 along with the statement that he had made to the military authorities.
When he was detained at Cannon Row police station and was waiting for escort to Swansea, he was again interrogated regarding the murder of Evan Harris but denied it, although he admitted a further three cases of shop and housebreaking which made 11 cases in all. He was then later taken to Swansea by train.
The additional police report into the criminal as a suspect in the murder of Evan Harris stated, 'Whether this man is the murderer of Evan David Harris, I cannot say, but I am certainly not satisfied that he is not the murderer. There is no evidence to connect him with the crime and I feel that he fully realised our limitation in this respect. He knows he dock area well and through his connections with the other night watchman might have known the deceased. The criminal is really a sneak thief and it had, throughout this enquiry, been one of the two theories that Evan Harris was murdered by some petty thief he disturbed on his premises. Had this person been the criminal, Evan Harris might even have recognised him, and with knowledge of eight-years rigorous imprisonment hanging over his head in the event of his capture, he might well have resorted to violence. I doubt, assuming he is guilty, talk now'.
In 1961 a convicted prisoner claimed that a man that he had met in prison had confessed to the murder of Evan Harris. In a statement dated 7 September 1961, he wrote, 'When I was in Swansea Prison in 1950/51, I was working with a fellow prisoner in the laundry whose name was ---. He was serving a sentence for rape. He was aged 28 to 30 years, bout 5ft 11in to 6ft in height. He said he was worried, and he must tell somebody. This was whilst he was waiting a 'call up' before one of the Senior Prison Officers. He then told me he had done the watchman in at the docks. He said he was serving a sentence of 2 years for raping a coloured woman in St Thomas. I remember his hair was blonde and he was well built. At the time, he was the only man named ---- in the prison at that time. I didn't ask him any questions about what he said as it is not policy to do so in the 'Nick'. In 1959 I heard that he had since been killed in a motorcycle accident'.
However, the statement brought about no developments in the case which is still unsolved.
see National Archives - MEPO 3/2999
see Wales Online