unsolved-murders.co.uk
Unsolved Murders

Lily Volpert

Age: 41

Sex: female

Date: 6 Mar 1952

Place: 203/204 Bute Street, Cardiff

Source: news.bbc.co.uk

Lily Volpert was murdered in her shop at 203/204 Bute Street at the Cardiff docks on the night of 6 March 1952.

Her throat had been cut with a razor and about £100 stolen from her till.

Mahmood Hussein Mattan, a Somali seaman, was executed for her murder but his conviction was quashed posthumously in 1998 after the Court of Appeal ruled that the conviction was unsafe. It was heard that his conviction was based on an eyewitness statement which was later determined to have been identical with that of another man who was later convicted of the murder of a man in 1954 in Belt Road, Duffryn, Wales. It was also heard that an eyewitness, whose statement was critical to the prosecution’s case, Harold Cover, was a man with a history of violence and whose evidence and credibility was further complicated when Harold Cover was himself later convicted of the attempted murder of his daughter, by cutting her throat with a razor, on 6 May 1969 which was followed by an article in The People newspaper on 1 June 1969 calling for the Home Secretary to review Mahmood Mattan's conviction, running with the headline, 'Was The Wong Man Hanged?'

The general chronology of the case is:

  • 6 March 1952: Lily Volpert murdered.
  • 15 March 1952: Mahmood Mattan was arrested.
  • 24 July 1952: Mahmood Mattan convicted of murder.
  • 20 August 1952:  Mahmood Mattan's appeal dismissed.
  • 3 September 1952: Mahmood Mattan executed at Cardiff.
  • 3 November 1954: Taher Gass convicted of murder of Granville George Jenkins but found to be insane. He was later deported to Somalia. It was said that he matched the description of the man seen leaving Lily Volpert's store shortly before her dead body was found and it was known that he had been there that day. He was later considered a possible suspect.
  • 7 May 1969: Harold Cover convicted of the attempted murder of his daughter. He had been a critical witness at the trial and had given a positive identification of Mahmood Mattan as being the man that he saw leave the stores shortly before Lily Volpert was found dead, even though four other people failed to identify him and one person swore that it wasn't him. Following his conviction and Mahmood Mattan's posthumous pardon Harold Cover was referred to as a possible suspect in Lily Volpert's murder. It was said that the attack on his daughter closely resembled the attack on Lily Volpert, her throat having been cut with a razor.
  • 6 June 1969: A article appeared in the People newspaper in which a woman signed an affidavit which she had signed on 31 May 1969 stating that she had seen Mahmood Mattan elsewhere shortly after leaving  Lily Volpert in her shop and that as such he could not have murdered her, but she later retracted her story when she was questioned by the police.
  • 23 September 1997: Criminal Cases Review Commission, a new body, refer case to the Court of Appeal.
  • 24 February 1998: Mahmood Mattan's murder conviction was quashed by Court of Appeal.
  • 22 October 2003: Mahmood Mattan's son was found dead on a beach in Caithness and an open verdict was returned at his inquest.

When Mahmood Mattan was charged with Lily Volpert's murder he was asked whether he wanted a solicitor to defend him and he replied, 'Defend me for what? You can't get me for what I have not done'.

Lily Volpert was a spinster and was the proprietress of the business at 203 Bute Street. She lived in the private quarters connected with the shop by a glass panelled door that led from the shop immediately into the dining area, the door from the dining room being directly opposite the front entrance door to the shop. She lived there with her sister, a widow, and her sisters 10-year-old daughter and at the time of the murder her mother had also been there.

The business had been established by Lily Volpert's father about forty years earlier. The area was also known as Tiger Bay.

Lily Volpert had managed the business for a period of about 25 years and when her father died about 2 1/2 years earlier, Lily Volpert inherited the business.

It was noted that the shop was situated in the Docks District of Cardiff which was largely populated by coloured seamen of many different nationalities.

Lily Volpert was a Jewess of excellent character and reputation and it was considered that the motive for her murder was clearly that of robbery and it was subsequently estimated that between £100 and £130, being the takings for the week up to the day of her death, was missing.

Lily Volpert's mother and sister said that Lily Volpert normally closed the shop at 8pm but would oblige by serving customers after that time and that that fact was well known in the district and that many local residents used the shop doorbell to bring Lily Volpert into the shop after closing time.

Lily Volpert was found dead in her shop at about 8.15pm on 6 March 1952 when a man that lived nearby called at her shop to buy some cigarettes. Her throat had been cut with a razor. When her body was examined shortly after she was found it was determined that she had been killed shortly before by a sharp instrument being drawn across her neck, severing the main blood vessels. It was noted that the instrument was never found.

She was last seen alive at her shop by two women who had been there just after 8pm. One of the women said that when she was in the shop that she had seen a dark-skinned man with a moustache, whilst the other woman didn't notice anything particular about any other person. It was later said that the man that the woman had seen in the shop, described as being dark skinned with a moustache, could not have been Mahmood Mattan because Mahmood Mattan did not have a moustache. It was further noted that whilst the woman that saw the man identified Mahmood Mattan from a photograph, she failed to identify him in court.

The two women that had gone into the shop, the first, who later said she saw the Somali suspect with a moustache, had bought a headscarf whilst the other, who said she saw no other person in the shop and who later signed the affidavit in 1969 saying she later saw Mahmood Mattan in Bridge Street at 8.15pm but then retracted it, had enquired after some shoes and had made arrangements to return to the shop the following morning.

The second woman, who said in 1952 that she saw nothing much in the shop of another person, later signed the affidavit on 31 May 1969, shortly after Harold Cover was convicted of attempted murder, stating that she had seen Mahmood Mattan in Bridge Street wearing his overalls at about 8.15pm after having left Lily Volpert's shop in Bute Street at 8.05pm meaning that he could not have carried out the murder at 8.20pm. However, when the police questioned her she withdrew what she had said and the police concluded, after a review, that as such they saw no new grounds to justify reopening the case.

It was said that a coloured man was then seen to leave her shop shortly before she was found dead. However, it was also said that four witnesses that had seen the man leave the shop were not able to identify Mahmood Mattan as that man and that a 12-year-old girl even stated that he was not the man that she had seen.

Additionally, the owner of a second-hand clothing shop in Bridge Street, Cardiff, which was about a mile and a half away from Lily Volpert's shop in Bute Street said that Mahmood Mattan visited her shop between 8.30pm and 9pm to buy some clothes. However, It was said that at the time of the trial her evidence had been played down because whilst she had known about Lily Volpert's murder on the day after her murder that she had not gone to the police until a week later which was just after a £200 reward was offered for information.

However, it was said that at the trial, the evidence that clinched the prosecution was that of Harold Cover who said that he had been near Lily Volpert's shop at 8.15pm and had seen Mahmood Mattan walking away from her shop porch.

It was said that the prosecution made one of the shortest closing addresses in memory of five minutes, with the prosecution saying, 'If you believe what Cover says, then you must find this man guilty of murder'.

However, following Harold Cover's conviction in 1969, the similarity of his crime was raised and an article was published in The People newspaper on 1 June 1969 which was brought to the attention of the Home Secretary and a number of witnesses were questioned again. However, nothing more was done until the case was re-examined by the Criminal Cases Review Commission in 1997.

At the trial it was said by the prosecution that Mahmood Mattan had been in possession of a knife or razor on several times before the murder and that such possession was not for a lawful purpose. However, Mahmood Mattan had denied that he had had a knife or razor except for the purpose of shaving.

It was noted that at the magistrates trial that the case of Rex vs Armstrong (1922) was sited which referred to reference to an accused person being shown to having been in possession of a wepon before, and it was said that whilst magistrate was prepared to allow evidence of earlier possession, he ruled out evidence of possession for a purpose that was not innocent.

Shortly after the police arrived at 203/204 Bute Street, Cardiff, a doctor examined Lily Volpert's body. She was found to have a cut from below the centre of her chin to the back of her neck on the right side. She also had three other cuts just below the angle of her jaw about an inch long, running into the main cut and about half an inch apart. He also said that there was a cut around the neck on the blouse.

It was also noted that underneath her body there was a cardboard shoe or boot box for a pair of children's shoes, which it was thought that she might have been preparing for the second of the two women who head earlier been in her shop and who were the last people to see her alive.

The police said that when they examined the shop premises, they found that it would have been possible for an adult to conceal themself behind a number of features, including a model on a three-legged stand to the right of the doorway, as well as behind the glass showcase to the left as there were a large number of goods in it that would have prevented a person seeing through to the back. It was also noted that there were a large number of parcels distributed about the premises which were large enough for someone to hide behind.

The doctor said that she was dead and that there had been extensive bleeding and that there were blood marks on her toes and knees. He also said that he also noticed an extensive area of blood in a recess about 10 or 12 feet to the rear of the premises and that having regard to that and the marks on her knees and toes, that he thought that it was probable that Lily Volpert had crawled that distance, noting that in all events that there was nothing inconsistent about that theory.

The pathologist that carried out her post mortem on 7 March 1952 at the Pathology Institute in Cardiff said that externally he found the clothing over Lily Volpert's right arm and shoulder was soaked in blood and that there were bloodstains on her toes, knees and hands. He said that on the right side of her neck there was an 8 inch long and 2 inch deep cut which started beneath her chin, 1/2 inch to the left of the midline, which finished 2 inches behind her right ear. He said that joining that main cut there were three short deep cuts and a fifth cut that was 4 1/2 inches long, 1 1/2 inches below the main cut although that cut had only gone through the skin. He said that the main cut had gone through all the soft flesh at the side of her neck and had damaged her backbone which was lying at the bottom of the wound.

The pathologist said that on Lily Volpert's knuckles of the index, middle and ring fingers of her left hand the skin was torn and that at the base of her index finger on the left hand there was a sliced wound of the skin 1/2 inch long.

He said that over her left shoulder blade that there was a recent bruise measuring 3 x 2 inches and several small bruises on her right shin.

He said that at the top of her scalp there was a sharply marked out red area of the skin, the reddening of which he said was consistent with her hair being pulled.

He said that five blows would have been needed to cause the five cuts and that he thought that the main cut was inflicted first, noting that if any of the smaller cuts were inflicted first that he thought that he would have found more signs of a struggle. He added that he also found no continuation of the smaller cuts after reaching the main cut.

He said that the effect of each cut would have been severe haemorrhage and very limited physical effort such as walking or crawling a few paces. He also said that he would expect to find a great amount of blood at the place of the attack.

The pathologist said that the bruise on her shoulder was consistent with the weight of a man, noting that it was a heavy weight on the shoulder not inconsistent with the weight of a knee with the greater part of a man's weight behind it. He said that if Lily Volpert had been stooping at the time that it would be consistent with the bruise on the shoulder blade.

He said that the blood marks on her knees and toes were consistent with Lily Volpert having dragged herself along on her hands and knees.

He said that her body was fully clothed except for her footwear and said that she was a woman of 4ft 10in tall and weighing 10 stone and 3 pounds, noting that she was definitely an obese woman.

The pathologist said that her cause of death was a haemorrhage due to a cut throat and said that he would certainly say that she would have lost consciousness within five minutes of receiving the main wound.

When the pathologist was cross-examined at the trial he said that the wound would not have prevented her from crying out as there was no injury to her voice box, but said that if she failed to do so that it could be due to fright and terror.

He said that all her organs were healthy and free from disease but said that he did find a pallor in her organs due to haemorrhage.

The pathologist added that he thought that her wounds were consistent with an attack from behind with the pulling of her hair.

He said that an instrument such as a sharp knife or razor must have been used with a great degree of force and that her wounds were quite inconsistent with having been self-inflicted.

He said that the tearing of the skin on her knuckles was consistent with a weight on her back whilst she was supporting herself with her knuckles.

He added that the direction of the cut on her left index finger was consistent with her attempting to grasp a weapon situated near the right side of her neck.

The police report stated that the conclusion of the pathologist report and the other evidence indicated that her murderer had stood behind Lily Volpert when she was in a stooping position and put his knee on her back near her left shoulder and pulled her head back by grasping her hair and had then cut her throat. The police report noted that the importance of that was that it meant that whilst her murderer must have got a quantity of blood on his hand, that it did not follow that there would have been a considerable amount of blood on his clothing and it was noted that in fact there were no blood splashes higher than 18 inches from the floor behind the counter where she had been attacked.

The police report stated that some guidance as to the extremes of the time between which Lily Volpert could have been murdered were offered by two people.

The first was a woman that lived at 25 Loudon Square who said that she left her home at 8pm on the night of the murder and had walked to the Butetown Community Centre in Bute Street where there was a Whist Drive. She said that her walk took her past Lily Volpert's shop, which was 320 paces from her home and that she was well known to Lily Volpert, and said that Lily Volpert had been standing in the doorway of her shop. She said that they had a short conversation and that she then continued her way to the Community Centre which was 98 paces further along Bute Street. she said that when she then entered the Community Centre, that she looked at the clock within the building which she said showed the time as being 8.08pm.

The other man that gave an indication of the extremes of time within which Lily Volpert could have been murdered was a man that said that he had passed Lily Volpert's shop in his motor car and that when he did so he had noticed that there were lights burning in the shop and that the shop door was partly open and that he was able to say with some accuracy that the time had then been between 8.17pm and 8.18pm.

The police report noted that it was clear from the smears of blood on the bolt of the shop door and on the glass near the bolt that the murderer had to release the bolt before leaving and that as such, it was not until the murderer had left the store that that he had left the door ajar as seen by the man in the car and as found by the unemployed man that found her dead behind her counter at 8.20pm.

It was noted that the man that found Lily Volpert's body was not able to run on account of lameness and that it was observed that after finding Lily Volpert's body that he had arrived at Bute Street Police Station, about 215 yards northwards, at 8.28pm.

As such, the police concluded that the extremes thus indicated were 8pm and 8.20pm, although it was further noted that the two woman that were said to have been the last to have seen Lily Volpert alive after they went into her store effected the time that she might have been murdered as they had been to her shop at about 8pm. It was said that they had said that they had left their home at 49 Loudon Square on the evening of 6 March 1952 at about 7.55pm and had walked by way of North Loudon Place to Bute Street making for the bus stop at the corner of Sophia Street and Bute Street and that in passing Lily Volpert's shop they had seen her standing in the doorway or porch and had got into conversation with her which had then led to them entering her shop where one of the women purchased a head scarf. It was said that they estimated that they had been in her shop for between five and ten minutes and had then gone on to Mill Lane, a journey of 3 minutes and 12 seconds, by trolley bus, and after a walk of about 150 yards, they had looked at a public clock opposite the Oxford Hotel which one woman said showed that it was 8.16pm and he other, after having gone to the toilet, said that it was just before 8.19pm.

The engineer in charge of the Rotary Electricity sub-station, The Hayes, who lived at 440 Caerphilly Road in Cardiff said that the sub-station supplied electricity to Messrs. David Morgan Limited, The Hayes, amongst other places, including the turret clock outside their premises, which the two woman had later looked at between 8.16pm and 8.19pm. He said that he could not say as to the accuracy of the clock on 6 March 1952, but said that there had been no load shedding in the area for the whole of the past winter and no voltage variation or periodicity variation on 6 March 1952 which he said would have been the main causes for any variation in the time of electric clocks. He added that there was no electrical reason why the clock should not be right.

It was also said that one of the women, when leaving the shop, said that when they did so, Lily Volpert had looked at her watch and said, 'It's nearly five past eight'.

It was noted that after leaving Lily Volpert's shop, the only person that the two women said that they saw, was a man  in the vicinity of the trolley bus they got on who they described as 'a white chap in working clothes and a haversack'.

Several witnesses gave evidence to having seen Mahmood Mattan on 6 March 1952.

The first was a commissionaire at the Central Cinema at The Hayes in Cardiff. He said that he relieved the doorman at the door at 3.30pm and was on duty for an hour taking the tickets from the people coming in and said that he saw Mahmood Mattan come in at about 3.45pm wearing a hat like an 'Anthony Eden' hat. He said that he knew Mahmood Mattan by sight.

The commissionaire said that he went on duty again at the entrance door to the cinema, noting that people normally came out through that door, but that there was also an emergency exit at the front of the cinema. He said that he was then on duty until 8pm and said that it was quite possible that Mahmood Mattan could have come out during that time without him seeing him, but said that he did not see him leave.

He said that during that week there was a film showing called 'Steel Helmet' which was about the Korean War which he said started at about 3pm and lasted for about 1 hour 30 minutes. He said that a person entering the cinema at about 3.45pm would enter that film about half-way through. He said that the whole programme lasted about 2 hours 40 minutes and said that if Mahmood Mattan watched the whole programme through then he would have left at about 6.30pm which he said would have been just before he resumed his second turn of duty. He added that he did not think that 'Steel Helmet' was showing at 7.30pm.

Mahmood Mattan had married a local woman in 1947 but they had parted around 18 months earlier after which his wife had lived at 8 Davis Street whilst Mahmood Mattan had lived on the opposite side of the street at 42 Davis Street. Mahmood Mattan's ex-mother-in-law said that Mahmood Mattan called at her house on 6 March 1952 at about 8.02pm or 8.03pm and asked her whether she wanted any cigarettes but said that she told him that she had no money. She said that it was pretty dark and so she could not see what he had been wearing but said that his hat looked like an 'Anthony Eden'.

A woman who ran a general store at 4 Adam Street in Cardiff said that she knew Mahmood Mattan through his calling at her shop for cigarettes and said that she knew his family. She said that on 6 March 1952 that she was preparing to visit a friend at Hodges Row and that at approximately 7.30pm or something to 8pm, later estimating the time to have been between 7.30pm and 7.45pm as she had to be out by 8pm, that Mahmood Mattan called in and asked for 'Players'. However, she said that she didn't have any and said that he left. She said that as far as she could see that he had been wearing a hat and a sort of dust coat but could not swear to the colour. She noted that he was not in the shop for more than a minute or two, stating that he just asked for cigarettes and then went, and said that she did not see what direction he took when he left.

When Harold Cover, the man that was central to the conviction of Mahmood Mattan gave evidence, he said, 'On 6 March 1952 in the evening, I passed the doorway of Volport's shop in Bute Street. A number of people were standing near the shop. They were Maltese as far as I could tell. I passed the doorway of the shop and there was somebody standing against the window. I cannot see that person here today (at the trial). I went on to the next block. As I was passing, the accused (Mahmood Mattan) came from the direction of the doorway of the shop. I had seen him on a few occasions before in Butetown. He passed the crowd of men'.

Harold Cover had been a 32-year-old carpenter and had lived at 15 Adelaide Street and it was said after Mahmood Mattan was posthumously pardoned that he was a possible suspect in Lily Volpert's murder.

His full statement to the police read, 'Early during the evening of Thursday 6 March 1952, I was at the John Cory's Hall, Bute Street. I played draughts. When I finished with my partner, a West African, who I know well by sight, I am practically certain that it was about 7.55pm when I left the hall. I walked slowly along Bute Street towards the Police Station. I was on the shops' side of Bute Street. As I passed the Maltese Lodging house next door to Volpert's shop I saw about eight Maltese standing outside the lodging house. I forced my way through the crowd of Maltese in or to pass. I had only gone a few steps further when I saw two Somalis. One was standing against the glass window close to the doorway of Volpert's shop. The other was coming out of the shop doorway. What I really mean is that he was coming out of the shop porchway. He passed right in front of me, causing me to move aside to let him pass. He turned to his right and went in the direction from which I had came. The other Somali remained by the window and I passed him and walked on until I reached Sam On Yen's cafe on the next corner. I stopped there to talk to a coloured man I knew. I didn't look back towards Volpert's to see if the other Somali was still standing by the shop. I talked to the man for about five minutes, then I walked back along Bute Street towards the Docks. As I passed Volpert's shop I noticed that the other Somali had gone. The Maltese were still there. I then walked home. The Somali whom I saw leaving the shop porchway I know well by sight. I have seen him in the Colonial Annex Dance. Sometimes I have seen him near a Somali Lodging house in Bute Street. I have also seen him walking in various parts of the Docks. The man I saw coming out of the porchway I would describe him as 5ft 10in in height, slight build, thin face. I am not sure if he has scars on his face. I think he has a gold tooth in his mouth. I'm not certain. He was not wearing a hat. He was not wearing any coat. Overcoat I mean. I'm pretty certain he had a brown suit on. He had a collar and tie on. He was between 30 and 40 years. The man standing by the glass window I would describe as between 25 and 30 years, height 6 feet or a little more, very young features, pleasant. He was wearing a gaberdine mac, light colour. I don't remember if it was belted. Dark coloured English type trilby hat, grey flannel trousers, black shoes'. [rest of his statement was not present].

An unemployed seaman that lived at 49 Loudoun Square in Cardiff said that the two women that were the last to see Lily Volpert alive in her shop were tenants of his. He said that on 6 March 1952 that he was in the house all day and that they left the house at about 7.50pm or 7.55pm. He said that he remembered when they left, saying that they spoke to him and that he looked at the clock and that they left within five minutes of that. He noted that he sometimes checked his clock with his wireless but said that he did not remember checking that day.

The first woman, who was 28 years old, that said she was one of the last two women to see Lily Volpert in her shop said that she lived at 49 Loudoun Square with her husband, noting that the other women who was the other women to see Lily Volpert alive, and later gave te false affidavit in May 1969, with whom she said she had been friendly with for some time, said that on 6 March 1952 that they left the house together in the evening at about 7.55pm. She noted that the other woman spoke to the landlord before they left.

She said that it was drizzling with rain and that they called at the Freemasons public arms and she looked in to see if her husband was there and that that they left in two to three minutes.

She said that they then went to Lily Volpert's shop at 203 Bute Street as she wanted a headscarf. She said that when they got there they went in, noting that Lily Volpert was on the doorstep. She noted that there were no other shops open on the way there.

She said that when she went into the shop she turned right to go up to the counter which was facing her and tried on a headscarf and then went to the mirror which was near the door going out, at which point she said a man came in. At the trial, she said that she could not see that man there in the court, meaning that she did not identify Mahmood Mattan as that man at the trial. She said that he was tall, wearing a light mack and trilby hat, and that he was dark skinned and had had a small moustache. She added that he was not in the shop two minutes and that she did not see him when they went outside and noted that in fact she didn't actually see him leave the shop. She added that no one else came in whilst they were there and said that no shoes were shown. She said that she thought that she had been in the shop for about five or seven minutes and that when they left Lily Volpert came out behind them to the door. The woman said that they then went to the bus stop outside the Chinese Restaurant on the corner of Sophia and Bute Street and then went to Hayes Bridge and walked to the Oxford Hotel by which time it was about nearly 8.20pm.

In her first statement she said, 'On Thursday evening 6 March 1952, I was in Bute Street with my friend who lives in the same house. We were near Volpert's shop. I saw Miss Volpert standing in the doorway of the shop. I wanted to buy a head scarf and offered to pay her 5/- and the rest in the morning. She said, 'I'll trust you till the morning'. I went into the shop with her. All the lights were on. I bought a scarf. When we came out I asked her the time. She said, It's nearly five past eight'. She looked at her watch. She came out on to the door step with us. The only people I saw outside was a white chap in working clothes and a haversack, and a woman who was on the doorstep of her shop, a short way up the road. There was nobody else in the shop when I went in'.

The other woman, who was 25 years old, who was with her who later gave the fake affidavit said that she was a spinster and lived at 49 Loudoun Square in Cardiff and that on 6 March 1952 that she went to Lily Volpert's shop in Bute Street with the other woman noting that she had been there a few weeks before about some shoes. She said that whilst she was at the shop that she had a conversation with Lily Volpert and said that she was going to go to the shop the next morning. She said that whilst she was in the shop that Lily Volpertwent towards the stockroom to the left of the counter where they were being served. She said that afterwards she went with the other woman to the Oxford Hotel. She said that when she had been in Lily Volpert's shop that she had been interested in a pair of black leather strap shoes for her child noting that it was not a similar shoe to a bootee. She added that she did not see anyone enter the shop whilst they were being served.

In her statement she said, 'At five to eight on Thursday, 6 March 1952, I left the house with my friend. Before leaving the house, I spoke to my landlord. I asked him the time and he told me it was five to eight. He lives on the bottom floor of the house. We walked round Loudon Place and along Bute Street towards the bus stop outside Sam On Yen's. I don't remember seeing anyone at all until we got to Volpert's shop. I saw Miss Volpert standing in the shop doorway. She was standing slightly inside the porch. It was raining at the time. Miss Volpert said, 'Good evening girls'. We said 'Good evening'. My friend then said to her 'Are you closed?'. Miss Volpert said, I am really closed. What do you want? It's nearly eight o'clock and we have to close under the Shop Act'. My friend said, 'I want a cheap headscarf'. Miss Volpert said, 'The cheapest we have is 8/11d, come in quickly, and I'll serve you'. We went in the shop and she said, 'Come up the top and I'll serve you'. We went up to the top of the shop, that is, turning to the right. We stood in front of the counter. Miss Volpert went behind the counter and got out, I think it was, three boxes. My friend chose the first headscarf she saw and asked Miss Volpert how much it was. Miss Volpert said it was 8/11d. My friend said that she could only pay 5/-. Miss Volpert said, 'I'll trust you as you are a customer. Pay me the 3/11d in the morning'. My friend gave her a ten-shilling note and Miss Volpert said, 'Come down the end and I'll give you the change'. Before we left the counter, I asked Miss Volpert if she had any size seven shoes for myself and if she had kept any shoes for the children, shoes I had ordered. She went to go to the stock room on the left-hand side. I could see that the stock room door was open. I had previously told her that I didn't want them particularly that night. She just went as far as the door, then she said, 'Being as you don't want them tonight, come in and see me at nine o'clock in the morning'. Then we followed her down to the other end of the shop. Miss Volpert put the ten-shilling note in the till, and gave my friend two half-crowns which she took from the till. My friend then asked for some hair grips and a box of Swan matches. As my friend didn't have any change, I gave Miss Volpert sixpence half-penny, and she put it in her smock pocket. As we were leaving, Miss Volpert said, 'Times are hard. There's nothing about'. As we were going out Miss Volpert took a box of matches from a glass case on the right-hand side of the door and gave them to my friend. As we came out through the shop door Miss Volpert walked behind us. She said, 'Goodnight girls', and my friend said, 'What's the time Miss Volpert?'. She looked at her wristlet watch and said, 'It's just on five past eight'. We said 'Goodnight' and left. I looked back as we said it, and saw Miss Volpert was standing on the edge of the porch, almost on the pavement. After she gave us the matches she said, 'I'm closing now. I'm not serving any more customers tonight. I don't even dress my windows because if anyone sees a light in my windows, they expect me to serve them'. As we passed Miss Volpert's second window, a man passed us, walking towards Miss Volpert's. He said 'Goodnight' to us. We didn't know him and didn't answer. This man was shorter than me, a white man, he appeared unshaven. He was wearing a dark brown trilby, a dirty belted mac, I believe it was fawn. He was also wearing wellington boots, turned down at the top. He was wearing a darkish haversack on his shoulder. We went on up to the bus stop. Just before we got there the woman who was on her doorstep said to us, 'Goodnight'. When we got on the stop, the bus was practically behind us. I looked to see it coming, but don't remember seeing anyone near Volpert's. Three people got off the trolley bus, two men and a woman. They were all white people. The men were in working clothes. I believe the woman who got off was wearing a check coat and had a scarf over her head. On Friday evening my friend and I were in the Custom House Hotel. She left me a little while and came back flustered. She said that a man had just told her that he had seen us coming out of Volpert's at about eight o'clock the night before. She said, 'I'm going down to the police station to report it'. I said, 'Well if you’re going down, I might as well come too'. We finished our drink and came straight down. the man who passed us outside Volpert's on Thursday night would be about 30 years old. When we got into the Hayes after leaving Volpert's, I looked at David Morgan's clock. The time was a minute to quarter past eight. We had left the trolley at Mill Lane and had walked to David Morgan's as we were going to the Oxford'.

The police report noted that whilst making their enquiries following the murder, that they became concerned with trying to trace the movements of Mahmood Mattan between 2 March and 11 March 1952, during which they spoke to the two women that were the last to see Lily Volpert alive. An inspector said that he then spoke to the two women separately and showed them a photograph of Mahmood Mattan and said that they both said that they knew Mahmood Mattan by sight but had never spoken to him and that neither of them said that they had seen him on the Thursday 6 March 1952. The inspector that interviewed them with regards to the movements of Mahmood Mattan said that he was aware that the two women had made statements and that neither had said anything about seeing a coloured man in or near Lily Volpert's shop when they visited the shop on the night of the murder.

However, the inspector said that the demeanour of the two women was suspicious and said that they were reluctant to testify and he said that having regard to the commonly found timidity of women of that type in relation to violence by coloured men, they were therefore seen again on Friday 15 March 1952 and that it was in the course of that interview that the woman that had bought the headscarf for the first time said that she had seen a man in the shop on the Thursday evening 6 March 1952 and then recognised him again as the man that she had seen dressed differently on at least two previous occasions. The woman had bougt the headscarf then identified Mahmood Mattan as the man that she had seen in the shop the day after that, Saturday 15 March 1952 from a photograph that she had seen, but at the trial she said that she was unable to identify Mahmood Mattan as that man.

The inspector then noted that the other woman, who had enquired about the shoes for her child, continued to say that she had not seen anyone else in the shop whilst they were there, but admitted that a man could have come into the shop whilst they were there without her seeing him whilst she was having the conversation with Lily Volpert about the shoes.

The inspector noted that the woman that bought the headscarf firmly adhered to her statement of seeing the coloured man and explained her initial reluctance to mention him as being due to fear.

When the police report detailed that background of Mahmood Mattan, it stated that he was born at Hargeisa in British Somaliland on 19 June 1922 or 1923 and that he had come to the United Kingdom as a member of a ship's crew in around 1942 and had been employed as a seafarer until 1949. It was stated that in 1947 that he had married a woman at the Cardiff Register Office but that he had been living apart from his wife since September 1950. It was noted that there were three children from the marriage, and that there was a Court Order for £2 per week in existence against Mahmood Mattan in respect of the maintenance of his wife and children. It was further noted that Mahmood Mattan had made only one payment on that order, that being the sum of £2 5. 0d which was paid on 17 October 1951.

It was noted that Mahmood Mattan had appeared before the courts on three occasions:

  • Central Criminal Court, 29 May 1951: Demanding money with menaces with intent to steal. DISCHARGED.
  • Cardiff Magistrates Court, 31 December 1951: Larceny of a suit and £80 in money. DISMISSED SJ Act.
  • Cardiff Quarter Sessions, 3 January 1952: Larceny of 6/- from a mosque. Probation order for three years. Pay £5 costs and £2. 2. restitution.

It was said in the report that Mahmood Mattan was known to the police and his fellow countrymen as a 'sneak thief'.

It was noted that his wife and children lived at 8 Davis Street which was on the opposite side and about 25 yards away from where Mahmood Mattan lodged at 42 Davis Street. It was also noted that Mahmood Mattan and is wife were still on friendly terms.

It was stated that in the first stages of the investigation on the night of Tuesday 6 March 1952 that the police visited a number of houses in the Docks and neighbouring districts to check on the movements of likely suspects and that he police in the course of that enquiry went to 42 Davis Street where Mahmood Mattan lived. It was said that the occupants were all coloured and that they comprised of the landlord, the woman that he lived with, three other lodgers and Mahmood Mattan. It was said that Mahmood Mattan occupied the middle room on the ground floor whilst the three other lodgers occupied bed sitting rooms on the first floor and that the remainder of the house was occupied by the landlord and his family.

When the police questioned Mahmood Mattan, he said that he had been at the cinema until 7.30pm and had afterwards gone home and then gone to bed, and he maintained his story throughout. It was noted that when he was questioned that night he had been in his underclothing.

It was noted that when the police spoke to him in his room that they found nothing suspicious other than an open type razor that had apparently not been used for some time. It was noted that when a detective asked Mahmood Mattan whether he had been wearing an overcoat or mack that Mahmood Mattan had indicated a black overcoat that was hanging behind his room door, saying that he had worn that that night. It was said that the detective examined the black overcoat, in the poor electric light in the room, and had found that it was damp, it being noted that it had been raining that night, but that the detective did not examine the interior of the pockets or the lining of the sleeves and that that overcoat since then disappeared and was never traced or examined in any further detail.

It was noted that the following day, 7 March 1952, at 9.30am, that there was an argument between Mahmood Mattan and the landlord and that Mahmood Mattan was asked to get a room elsewhere because too many policemen were calling at the house. It was said that Mahmood Mattan became excited and had shouted, 'The police didn't come for me, they didn't ask for Mattan, they came for this man upstairs which done the murder. S'help my God, you harbour murderers in this house'. It was said then that Mahmood Mattan then rushed out of his room and that as he was going that he said, 'S'help my God, that man killed the woman'.

It was said that as a result of that that the landlord called 999 and Mahmood Mattan was then brought to the Central Police Station when his version of his movements on the evening of 6 March 1952 was recorded. It was noted that in that version he had reiterated that he had gone to the Central Cinema at about 4.30pm and left at about 7.30pm and had then gone back to his lodgings where he had gone into the front room and saw the lodger and had then gone to bed. He denied having been in Bute Street and had said that he had been wearing a black hat, fawn mackintosh and had been carrying an umbrella.

It was said that no definite suspicion arose regarding Mahmood Mattan until several days later when shopkeepers in the Bute Street area gave information regarding certain incidents in which he had been concerned.

It was said that as a result of those statements, Mahmood Mattan was again brought to the Central Police Station for further interrogation on Wednesday 12 March 1952. It was also noted that on that morning his landlord and the other lodger were spoken to and gave a statement and that it then became apparent that there was a conspicuous discrepancy between the time that Mahmood Mattan said he arrived at 42 Davis Street on 6 March 1952 and when his landlord and fellow lodger said that he did.

There is a page missing (page 13), but the police report then went on to state that the police also determined that the woman from the other shop said that Mahmood Mattan had come into her shop at some time on Thursday 6 March 1952 to ask for a packet of Players' cigarettes but that she had told him that she didn't have any. It was also noted that Mahmood Mattan's wife had said that Mahmood Mattan had called at her house and had asked her if she wanted some cigarettes and that she had told him that she had no money. The inference being that Mahmood Mattan had denied having gone out after getting back from the cinema. It was further noted that the woman from the shop had said that when Mahmood Mattan had left after calling for the Players cigarettes that he had gone off along Adam street towards Bute Terrace which was towards Bute Street. She had also said that he had been wearing what she believed to have been a dark overcoat at the time.

It was further noted that amongst the things that Mahmood Mattan said in his statement was the statement stating that he had not been in Lily Volpert's shop since 1949. However, the police report noted that a detective constable who normally carried out his duties in the Docks District and who knew Mahmood Mattan said in his evidence that he remembered seeing Mahmood Mattan on a day in either September or October 1951 in Lily Volpert's shop standing near the cigarette counter. He also said that he had seen Mahmood Mattan leaving Lily Volpert's shop before on another occasion which he said was not more than twelve months earlier.

It was said that following these developments the police decided to put Mahmood Mattan up for identification and that her mother, sister, another woman and the Indian man who said that Mahmood Mattan had asked him to open his shop for him on 5 March 1952, were asked to identify him, but that only the Indian man was able to do so.

It was noted that during the interview with Mahmood Mattan, that he had accused the police of lying and that his landlord and the lodger were brought to the station to verify that they were saying that he had got home at 8.30pm. It was further noted that an important part of the landlords statement was the fact that on the Friday 7 March at about 4pm whilst talking that Mahmood Mattan had demonstrated to him the manner in which he thought Lily Volpert had been killed and it was said that that demonstration was markedly consistent with the known facts. However, it was further noted that Mahmood Mattan denied having that conversation or that such a demonstration took place.

The police noted that on 13 March 1952 that they received further information from the woman that owned the clothing business at 37 Bridge Street who said that she knew Mahmood Mattan well, describing him as a regular customer, who said that at one time he had come into her shop and offered her ten shillings for a suit of clothes worth between £3 and £4 and that when she had refused that Mahmood Mattan had drawn a knife shaped like a dagger and threatened her with it. She also said that Mahmood Mattan had come into her shop on Thursday 6 March sometime between 8.30pm and 8.50pm in an excited state and out of breath as though he had been running, wearing white dungarees, an Air Force battledress and a dark over-garment and carrying an umbrella and wearing kid gloves and told her that he wanted to buy some clothes but that she had told him, 'I haven’t got any, come back tomorrow. Now for God's sake go’. She said that she added, 'You haven’t got any money in any case', and had then said that Mahmood Mattan had pulled out of his pocket what she described as a dark leather figured wallet and opened it and had then said, 'I got plenty of money'. The woman said that the wallet was full of £1 notes, thinking there were about one hundred and that they were not in the separate pockets of the wallet, but in a 'sort of roll in the centre'. She said that he shut the wallet quickly and put it back into his pocket and then left the shop.

It was noted that the dark overcoat referred to in the statements of six people and the battledress referred to by the woman were never found.

It was also heard statements were taken from officials at Newport Greyhound Racing Track and from another Indian stating that they had seen Mahmood Mattan in possession of sums of money that were unusually large for him. One gatekeeper at the Greyhound Racing Track in Newport said that he saw Mahmood Mattan on Friday 7 March 1952 with a number of £1 notes which he estimated to amount to between £15 and £20.

Mahmood Mattan was also seen by a security officer at the track who said that he had known Mahmood Mattan well and had had occasion to speak to him regarding complaints that he had received from patrons regarding his efforts to borrow money from them and said that he had threatened to prevent Mahmood Mattan from entering the track unless that conduct ceased. However, he said that on the Friday 7 March 1952 that he had seen Mahmood Mattan at the track, stating that his attention was particularly attracted to him because he appeared to have had an unusual amount of money to bet with.

It wa s later found out also that on 8 March 1952 that Mahmood Mattan had joined a card game at 11pm on Saturday at a house at 34 Angelina Street and that Mahmood Mattan had played for about two hours and had lost £7.

The police stated that as such, following their enquiries into Mahmood Mattan, that evidence became available that allowed them to arrest Mahmood Mattan on Saturday 15 March at 12.30am on a charge of stealing a raincoat, it being heard that Mahmood Mattan had entered a shop in broad daylight in a busy thoroughfare and had stolen the coat from a hanger. He then appeared before the justices on the same day and was remanded in custody until Monday 17 March 1952.

It was noted that arrangements were made on Saturday 15 March 1952 to put Mahmood Mattan up for another identification parade but that he refused to take part.

The police said that following these developments that with the whole weight of evidence that they had against Mahmood Mattan  on the charge of murdering Lily Volpert, that at 5.30pm on Sunday 16 March 1952, that they changed Mahmood Mattan with Lily Volpert's murder.

Following the charge, it was later determined that human blood was found on both of his brown suede shoes.

The police stated that their theory was that Mahmood Mattan had entered Lily Volpert's shop whilst the two women were there and that whilst Lily Volpert was engaged with the women that he had hidden behind some of the numerous articles of merchandise in the shop and that after Lily Volpert had bolted the door when the two women had left and that whilst Lily Volpert was unaware of his presence in the shop that she had returned to the north end of the shop to tidy up and to prepare the child's bootees in preparation for the visit by one of the women the following morning and that Mahmood Mattan had then left his place of concealment as Lily Volpert was bending down behind the counter and attacked her and had then gone to the other end of the shop and stolen the shop takings and then left by unbolting the shop door which failed to close on his way out.

A woman who lived at 5 South Loudoun Place in Cardiff said that she was a counter assistant at Lily Volpert's shop and knew Mahmood Mattan. She said that she had seen Mahmood Mattan in the shop a few times since she had been there during the previous sixteen months, noting that she used to see him in the shop every few weeks. However, she said that she had not seen him for the last few weeks before Lily Volpert was murdered. She said that Mahmood Mattan would call in for anything general. She also identified a photograph at the trial of a pair of children’s shoes, photograph 12 of exhibit 1.

The Lily Volpert's sister, a widow, who lived at 203 Bute Street in Cardiff with her 10 year old daughter and Lily Volpert said that at about 8pm on 6 March 1952 that the only occupants of the premises were her 10-year-old daughter, her mother, Lily Volpert and herself and noted that the only person that didn't live on the premises was her mother who she said used to come daily at 8am to help.

Lily Volpert's sister said that the shop was a general store that supplied cigarettes, sports equipment, stationery and footwear and that the usual business hours were from 9am to 8pm. She said that there were three female counter assistants, one of whom finished work at 6.30pm.

She said that on occasions Lily Volpert would serve a customer that she knew although it was a little after closing time.

She said that if Lily Volpert wanted change that she would go to the cash register, which was on the left side at the back of the shop, noting that she had a drawer for small change in a cabinet behind the counter at the other end of the shop near the stock room. She said that the part where the cash register was in the office part of the shop where there was a safe. She noted that that portion was partitioned off by means of a glass case and partition and that near the safe there was a desk containing two drawers, in one of which Lily Volpert kept her money. She said that the drawer was unlocked and that from time to time she would make journeys from the shop to the office part. She said that the store's takings were kept in the drawer until the evening when they were taken upstairs, and then banked the following morning.

Lily Volpert's sister said that the day book, which was exhibit 4 at the trial, was in Lily Volpert's handwriting and showed entries of the takings for Sunday to Wednesday inclusive prior to her death which amounted to £102. 10. 0d.

Lily Volpert's sister said that he had some experience in the shop and said that it would have been a very quiet and bad day for the cash takings to be less than £20.

She said that it would only be Lily Volpert, or her mother or herself who were allowed to handle the money in the till. She added that as the notes accumulated in the till they were put in the small drawer near the safe.

Lily Volpert's sister said that she examined the till on 7 March 1952, the day after Lily Volpert was murdered and found £5 in notes. She said that when she then examined the desk drawer, she found that there were no notes there. She noted that on the Tuesday of that week when she had occasion to go to the desk drawer that there appeared to be about £50 or £60 in notes there. She then said that from her examination of the drawer and the day book that she would say that there was between £100 and £120 missing. It was later noted that she had suggested that her estimation had been £100 off as she said that she had omitted a float that she said that Lily Volpert had kept , but that was some weeks later and the police stated that they were not certain of her claim although they did look at Lily Volpert's bank statements to determine any known patterns in Lily Volpert's banks but said that her banking habits seemed to be irregular and not a lot of weight was placed on the claim that an additional £100 might have been missing.

She said that the week for banking would end on Saturday.

She noted that on the page marked with XXs on exhibit 4 was an entry for a cheque for £178. 6. 1d which she said had no relation to the day's takings, but was a cheque transaction, the cheque for which she was able to produce, (exhibit 5).

She said that she had been in the shop on the night of 6 March 1952 and saw no children's shoes on the counter or floor up to 8pm.

Lily Volpert's sister said that shortly after 8pm Lily Volpert came into the living room behind the shop and that about then the shop doorbell rang and that when she looked through the connecting door through the shop to the street door that she saw a fairly tall, full faced, coloured man there, noting at the trial that she did not see him in the courtroom, meaning that she did not recognise Mahmood Mattan as that man.

She said that she then spoke to Lily Volpert who went into the shop, which she said would have been about 8.01pm or 8.02pm and that that was the last time that she saw Lily Volpert alive.

She said that the next that she knew of the matter was when the police sergeant came into the living room after being alerted to Lily Volpert's body being found in the shop.

An unemployed man that lived at 199 Bute Street in Cardiff, three doors down from Lily Volpert's shop said that between 8pm and 8.30pm or about 8.10pm and 8.15pm that he went to her shop and found the front door of it about six or seven inches open and the usual lights on. He said that he pushed the door open and stepped in and that after waiting there for a couple of minutes, after stamping his foot, he looked to his right and saw Lily Volpert's body on the floor.

He said that he had only gone in the shop about three yards and that after seeing her body he closed the door and left and went to the police station. He added that after he saw Lily Volpert on the floor that he had shouted but had received no response.

The police report stated that tests showed that even a fairly loud call from the shop was not audible in the living quarters.

The unemployed man noted that when he approached the shop he saw no one entering or leaving.

A police sergeant said that on 6 March 1953 at 8.28pm that he was in Bute Street Police Station when the unemployed man came in and said that as a result of what he said he went with him and a police constable to 203 Bute Street where he found the door slightly ajar and went in. He said that the lights were on and noted that it did not take more than two minutes to get from the police station to the shop.

He said that when he went in and looked right that he saw the body of Lily Volpert lying on the floor. He said that there were bloodstains on the floor between the body and the street door of the shop. He said that there was an incline caused by the joining of the two premises Nos. 203 and 204 which he said no doubt was the cause of the blood flowing in that position. He said that her head was nearest the door and resting on her right arm and that her left arm was resting underneath her body and that there was blood on her head and clothing, noting that there were also bloodstains beyond her body on the floor at the feet end.

He said that she had no shoes on her feet.

He said that there was no movement and she appeared to be dead.

He said that the other policeman then searched the shop for Lily Volpert's attacker whilst he went through the shop to the living quarters where he saw Lily Volpert's mother, sister and niece in the dining room immediately behind the shop. It was noted that they had at that time not been alarmed and knew of nothing abnormal having happened.

A detective with the Fingerprint Bureau at the Cardiff City Police Force said that at 8.40pm on 6 March 1952 that he went to 203 Bute Street for the purpose of making an examination for finger impressions.

He said that he found a blood smear inside the glass panel of the front door leading into the street and also on the brass bolt on the inside of the front door. However, he said that he was unable to find any ridge characteristics at all.

He said that he then went into the office part of the shop which contained a desk and two drawers. He said that both drawers were in place when he examined the recess and said that he then removed one for the purpose of analysis. He said that when he examined one of the drawers, he found four marks on the inside but said that there were no ridge characteristics, adding that it was evident from that that the hand had been covered with a glove or some other covering. The police report stated that that evidence indicated to them that the murderer had been wearing gloves.

It was noted that it was from that drawer that the money had been taken.

He said that he also examined some papers that were lying nearby.

He said that he then examined the surface of the desk and other woodwork in the office but found no evidence of fingerprints. He said that he then examined the remainder of the shop with the same result.

When the proprietress of the second-hand clothing shop at 37 Bridge Street was questioned, she said that she knew Mahmood Mattan and that he had been a regular customer at her shop.

She said that she remembered the night that Lily Volpert was murdered, 6 March 1952, and said that between 8.30pm and 9pm that Mahmood Mattan came into her shop saying that he wanted to buy some clothing. She said that she told him, 'You haven’t got any money' and told him to go, and said, 'Come back tomorrow'. However, she said that Mahmood Mattan then said, 'Yes, I have money', and that he opened his wallet and that she saw a pile in it. She said that his wallet was dark brown and had some figuring on it, like photos and that she would recognise it again, saying that it was exhibit 6, a wallet that was produced in evidence in court. She said that the pile of money was in a roll and that he could not close the wallet with it in.  She said that it was a very large sum of money, and guessed that it was about £80 to £100. However, she said that she didn't notice whether they were ten shilling or one pound notes, saying that they were in a roll between the covers of the wallet.

She said that he was wearing kid gloves, had a dark overcoat on and that inside his overcoat he was wearing an Air Force battledress, white trousers and had an umbrella and had been wearing a brown trilby hat that he put on the counter.

She said that he was very wet and that it had been raining very hard.

She said that after she told him to come back the next day he went out through the door. She said that she told him twice to come back the next day, once before he showed her the money, and once after.

She said that Mahmood Mattan had been to her shop two or three times a week and said that on 6 March 1952, that he was very excited. She added that she thought that he had been running and was out of breath.

She also said that about nine or ten months earlier that she had offered Mahmood Mattan some clothing at a price and said that he had wanted it for less, noting that at the time he had been going to sea. She said that he offered her ten shillings for it which she refused and said that he then pulled out a knife and threatened her.

She later said at the trial whilst giving her evidence that she saw that the notes were one pound notes and did not see any ten shilling notes.

However, whilst the woman's evidence put Mahmood Mattan a considerable distance away from the scene of the murder between 8.30pm and 9pm, it was said that although she had known about the murder the following day, 7 March 1952, that it wasn't until a week later, after a £200 reward for information had been offered, that she came forward.

Mahmood Mattan's landlord said that on 5 March that he saw Mahmood Mattan shave, saying that he could not see what he was shaving with, but said that it was not a safety razor.

He said that one time Mahmood Mattan demonstrated the way that he thought Lily Volpert had been murdered and said that Mahmood Mattan drew his left arm across his neck and said, 'and perhaps that the way it might happen', noting that he put his left arm across his own neck and drew his right thumb across his throat.

The landlord said that Mahmood Mattan would sometimes go out with one clothes and return with different clothes. He said that on 7 March 1952 that Mahmood Mattan went out with working clothes and that when he later saw him in the street said that he had on a new suit and coat., but that when he saw him later when he came home in the afternoon, he had on some old brown trousers and a jacket with a zip fastener and elastic round the waist, noting that he had not been back to change and that he had only left the house himself for an hour that day.

A seaman that lodged at 42 Davis Street said that Mahmood Mattan had been a fellow lodger with him at that address. He said that on the 6 March 1958 between 8.30pm and 8.45pm that Mahmood Mattan came in. He said that he had a black overcoat on and a trilby hat. He said that it had been raining and that he was wet. He said that he was in the room whilst the landlord was there and that they were talking and that when Mahmood Mattan came in he didn't say good evening or anything, saying that he usually used to say good evening and chat sometimes. He said that when he saw that Mahmood Mattan was saying nothing that he gave him the Echo newspaper to read because he always asked for it and that he usually read it, but said that Mahmood Mattan just took it and turned it down.

Mahmood Mattan was seen the following night at Somerton Park Racing Track in Newport by the Head Stiles Clerk as he was operating the turnstile at the 4/9d entrance. He said that he knew Mahmood Mattan by sight and said that when he came to the entrance that night that he tendered a £1 note.

Mahmood Mattan was arrested on 15 March 1952.

When the police went to 42 Davis Street on 15 March 1952, they took a trunk belonging to Mahmood Mattan from his room and his hat, exhibit 7 and the wallet, exhibit 6. The police noted that the hat was slightly dented when they took possession of it.

Later, on 22 March 1952 the police carried out certain timing tests, measuring the time and paces between certain locations:

  • They walked at a medium pace from 49 Loudoun Square to Lily Volpert's shop in Bute Street, which they said, allowing for a twenty second look into the Freemanson's Hotel, took one minute and fifty seconds and was 163 paces.
  • The police said that at the same pace they went from Lily Volpert's shop to the woman's shop at 37 Bridge Street, taking the shortest route via Millicent Street and said that it took nine minutes and fourteen seconds and was 1,094 paces.
  • The police said that they similarly walked from 37 Bridge Street to 42 Davis Street, again, taking the shortest route via Guildford Crescent, and said that it took eight minutes and was 920 paces.
  • The police also went from the Central Cinema to 37 Bridge Street and said that it took two minutes and three seconds and was 230 paces.
  • When the police went from 8 Davis Street to Lily Volpert's shop, pausing for 20 seconds at a shop in Adam Street, they found that it took fourteen minutes and twelve seconds and was 1603 paces.
  • When the police went from the bus stop in Mill Lane to a position where they could first see the David Morgan Limited electric clock, they found that it was 80 paces and took 43 seconds, and 45 seconds to get right under the clock.
  • The police said that the time taken to go by bus from Sam On Yen's shop No. 208, in Sophia Street to the bus stop in Mill Lane took three minutes and twelve seconds.

A seaman that lived at 34 Angelina Street in Cardiff said that he played cards for money at the house and said that on 8 March 1952 several coloured seamen were there along with Mahmood Mattan who he said lost £7 that night.

He said that at the top of the drawer he noticed a bundle of washing which was waist high, meaning as high as his hip, and said that Mahmood Mattan was for about two minutes within arm's length of it. He said that they were playing in the middle room on the ground floor.

A spinster that lived at 34 Angelina Street in Cardiff said that the seamam that played cards there was a lodger at that house and said that at 5pm on 8 March 1952 that she put a bundle of clean washing in the middle of the room on the ground floor and said that the following day when she went to collect it to put it away that when she lifted it from the dresser that she saw a long razor with a bone coloured handle in it. She said that the blade was perfectly free from any stains and that it looked to be in good condition. She said that she had never made a similar discovery before. She said that she pushed the razor into the ashes under the fire and then tipped the ashes the next morning into the ash bin.

A detective said that on 5 March 1952 at 10.25pm that he went to 42 Davis Street with another detective and went to a room on the ground floor and had a conversation with a man there and then went to the middle room on the ground floor and said that Mahmood Mattan called out, 'Who is there?' and they told him that it was the police and that they wanted to talk with him. The detective said that Mahmood Mattan then unlocked his door and they went in. The detective said that Mahmood Mattan then asked, 'What do you want?', and that they then asked him if he was Mahmood Mattan, and said that he replied, 'Yes'. The detective said that he then asked him how long he had lived at 42 Davis Street and said that he replied, 'Five months'. The detective said that he then asked him where he had been that evening and said that Mahmood Mattan replied, 'To the Central'. The detective then asked him what picture he had seen, and Mahmood Mattan replied, 'Korean War and cowboys'. The detective then asked him what time it finished, and Mahmood Mattan said, 'Half past seven. I came straight home'. The detective said that he then asked Mahmood Mattan what way he came home and said that Mahmood Mattan replied, 'Past the Baths'. The detective said that he then asked Mahmood Mattan whether he had been alone at the cinema and whether he had seen anyone he knew on the way home and said that Mahmood Mattan replied, 'No'.

The detective said that he then asked Mahmood Mattan whether he had gone down Bute Street that evening and said that he replied, 'I have not been down there since Sunday'. When the detective asked Mahmood Mattan whether he carried a knife, he replied, 'No'. The detective said that he then told Mahmood Mattan that he intended to search his room and said that Mahmood Mattan asked him 'What for?'.

The detective said that the room itself had one electric light in the centre with a low powdered bulb, approximately 40 watt. He said that there was a bed, wardrobe, table, chair and a tin trunk in the room.

The detective said that when he entered the room that Mahmood Mattan had been dressed in a vest and underpants and said that his bedclothes were pulled back as if he had just got up from bed.

He said that on the chair there was a brown jacket and that in the jacket pocket they found a razor which they later took as exhibit 8. The detective said that he examined it and found portions of the blade broken. He said that whilst he was looking at the blade that Mahmood Mattan said, 'I used to shave with it. It broke a long time ago'. The detective said that he then asked Mahmood Mattan whether he had another razor and said that Mahmood Mattan pointed to the table, to which the other detective then opened a drawer and extracted a safety razor.

The detective said that whilst the other detective was searching the room that he asked Mahmood Mattan whether he had any money and said that he replied, 'No' and said that the other detective then took a small sum in silver and bronze from his jacket. The detective said that he then saw a pair of brown shoes near the chair which they later took as exhibit 9 as well as a pair of black shoes, noting that both pairs were damp.

The detective said that there were no blood stains visible on the shoes to the human eye, and nor to anything else in the room.

The detective noted that they also failed to find any money in notes in the room either.

The detective said that he again asked Mahmood Mattan where he had been after leaving the cinema and said that he said, 'I came straight home'. He said that Mahmood Mattan then grew excited and said, 'What ar you looking for? Why do you come to my room? Have you a warrant?'. The detective said that he then told him that something very serious had happened that night in Bute Street and that a coloured man was believed to be responsible. He said that Mahmood Mattan then asked, 'Why a coloured man?', and the detective said that he then told Mahmood Mattan that it was important that he told him the truth as to where he had been that night and said that Mahmood Mattan then said, 'I don't talk to you'. The detective said that he then told Mahmood Mattan that a woman had been killed in Bute Street that evening and said that Mahmood Mattan then said, 'You lie. All police officers are liars'. The detective said that he then told Mahmood Mattan not to be foolish and asked him again what he had done that evening and said that Mahmood Mattan replied, 'I don't tell you'.

The detective said that he then asked Mahmood Mattan what picture was showing at the cinema when he left and said that Mahmood Mattan replied, 'Korea War'. The detective said that he then asked him again whether he had been in Bute Street that evening and said that Mahmood Mattan replied, 'I was down there Sunday, not since'.

The detective said that he then saw the other detective examining an overcoat that was hanging behind the door and said that before the other detective took it from the door, he asked Mahmood Mattan whether it was the coat that he had been wearing that night and said that Mahmood Mattan replied, 'Yes'.

The detective said that before they left Mahmood Mattan that night after questioning him they told him that it was a serious matter and that if he heard anything about it to let them know.

The following morning at 10.02am, following a statement that Mahmood Mattan's landlord was alleged to have said during a row, the police went back to see Mahmood Mattan and the detective asked him, 'Why did you say that another man killed the woman?', and said that Mahmood Mattan replied, I did not say anything'.

The detective said that he then asked Mahmood Mattan to go to the Law Courts with him and said that Mahmood Mattan asked, 'Are you charging me?'. The detective said that he then told Mahmood Mattan that the objective was to take a statement from him in writing and said that Mahmood Mattan then told him that he would go himself and not then with them.

The detective said that he later saw Mahmood Mattan at the Law Courts and took a statement from him which he then read over to Mahmood Mattan which he then signed. The statement was submitted at the trial as exhibit 10.

When Mahmood Mattan's brown suede shoes, exhibit 9, where examined by the Principal Scientific Officer at the Forensic Science Laboratory at Cardiff they were found to have 87 minute bloodstains on the inner side of the upper. Three of the blood stains were on the inner side of the arch, thirty-seven were on the inner side of the apron and the rest were on the toe cap from about the mid-line towards the inner side. The Scientific Officer said that the size, form and distribution of the stains were consistent with the blood having been splashed on the shoe after falling more or less vertically on the floor. He said that blood from eight of the stains, when separately tested for human protein, gave a positive result in each case. He added that three other bloodstains were also found on the edge of the sole on the inner side and said that the stains were not recognisable to the naked eye as bloodstains. He added that he could not age the stains.

The Scientific Officer said that he also found 18 bloodstains on the upper of the left shoe, 14 of which were distributed over the toe cap from the inner to the outer side and at the front. He said that the other four stains were minute specks, just behind the toe cap near the mid-line. He said that three of the stains on the toe cap each gave a positive result when tested for human protein. He said that the blood also occurred on the outer edge of the sole in the region of the toe cap and that he found one stain on the inner edge of the sole.

The scientific officer said that there might have been other stains, but said that he did not endeavour to make his examination exhaustive and said that he ringed the stains that he found with a wax crayon to give an idea of the distribution and to count the number of stains.

He said that the falling of the blood onto a hard floor would cause a spray which was consistent with the stains that he found on the shoes.

He said that when he examined all the other items that he was given, including the hat, exhibit 7, the umbrella, exhibit 11 and the wallet, exhibit 6, he found nothing on them of any evidential value.

He said that he also examined the razor, exhibit 8, but found nothing of evidential value on that either.

When Mahmood Mattan was again interviewed on 12 March 1952 at 4.45pm at the Central Station he was interrogated by means of a question and answer, as following?

Question: You told the detective last Friday that on the night before you left the Central Cinema at half past seven and you went straight to your lodgings at No. 42 Davis Street. We have since heard that you did not arrive there until half past eight, an hour later than your time. He was then, at that point, cautioned.

Answer: You ask any question you like. I answer you.

Question: Do you want an interpreter present?

Answer: No. I have myself been interpreter in Court here.

Question: Can you read and write English or any other language?

Answer: No, I speak English alright. I no read or write any other language. No school where I came from.

Question: I am going to read to you what you said to the detective on 7 March 1952. The detective said that he then read the statement, exhibit 10, to Mahmood Mattan and then asked him, is that what you told the detective?

Answer: Yes. I say that because it is true.

Question: The two men that live in the same house as you have told me that you did not come in that night until half past eight. Do you think you are mistaken about where you went after you left the Central Cinema?

Answer: I tell you true. If anyone say anything else, they tell lies.

Question: Can you tell me what time you got to your lodgings?

Answer: I got in twenty to eight. I go sit down on sofa by the lodger. I look at clock in the room. It say twenty to eight.

Question: Who was in the room when you went in?

Answer: I tell you. Landlord in bed. The lodger sit on sofa. I sit down by him.

Question: Did you see anyone you know at the Central Cinema?

Answer: I spoke to doorkeeper at the Cinema. He knows me. When I come there he say 'hallo'.

Question: What seats did you go to?

Answer: Plenty of seats there.

Question: Yes, what I want to know is what did you pay?

Answer: I went in 1/5d seats, I sit in the back seats by myself.

Question: Did you see anybody you know there?

Answer: I know many who go there. I did not speak to anyone.

Question: Do you remember what pictures were shown?

Answer: Yes. There were three pictures. One was Korea War. One was Cowboy. One was secret picture.

Question: What do you mean by secret picture? Do you mean about spies?

Answer: Something like the word 'intelligence'.

Question: Do you mean 'intelligence'?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Was there a news film?

Answer: I never saw any news picture.

Question: Do you remember what picture was on when you came out?

Answer: When I came out it was Korea War picture. That was last picture I saw.

Question: How do you know what the time was when you came out of the cinema?

Answer: When I go in I look at clock by pay box. It say half past four. When I came out I look at same clock. It say half past seven. I go straight home. The man and his wife and the other man were there when I got home.

Question: What clothes were you wearing?

Answer: I was wearing mackintosh. I had umbrella. I had black hat, brown suit, black shoes.

Question: Did you go to Bute Street at all on Thursday 6 March. That is, the same day as we are talking about?

Answer: No. I not been down Bute Street since the Sunday before.

Question: Have you ever been in Volpert's shop. Do you know Volpert's shop?

Answer: I know shop. I hadn’t been in shop since 1949.

Question: To make quite sure you know what evening we are talking about I would like you to go through your movements for the whole of that week.

Answer: Yes, I know where I was every day. True, my God, I tell you true.

Question: Can you remember what you did on Monday?

Answer: I was working at John Williams. After work I stay home.

Question: And the next day, Tuesday?

Answer: I work at John Williams and after that I go home five o'clock and then I go to the dogs at Newport. I got back to Cardiff at five to ten, get off bus by Royal Infirmary and walk home.

Question: Wednesday?

Answer: I go to work at John Williams and I finished work at ten o'clock. The job did not suit me. I was there to start at half past seven. After getting home I stay there to four o'clock then to Merchant Navy, Tudor Road. I go back home about eight o'clock. I was watching somebody playing billiards at Merchant Navy Club. I didn't play.

Question: Did you talk to anyone there?

Answer: I did not talk to anyone there.

Question: Did you have a drink there?

Answer: I did not drink there.

Question: Did you go down Bute Street after leaving there?

Answer: I didn't go down Bute Street. I went straight home. I didn't go out again. I went straight to bed

Question: Now you tell me again what you did on Thursday, 6 March, from the time you got up in the morning?

Answer: I didn't go to work. I got up about eleven o'clock. I came from the house and bought rations from the Direct Custom House Street and go home. I had money from £4. 17. 0d wages I drew when I packed up Wednesday. I bought some meat and went back home and made my dinner and stayed home until half past four, then straight to Central Cinema.

Question: Which way did you go to the cinema?

Answer: I go through Adam Street, past the public bath, across Churchill Way, up Bridge Street to old canal bridge and to the pictures. I told you about the pictures and that I left there at half past seven. Like I said, I went straight home.

Question: Friday?

Answer: I didn't go to work. I come about half past ten and sign on at Labour Exchange. I go to Public Assistance at Newport Road and get 26/-. I told the man I had wages on Wednesday. I got home about twelve o’clock. I forgot to tell you I went first thing to Law Courts Police Station. I stayed home until five o'clock and I went to Newport again to the dogs. I catch five o'clock bus to Newport. I lose some money, ten bob. I catch half past nine bus from Newport and walked home from the Infirmary.

Note, page 30 of Q & A was missing.

Answer: (continued): No work. I went to Labour Exchange at quarter to ten. He gave me card and I go to Gripoly Mills for the job I got now. I go to Gripoly Mills ten o'clock to half past eleven. I go home. I got home about ten to twelve. I did not go out at all after that yesterday. No dogs, no Newport, no dice. I stay in all day. I was sitting in my room. I go to bed about nine o’clock. No go out after.

Question: Can you tell me about today, Wednesday?

Answer: I get up at half past six. I go out about ten past seven and go to work and start work half past seven. I have dinner in canteen and stay there until you fetch me here.

Question: You know that a woman was murdered in Volpert's shop on Thursday evening last week. Did you know any woman who served in that shop?

Answer: I know the shop where the woman was killed. I don't know the name of the shop. I know the woman. She was a short, fat woman. If I tell you I never see her maybe I tell lie but when sometime I pass I see her. The last time I put my feet in that shop was 1949. I bought two blankets there. That is the first and last time I go there.

Question: Do you know Camilleri's shop?

Answer: I know there are some Maltese shop, No. 200 Bute Street is my countryman's shop.

Question: Are you quite sure you have not been in the shop where the woman was killed since 1949?

Answer: Very positive. I have not been in the shop where woman as killed since 1949. All I tell you is the truth. I tell you all I know. I don't tell you lie. When I go some place I can tell you. I don't know this woman. I don't bother her. She don't bother me. She don't tell me nothing. I don't tell her nothing.

Question: Do you know the Indian who keeps a shop in Bute Street?

Answer: I know one Indian fellow keep shop.

Question: He has told me that you saw him in a cafe at Bute Street last Wednesday night. He said that you called him and asked him to go to his shop and open up to get you some bread. You say you were not in Bute Street last Wednesday night.

Answer: I did not go for bread last Wednesday night. I never ask Indian to unlock his shop for anything. I was not down Bute Street on Wednesday night.

Question: Have you ever been in Volpert's shop for a suitcase?

Answer: I did not go to shop and ask for suitcase.

Question: You have told us that last week you drew £4. 17. 0d. wages on Wednesday, 26/- public assistance on Friday, and 17/- on Monday of this week. You also say that you lost money at the dogs at Newport and Cardiff. Did you have any sums of money in your possession last week?

Answer: I have no money. I told you about money I have and money I lose. I doesn't have any other money at all.

Question: Have you ever had any argument in Volpert's shop about a shirt? Did you say at any time that a shirt was missing from a parcel of clothes you bought at Volpert's shop?

Answer: I doesn't buy any clothes. I doesn't bought no shirt. I doesn't say shirt is not there. Who tell you this about me?

Question: It is now 7.45 and there are some other things I want to ask you about, but first I would like to know whether you have any objection to standing in a line of men, all Somalis, and several people, some ladies and perhaps a man or two, would be asked to see the line. Do you understand what I mean?

Answer: I understand. It is up to you. I don't care.

Question: Very well. I shall try to arrange it for this evening. Do you want me to send for any friend of yours to be here?

Answer: I don't want no favours from you. I don't want no favours from anybody.

Question: Do you want me to get any special clothes for you to wear?

Answer: What I want special clothes for? If you say these people what I wear, they pick me.

There was then an interval until about 8pm.

Question: Have you ever had a sheath knife?

Answer: No.

Question: Not even when you were at sea?

Answer: No.

Question: Have you any other razor than the one the police have already had from you? I mean an open razor and not a safety razor?

Answer: You have the razor I got. Only other razor I got is one with short blade. This go in between two pieces. This I shave with.

Question: Have you had any other razor in the last two years? I mean an open razor with a long blade?

Answer: I told you true. I got no other razor.

Question: Did you ever tell the lodger who lives with you in Davis Street, how you thought the woman in Bute Street was killed. And did you show him by actions how you thought it was done?

Answer: I doesn't speak to anybody about how the woman was killed.

Question: The lodger and landlord have both told us that you left your house yesterday about nine o'clock in the morning. They said you were wearing working clothes but when they met you at eleven o'clock in Bute Street, near Herbert Street, you were dressed in all new clothes and a new mackintosh coat. Is that true?

Answer: I remember now. I did see my landlord at Custom house street. I run after him and catch him before he get to Post Office. The lodger was with him. I was not wearing new clothes. I was wearing mackintosh and this jacket and trousers.

Question: Was it a new mackintosh?

Answer: It was not a new mackintosh.

Question: Do you keep any clothes at any place other than your home?

Answer: I doesn't keep any clothes anywhere except all my clothes if not in pawnshop then at home. All policemen know the pawnshops. One in Bute Street, one in Custom House Street. Bute Street pawnshop is just past the police station.

Question: Have you any clothes in the pawnshop now?

Answer: Yes, pawn tickets home.

Question: When did you last go to the pawnshop?

Answer: I cannot remember when I last go there. I tell you. Last Saturday. I go to Bute Street. I pawn my brown suit. Same one landlord see me wearing. I got a lot of pawn tickets at home. (he corrected that). I got a few, some at home.

At that stage objection was made to certain questions put on information received by the wife of Mahmood Mattan and the questions and answers were omitted.

Mahmood Mattan then said, 'You say the landlord say this. The lodger say that. My wife say this. I do not believe you. I no read what you written down. You fetch the landlord and the lodger and I will see if they say these things. I think you tell lies. You let me see them. See if you speak true.

The detective interviewing him then said, 'That can be arranged I dare say'.

There was then an interval from 9.05pm to 10.10pm when an identification parade was held and then the questions continued.

Question: Are you sure of the time that you left the Central Cinema. You say you left while the Korea War picture was still showing?

Answer: Yes. Korea War picture nearly finish, like when I went in. I come out and look at clock like I said. Half past seven.

Question: According to the programme, which I now have, the Korea War picture, which is called 'Steel Helmets', finished about five minutes past seven. Are you still sure that this picture was showing when you went out?

Answer: If they say that they tell lie. Korea War picture on when I came out. You think you fix me for something. I no kill woman in Bute Street. You doesn’t fix me for anything. You know why. Because I doesn't do it.

Question: The detective then said, 'I am only trying to find out why what you say about your movements is different to what other people tell me about your movements'.

Answer: I stay here all night. I not say any different. You get tired. I go home.

Question: The landlord is now here. Do you still wish to see him to ask him whether he is mistaken in the time you came home?

Answer: Yes, I see him. I not know what you got written down.

The landlord was then brought in and the detective said to the landlord, 'Mr Mattan tells me you have made a mistake in the time you say that he came home last Thursday evening. Will you tell me again what time you say he came in?' and the landlord replied, 'Yes, I tell you when Mattan came in Thursday night, it was gone half past eight. There is no mistake. The landlord then turned to Mahmood Mattan and said, 'Why don't you say? You know what time you came in. It was after half past eight'. Mahmood Mattan then said, 'I doesn't. You tell lies because I tell the Public Assistance man about you'. There was then an excited argument and the landlord was sent away and the questions and answers continued.

Question: Do you still wish to see the lodger?

Answer: It's up to you. Yes, I see him. I think you got lies written down. (there was then a pause). You think I killed woman. British police is so clever. You prove. I tell you I kill twenty men. I kill your King. This I tell you if you like. You think that right. (interval of about ten minutes).

Question: The lodger is here now if you want to see him.

Answer: Yes, I see him. I think I hear what he say.

The lodger was then brought in and the detective said to him. 'Mr Mattan says that you have made a mistake in the time that you have said he came into the house last Thursday night. Would you tell me now what time he came in?' The lodger then said, 'I will. Last Thursday night I was sitting on the sofa in the landlord’s room, talking about racing and pools. The landlord was in bed. This man (indicating Mahmood Mattan) came in about quarter to nine. He sat down on sofa by me. He didn't say anything. I gave him the paper but he didn't look at it. Just stared in front of him. Didn't speak at all'. Mahmood Mattan then said, 'I doesn't, I doesn't. You say everything the landlord tell you to say'. The lodger then said, 'What is this. Why don't you tell the man the truth. You know what time you came in that night'. There was then an excited argument and the lodger left.

The questions and answers then resumed at 10.50pm.

Answer: This fellow the lodger. If the landlord say, 'We paint this building', the lodger say we paint this building.

Question: Is there any reason you know of why the landlord and lodger should tell lies about you?

Answer: Yes, plenty of reason. Because I tell Public Assistance what the landlord doesn't like.

Question: Mattan, it is hard to understand why people should want to tell lies about you. It is a very serious matter if they are telling lies. They must know what we are enquiring about.

Answer: They lie.

Question: Does the Indian lie?

Answer: What Indian?

Question: The Indian who says you were at Bute Street on the night before Miss Volpert was killed, the Wednesday night a week ago today.

Answer: He lies. I doesn't go to Bute Street not since the Sunday before.

Question: Even if you did go to Bute Street on that night, there is no harm in that. I only want to know whether they are telling the truth or whether you are telling the truth.

Answer: If you keep me here twenty years it make no difference, but I tell you what I know. I walk out of here tonight. You get tired.

Question: You have said you went straight home from the Central Cinema. Did you call at No. 8 Davis Street, where your wife and your mother-in-law live? I mean after the Central Cinema on Thursday night?

Answer: I not call anywhere. I told you I go straight home.

Question: Did you buy cigarettes?

Answer: I not buy anything.

Question: Did you say to anyone you were going to get cigarettes?

Answer: I doesn't.

Question: Did you offer to get cigarettes for anyone?

Answer: No.

Question: For your mother-in-law?

Answer: No.

Question: Did you go out after you got home to 42 Davis Street from the Cinema?

Answer: No, who say I did? I told you I go to bed. The landlord and lodger tell you the same.

Question: Nobody has said you did, so I am simply asking you. It has been said you were wearing a black or dark overcoat on that Thursday night. You have said you were wearing a mackintosh. Which is correct?

Answer: I doesn't have no black overcoat.

Question: Do you mean you haven’t got a dark overcoat?

Answer: I doesn't have one.

Question: Did you have one at all?

Answer: I doesn't have one.

Question: Have you sold a dark overcoat or pawned one?

Answer: I doesn't have one.

There was then a short interval until 12.20am an the detective said to Mahmood Mattan, 'Well Mattan, if there is nothing else you want to say we have nothing further to ask you tonight'. Mahmood Mattan then replied, 'It's up to you'. and the interview then concluded.

It was noted that the police later approached the offices of the National Assistance Board to determine the veracity of Mahmood Mattan's statement to his landlord that he was lying because he had told the Public Assistance man about him and spoke to the Area Officer there that had dealt with Mahmood Mattan on a number of occasions. The Area Officer said that he could not remember Mahmood Mattan ever making any allegations to him about his landlord, but did say that he remembered Mahmood Mattan having told him on several occasions that his landlord was 'a bad man' but could not remember on what dates, but said that they would have been before 6 March 1952.

However, the Clerical Officer of the National Assistance Board said that he saw Mahmood Mattan at Graham Buildings in Newport Road on Saturday 8 March 1952 on which occasion he said that he completed Application Form B71 for the grant of National Assistance at Mahmood Mattan's dictation. However, he added that Mahmood Mattan also gave him information which caused him to complete Form A9 in which Mahmood Mattan gave the names of persons living at 42 Davis Street. The Clerical Officer said that he could not remember whether that was given as a complaint against his landlord, but said that he believed that it must have been.

However, whilst it was said that it was true that Mahmood Mattan had made what he might have considered a complaint to the National Assistance Board concerning his landlord, it was determined that the first the landlord new of that was when he saw Mahmood Mattan at the police station on the night of 12 March 1952. The landlord said that he bore no grudge against Mahmood Mattan, but did say that he wanted him out of his house, stating that the police had visited his house on several occasions making enquiries about him and that his house was getting a bad name. The police said that the earlier visits to his house that the landlord was referring to occurred in 1951 when the police went there after Mahmood Mattan was suspected of theft which later led to him being arrested on a charge of sacrilege. It was also noted that the National Assistance Board took no action against the landlord following the complaint in Form A9 made by Mahmood Mattan.

Mahmood Mattan was later charged with murder at 5.30pm on 16 March 1952. when he was charged, he said, 'So you are going to charge me. What you say, you charge me with stealing. That you tell me before. Now murder. I don't know nothing about it, but I just want to know what I am here for'.

His clothing was taken from him that day at 12.35pm along with his brown suede shoes, exhibit 9, which were then sent off to the Forensic Science Laboratory.

It was noted that his reference to stealing referred to another matter in connection with which Mahmood Mattan was arrested on 15 March 1952 on which day he had a few shillings on him.

Other people also gave evidence.

A night watchman who lived t 14 MacDonald Road said that about six months earlier that he had had a transaction with Mahmood Mattan over a wrist watch at which time he said that he had seen Mahmood Mattan with an 'open razor'. He said that he could not describe the handle, but said that the blade looked fit for use.

A general store dealer at 2 Adam Street in Cardiff said that about the end of February 1952 that he saw Mahmood Mattan in his shop and said that whilst he was there that Mahmood Mattan pulled a knife out of his belt. He said that he touched something on the handle and that the blade sprang out.

The Indian man that the police said had told them that he had seen Mahmood Mattan on the night before the murder was a grocer and lived at 207 Bute Street where he carried on his business. In his statement, he said that on the Wednesday, the night before Lily Volpert was murdered, that he was in a cafe at 191 Bute Street and that Mahmood Mattan came in between 9pm and 9.30pm and asked him if he could go into his shop. He said that he asked Mahmood Mattan, 'What for?' and said that Mahmood Mattan told him that he wanted some bread. The Indian man said that he then told Mahmood Mattan that he was not going to open his shop at that time of night and that Mahmood Mattan then went away.

The Indian man said that on the following Friday or Saturday he saw Mahmood Mattan go along Bute Street whilst he was in his shop but said that they did not speak to each other.

The Indian man said that on the day of Lily Volpert's funeral that he saw Mahmood Mattan outside the shop next to his between 11.30am and 12 midday. He said that Lily Volpert's funeral was between 12 midday and 12.30pm and that when he saw Mahmood Mattan that it was about half an hour before the funeral came. However, he said that he didn't see Mahmood Mattan stay there, saying that he went away and that he didn't see him again that day.

He said that he next saw Mahmood Mattan at the Law Courts on 12 March 1952 when he attended an identification parade there. He said that when he picked Mahmood Mattan out as the man that had asked him to open his shop for bread, that Mahmood Mattan said, 'No sergeant, I have never been in his shop on Thursday'.

A woman that lived at 12 Custom House Street in Cardiff said that during the last week of February 1952 that she had been in her flat which was above a bookmakers premises, and was outside on the landing when she saw Mahmood Mattan outside the premises with another man and said that she saw Mahmood Mattan take out a knife from his back pocket, saying that it was a long knife with a small handle. She said that she got a glimpse of the blade and said that it looked like it was one-sided and sharp, more like a razor. She said that she was not sure of the colour of the handle but said that she thought that it was white.

A watch repairer that lived at 245 Bute Street in Cardiff said that he knew Mahmood Mattan and said that he had met him about six weeks before the murder on the canal bridge at Bute Street and said that he saw Mahmood Mattan take a big razor from his overcoat pocket.

When the assistant manager of The central Cinema at The Hayes in Cardiff was questioned, he said that he was on duty on the Thursday 6 March 1952 and said that the programme consisted of the main feature, 'Steel Helmet' which was a film about the Korean War and a film called 'Outlaws of the Rio Grande' and that there was also a serial and a short comedy film.

He said that the film 'Steel Helmets' came on at 3pm, 5.45pm and 8.30pm and that the serial commenced at 4.20pm and 7.05pm and that the programme was continuous.

He said that at about 3.45pm that the film 'Steel Helmets' would have been about half way through and that the complete programme lasted 2 3/4 hours.

He said that if a person entered the cinema at 3.45pm and left after having sat throughout the complete performance, the time of departure would be about 6.30pm.

He said that on the Thursday 6 March 1952 that the film programme ran to schedule and that nothing occurred that would have caused the various films to come on outside their proper times.

Mahmood Mattan was tried at the Glamorgan Assizes and sentenced to death on 24 July 1952 and hanged at Cardiff on 3 September 1952.

He had appealed, but his appeal was dismissed.

It was noted that at his trial, Mahmood Mattan's barrister had described Mahmood Mattan as being 'Half-child of nature; half, semi-civilised savage', which was said would have prejudiced the jury and undermined Mattan's defence.

However, following his trial and execution there was a considerable amount of controversy over the case following Taher Gass's conviction for murder in 1954 as he matched the same description of Mahmood Mattan, as well as the conviction of Harold Cover convicted of the attempted murder of his daughter in 1969 as Harold Cover was the key witness in the case against Mahmood Mattan.

Following the conviction of Harold Cover, the police reviewed the case and spoke to one of the solicitors that had defended Mahmood Mattan. The solicitor said:

'I destroy my records every 12 years. This case was, however, based wholly on circumstantial evidence and I have never been satisfied with the result. In my view there was enough doubt for Mattan to have been acquitted. I cannot remember all the witnesses, but I do know that we did not do a check to see if Cover had any previous convictions. Mattan was a fool to himself. He repeatedly claimed that every prosecution witness was lying even on unimportant matters. But the prosecution case had its discrepancies too with witnesses giving conflicting evidence. It was an interesting case and only the second murder case in which I was involved'.

His wife said:

'I have lived in hope for all these years that Mahmood would be proved innocent. You see although we were separated at the time, we were good friends and living in the same street. We had been married four years and separated nine months when all this happened. I was speaking to him at 8pm in Davies Street (two miles from the murder scene) and he left me and my mother at about that time. He could not have got to Bute Street for 8.15 pm and he told me he was going gambling. My mother gave evidence at the trial, but I was not called because it was decided my evidence would carry little weight. When Cover was convicted of attempting to murder his daughter, I thought then of trying to get my husband's case reopened. I did not do this because I thought it would cost me money and I have none. I was in love with Mahmood once but not at the time of the murder. I have wanted to clear his name for the sake of our children who know nothing of their father and as an ordinary human being who knows that the wrong man was hanged'.

In her statement, she said that the reason that she left Mahmood Mattan was because of his excessive sexual demands on her which she said effected her health, and said that he never beat her and that they never had any rows.

She additionally said that sometime before Mahmood Mattan appeared at the Assizes that she had been visiting her sister's house and that whilst speaking to her sister's husband, he had heard a  man, Harold Cover, at his works say that they had got the wrong man and that he had known who had did it. She said that she told the police at the time and that the Chief Inspector came to her house later and that they then went to her brother-in-law’s house to hear what he had said, but that the brother-in-law had denied saying any such thing and later said that he didn't want to get involved.

After Harold Cover was convicted the woman that had last seen Lily Volpert alive and who had enquired after the shoes said that she saw Mahmood Mattan in Bridge Street at nearly 8.15pm on 6 March 1952, but said that she was not asked about that in court. As such, it was stated that Mahmood Mattan could not have murdered Lily Volpert. She signed an affidavit to that effect, but the police said that when they spoke to her that she withdrew her statement.

Her statement was detailed in the People newspaper on 1 June 1969. The article also noted that the other woman that owned the clothes shop at 37 Bridge Street who said that she had seen Mahmood Mattan at sometime between 8.30pm and 8.50pm had since died and that the woman that the other woman that had last seen Lily Volpert and had bought the headscarf was in an institution.

When the People newspaper spoke to Harold Cover's wife, she said that she thought that Harold Cover had got £100 of the reward money and that the woman with the shop at 37 Bridge Street had got the other £100.

However, The People newspaper also interviewed her about Harold Cover's criminal history, and she said, 'Harry was a good father to our children, but he was violent at times. In 1949 or 1950 he was taken to court after slashing a Somali with a broken glass. It was a fight over a girl and I don't think anything happened to Harry as a result. Sometime after the murder Harry was involved in a fight with a soldier. He cut the soldiers throat with a broken glass. In 1967 Harry was a fined £23 for causing grievous bodily harm to our 19-year-old daughter. He hit her over the head with a metal pipe. On May 6 this year he was sentenced to life imprisonment for attempting to murder our 18-year-old daughter by cutting her throat with a razor. There was an argument and Harry went upstairs to speak to her. They were up there for about two hours, then they came down, and shortly afterwards my daughter went to pack her bag. Harry went to help her and came down alone. He said to me very quietly, 'It is all over', I replied, 'What, is she ready to go?'. He then said, 'No, she's dead'. I rushed upstairs and there was blood everywhere. But we managed to get her to hospital, and they saved her'.

When the judge sentenced Harold Cover, he said, 'This offence is about as serious as it could be, using an open razor, slashing her throat six inches. It is a miracle you are not here for murder. You have frankly said you intended to kill'.

When the article in The People newspaper was reviewed by the South Wales Constabulary following questions of the case by a Member of Parliament in Parliament, the police made the following conclusions:

  1. Regarding Harold Cover's wife, they said that whilst his wife stated that Harold Cover was on occasions violent, that that did not imply that he had lied at Mahmood Mattan's trial.
  2. The police stated that the woman a that last saw Lily Volpert alive at the shop and who had enquired over the shoes had made three statements to the police and concluded that her new revelation could not be held as truth, noting that it was worth looking into the nature of the fee that she was paid for her story. They said that she made statements on:
    • 8 March 1952.
    • 15 March 1952.
    • 18 March 1952.
  3. The police detailed the list of Harold Covers convictions prior to the murder trial:
  • 26 March 1940: Secreting himself aboard ship, 4 weeks hard labour.
  • 28 December 1940: Larceny of £1 note, fined 40/- or 14 days.
  • 23 June 1950: Game with dice in street, fined 10/-.
  • 30 August 1950: Play with dice in street, fined 10/-.
  • 22 September 1950: Common Assault, bound over for one year, conditional, keep the peace.
  • 3 to 16 March 1951: Felonious wounding (s.18), discharged.
  • 3 to 16 March 1951: Malicious wounding (s.20), IOA.
  • 24 May 1951: Gaming, fined 20/-.

It was noted that the conviction for wounding on 16 March 1951, which was at the Glamorgan Assizes, had followed an attack by another coloured man at a Milk Bar where it was said that the man had thrown a milk bottle at Harold Cover which had smashed and that Harold Cover had then used it to retaliate.

The South Wales Constabulary made the following general comments on the case in the light of the renewed interest in it following Harold Covers conviction and the woman who had last seen Lily Volpert alive's alleged statement:

  1. Mattan's conviction was upon circumstantial evidence.
  2. At no time did he make an admission of guilt.
  3. Mattan was of distinctive appearance, thus reducing the possibility of mistaken identity.
  4. Cover's evidence was a vital factor in the prosecution case but was supported by many factors.
  5. The shoes worn by Mattan on the 6 March 1952, were found to have a spread pattern of blood upon them.
  6. The motive for the murder was undoubtedly theft, approximately £130 in money stolen.
  7. Mattan had possession of sums of money in the days following the murder.
  8. Mattan described to his landlord the pattern of the murderous attack upon Miss Volpert.
  9. Before Mattan's arrest one of the women from the shop who saw a photograph of him identified it as that of the man whom she had seen in Miss Volpert's shop minutes before the murder occurred.
  10. The two women that last saw Lily Volpert were together throughout the evening of 6 March 1952.
  11. The two women that last saw Lily Volpert alive were both reluctant to give evidence as they were too frightened.
  12. The woman that last saw Lily Volpert alive that later claimed to have seen Mahmood Mattan in Bridge Street denied knowing Mattan or seeing him in 1952.
  13. The woman's affidavit on 31 May 1969 does not correspond to the statements she made in 1952.
  14. The cases of violence in which Cover has been involved were not motivated by theft, two of them having domestic basis.
  15. In every case Cover has been involved he has surrendered to the Police and made confessions.
  16. The affidavit by the woman is the only basis of the suggestion in the newspaper article that there might have been a miscarriage of justice.

It was heard in 1969 that the Somali community in Cardiff had been convinced at the time of the murder that Mahmood Mattan was not guilty, in particular when it was found out that whilst in the condemned cell, that he had not confessed to the murder when he was visited by a Moslem Priest.

It was further heard that suspicions against Harold Cover being the murderer arose for the following reasons:

  1. The similarity of the offence committed against Miss Volpert in 1952 and Harold Covers daughter in 1969, both having suffered wounds in the throat.
  2. Cover, unlike Mattan, had a moustache in 1952, which was consistent with the woman’s description of the man that she had seen in Miss Volmert’s shop on the night of the murder.
  3. After Cover's attack on his daughter, but before his conviction, a woman who lived in Mount Stewart Street in Butetown, who was said to have been about 20 years of age in 1952, but who was not seen by the police, told a Somali community leader, that she had recognised Cover as the man that she saw standing by the entrance to Miss Volperts shop at 8.05pm on the night of the murder. It was said that the woman had been accompanied by another woman and a man who had also recognised Cover and that their names and addresses were known by the women and that they were all prepared to make statements to the police.
  4. Another woman also said that she remembered seeing Harold Cover.

It was further noted, that like the woman with the clothes shop at 37 Bridge Street, Harold Cover had only volunteered his evidence after Lily Volpert's family offered the reward money.

The other woman that said that she remembered seeing Harold Cover outside Lily Volpert's shop said:

'I remember the night that Miss Lily Volpert was murdered I cannot remember what day, month of year that this happened. I remember that I used to visit the George Cross Club twice weekly in order to play whist. The George Cross Club was in between the Bute Street Police Station and Miss Volper's shop. I remember that whilst walking along Bute Street one evening, going to the George Cross Club, and as I was passing Volper's shop I saw a coloured man who I know as Harold Cover standing in the doorway of Miss Volper's shop. I did not speak to him and I cannot remember anything more about him. I know that it was Harold Cover because a woman I know occupied a room above me at 50 Loudon Square and this woman was associating with Cover at the time. I only know Cover slightly. It must have been about eight o'clock when I saw him because to my recollection the whist drive commenced at 8.15pm and I always got there before the session started. I cannot recollect what kind of night it was or whether it was raining. I cannot remember passing any other persons that night and as far as I can remember I did not see any other person in the vicinity of Volper's shop. I remember that whilst I was at the George Cross Club, it would be at least half an hour or so after I had entered, I do not know who, someone said that Miss Volpert had been found murdered, with her throat cut. I knew Miss Volpert very well as I used to buy clothing there and she used to accept clothing checks from me. I did not tell anyone that I had seen Harold Cover standing in the doorway of Volper's shop and I did not connect him with any of the affair and did not report it to the police. I did not think any more about the matter until I read in the paper, The Echo, about Cover being arrested for cutting his daughter's throat. I also heard about it on the television. I did not connect this case concerning Cover with the Volpert murder until about a week or so after he had been convicted when I was cleaning for a man in Maria Street. During the conversation with the man he said, 'I do not believe that my countryman milled Miss Volpert as he had sworn on the Koran that he had not committed the murder. The man is a Somali. I mentioned to the man that I had seen Cover standing in Volperts doorway on the night of the murder. I cannot remember whether there were any lights in Miss Volpers shop when I passed but I know from my dealings with her that she would open the shop in the nights to anyone whom she knew'.

Although the case was reviewed in 1969, no effort was made to overturn the conviction until 23 September 1997 when the newly formed Criminal Cases Review Commission reviewed the case and then referred it to the Court of Appeal resulting in Mahmood Mattan's conviction being quashed on 24 February 1998. The judge said that the conviction was 'demonstrably flawed'.

It was stated that evidence at the trial was unreliable and said that the evidence given by Harold Cover, who was 78 years old at the time of the appeal hearing, was not credible and that if his previous convictions had been known to the court that the jury might have been likely to have disregarded his evidence and posthumously acquitted Mahmood Mattan. It was further heard that the description given by Harold Cover did not actually match Mahmood Mattan.

Whilst Mahmood Mattan's conviction was quashed on the basis that certain evidence was unreliable, it was also later noted that Taher Gass, who murdered Granville George Jenkins on 12 June 1954, was also one of the first people to have been arrested within hours of Lily Volpert's murder.

Taher Gass was a 34-year-old Somali seaman and had stabbed Granville Jenkins to death and had left his body in a stream at Duffryn near Newport. Granville Jenkins was a wages clerk. Taher Gass had stabbed Granville Jenkins 32 times in the neck and head.

Taher Gass had been seen by a policeman on 10 June 1954 lying under a hedge in a field. When the policeman approached him, he walked off but when the policeman caught up with him and asked him what he was doing, Taher Gass said, 'Me no sleep for two nights'. After Granville Jenkins was found dead on 12 June, having been murdered about an hour before he was found, the police carried out a search and found Taher Gass in Wheel Lane where he was chased through a hedge and into a field. Whilst he was being chased, he pulled out a knife, but later threw it away and was arrested. When he was caught by the policeman, the first thing he said was, 'Are you taking me to Cardiff'. When he was charged with murder, he said, 'I not kill nobody'.

Taher Gass had been living as a lodger at a house run by a couple who rented rooms out to Somalis up until 8 June 1954 when he had gone off and had camped out in a field where he had made himself a crude shelter.

The woman who he had been lodging with said that Taher Gas was a bit simple and that she had known him for 4 to 5 years. She said that she had heard that he had been in Whitchurch Mental Hospital before and said that he talked about living out and saying that the birds were his wireless. The woman said that Taher Gass could not get a job and that he had left on 8 June 1954 after she told him to leave.

After Mahmood Mattan was exhumed from the prison grave where he was buried, his remains were moved to a cemetery in Cardiff where his gravestone was inscribed with the words, 'Killed by injustice'.

His family were rewarded between £500,000 and £750,000 in compensation.


*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.


see National Archives - ASSI 84/135, DPP 2/2145, DPP 2/2361, ASSI 6/101, ASSI 89/19

see Wales Online

see Wikipedia

see The Justice Gap

see BBC

see Understanding The Law

see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Tuesday 29 July 1952

see Birmingham Daily Post - Monday 14 June 1954