Date: 9 Jul 1936
Place: 126 Hampton Road, Twickenham
Laura Mordaunt-Chapman was found stabbed to death in her home.
She was last seen alive by her neighbour at 128 Hampton Road at 2pm on 6 July 1936 in her garden.
A 68-year old confectioner that had known her was tried for her murder at the Old Bailey but acquitted after the judge asked whether it was safe to put anyone in jeopardy on the type of circumstantial evidence they had.
Laura Mordaunt-Chapman was a widow and lived entirely alone as a recluse at 126 Hampton Road in Twickenham. She was described as a woman of considerable means and owned property in several parts of London and the south of England, including Whitstable, that she inherited after her husband died. She also had various investments.
126 Hampton Road consisted of various rooms although it was thought that as far as could be told, she had made a habit of living in the kitchen which was a semi-basement and used the back room on the first floor as her bedroom. It was stated that in the remaining rooms there were various articles of furniture, but that it was apparent from the accumulation of dust and the general atmosphere of them that they had been very seldomly entered. It was also stated that the condition of the whole house really indicated that Laura Mordaunt-Chapman lived the life of a recluse. It was also heard that Laura Mordaunt-Chapman was regarded locally as a woman of some education, but that her eccentric habits gave rise to the opinion that she was in some way mentally affected.
Laura Mordaunt-Chapman had been born in Usk in Monmouthshire, and in later years had met her husband who was a retired property owner who she then married in 1912. They resided together in various parts of suburban London and when he died in 1922 he left her the bulk of his fortune. It was heard that after his death, Laura Mordaunt-Chapman appeared to be keenly affected by her loss and seemed to have resolved to sever herself from all friends and relatives. She then acquired 126 Hampton Road and went to live there in 1926.
At 12.35pm on 9 July 1936, a policeman received a telephone call from the confectioner who gave him the address 126 Hampton Road and said, 'Will you please send an officer along to this address. I think the place has been entered'. The policeman then asked him how he knew and the confectioner said, 'The front door is open will you send someone along'. The policeman then asked him if he had been in, but the confectioner gave him no direct answer and said, 'There is a lot of clothing laying about and there may be a body under the clothes'. The policeman said that he then advised the confectioner to go into the house as he might be able to assist the person there if they were still alive, but the confectioner replied, 'I am frightened. I will wait for a PC'.
Directions were then given by wireless for police officers to attend the address and two policemen went along, arriving at 12.41pm. The police sergeant said that he then went to the rear of the premises and found the back door open and a cycle resting against the garden wall. The police sergeant then went to the front of the house and knocked at the door but when he got no reply he went back to the rear of the property and shouted, 'Is anyone in', and said that the confectioner replied, 'Yes', and then appeared from the stairway. The police sergeant said that the confectioner then asked him who they were, noting that they were both in plain clothes, and that when they explained who they were the confectioner said, 'Yes. I telephoned for you, come in here and I will tell you about it'.
The police sergeant said that the confectioner then led them into the kitchen and pointed to a piece of blue note paper that was on the window sill inside and said, 'I came yesterday and left that note wedged in the window as I had written two post cards to which she had not answered. That window was fastened yesterday. I wedged the note up like this', the police sergeant said that the man then endeavoured to show how he had placed the note. The police sergeant said that the confectioner then went on to say that when he had found the window fastened he had thought that something was wrong and had got through.
The police report noted that when the police arrived the kitchen window was closed and stated that if the confectioner's story was true then for some unaccountable reason he had closed it again. The police sergeant said that the confectioner went on to say that he had found that everything appeared all right, but that the back door was open. The police sergeant said that when he then pointed to some drawers in a dresser and a drawer in a desk which were partially open and asked if they were all right the confectioner had replied saying that they were always like that.
The police sergeant said that when he inspected the back door he found no marks of a forcible entry and then suggested that they go upstairs.
The police sergeant said that on the landing of the first floor he found a heap of blankets and bedding lying in the doorway that was mixed up with a number of newspapers and that at the nearest point to the opening of the door there were obvious signs of a fire. The police sergeant said that the confectioner then said, 'This is what I found', and the police sergeant said that he said, 'It looks as if someone has set it alight'. He said that the confectioner then said, 'You may find a body under there', which in the police report was described as an extraordinary observation. When the police sergeant had a look, he saw a human foot protruding from beneath a blanket inside the doorway and said to the confectioner, 'Yes. You are right, there is a foot'. The police sergeant then removed part of the blanket and exposed the back and shoulders of a human body and when he touched it he said, 'Yes, she is cold'. The police sergeant said that the confectioner then said, 'My God. There it is', and that he then appeared to stagger.
The police sergeant said that he then requested the confectioner go downstairs but said that he declined. He said that he then summoned medical assistance.
The police sergeant said that as they went back down the stairs the confectioner pointed to a pile of newspapers and letters lying on the door mat and said, 'There are the two post cards I sent her'.
However, the police report stated that it was important to understand the position of the two postcards with regard to the chain of circumstances that connected the confectioner with the murder for which he was later charged and tried but acquitted.
The police report stated that each morning the Daily Express was delivered to the address and inserted through the letter box and that three consecutive issues of the periodical dated 7th, 8th and 9th were found lying on the door mat in that order and that in-between them were some postal communications. It was added that the two postcards when found were to the right of the pile of newspapers and letters, one of them actually being on top of the newspapers and the other partly supported by the newspapers. It was stated that the stamps on the postcards were dated 7th and 8th July respectively and it was noted that the postman that had delivered them was able to say that they had been delivered on the dates indicated by the stamps. The police report stated that it was therefore reasonable to conclude by the position in which they were found that they had been placed there after delivery and it was the contention that the confectioner was responsible for that, which was strengthened by his further actions, when, in spite of being told not to touch anything, the confectioner had ignored the police sergeant and picked them up and said, 'These are the post cards which I sent her and I want you to take charge of them as it will help show what I came here today for'.
The confectioner was then asked to remain on the premises after the police sergeant told him that he suspected foul play, to which it was noted that the confectioner said, 'I don't know. She is a whisky drinker and may have set herself alight'.
Whilst the confectioner was in the kitchen with another policeman that had arrived, the confectioner said 'I got in by the window and went upstairs and found the body. I became frightened and came downstairs into the kitchen again. I helped myself to some whisky from that bottle', and pointed at a bottle containing whisky that was on the table.
The confectioner was then taken to Twickenham Police Station where a detailed statement from him was taken and he was then released.
The police report noted that a point of interest regarding the bottle of whisky was that a woman employed at the Prince of Wales pub on Hampton Road was in a position to say that the bottle of whisky had been delivered to Laura Mordaunt-Chapman on 6 July 1936 and that payment was made at the back door for 12/6d. It was also added that the woman said that whenever she had been to 126 Hampton Road she had always observed the doors and windows fastened. It was later noted that Laura Mordaunt-Chapman had probably not drunk any of the whisky, but that when it was found the bottle was only half full. The police later concluded that it seemed that whoever had murdered Laura Mordaunt-Chapman had consumed the rest.
When the doctor arrived and examined Laura Mordaunt-Chapman, he pronounced life extinct. When her body was examined at the scene by a pathologist it was determined that she had a number of stab wounds on her back and neck. After her body was taken away for a more detailed examination it was found that she had 47 stab wounds to the neck, chest and back. It was also reported that the distribution of blood on the floor beneath where her body was found and on her clothing, indicated that her injuries had been inflicted in the position in which she had been found. The pathologist also stated that Laura Mordaunt-Chapman had an injury to the top of her head that had apparently been struck by a blunt instrument which had rendered her unconscious before the stab wounds were inflicted.
The pathologist said that the stab wounds had probably been inflicted by a sharp cutting instrument with a point and with a not very thick back. The pathologist added that any blood on the assailant, or on surrounding objects, that had been flung from the weapon or the hand of the assailant would probably have taken the form of small isolated spots.
The pathologist added that Laura Mordaunt-Chapman had been dead for at least 24 hours and that her time of death was probably between three and six days before the Friday 10 July 1936.
The pathologist also noted that no alcoholic content was found in Laura Mordaunt-Chapman's stomach.
Following the post-mortem, the police concluded that it was fairly safe to assume that Laura Mordaunt-Chapman had been murdered some time on Monday 6 July 1936, a position that was supported by the newspapers and postal communications bearing the dates following 6 July on them. It was also noted that the copy of the daily Express for 6 July was found upon a bed and appeared to have been in use.
The police also stated that following an examination of the house, it was clear that the person responsible was not an ordinary housebreaker as it was abundantly clear that no attempt had been made to search for money or valuables. The police report added that apart from the actual spot where Laura Mordaunt-Chapman's body was found lying, there was no sign of disorder. It was also noted that if the person that had murdered Laura Mordaunt-Chapman had so chosen they could have availed themselves of a small sum of cash, namely four shillings and a penny in coppers from the bedroom as well as a trinket or two, and that had a search been carried out, that there was £10 in one pound notes under the wardrobe, numerous money orders and that downstairs in the kitchen in a drawer in the dresser Laura Mordaunt-Chapman's handbag had £2. 6. 6. in it.
As such, the police concluded that regarding the ferocious nature of the attack, coupled by the complete absence of any attempt to steal money or valuables, that the crime appeared to be either the work of some mentally deranged person or some individual to whom Laura Mordaunt-Chapman was known and had been the outcome of a quarrel. The report further stated that the latter assumption appeared more reasonable because after having inflicted the awful injuries, the person responsible had sought to cover up their crime by setting fire to newspapers that had been placed around her body. The police stated that that work, in itself, must have taken some little time, and that in addition, the assailant had gone to the length of covering up her body with three blankets and a bolster from the bed.
The police report stated that the confectioner had run a business at 14 Nelson Road in Whitton which was about a mile and a quarter from 126 Hampton Road, and that the confectioner had told them that he had met Laura Mordaunt-Chapman about seven years earlier when she had given away fruit from her garden. The confectioner had said that he had continued to call on Laura Mordaunt-Chapman for the purpose of collecting the fruit and later became friendly with her and started to find her tenants for her property. The confectioner said that he had then for some time been in the habit of calling at her address every Monday morning. The police report added that the confectioner said that he only met Laura Mordaunt-Chapman in the back-basement room and asserted that he knew nothing of her affairs apart from her property.
The police report noted that when Laura Mordaunt-Chapman was not expecting a caller she had been in the habit of keeping her doors fastened.
The police report stated that the confectioner said that he had been to see Laura Mordaunt-Chapman on the Saturday 4 July 1936 at 126 Hampton Road where he saw Laura Mordaunt-Chapman in the back basement and discussed the letting of a house at South Norwood and that in light of that visit that there was no need for him to call on the following Monday, 6 July 1936. The report stated that the confectioner said that he did not visit Laura Mordaunt-Chapman again until Wednesday 8 July 1936 when he went to 126 Hampton Road at 11.30am. It was noted that one of the postcards that he had written had read, 'I must see you Wednesday 11.30. Have an applicant willing to take Norwood. Wants lumber removed and house cleaned down naturally. I have written 18 letters, what is your agent doing for his money? Be prepared with exact terms of tenancy'.
The police report stated that the prospective tenant that the confectioner had referred to was a man from 140 Gordon Road in London and that when he was interviewed it was found that he did in fact negotiate with the confectioner in connection with the house.
The confectioner said that when he went to 126 Hampton Road on 8 July at 11.30am he had looked through the kitchen window but said that he could not remember if he had knocked at the door, but that he had concluded that she was out. He said that he then prepared the note that was later found that he said that he had pushed between two sections of the window. The note read, 'Another wasted journey. If you don't wish to let the house, why give me all this trouble for nothing'. The confectioner said that he wedged the note between the two sections of the window but said that he was unable to say whether or not the catch on the window was fastened.
The confectioner said that later that afternoon, Wednesday 8 July 1936 he forwarded the second postcard which read, 'The applicant I wish to see you about is alright, but it is necessary for him to move quickly. The delay I'm afraid will be disastrous. Thanks for making a fool of me'.
It was said then that on the Thursday, 9 July 1936, the confectioner went back to 126 Hampton Road at 11.30am where he found that his note was still in the spot where he had placed it. He said that he then tried the bottom half of the window and said that to his surprise, he found that it went up. He also said that he knew that Laura Mordaunt-Chapman always kept her windows and doors locked. He said that he then climbed in through the window and then realised that something was peculiar as his note was still where he had put it and called out, 'Are you there?'. He said that he then went upstairs to the bedroom where he saw the heap of clothes in the doorway and some burnt material and said that he then went off to the post-office where he telephoned the police.
The police report stated that another postcard from the confectioner was found in Laura Mordaunt-Chapman's bedroom on the dressing table. It was undated and had been hand delivered and referred to the visit that the confectioner paid on 4 July 1936. However, the post card was found to have a blood-stained impression on it. It was stated that no good could be made in identifying the fingerprint, but it was stated that it bore a similarity to the confectioner's thumb print because of certain marks that he had on his thumb. The message had read, 'Mrs Mordant, I have received a daffy of replies and one caller, it will be in your interest by saving time for me to see you this evening at 6 o'clock if you will kindly leave door open'. As evidence the police took a photograph of the bloodstained print on the card, a photograph of the confectioner's thumb with distinguishing marks, and a photograph of his thumb print for comparison.
The police report stated that after the confectioner was initially interrogated he had appeared quite composed and had said nothing that might lead to any suspicion against him and he was allowed to go.
The report stated that the police then made every possible effort to trace any of Laura Mordaunt-Chapman's other associates but said that they had no luck.
However, during their enquiries, the police said that they received an anonymous telephone call on the night of 10 July 1936 which said that a woman at 11 Bedford Road in Twickenham could throw some light upon the case and the woman was then interviewed. The result of the interview, the police said, if true, was the greatest possible help in fixing the responsibility on the confectioner for the crime. They said that if her story was accepted, it proved conclusively that the confectioner had in fact been visiting the house after Laura Mordaunt-Chapman had been murdered.
When the police went to see the woman, who lived 150 yards from 126 Hampton Road, outside of which there was a bus stopping place, she told them that at about 9.45am on the Tuesday, 7 July 1936, she had gone to get the trolley bus and had waited outside 126 Hampton Road, and said that whilst standing there she had heard a noise like something falling, which she said caused her to look at the front room window of 126 Hampton Road through which she saw a man. She said that the man appeared to be polishing something and said that she concluded that he was staying there. She said that the man was about 50 years of age with either grey or white hair but said that she was unable to say how he had been dressed.
The woman said that when she later returned at 10.30am she passed the rear of 126 Hampton Road and said that as she did so she saw a man who she described in great detail leave the side gate wheeling a bicycle. She then went on to say that the man the she saw leaving was the confectioner but was still unable to positively identify the man that she had seen through the window as the confectioner.
The woman also said that the next day, Wednesday 8 July 1936 at 11am that she had again passed the house and on that occasion had seen a man walk across one of the rooms at the rear but said that she was unable to describe him. However, she said that she did later see the confectioner at 3pm the same day leave the gate of 126 Hampton Road and ride away on his bicycle.
The woman said that she then saw the confectioner again the following day, Thursday 9 July 1936 at 12.45pm. The police noted that in his statement, the confectioner had said that he had gone to 126 Hampton Road on 9 July 1936 but had said that it was at 12.30pm.
The police report stated that they tested the positions that the woman had referred to and determined that she could have seen the incidents that she referred to. They also said that they were satisfied that she was telling the truth and noted that her statement had been obtained on 10 July 1936 and could not have therefore been influenced by anything that she might have read in the press.
The police report stated that at that time all they had was the contradiction of the statement made by the confectioner against that made by the woman that she that she had seen him at the house, but said that her statement, along with other evidence formed a chain of circumstantial evidence that built a formidable case.
The report stated that another instance of the confectioner's untruthfulness was proved by a statement made by the sub-postmaster at 60 Hampton Road to which the confectioner had gone at about 12.40pm on the Thursday 9 July 1936 and telephoned the police. They said that the sub-postmaster said that the confectioner had actually said to him, 'Do you know Mrs Mordaunt-Chapman, she does business here I believe. Have you seen her lately?', to which he said that she had been in to the post-office on the previous Friday to advise them that she would be needing money on the following Tuesday. It was noted that each three months Laura Mordaunt-Chapman was in the habit of cashing money orders which she had received from her tenants and that she would require about £60 and that she would give the post-office notice in order that they might make arrangements to obtain sufficient cash for that contingency.
The sub-postmaster then went on to state that the confectioner then told him that he had called at 126 Hampton Road but could receive no answer to his knocking and had left a note through the door. The sub-postmaster said that he was unable to say which day the confectioner had been referring to when leaving the note but said that the confectioner went on to say that he had then found the door unlocked and had so opened it and found his note on the door mat. The sub-postmaster said that the confectioner then went on to say that everything in the house was upside down and that he had observed rubbish everywhere. He said that he could not remember whether the confectioner had said that he had gone upstairs but said that he did say that he thought it looked suspicious and requested him to call the police. However, the sub-postmaster said that he declined to do that and advised the confectioner to take that step himself.
However, the police report stated that they were at the time handicapped by the fact that the sub-postmaster, who they described as an important witness that had been emphatic that the confectioner had made reference to the note being on the mat and the door being unlocked, had been taken dangerously ill and that his life was despaired of.
The police also spoke to a carman who was employed by a firm of refuse contractors and who had visited 126 Hampton Road on his rounds. He said that he had called at the house at 1.10pm and carried out the dustbin to the back gate and said that he saw a gent's cycle, black in colour and in good condition, propped up against a tree in the garden. The police report stated that the carman's description of the bicycle agreed with the description of the confectioner's bicycle and concluded that if the carman's story was true then it was fairly safe to assume that the confectioner had been in the house at the time.
The police also interviewed the milkman who worked for the Express Dairy Co. who said that he had delivered milk on the morning of 9 July 1936 at about 5am and whilst opposite the house he had seen the figure of an adult person in the front room. It was also noted that the rest of his evidence assisted in determining the date that the murder was committed because the milk that he had delivered on the Monday morning had been removed but Tuesdays milk had still been on the doorstep when he had called on the Wednesday. The milkman said that he informed his manager about the milk being left out and said that he was instructed to report the matter to the police if on the Thursday the milk had not been removed, but said that he had thought that after seeing the man in the window that it was not necessary to acquaint the police about the milk.
The police report stated that Laura Mordaunt-Chapman was last seen alive by her neighbour in her garden at 2pm on 6 July 1936.
Another woman that lived in the house next door, 128 Hampton Road, said that she had also seen Laura Mordaunt-Chapman in her garden but also added that she had seen a man that matched the confectioner's description knock at the back door of 126 Hampton Road on the Wednesday 8 July 1936 at about 12 noon.
It was noted that Laura Mordaunt-Chapman and her neighbours at 128 Hampton Road had an arrangement by which if Laura Mordaunt-Chapman was ever in any trouble she would ring a bell that she had set up by her bed that would alert the neighbours. It was further stated that if the murderer had not been known to Laura Mordaunt-Chapman then it might be expected that she might have run it if she were in trouble and the fact that she didn't ring it indicated that the murderer was someone that she knew. The neighbour said that she didn't hear the bell or any other unusual sounds. It was further stated that the accumulation of dust around the bell indicated that it had not been disturbed for some time.
A statement was also taken from a man that was in the habit of meeting the confectioner who said that when he spoke to the confectioner on 5 July 1936, the confectioner had told him that he was going to call at 126 Hampton Road the following day, and said that when he went to see the confectioner on the following day at 12 noon, 6 July 1936, the confectioner had told him that he had been to see Laura Mordaunt-Chapman at 126 Hampton Road and had hammered at the door but had got no answer. The woman said that after she read of Laura Mordaunt-Chapman's death she went to see the confectioner again and said that he told her that he had called at 126 Hampton Road on the Thursday and knocked at the front door and waited some time and then found his card that he had put in the letter box with the corner showing. The woman said that the confectioner had told her that it was the finding of his card in the letterbox that had worried him and so he had walked round the back and had found the kitchen window open and had climbed in.
The police report stated that there were two other witnesses, a mother and daughter, who said that they saw a man leave 126 Hampton Road on a bicycle on Wednesday 8 July 1936 at 11.30am. They had lived at Trafalgar Road in Twickenham. The mother said that she had seen a man leave by the side door with a bicycle at that hour and her daughter was able to describe the man very accurately as the confectioner but said that she would not be able to identify him again. However, she added that she saw the man going into the house with a bicycle at 6pm on 8 July 1936.
When the police searched the house, they found numerous letters between Laura Mordaunt-Chapman and the confectioner indicating that they were constantly quarrelling about money matters. The police said that some of the letters were very material in the case including one that stated, 'Let me find you in a better frame of mind tonight or there will be fireworks'. The police said that the letters quite clearly showed that they had a standing arrangement between them that the confectioner would call upon Laura Mordaunt-Chapman every Monday. It was noted that one of the letters had contained the suggestion that Laura Mordaunt-Chapman had accused the confectioner of associating with other women and it was noted that in spite of his age, the confectioner was fond of the company of the opposite sex.
Following the police investigations, the confectioner was questioned again at Twickenham Police Station on 11 July 1936 but nothing material arose from the questioning. The police then asked the confectioner for his clothes and said that in his favour, he readily agreed to assist in that direction.
When his clothing was examined, three small blood specks were found on the left front of his cycling breaches near the pocket and another blood speck was found on his mackintosh. It was noted that it was thought that patches of the mackintosh had recently been washed. The police said that it was not thought that the whole coat had been washed but patches. The police stated that parts of the front and shoulder of the coat were of a lighter colour than the remainder of the garment.
It was also noted that other small specks of blood were found on the wall near where Laura Mordaunt-Chapman was attacked.
The confectioner was again called into the police station for questioning on 13 July 1936 and it was found that he had borrowed £500 from Laura Mordaunt-Chapman at 5% interest about 12 months earlier and that Laura Mordaunt-Chapman held the deeds to his house at 69 Cathles Road in Walworth as security. It was also determined that the confectioner had also borrowed £100 from Laura Mordaunt-Chapman to invest in a concern that had since gone into liquidation.
The police stated that then, when reviewing all the information, they decided that there was sufficient material available to charge the confectioner and he was arrested on 12 July 1936 at 7.40pm.
The police stated that after his arrest, some remarkable facts came to light bearing on the confectioner's earlier history. It was stated that it was generally believed that the confectioner had been a widower and had a 25-year old daughter, his wife having died some years before, but it was later found that his wife was alive and living in Culverden Road in Balham. The wife later came forward and said that they had been married on 9 October 1897 at St Georges Parish Church in Southwark and had had two children, a boy and a girl but that the boy had joined the army and had lost his life in the Great War. She also noted that their daughter was an inmate of Ewell Mental Hospital where she had been for the previous four years. His wife said that she had strong reason to believe that the confectioner had had a venereal disease before their marriage and that that had effected their children that she was delivered of, hence their daughter's condition.
His wife describe the confectioner as a man of exceedingly loose moral character and that though his association with other women and a lack of support, she had been obliged to obtain a separation order at the South Western Police Court in April 1911 where the confectioner was ordered to pay her the sum of 10/- per week. She added that he had been irregular in his payments and declared that many pounds were due to her.
She described the confectioner as having been most cruel towards her and said that when he was in a violent temper she had often wondered that he had not killed her for he would completely lose control of himself and on occasions not know what he was doing.
Other evidence from the house included a heavy metal ornament that was found in a sideboard cupboard in the semi-basement front room which bore unmistakable signs of having been recently broken. When the pathologist examined the ornament, he said that it could have been used to inflict the initial head injury to Laura Mordaunt-Chapman. It was also noted that there was a companion ornament and that the broken ornament showed signs of having been recently washed whilst its companion was thick with dust. It was also found that the broken ornament had traces of blood on it.
The police report described the confectioner as a cool and calculating individual who had obviously given his position vert great consideration. It stated that he was a man of patience and ability, proof of which existed in his handling of Laura Mordaunt-Chapman's affairs after it was found that on one occasion, by a careful study of her income, he had obtained a rebate from the Income Tax Commissioners of £400 after solicitors had informed Laura Mordaunt-Chapman that they could find no grounds for any claim. The police stated that they only introduced that finding to show the type of individual the confectioner was. It further noted that every question that they plied the confectioner with he would repeat and then give careful consideration before replying.
The police report concluded that robbery could be ruled out as a motive. It was noted that it might have been thought that the confectioner's motive could have been to secure the deeds to his house in order to destroy evidence of his indebtedness to Laura Mordaunt-Chapman, but it was also noted that the loan had been carried out through the aid of solicitors and that its existence would have been known and as such that motive could also be ruled out.
It was also noted that Laura Mordaunt-Chapman had not left a will.
The police report concluded by stating that it appeared that the confectioner and Laura Mordaunt-Chapman might have had a violent quarrel, stating that their letters indicated that there had been continual friction between them. It stated that they thought that the bloodstained postcard had a direct bearing upon the time that the murder was committed and that in spite of the confectioner's statement saying that it referred to his visit on Saturday 4 July 1936, they thought that it in fact referred to him visiting on Monday 6 July 1936, a day that he had laboured to prove that he was not at 126 Hampton Road.
The police report also stated that some of the letters that they had found between the confectioner and Laura Mordaunt-Chapman threw light on their relationship and that one letter indicated that Laura Mordaunt-Chapman had referred to the confectioner as a hypocrite and that in other letters she had certainly inferred that they had been on terms of familiarity at some time.
An enumerator who lived in Wood Green said that Laura Mordaunt-Chapman was his landlady and that she had come to see him on 27 May 1936 to talk about some repairs. He said that on her visit she had complained that the confectioner had been, ‘doing her’ for some time past, referring to her business that he had been conducting, but that she was going to be conducting her own business in the future. He said that she didn’t say how he had done it.
However, at the trial the confectioner was acquitted after it was heard that the evidence against him was mainly circumstantial.
It was also later suggested that the police had place too much attention on the confectioner as the main suspect and had not followed up on other possible suspects during their inquiry.
In one instance as the confectioner was being questioned he was asked if Laura Mordaunt-Chapman had had any trouble with any of her tenants and the confectioner had said that a man in Chelsea had been a real nuisance.
see National Archives - MEPO 3/1712
see Dundee Courier - Thursday 23 July 1936
see Daily Herald - Saturday 26 September 1936
see Portsmouth Evening News - Wednesday 22 July 1936
see Daily Herald - Wednesday 22 July 1936
see Daily Herald - Thursday 06 August 1936