Unsolved Murders

Violet Kathleen Woolmington

Age: 17

Sex: female

Date: 10 Dec 1934

Place: New Town, Milborne Port, Yeovil, Somerset

Violet Kathleen Woolmington was shot by her 21-year-old husband in December 1934 at her mother's house in New Town, Milborne Port, Somerset.

He said that he shot her accidentally whilst showing her his gun.

Her husband was convicted of her murder and sentenced to death but his conviction was later quashed when it was heard that the judge had made an error when he told the jury that the onus was on her husband to prove that the shooting of his wife was accidental.

He was tried twice, but the jury had been unable to agree on a verdict at the first trial in January 1935, but he was convicted at the second trial on 14 February 1935 and sentenced to death but with a strong recommendation to mercy. He appealed his death sentence on 1 March 1935 and on 4 June 1935 his conviction was quashed.

Violet Woolmington's husband was a farm labourer in Castleton.

He shot her at her mother's house in Milborne Port on the morning of 10 December 1934. He had gone there at about 5.30am and was later seen leaving at about 8.30am.

Her husband said that he had lived happily with Violet Woolmington whilst they were at his mother's, but that Violet Woolmington left him on 29 November 1934 after which he said that he did all he could to persuade her to come back.

Her husband said that he thought that on 9 December 1934 he would give it another shot and said, 'I took a gun from the barn of the farmer, my employer, and sawed the barrels off. I went to my wife and threatened that if she would not comeback, I would shoot myself, and I demonstrated with the gun to show her. I unbuttoned my overcoat and brought the gun up across my waist. The gun went off. It was the greatest shock of my life'.

At the trial, when the prosecution detailed the background to the case, they said that after Violet Woolmington and her husband were married in August 1934 that they went off to live in a cottage at Oburne on the farm that the husband worked on and had a child two months later. However, Violet Woolmington left him on 29 November 1934 after she said that he had threatened to strangle her and went to live with her mother in Milborne Port, and refused to return because they had had differences. The prosecution noted that although Violet Woolmington was not living at her husband’s cottage at the time, there had been no separation by order of a court.

The prosecution said that an aunt of Violet Woolmington, who lived next door to Violet Woolmington's mother, said that she heard Violet Woolmington's voice in the house and afterwards the report of a gun. She said that she then saw Violet Woolmington's husband riding off on his bicycle. She said that she then found Violet Woolmington in the front room of her house dead on the floor.

A letter was read out in court that Violet Woolmington's husband was said to have written which read, 'Goodbye all. It is agony to carry on any longer. I have kept true hoping she would return. This is the only way out. Her mother is no good'.

Witneses gave evidence to say that they had head Violet Woolmington's husband talk about suicide before, but never murder.

The medical evidence concluded that Violet Woolmington had died from a gunshot wound in the region of the heart.

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

see discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk

see National Archives - HO 144/19946

see Hull Daily Mail - Wednesday 17 April 1935

see Gloucester Citizen - Friday 15 February 1935

see Western Daily Press - Tuesday 21 May 1935

see Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Saturday 22 December 1934