Unsolved Murders

Albert Keen

Age: 54

Sex: male

Date: 7 Oct 1932

Place: Cutt Mill, Shockleford, Surrey

Annie Keen and Albert Keen were murdered in two separate locations.

A man was tried for their murder but acquitted after a trial at the Surrey Assizes at Kingston on 5 December 1932. At the trial it was heard that Albert Keen could have murdered his wife and then drowned himself, that the man tried for their murders could have murdered them during a robbery or that two men seen nearby in a car at the time had in some way been involved.

Albert Keen died from drowning and Annie Keen died from haemorrhage following wounds to her throat and head.

Albert Keen was found standing upright under the water in a pond at Cutt Mill, Shockleford, Surrey, about a mile away from his home.

Annie Keen was found dead in in the scullery of their cottage, Gatwick Cottage, in Gatwick Common, Puttenham.

They were found on 8 October 1932 and it was said that they had been murdered on 7 October 1932.

At first it was thought that it could be a case of murder/suicide, but the police found that Albert Keen also had head injuries and later arrested a 31-year old man and charged him with their murders.

Albert Keen's head injuries were said to have been insufficient to have killed him and that his death was due to drowning. It was said that he had been hit again whilst in the water.

It was said that the motive for the murders was robbery.

A hazel stick was found either in a hedge near the pond or floating in the pond that Albert Keen was found in and was thought could have been used as a weapon in the murders.

The man tried was said to have known Annie Keen and Albert Keen and to have lived at Cutt Mill Farm close to where the murders took place.

When the cottage was examined it was found that the evening meal was on the table and noted that there was no evidence to show that Albert Keen had not arrived home to have that meal.

Upstairs in the bedroom, two boxes had been broken into and a chest of drawers had been ransacked. Also, on top of the chest of drawers, two empty purses were found, indicating that the murderer had searched for money.

On the floor of the cottage was a broken whetstone which it was thought that Annie Keen might have been struck down with before being attacked with the knife.

It was heard that the man that was tried for their murders, and who at that time had no work, had tried to borrow £1 on the day of the murders and also owed between £2 and £3 for lodgings and was being pressed for payment. However, it was also heard that within a short time of the murders he was in possession of money.

The man that was tried for the murders was seen in some woods near Cutt Mill on the afternoon of the murders and had spoken to a gamekeeper and asked him for the nearest place to get a bus to Guildford. The gamekeeper said that he had seen the man sheltering under a bush at Cutt Mill.

The gamekeeper also said that at about the time of the murder he had seen two men drive off in a car. It was noted that the motor car or its occupants were ever traced.

The man that was tried for the murder had lived in Runfold near Farnham.

When the police questioned the man tried on 11 October 1932 at 10.30am in the mess room of the county police station in Guildford he denied the murders. He was asked to account for his movements around the time and started off recounting how he had gone to see a woman at Gush's sale. He said that he walked there and arrived between 12 noon and 1pm when he saw the woman. He said that he told the woman that his car had broken down and that the garage would not repair it until he had the money. He told the police that he had no car and that it was all imaginary but that the woman gave him a cheque for £4.10.0.

He said that on the Monday, 3 October 1932 he went to Farnham and that on 3 or 4 October 1932 he saw a certain person in Cutt Mill, saying that he had caught the 5.30pm bus from Runfold and had arrived at Shoeland at 6pm. He also said that he had seen another woman in Cutt Mill at that time.

At that stage the man said that it was difficult to remember and so the policeman asked him to work backwards which he did starting from Monday 10 October 1932. He said that he had a walk around early and then caught the 8.10am bus from Runfold to Cranleigh. He said that he got off the back at White Lane Turning after changing his mind and then walked into Ash, Tongham and Farnham, and then after having a drink at Farnham he went home at about 1pm. He said that he then remained indoors in the afternoon and then went to the pictures in Farnham for the first house at 6pm and was back home at about 8.45pm.

He said that on the Sunday, 9 October 1932, all he did was walk to The Crown at Badshot Lea and back at about midday.

He said that on the Saturday 8 October 1932 he caught the 8.10pm bus to Guildford with the intention of going to Cranleigh and then caught the 9.20am bus from Guildford to Cranleigh. He said that when he arrived in Cranleigh he visited a retired wood merchant who lived opposite the Council houses and then left Cranleigh at about 3pm and went straight home arriving at about 5pm. He said that in the evening he left home at about 5.45pm and went to Farnham where he had a drink with a person from The Sands. The policeman asked the man if he had talked about anything in particular and said that the friend had mentioned the affair at Cutt Mill and had showed him an evening paper. He said that from there he returned home at about 8.10pm.

He said that on the Friday morning, 7 October 1932 he had gone to Farnham. He said he left the Princess Royal at about 9.15am and went to the Bricklayers Arms to see if he could get some money from the landlord there but said that the landlord didn't give him any. He noted that he had 5/- in his pocket at the time. He said that he wanted to go to Alton. the policeman suggested to him that 5/- was enough to go to Alton and back and said that the man replied that it was not enough to get there. The man said that it was then about 10.20am that he left the landlord at the Bricklayers Arms and that he then walked to Runfold and cut through Badshot Lea. When the policeman asked why he went there he said that it was for a walk only. He said that from there he went on to Ash and then back to Tongham, all walking. He said that he then called at a pub opposite the Ash Cricket Ground where he had a pint but noted that he didn't pay for it as he was known there. The policeman said that he then asked if he was sure that that was all he had done up to that time and the man replied, 'I remember now, from Badshot Lea I went to Aldershot and called at the pub at Ash at 2.30pm when I was coming from Aldershot'. The policeman said that he asked him why he went to Aldershot and the man replied that that it was just for a walk round and said that he then went back to Tongham and then on to Seale where he arrived at about 5.30pm. He said that he went as far as Puttenham Common by the 5.30pm bus between Seale and Sandycross and that he got as far as Shorlands. The policeman said that he asked the man if he was sure of that and the man replied that it was the one before. The policeman asked if he paid for his bus fare and said that the man said that he had paid for his return journey. The policeman then asked him if he had any money and the man replied that he still had the 5/-. The policeman then asked where he went next and the man said that he strolled over Puttenham Common and straight to Cutt Mill for a stroll, noting that he was supposed to be working and had told a person that he had a job and didn't want them thinking that he was hanging about. He noted that he had told his landlord that he was working at a butcher's shop in Farnborough.

The policeman then asked him what he did at The Mill and the man said that he went as far as the Mill and then went straight back and then saw the keeper and that they then both left together. The policeman said that he then asked the man where he saw the keeper and at what time and the man then said that they had stopped talking at the mill at roughly 6pm and said that they talked about the weather. He said that when they parted the keeper went one way and that he went the other. The policeman then asked the man which ways they had gone and the man said, 'I went up the track towards Keen's cottage and turned right, where, in the distance I saw the Keeper come out between the two ponds and go down in front of me towards his home'. He said that he didn't speak to anyone else in the vicinity of Cutt Mill.

When the policeman asked the man if he had any money when he was at Cutt Mill, the man said that he still had his 5/-. when he was asked what he had done after seeing the keeper he said that after leaving Cutt Mill he started to walk back into the Sands and that when he got as far as Charman's Cottage on the Farnham Road he stood under a tree from half to three quarters of an hour because it was raining hard. He said that he then went on to Seale, Bottom Road and arrived home just before 10pm. He said that after he got home he had one drink, supper and went to bed.

When he was asked if he had had any drink after he was at Ash at 2.30pm and if he had any food during the day he said that he did not have any drink after he left Ash and said that he had taken some bread and cheese with him and that when he got home he still had his 5/-. He also added that when he had spoken to the keeper he had mentioned the alterations near the waterfall.

When he recounted his movements for 6 October 1932 he said that as far as he could remember he was out all day, saying that he was in Farnham in the morning and round Moor Park in the afternoon. He added that in the evening he had gone to The Crown at Badshot Lea and said that he was back at home by 8.30pm to 9pm.

He said that the last time he had been at Cutt Mill before the Friday was about the Wednesday or Tuesday. He also said that the last time he saw Annie Keen and Albert Keen was either the Monday or Tuesday at their house saying that he had gone there because he wanted to buy some geese and that that it was before 7.30pm.

He said that on the Friday he had been dressed as he was during the interview, wearing his blue suit but could not say whether he had a hat or cap.

He said that he had known Annie Keen and Albert Keen for years and described Albert Keen as very nervous noting that if he had had a five-mile journey to make it would have upset and worried him. He also said that he had never seen Albert Keen in a temper but that from what he had read in the papers he should think that they had done it to themselves. He said that the conversation that he had had with Annie Keen was about the house and the alterations and that he had spoken to Albert Keen about whether he could get him two or three geese.

When the man recounted his movements for 5 October 1932 he said that he may have gone into Farnham or Badshot Lea in the morning but that he went nowhere in the afternoon or evening.

He noted that he paid his landlord 12/6 per week for food only.

When he spoke about his finances he said that when he had left Cutt Mill on 12 February 1932 he had had nothing but later went to a Farm at Shalford where his mother financed him £400 and said that he left that farm about the first week in July at which time he had about £5. He noted that since then he had borrowed £4.10.0 from a cousin in Southampton, £5.0.0 from his mother and from other people who he wished not to name the sums of £6.0.0, £4.0.0, £3.0.0, £2.0.0, £1.0.0 and £4.0.0, which was all he said he could remember.

A boy that lived nearby said that he used to go to the cottage every day and do odd jobs for Annie Keen arrived at 7.45am on 6 October 1932 and did some work and then left at 9am and went home. He said that he returned at 1.30pm and usually stayed until 5pm if he had some tea with Annie Keen, else he would usually leave at about 4pm. He said that he didn't go to the cottage on 7 October 1932 because his mother was out and he had to stay at the cottage.

A bricklaying labourer said that he started work at Keen's cottage on 4 October 1932 with the objective of putting a partition in in the cellar. He said that he made a hole in the cottage wall and covered it with a piece of black board. He said that he left off work at 5pm on 7 October 1932 and that when he did so Annie Keen gave them a cup of tea. He said that when he left her she was in good health and quite happy.

The next morning the boy that did odd jobs went to the cottage at about 7.45am and went in through the back door as he usually did. He said that when he went in he saw Annie Keen lying on the floor and then went to get the bricklaying labourer who was there who also went to look and saw her body there in a pool of blood and then sent for the police, waiting there until they arrived.

Albert Keen was found soon after in Cutt Mill Pond which he would have had to pass on his way to work.

Annie Keen had extensive wounds across her neck severing the main blood vessels and one cut in her back bone and a carving knife was found near her body under the carpet and one half of the whetstone which was broken in two was found heavily blood stained.

Albert Keen, whose death was given as due to drowning, had a wound to his forehead and others on the back of his head.

It was said that the man that was tried had the opportunity to commit the crime and knew the habits of Annie Keen and Albert Keen and was also in need of money.

When his suits were examined, it was found that they both had blood on them. However, he said that he was prone to having nose bleeds. However, a doctor said that when one looked at the blood on the brown suit, the distribution of blood was consistent with a person suffering from a nose bleed, however, he said that the pattern of blood on the blue suit was quite different.

At the trial the man that was tried said, 'Ladies and Gentlemen, I am not guilty of either of these murders, but when I was pressed by the police I told them everything I knew. What I said was true'.

He was found not guilty and discharged.

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see The Scotsman - Tuesday 06 December 1932

see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Monday 05 December 1932

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Friday 02 December 1932

see The Scotsman - Tuesday 06 December 1932

see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Friday 21 October 1932

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Tuesday 11 October 1932

see Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Thursday 27 October 1932

see Get Surrey

see National Archives - ASSI 36/45