Date: 5 Apr 1943
Place: 6 Maurice Walk, Finchley
Maurice Stuart Horner was found dead in his home in Finchley.
He died from head injuries.
He was the technical editor of Commercial Motor.
It was thought that a Canadian soldier was responsible for his death and the police interviewed over 100 Canadian soldiers.
A verdict of murder against a person or persons unknown was returned. The verdict stated that 'Maurice Stuart Horner, aged 49 years, died on the 5th April 1943, from coma and haemorrhage resulting from fracture of the skull, caused on 2nd April 1943, at Number 6 Maurice Walk, Finchley, N2, when he was struck on the head by some person or persons unknown; further that the cause of such death was murder by some person or persons unknown'.
Number 6 Maurice Walk in Finchley, N2, was a double fronted detached house. On the ground floor there was a large lounge, a dining room and a kitchen. On the first floor there was a bedroom over the lounge in which the family slept, a spare bedroom over the dining room in which guests slept, a small bedroom over the kitchen which was not used, and a small box room over the downstairs hall. There was a front and a back garden, and on one side of the house there was a garage and on the other, the front and back gardens adjoined. The houses to either side were some distance away and there were also houses on the opposite side of the street. The house itself was easily accessible by bus and tube and was in the heart of a very quiet residential neighbourhood. It was noted that the house would normally be void of traffic other than tradesmen’s' vehicles and the cars of residents or visitors. It was further noted that neither the pavement or roadway was made up and that in the still of the night it would have been easy to hear anyone passing up and down the street.
Maurice Horner had married on 4 February 1931, and according to his wife, their relationship had been perfectly normal, and they had never had any serious disagreements, although she noted that at times they slept in separate beds. They had no children.
Maurice Horner's wife noted that Maurice Horner had met strange men in the past and brought them home and that they had slept the night in the spare room. However, she added that she too had also brought friends home in the past who had also stayed the night.
Maurice Horner's wife was an auxiliary ambulance driver under the LCC doing her duty at Hampstead. Her hours of duty were twenty-four hours on and twenty four hours off, commencing at 9am and as such on alternate nights she would be on duty and not get back home until after she reported off duty at 9am.
It was noted that it was customary for Maurice Horner on the nights that his wife was off duty for him to go straight home after leaving his office, usually arriving back home at about 6.30pm, although it was also noted that he sometimes worked late at the office. However, it was heard that on the nights that Maurice Horner's wife was working, Maurice Horner did not appear to be too anxious to get home early and would often call at public houses on the way home. As such, it was noted that on such nights, Maurice Horner had ample opportunity of taking home anyone he pleased, and that provided his guests left the house before his wife came home the following morning, that there was little likelihood of her knowing if he had so wished to keep it from her.
It was found that Maurice Horner would sometimes cycle to and from business, but that sometimes he would travel by trolleybus and on other days he would walk a considerable part of the distance. The police stated that they found that on the evenings that his wife was on duty, Maurice Horner would visit public houses in the vicinity of his business, Kings Cross, Highbury, Highgate and East Finchley, depending on his method of journeying home that particular evening.
Maurice Horner had been employed as the technical editor with Commercial Motor at Temple Press Ltd, Bowling Green Lane, EC1, and was regarded by all those associated with him as a very intelligent and efficient man who drank a fair amount of beer. However, it was noted that in spite of that, he kept a clear head and was often known, after a heavy drinking bout, to have returned to his office late in the evening and to have written highly technical articles for his periodical.
He was known as a 'hail fellow well let' type and as being quick to make acquaintances, although noted as being inclined to become argumentative, especially after a few drinks.
A freelance journalist that knew Maurice Horner, who refused to make a written statement, said that in 1929 he had been with Temple Press when he had first met Maurice Horner. He said that at that time Maurice Horner had liked his beer and had been very fond of women, and said that when Maurice Horner married in 1931, he hoped that he would settle down. He said that he believed that Maurice Horner had been faithful to his wife until the beginning of the war when he said that Maurice Horner told him that he was no longer interested in women, but only boys. The freelance journalist said that Maurice Horner was quite frank about it and would often tell him of the good times that he had had with boys. The freelance journalist added that he thought that Maurice Horner's wife knew of Maurice Horner's homosexual tendencies.
In September 1940, Maurice Horner became a member of the 12th Company, 20th Battalion, Middlesex Home Guard, and held the rank of lance corporal and was attached to the Intelligence Section. The headquarters of the Company was based in Cyprus Road in Finchley, which was some distance, about three quarters of a mile, from Maurice Walk. It was located at The Five Bells Public House in East End Road, East Finchley, and the section met three evenings a week. His commanding officer said that Maurice Horner's conduct was exceptional and said that he was exceedingly popular with everyone. However, the Captain did say that after hearing of Maurice Horner's association with a younger member of the Home Guard he transferred Maurice Horner to another Home Guard Section where there were no young members and also compelled the other party, the younger man, to resign.
The licensee of The Five Bells Public House said that he knew Maurice Horner well, both as a customer as well as a member of the Home Guard. He said that Maurice Horner was a good natured individual, but noted that he had for some time been fond of the company of young men, in particular a young man who was also in the Home Guard Company and he said that Maurice Horner would leave his other home guard colleagues to join the younger man at the public house, which was seen as a very odd association in view of the difference in their ages and intelligence. It was after hearing of those associations that the Captain of the Home Guard Company transferred Maurice Horner.
A man that lived at 5 Montpelier Road, N3, said that he had known Maurice Horner for about six years and that he usually met him in one or other of the local public houses in East Finchley. He said that apart from his association with the young man in the Home Guard unit, he would often see Maurice Horner with other men considerably younger than himself and added that Maurice Horner didn't appear to be the least bit interested in women, adding that in fact he had seen him leave the company of his wife in public houses and join the company of young men there. The man added that Maurice Horner would buy anyone a drink and would often get into conversations with strangers. He added that Maurice Horner was always willing to help anyone in difficulties.
The police interviewed many other people that knew Maurice Horner and who gave descriptions of his character and their suspicions, including a 23-year-old photographer who lived in Allandale Avenue, N3. The police noted that he was a personal friend of Maurice Horner and came from good parents, was well educated and good looking. The police said that although there was no evidence of anything unusual happening between them, they did note that the photographer had visited Maurice Horner's home many times and had been out with Maurice Horner in his car.
When the police examined Maurice Horner's movements, they found that he left his home soon after 9am on Thursday 1 April 1943 for business, with his wife leaving at about the same time for her twenty four hours duty at Hampstead, meaning that she was not expected back home until after about 10am the following morning, and as such the house was left unattended throughout the day.
Maurice Horner arrived at Temple Press Ltd in Bowling Green Lane, EC1 at about 10am after which he almost immediately went out in the firm’s car with a photographer with the firm to Wembley, Willesden, Park Royal, Alperton and North Acton, on business, arriving back at the offices at about 4.15pm. Maurice Horner then stayed in the office until a little after 5pm when he said goodnight to his editor and left the building alone.
He was seen shortly after at about 6pm when he entered the saloon bar of the Montrose public house in Roman Way, Barnsbury, N7, at which time he was alone. He was a regular customer there and the assistant manager remembered serving him two ham rolls and three or four glasses of mild and bitter.
At around 7pm, a 21-year-old man came into the pub. He knew both Maurice Horner and the assistant manager there and stopped to speak to them. He said that Maurice Horner told him about being in Wembley on business that day by car and then told him that he was 'freelance' that evening as his wife was on night duty and tried to persuade the 21-year-old to go to his local, The Five Bells public house in Finchley with him. However, the 21-year-old man refused the invitation and both the 21-year-old and the assistant manager at the Montrose public house said they saw Maurice Horner leave the pub alone at about 7.45pm.
Later that evening, the manager of the Apple Tree public house in Mount Pleasant, WC1, who said that he had known Maurice Horner as a customer for years, said that he had gone into the Adam and Eve public house in Euston Road at about 8.15pm and had seen Maurice Horner. However, he said that because he knew that it would have been difficult to have gotten away from Maurice Horner if he had seen him, he said that he left quickly without buying a drink and without Maurice Horner seeing him. He added that he did not notice whether Maurice Horner had been in anyone’s company when he saw him, but said that he did appear to be sober.
A 42-year-old prostitute who lived in Duncan Terrace in Islington, N1, said that she had been standing outside Warren Street Tube Station in Tottenham Court Road, at about 9.30pm, which was not far from the Adam and Eve public house, when she said that a man that she was positive was Maurice Horner said something to her about her looking lonely. She said that he then asked her where she was going and that when she told him that 'she was out for business', he offered her 10/-. She said that she accepted the money and that they then went to Mortimer Market, close to where they met, where she said Maurice Horner felt her breasts from the outside of her clothing. However. other than that, she said that nothing untoward happened, but did say that she could feel his erect person pushing against her. She said that afterwards they walked back into Tottenham Court Road, where she said he left her at about 10.10pm and headed off down Tottenham Court Road in the direction of Goodge Street.
A man that was in the Fitzroy Tavern public house in Windmill Street, W1, at about 8pm on 1 April 1943, said that he was positive that he saw Maurice Horner there at about 10pm. He said that he saw him at the bar and that as far as he could remember, he saw Maurice Horner buy drinks for a soldier, and airman and a girl that was with the airman. However, he noted that the soldier, airman and the girl were not in his company and that after buying the drinks, Maurice Horner left them. The man, whose wife worked in the pub as a barmaid, said that he thought that Maurice Horner had had sufficient to drink and said to him, 'Don't you think you have had enough old man!' and said that Maurice Horner replied, 'I am going in a minute'. The man said that he saw Maurice Horner leave the pub shortly afterwards.
It was noted that the sighting of Maurice Horner in the Fitzroy Tavern was the last known sighting of him.
The woman that lived at 1 Hilltop, Finchley, whose garden adjoined that of 6 Maurice Walk, said that she had gone to bed at about 12.30am on 2 April 1943 and that at about 12.45am that morning, she heard sounds of running footsteps and the sound of scuffling. She said that she was not sure where the sounds came from, the front or the back, and said that she didn't get out of bed to look, but that she did mention it to her husband.
A daily help, who worked at 6 Maurice Walk on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays of each week, and who had a set of keys to the front door of his house, having worked for him for six years, said that she went to 6 Maurice Walk at about 9.30am on Friday 2 April 1943 and opened the front door with her key. She said that just inside the front door, in the hall, she saw a pool of blood and a broken kitchen chair. She said that she then saw Maurice Horner's slippers, his pipe, driving licence, matches, glasses and two notebooks, on the bottom stair and said that she then put the items, with the exception of the slippers, on the chest of drawers in the hall. She said that she then went into the kitchen, which was blacked-out, but said that she could not get the electric light to switch on. She said that she then went upstairs to the bedroom that Maurice Horner and his wife slept in and switched on the electric light there and saw Maurice Horner lying in bed with a towel round his head. She said that Maurice Horner was dressed in his pyjamas and that the towel and his bedclothes were covered in blood. She said that the room was also blacked out and that she then asked Maurice Horner, 'Whatever happened?' and said that Maurice Horner replied, 'A Canadian soldier did this'. She said that she then asked him 'How did he come here?' and said that Maurice Horner replied, 'I walked home from East Finchley Tube Station with him for a cup of tea. When we got home, I made some tea. The soldier then started to set into me. I lost consciousness and I woke up cold'.
The daily help said that she then went into the kitchen and made Maurice Horner a weak cup of tea and took it back up to him and then suggested calling for a doctor but said that Maurice Horner told her not to, and asked her to wait until his wife had got home. The daily help said that she then suggested that she should at least call the police, but said that Maurice Horner again asked her not to, asking her to wait until his wife returned.
When the daily help went back into the kitchen and took down the blackout shutters she then saw the disorder there. She said the electric light bulb and shade were broken, there was another broken kitchen chair as well as a broken saucer. She said that there were plates, a knife, a fork, and a spoon in a bowl of water in the sink, on top of which there was an empty casserole dish. She added that the water appeared to be coloured with blood. She said that there were also two cups and a teapot overturned on the kitchen table and two drinking glasses were also on the table, one half full of water and the other empty and that she formed the opinion that two people had had a meal.
The daily help said that the back door was locked from the inside when she arrived and said that no one could have left the house by that door.
She said that the broken chair that she found just inside the front door was usually kept in the kitchen.
She also said that the notebooks, driving licence, matches, pipe, tobacco pouch and spectacles that she found on the bottom stair in the hall were in a row as though they had been placed that way by someone.
She said that she saw blood on the carpets in the lounge and a blood covered handkerchief on the carpet there and noted that the blackout had also not been removed in the lounge. She said that she also saw blood on the stairs.
She said that the bedclothes on the bed in the spare room which was generally used by guests were partly turned back and that there were a pair of folded pyjamas on the pillow and that it didn't look like anyone had slept in the bed the previous night. She noted also that the blackout was not drawn in that room.
After looking about the daily help then began to clear up the mess, washing up the cups, picking up the pieces of broken chairs and putting them in the garden and washing away some of the blood on the kitchen floor as well as the pool of blood just inside the front door.
It was in the midst of clearing up that Maurice Horner's wife came home at about 10.20am on 2 April 1943. When she got home the front door was open and she was immediately told what had happened by the daily help after which she told the daily help to immediately cease clearing up and to leave everything alone.
Maurice Horner's wife then went up to see Maurice Horner who was still in bed with the towel round his head. She said that she called him by name and that he replied, 'Hello'. She said that she then made a quick examination, felt his pulse and noticed that he was breathing alright and then went back downstairs and telephoned for the doctor and for the police.
Maurice Horner's wife said that she then went back upstairs and asked Maurice Horner how long he had been lying there, and said that he told her, 'Since about twelve'.
There was a telephone at the side of the bed and the daily help was in the room when Maurice Horner used the phone and dialled a number. She said that she held the receiver to his ear for him and said that he spoke coherently.
The assistant editor of the Temple Press Ltd was in his office just before 10am on 2 April 1943 when he received a telephone call from Maurice Horner, the call that the daily help had referred to and had helped Maurice Horner make. He said that he didn't know who it was at first, as he appeared dazed, but when Maurice Horner told him that he would not be able to keep his business appointment that morning he realised who he was speaking to. He said that when Maurice Horner called, Maurice Horner said, 'Good morning old boy' and that he then said, 'Good morning old chap'. The assistant editor said that Maurice Horner then went on to tell him that he was not going to be able to keep an important business appointment that morning and then told him that he had a gash on his head as a result of taking a Canadian soldier home for a cup of tea. The assistant editor said that Maurice Horner also mentioned that he had been unconscious or asleep and that when he woke up the Canadian soldier had disappeared.
A doctor arrived at 6 Maurice Walk at about 10.30am. He said that when he arrived, he found Maurice Horner's head and face a mass of contusion and blood. He said that he had a deep gash in his scalp and appeared to have a fractured skull and that he made arrangements by telephone for an ambulance to take him immediately to the University College Hospital in Gower Street.
The doctor said that in his opinion, the injuries that he saw could have been made by blows from the broken chairs.
The police were called at 10.42am by Maurice Horner's wife who said that she had just returned home and found Maurice Horner in bed suffering from injuries and that the house was in disorder. The message was repeated to Finchley police station and police arrived at 6 Maurice Walk at about 11am on 2 April 1943. They said that just as they arrived, they saw Maurice Horner being carried into a waiting ambulance to be taken to the University College Hospital.
When the police arrived, they gave instructions that nothing was to be touched. When the police found that the daily help had moved a number of things, she was told to replace them at once whilst the places where she had found them was fresh in her mind, which she did with gloved hands.
The police then examined the house and found in addition to what the daily help had spoken of, bloodstains on the larder and cupboard doors in the kitchen and on the kitchen floor leading into the hall. They also found marks on the wall in the hall leading from the kitchen to the lounge that appeared to have been made by someone with their elbow as they staggered along.
They also found that the carpet on the lower stairs was also bloodstained.
The police also found a large bloodstain on the wall just inside the front door, and between that door and the dining room door they found two small stains on the wall in the angle between the front door and the door to the lounge.
Apart from the large pool of blood on the carpet in front of the sofa in the lounge, the police found stains on the wall immediately below the bay window on the far side of the room. They said that the rug in front of the fireplace, close to the sofa, was also disarranged.
When the police searched Maurice Horner's bedroom, they found his collar, tie and handkerchief, all of which were bloodstained, on a chest of drawers. His suit and shirt were on a chair near the chest, and they appeared to have been placed there in the normal way. The police also found blood stains on the wall immediately behind the chair, four feet from the floor.
The police said that they found no evidence of the house having been forcibly entered and were of the opinion that Maurice Horner and another person had been in the house since Maurice Horner and his wife had left the house the previous morning.
When Maurice Horner was taken to hospital, the police arranged for a CID officer to be at his bedside at the hospital.
When Maurice Horner was admitted to the University College Hospital at about noon on 2 April 1943, a doctor who saw him said that he was conscious and able to answer questions coherently, but drowsily. The doctor said that when he asked Maurice Horner what had happened, Maurice Horner said that he had met a Canadian soldier in the tube going from Goodge Street to East Finchley and that he had invited him back to his house for tea. He said that after they got back to his house, the Canadian soldier struck him on the head with a chair as he was making the tea. He said that he tried to reason with the soldier but finally collapsed on the floor, bleeding profusely from the head. He said that the Canadian soldier then left and that he then managed to put himself to bed where he was found by his charlady the following morning. He added that he didn't know whether anything had been stolen and said that the attack took place around midnight.
At 1pm on 2 April 1943 Maurice Horner was asleep, and the police determined to get more information out of Maurice Horner. The doctor said that it would be some time before he could make a written statement and it was considered that because of the possible motive behind Maurice Horner's invitation to the Canadian soldier to come back to his house, that he might not tell the truth to the police and so it was agreed that the doctor would ask him some pre-arranged questions and that the presence of the police would be kept from him.
Maurice Horner later opened his eyes shortly after 2pm and the doctor asked him some questions:
Question: Where had you been yesterday?
Answer: I had been out of the office all day and had been to Alperton. I had no dinner.
Question: What time did you leave the office and where did you go?
Answer: I think I left about 5.30pm and went to the Montrose public house in Roman Way, Barnsbury. I had two ham rolls.
Question: Where did you go then?
Answer: I walked down to the Cale and got a bus to Kings Cross. I walked along towards Tottenham Court Road.
At that moment, Maurice Horner vomited and had a rest before continuing.
Question: Where did you meet the soldier?
Answer: He was on the platform. We went to East Finchley and walked through the passage to Edmunds Walk, over Deansway into Brim Hill. There were some other people at the station.
Question: What was the soldier's name and what did he look like?
Answer: He was shorter than me. He had dark hair and was rather good looking. He said he was a private in the artillery and spoke of the University at Winnipeg. He said he had been to Oxford and ran it down.
Question: Was the soldier on leave and where was he stationed?
Answer: I thought he was on leave.
Question: Are you sure he was a private?
Answer: He told me he had been a sergeant but had gone back to a private.
Question: Had you any money on you?
Answer: I think about 30/-.
Maurice Horner then became exhausted and went to sleep.
Soon after, a surgeon came in and determined that an immediate operation was required, and Maurice Horner was prepared and at 3.45pm the operation was started and it terminated at 6.30pm.
Maurice Horner was described as being in a stable state after the operation but was not able to speak.
The following day at about 5.30am, Maurice Horner woke up and began to mumble to the detective that was by his bed, and over the following hour, he made the following disjointed sentences:
Maurice Horner then lost consciousness again and said nothing further.
Maurice Horner's condition then gradually deteriorated and on the evening of 4 April 1943, the surgeon in charge thought that it was advisable to open up his wound again and another operation was performed that evening.
Maurice Horner was said to have derived some relief from the second operation, but was deeply comatosed by the afternoon of 5 April 1943.
However, he died at 8.15pm on 5 April 1943 without saying anything further.
After Maurice Horner's death, the police stated that they had very little in the way of evidence to present in court, the only evidence they had being that of the condition of the house given by the daily help, Maurice Horner's wife and the police that arrived at the scene, that property had been stolen, the medical evidence regarding the cause of death and finger impressions that were found that were thought belonged to the person that committed the offence.
However, the police added that, provided Maurice Horner had told the truth, that they had some material to work on, based on his statements regarding the Canadian soldier.
The police stated that if they accepted what Maurice Horner tod them as true, then he met a man with the following description: 'A Canadian soldier, between 35 and 40 years of age, shorter than himself (Maurice Horner was 5ft 9in in height), dark hair, good looking, in battle dress, attached to the Artillery or REME, not very pronounced Canadian accent, who was thought to be on leave at the time, who spoke of the University at Winnipeg, had been to Oxford and ran it down and had at one time been a sergeant and had been demoted to a private'.
When the police reconstructed the apparent course of events, they said that it appeared that Maurice Horner had met the Canadian soldier on the evening of 1 April 1943 on the platform of Goodge Street underground station. It was thought that they then both went by train to East Finchley station and that, as described by Maurice Horner, they then took the most direct route from the station to 6 Maurice Walk, Finchley. The police said that they thought they probably arrived at 6 Maurice Walk soon after 11.30pm when they both shared the meal that Maurice Horner's wife had left prepared on the kitchen table for him in the usual way. The police noted that they had evidence of that as the daily help said that she had found two cups and a teapot, the empty casserole dish and two drinking glasses, one with water in it, when she entered on the morning of 2 April 1943.
The police reconstruction of the apparent course of events then stated that Maurice Horner then suddenly spoke of being struck on the head with a chair and that blows just seemed to rain on his head from everywhere. Maurice Horner was noted as having then to tried to reason with the soldier, but without avail, and to have then collapsed. The police stated that they thought that the struggle probably finished in the hall near the front door just inside of which the daily help said she found one of the broken kitchen chairs and a large pool of blood. The police stated that it then appeared that the Canadian soldier then rifled through Maurice Horner's pockets whilst he was on the floor unconscious. It was thought that the Canadian soldier then stole Maurice Horner's wallet, his cigarette case and cigarette lighter and placed the things that he didn't want, the pipe and matches etc, on the bottom stair near him, and then made his escape by the front door, which was found closed by the daily help when she arrived.
The police concluded that based on the apparent facts, that the assault took place at about midnight and that it was no doubt the assailant that the neighbour had heard at about 12.45am as he fled the house.
The police then stated that when Maurice Horner later regained consciousness, that he said that he found the soldier had gone and that whilst bleeding profusely from his head injuries, he had no doubt put his hands to his head and as a result they had become covered in blood. It was thought that he had then dragged himself to his feet and whilst doing so had made the blood marks on the hall wall and had then made his way into the lounge. It was noted that the outer handle of the lounge door was found to have blood on it, caused when he opened it, and it was thought that as he went in that he tripped over the rug in front of the fire which was found to be disarranged, and then fallen to the floor with his head near the sofa where a large pool of blood and the blood stained handkerchief were found.
It was thought that he had not been able to switch on the electric light in the lounge on as the room had not been blacked out. It was thought that he probably lost consciousness for a while and that when he regained consciousness , he drew himself up with the aid of the sofa to his feet and then made his way back into the hall by way of the bay window beneath which there were further bloodstains. It was thought that when he had reached the hall that he had then probably dragged himself up the stairs, at which point his slippers dropped off his feet, and that he helped himself up the stairs by holding the wall upon which other bloodstains were found.
The police said that they thought that when he reached his bedroom he then put his bloodstained collar and tie on the chest of drawers and took off his suit and shirt and put them on the back of a chair, found a towel in the bedroom which he then wrapped around his head and then put on his pyjamas on and went to bed.
The police said that they thought that he remained in that position until his daily help arrived and found him, about nine hours after the assault.
The police report stated that if that assumption of events was correct, that the police probably arrived at the scene probably between ten and eleven hours after the assailant had left the house.
The police said that assuming that Maurice Horner had told the truth, that they did not think that Maurice Horner had met the Canadian soldier before 1 April 1943. The police noted that as the technical editor of the Commercial Motor that he would have been deeply interested in a soldier who had knowledge of the mechanisms of tanks and like army vehicles, and that a Canadian soldier attached to the REME would have been able to converse on those subjects with him and that that might have been his motive in bringing him back to his house.
However, the police noted that in view of Maurice Horner's past association with young men, that the soldiers knowledge of vehicles was not the main reason for inviting a 'nice looking chap' back to his house late at night for a cup of tea knowing that there would be no one else at home. The police suggested that whilst Maurice Horner had been making a cup of tea after they had had a meal that they were of the opinion that Maurice Horner made certain suggestions to which the soldier took a strong objection and that in his rage he punished Maurice Horner more severely than he had at first intended. The police reported noted that there was no doubt that the killer had also robbed Maurice Horner, but stated that they thought that the robbery was secondary to the assault and that it was not in his mind at the time that he accepted Maurice Horner's invitation back to his house.
The police later made house to house enquiries in Maurice Walk and the surrounding streets but found nothing to help the case other than the information received from the woman at 1 Hilltop who heard the man running away.
When the police visited 6 Maurice Walk on 2 April 1943 at about 2.15pm, they took fingerprints from several items, including two impressions on two pieces of one of the broken chairs and on a saucer found in the kitchen. When fingerprints of all the people known to have been in the house were also taken for purposes of elimination, the impression on the saucer was found to have belonged to Maurice Horner's wife whilst one of the impressions found on the broken chair was also found to have been hers. However, the police stated that the third impression from one of the broken chairs, which was the clearest impression of all, belonged to no one who could be identified. It was then compared to the fingerprints of all Canadian soldiers who had been arrested previously, but no matches were found.
The police were informed that Maurice Horner's wallet and 30/- were missing at 8.35pm on 2 April 1943.
At 9.10pm on 2 April 1943 an SS message was sent to SD Inspectors asking for enquiries to be made of all-night reliefs as to whether any soldiers had asked directions on the previous night and also that 'persons stopped in the street register', were to be searched.
At 9.50pm on 2 April 1943, a telephone message was sent to the Information Room, circulating the vague description of the wanted man along with the description of the stolen wallet.
As a result of the SS message sent out, a statement was obtained from a police constable who was attached to Finchley Station. He said that at about 10pm on 1 April 1943, he had been posted to a police box situated at the junction of the North Circular Road and East End Road, which was about half a mile from Maurice Walk. The officer said that he had been outside the box at about 12.45am in the morning, which he said was a very dark time although his box had a light on it that could be seen from some distance, when a soldier came up to him. He said that judging from the soldier’s footsteps that he thought that he had come from the direction of East End Road and said that the soldier came up to him and asked him, 'How can I get to the Beaver Club from here?'. The constable said that he replied, 'Go down the North Circular Road and turn left into Regents Park Road and through Golders Green'. The constable said that the soldier then asked what the time was and so he opened his police box door and went inside where it was light, noting that the soldier then came up to the door, and said that he told him that it was 12.45am.
The constable said that he then asked the soldier, 'Are you adrift mate?', and said that the soldier replied 'No, I've got an hour or so out. I've been out with a couple of birds and left it rather late'. The constable said that he didn't ask the soldier for his pass. He said that the soldier had the appearance of having been drinking and said that his face was flushed and his breathing rapid as if he had been running. The constable said that he didn't see the soldier’s hands and said that he saw no marks of injury about the soldier’s face.
He said that the soldier had dark brown untidy hair, was about 25 years of age, about 5ft 8in tall, had a swarthy complexion, was clean shaven, sharp featured, with a thin face, slim build and a shortish nose. He added that the soldier was dressed in khaki battle dress without an overcoat or cap and that he had seen the word 'Canada' on his shoulder. He also added that the soldier was a private. The constable said that he didn't see any other marks on his blouse to signify his unit but stated that he thought that he would be able to identify the man again. He said that when they left the police box and then directed the soldier who he said, on leaving said to him, 'If I see a car, I will stop him and get a lift'.
The police report stated that as a result of that statement from the police constable that they caused enquiries to be made at the Beaver Club, Canadian Club, United States Club and the Overseas League Club, but that no useful information was obtained from them.
The police also spoke to all the local air raid wardens in the Maurice Walk district, but none of them saw or heard anything.
The police also spoke to all the drivers and conductors of early morning bus and trolley bus routes within reasonable distance of Maurice Walk, but without success.
The police also spoke to the late night and early morning staff at the East Finchley, Finchley Central, Golders Green and Hampstead Tube Stations, who were on duty on 1 and 2 April 1943, but they could not assist. There was one ticket collector who had been working on the barrier at East Finchley station on the evening of 1 April 1943 who said that amongst the excess fares he collected between 11pm and midnight was one of sixpence. However, he could not remember who paid it and was not able to recollect seeing anyone that matched the description of Maurice Horner or the Canadian soldier.
The police also traced five regular travellers who alighted at East Finchley station nightly between 11pm and midnight, but although they were shown a photograph of Maurice Horner, they were unable to throw any light on his movements.
The police also visited all the public houses in East Finchley, but it was established that Maurice Horner had not been to any of them on 1 April 1943.
When the police questioned the office staff at Temple Press, they said that they had not seen Maurice Horner with any Canadian soldiers. When the police searched his desk carefully for clues, they found nothing to indicate that he had been corresponding with any Canadian soldiers. His 1943 diary showed the nights that Maurice Horner had been on Home Guard duty, but otherwise the only other entries were for business appointments and the pubs that he had visited.
The police traced the route that Maurice Horner was thought to have taken from the office to the West End, which resulted in them determining that he had visited the following pubs:
The investigation also determined that he was well known at quite a number of other public houses en route.
The police also made contact with informants in public houses in and around the Tottenham Court Road district as well as making enquiries at Goodge Street underground station, but they were unable to find anyone that had seen Maurice Horner after he had left the Fitzroy public house after 10pm on 1 April 1943.
The police also made special enquiries with CID officers at hospitals to see if anyone matching the description of the Canadian soldier had sought medical attention or had been detained in hospital, but without any luck.
After Maurice Horner died on 5 April 1943, the police took possession of hair that was found on the back of his jacket as well as a sample of hair from a brush that Maurice Horner had used, and they were handed to a doctor at Hendon Laboratory. They also later sent him Maurice Horner's jacket, waistcoat, trousers and shirt that he had been wearing on the day he was attacked along with a sample of hair from his head and a sample of his blood.
When the doctor analysed the blood from Maurice Horner, he said that it was blood group A2 and said that the extensive blood staining on Maurice Horner's clothing was also blood group A2.
He also confirmed that the hairs found encrusted in a blood clot on the back of Maurice Horner's jacket, were similar to those found on the head of Maurice Horner.
Later, on 9 April 1943, Maurice Horner's wife told the police that she was also missing a cigarette case that Maurice Horner always carried with him, and a description of it was then sent to the Information Room asking for special enquiries at pawnbrokers etc to trace it.
On Sunday 11 April 1943, a road roller driver who lived in Pearscroft Road, Fulham, said that on 2 April 1943, at about 11.20am, he had found a cigarette case lying on the nearside of the grass verge on the North Circular Road. He said that he had not thought much about it at the time but said that he had been reading about the murder in his Sunday newspaper in which it mentioned the missing cigarette case and as a result he took it to the police station. The cigarette case had the initials MSH on it. He had found it whilst driving his roller along the North Circular Road near the junction of East End Road. He said that he had put it in his pocket with the intention of handing it into the police but forgot of its existence until he read about the murder later in his newspaper. The roller driver then took the police to the spot where he found it which was about seven yards behind a seat on the grass verge at the junction of the North Circular Road and Falloden Way in Finchley.
The cigarette case was then identified by Maurice Horner's wife.
When the police examined the cigarette case, they found finger impressions of the roller driver as well as his friends, who also handled it after the roller driver found it, but the police said that they were satisfied that they were no involved with Maurice Horner's murder.
The police report noted that the police box where the constable had said he had spoken to a Canadian soldier was only 600 yards from the place where the cigarette case was found, and said that they felt that they had every right therefore to assume that the soldier who the constable had spoken to at 12.45am on 2 April 1943, was the wanted man.
Maurice Horner's wife later informed the police on 13 April 1943 that Maurice Horner's petrol lighter was also missing, and the police sent a description of it along to the Information Room so that it could be included in their enquiries.
On 5 May 1943, Maurice Horner's wife told the police that she was missing a small horseshoe shaped magnet that had always been kept in the kitchen, and although she had only just missed it, she suspected that the killer had taken it.
The police noted that Maurice Horner had said that he had met the Canadian soldier at Goodge Street underground station. However, they said that it was not clear whether he had met him on the platform or in the train, and as such, they stated that it was possible that Maurice Horner might have met the soldier on the tube train and that if he did, then it was possible that the soldier might have been heading to Mill Hill East Station and making for Mill Hill Military Barracks there.
As such, the police made enquiries at the barracks at which the 1st Battalion REME was stationed. They said that all relevant records were examined and nothing useful could be determined. Their enquiries also showed that no one in the Canadian army had been attached to Mill Hill Barracks that year and also that there were no other military establishments in the North of London to which Canadian soldiers were attached that could be reasonably reached by anyone travelling on the Edgeware to Morden Line in a northerly direction from Goodge Street underground station.
The police also made enquiries into the young man that Maurice Horner had been friendly with in the Home Guard. However, at the time, he was in Africa and letters sent to Great Scotland Yard to make arrangements to interview him were not replied to. The police did however speak to the youth’s mother who confirmed that her son had been friendly with Maurice Horner and said that he used to stay at Maurice Horner's house when his wife was on duty and that they would often go into the West End together. The police said that whilst the chance was slim, that there was the possibility that if Maurice Horner had known the Canadian soldier, then the youth might also have known him, but they were unable to question him on that matter.
The police said that every possible assistance was rendered to them by the Canadian Special Investigation Section of the Canadian Provost Corps in Henrietta Street, W and that they had been in constant touch with them. They added that since the murder, every Canadian soldier who had been arrested and who it was considered likely to have been responsible was interrogated. They said that the nominal roll of Canadian soldiers absent without leave, or who had been struck off strength as deserters or who had escaped military custody, published on 7 April 1943 and 12 May 1943, were also examined. They also examined records of those that had not returned to their units, but the police concluded that the man they were looking for was not amongst the information in their possession.
When the police considered the statement that Maurice Horner had made about the Canadian soldier being in the artillery and having been to Oxford and ran it down, they made enquiries at the War Diaries Department, Canadian Military Headquarters Records Office in Acton and were informed that after Dunkirk, the British and Canadian armies were exceptionally short of guns and that as a result the Canadian Artillery units were split up, contrary to army procedures, and scattered all over the country. As such, the police said that it was possible that one of those small groups had been posted at or near Oxford, but that it was impossible to find out anything about those groups as no records of them existed. It was noted however, that at the time of the murder, no part of the Canadian army was in the Oxford area.
The police report noted that the only other link between the Canadian Army and Oxford was the University Short Educational Course that was run by the Canadian Legion War Services in St Georges Hill in Weybridge. The courses were one week in duration and were open to any member in the forces of the colonies or allies, at the individual's own expense and in their own time. The object of the courses were to give the students an insight into the general methods of education at British universities. They started in June 1942 and in January 1943 there was a break until April 1943. The police said that when they went to the course office they found that a total of 900 Canadian soldiers had attended the courses, but said that because they had no information that the man they were looking for held a commission, they excluded the commissioned officers which left a list of 480 Canadian soldiers of other ranks.
The police also learnt that there had been a liaison officer at Oxford who stood between the Canadians and the University Authorities. It was found that that liaison officer came into personal touch with all the Canadians who attended the courses. However, when they spoke to two men that had acted as liaison officers over the relevant period, they found that they were unable to link any of the Canadian that had been on the courses with the description of the Canadian soldier they were looking for.
The police also went to see the records at the Canadian Records Office in Acton where they were given access to all the files of the Canadian Army serving in England which included where the man was born, his full description, where he was educated, where he enlisted, when he arrived in the country, all the units that he had belonged to, dates on which he had taken leave and crimes. The police then sorted out the 480 names that they had from the course office and as a result identified 21 Canadian soldiers whose records fitted in some detail or another with the man that they were looking for. They then requested various police forces around the country, and they were all interrogated, but they were all cleared of suspicion.
The police then searched the Canadian Army records for anyone with the name Rex, which had been given by Maurice Horner. They also searched for anyone with a name of any sort that sounded like Rex.
They identified one soldier in the Canadian army with the name Rex, and when investigations were made, it was found that he had been in barracks with the CROO at Martinique Barracks in Bordon, Hampshire and that he had answered roll call at 10pm on 1 April 1943.
The police added that they found two men in the Canadian army with the surname Rech and five men with the surname Rix, but said that after enquiries were made, they were satisfied that none of them were responsible for the murder.
The police also made enquiries into the statement that Maurice Horner had made regarding the Canadian Soldier saying that he had been to the University at Winnipeg. They said that when they made enquiries, they found that the university referred to was probably Manitoba University and found that part of it had been taken over as an artillery training centre by the Canadian Army. It was therefore thought that the Canadian soldier might have gone through that preliminary training centre, hence his mention of the University of Winnipeg and that he had been in the artillery. As such, the police reasoned that it did not of necessity follow that when he arrived in England that he would have been posted to an artillery unit.
The police also sent a letter to the Commissioner of the Canadian Military Police at Ottawa via the Canadian Military Police with the particulars of the man that they were looking for and asked for the records at Ottawa to be searched and enquiries made at Manitoba University with a view to establishing the Canadian soldiers’ identity, but they didn't reply.
When the police made enquiries regarding the man being attached to the REME (the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) they found that the Canadian Army didn't have a unit bearing that name and that all personnel that were entitled to call themselves REME in the Canadian Army were attached to the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps.
It was established that there were ten divisions in the Canadian Army to which men entitled to call themselves REME were attached and they were in East Grinstead, Godstone, Heathfield, Horsham, Billinghurst, Cuckfield, Aldershot, Farnborough, Cobham and Burgh Heath. However, with the full assistance of the commanding officers, over 1,000 such men were interrogated and none of them were considered to have been the man that they were looking for. However, it was noted that several men that were entitled to be called REME had transferred to other units although most of them were tracked down by the police in their respective areas. As such, the line of enquiry failed to reveal the identity of the Canadian soldier.
At the inquest, Maurice Horner's wife said that they both kept an open house for anyone that wanted a meal or wanted to be put up for the night. She added that Maurice Horner often met people when travelling and asked them home for a meal and said that they kept extra food specially for that purpose. She said that they also had an understanding when they married that both his or her friends or anyone wanting food or drink, could stay at their house.
The pathologist at the inquest stated that he found bruising around each of Maurice Horner's eyes as well as a number of puncture wounds about his body and at least nine lacerated wounds to his back, top and right side of his head. The pathologist noted that Maurice Horner's skull was thin, especially at the sides and spoke of his skull fractures. He also said that Maurice Horner had several bruises under the under surface of his brain. He concluded that Maurice Horner's cause of death was coma due to extra-dural haemorrhage, secondary to fractures of the skull. He also noted that he thought that Maurice Horner had been hit at least nine times, probably more, and that his injuries could not have been caused by merely falling or anything of that kind.
After the jury returned a verdict of murder by some person or persons unknown, the police noted that they had been greatly handicapped in the first instance because they were not informed of the matter until almost twelve hours after Maurice Horner was attacked. They noted that if they had been given the alarm at once, then it was more likely that the constable at the police box who spoke to the Canadian soldier at 12.45am might have made far more searching enquiries and might also have brought the soldier he spoke to to the police station.
However, it was also noted that they still had the clear single fingerprint that might still result in the crime being resolved as it was compared with all fingerprints of Canadian soldiers that were being arrested on an ongoing basis.
see National Archives - MEPO 3/2250