Unsolved Murders

Frederick William Randall

Age: 82

Sex: male

Date: 26 Jan 1963

Place: 114 Clapham Road, Clapham

Frederick William Randall died in January 1963 at his home at 114 Clapham Road, Clapham.

A 55-year-old hospital porter was later tried for his murder in 1966 after confessing to poisoning him, but acquitted.

At the time of his trial he had been serving a ten year sentence for raping a  9-year-old girl.

He had also been convicted for robbing Frederick Randall's wife later in the year after his death.

The hospital porter had met Frederick Randall's wife whilst he was in prison when she had come to visit him and had afterwards moved in with her and Frederick Randall.

Frederick Randall's body was exhumed in 1965 the man confessed and the man was tried for his murder, but acquitted in January 1966. At the trial he denied murdering Frederick Randall or doing anything to injure his health, stating that he confessed to his murder because he was depressed after being convicted of raping a child. He said:

I was in a depressed condition, realising what had happened in relation to the child, and I felt ashamed. Rape was foreign to my nature and abhorrent to myself and other people. I sought a means of getting dealt with on a bigger charge, rather than a lesser one, because I was thoroughly ashamed.

It was heard that the man had been living with Frederick Randall's wife and wanted her to go away with him. The man had made a statement in which he had said that he had given Frederick Randall an overdose of sleeping tablets.

In his statement the man said:

I want to tell you all about how Mr Randall died. What happened was this. I returned to the Clapham/Brixton area in January or February, 1962. I think it was the last day in January, 1962. I had been corresponding with a Mrs Elsie Mary Randall, who was living at 114 Clapham Road, SW9, whilst I was away from this area.

When I returned in January 1962, I went to lodge at her house. I had been taking her out before I went to lodge there, really I went there to live with her. Mrs Randall was living there with her husband, Mr Frederick Randall. Mr Randall looked after the house which he ran as a cheap rooming house. Mrs Randall worked, and I believe still does, as the manageress of the Strand Theatre, Aldwych.

At this time, I was working for Bell's of Westminster, Builders, at 46 Clapham Road, SW9, as a painter.

Mr Randall did not sleep in the same room as his wife. I used to sleep with her, with her husband's knowledge, he condoned it. I wanted her to leave that house and to come away and live with me, but she wouldn't leave her husband. I don't know the reason for this, but I thought that if he wasn't there she would leave it and I wanted to get her out of' that house.

At about this time, I was suffering from what later transpired to be a peptic or peptic ulcer. I was being treated by Dr Magonett who practised with Dr Mariwalli or a name like that. Their surgery is in Bedford Road at the corner with Sandmere Road, SW9. Dr Mariwalli, she is an Indian, was giving me capsules for insomnia. I didn't use all that she gave me, so that I was able to bank a few from each supply she gave me. In the end, I had two white boxes full of these sleeping capsules, I suppose I had forty or fifty all told.

Mr Randall fell ill with a chest cold and as Mrs Randall was working late each evening I used to take him in a hot drink at about 8pm each night. This particular night I had been on to Mrs Randall about 'shutting up shop' and coming away with me, but she refused. I thought, well, if he's not there she may come away with me. I got hold of one of the boxes of capsules, shook them into my hand, and put them all into the cup of cocoa I had prepared for Mr Randall. I stirred them up and they disappeared. I put about twenty or thirty into the cup. I took the cocoa into Mr Randall and stayed there whilst he drank it. He complained about the taste, but told him it was probably the milk and anyhow he did drink it eventually.

Mr Randall lived in the basement kitchen through the day, but slept in a bedroom on the first floor, I think it was No 3 bedroom.

Mrs Randall and I slept on the ground floor, just inside the front door on the right in the back. She had the two ground floor rooms. As I say, I waited while Mr Randall drank the cocoa and then I went and watched the 'telly' in Mrs Randall's living room, the front ground floor room.

About an hour later, that would be nine o' clockish, I went back to Mr Randall' s bedroom and I saw that he was dead. He was sitting up in bed leaning back against some cupboards which were beside the bed. The cup and saucer were on the little table at the side of the bed, they were empty. I pulled Mr Randall down the bed so that he was in a 'sleeping position', and covered him with the bedclothes so that it would seem that everything was in order and that he had died in his sleep. I took the cup and saucer and left the room. I washed out the cup and saucer and just waited for Mrs Randall to come home.

She came home at about 10.45pm, and shortly after went to see her husband. She came to me and told me that her husband had passed away. I cannot remember if she fetched a doctor the same night or next morning, I am not certain of that, anyhow, you can check that by asking her.

Mr Randall's own doctor, don't know his name but he lives Just over the road from them in Clapham Road, came and certified death. I think he said it was 'natural causes'.

I think someone said something about if he was to be cremated there would have to be an inquest, but if he was buried the inquest would not be necessary. I suggested that he be buried and Mrs Randall agreed and the funeral was conducted by a firm in Brixton Road, just below the Russell Hotel, they had adverts for pianos, second-hand ones, in the front garden.

Mrs Randall still wouldn't come away with me after this, so I took to the drink. I took some rate money of hers and got drunk on it and we had a bit of an argument, but I still stayed on there.

A bit after this I tried to get her to get rid of her dog. It was a dirty dog, it used to smell and it used to get dirty in the garden and then come and rub itself up against your clothes. She wouldn't part with it so one night whilst she was at work I gave the dog some of the capsules. I mixed them in with some dog food, it was like meat, broken up biscuits. I mixed them in and wet it and gave it to the dog. A couple of hours or so later, I went out in the garden and there it was dead. I left it there till next morning and let Mrs Randall find it and she thought it had been run over and put there. She told me about it and asked me to bury it for her. I buried the dog on the right hand side of the garden right beside the division wall between her house and the neighbours, about midway and only about a foot below the surface.

Shortly after this, I went into St. Thomas's Hospital, Westminster, for an operation for my stomach ulcer. I was there for a fortnight and instead of going to a convalescent home I went back to Mrs Randall's place. I got one of these fits of depression and about a fortnight later I took my 'hook off' down to Bristol.

I got this job at the South Western Hospital and I have been there ever since, that is up to last Sunday, 29th November, 1964, when I got the sack for being drunk.

I have still been seeing Mrs Randall occasionally, she lives at 6 South Island Place, SW9 in a room at the back. She still works at the Strand Theatre and is hoping to get a flat at Peabody Buildings somewhere.

Mr Randall was buried, I think, at Swindon, I think that's where it was, it was done on the cheap. That's all I can say about Mr and Mrs Randall.

I murdered him and it’s been on my blinking mind. I think it's that that's been making me drink so much rum.

When they dug up the body of the dog from the garden at 114 Clapham Road and examined samples from its carcass and the soils around it they found a barbiturate that proved to be amylbartitone, or more commonly known as Amytal, but because of the state of decomposition, the analyst was unable to tell the dosage.

After Frederick Randall's body was exhumed on 23 March 1965 from grave 180+ at Lambeth Cemetery in Tooting, they found a pento-barbitone that was marketed as Nembutal in the stomach, stomach contents, brain, cavity fluid and also the fluid from the coffin, finding in total 48mg, which was the equivalent of three quarters of one grain. The concentration of Nembutal in the brain had been 0.3mg per 100g and it was noted that the register of Human Toxicology of fatal cases in 1960 to 1961 reported fatal cases with a brain concentration of 0.1 in 1960 and 0.3mg in 1961. It was further noted that the concentration found in the brain would have meant that there had been a total of about 3 grains in the whole body, but that when further accounting for loss into fluid contained in the coffin and the fact that the method of extraction would only indicate about half of the content present that the analyst thought that the amount present in Frederick Randall's body at the time of death would have been in the region of 10 to 20 grains.

It was noted that the various tablets were available in dosages of ¼ up to 3 grains and that tests revealed the 30 capsules could readily be dissolved in liquid without any obvious sediment, although they both left a bitter taste in the mouth.

Frederick Randall's initial cause of death had been given as natural causes.

When Frederick Randall's wife gave a statement, she said:

On the 13th October, 1928, I married Frederick William Randall. In 1941 we moved to Clapham Road, SW9, which we ran as a boarding house. In 1946 we adopted a son. From that time my husband and I slept in separate rooms. He slept on the first floor and I on the first floor also. In 1955 I met the defendant, and from approximately February 1961 he came to live with me sharing my bedroom and living quarters. In 1962 my husband was approximately 80 years of age and had been ailing for some time. About October 1962, he had an attack of bronchitis and was in bed for about eight weeks until he then died. He was in bed for the whole of those eight weeks and during that time was being treated by Dr Tehan.

As part of the prescribed medicine he had sleeping tablets which were left on the mantlepiece in my husband's room in a little white box. One was given to my husband at every 7.00 o'clock. I worked during the evenings and I normally left one tablet in a little matchbox beside his bed and he used to take it himself. He took it with either water or milk which I took to him. At night he would have a hot drink which was taken to him either by the defendant or my son. I can't remember how many times Dr Tehan gave me a prescription for sleeping tablets. I received the last one about a week before my husband died. The sleeping tablets were little pink tablets. They were not capsules. I'm positive. I had received nothing whatsoever other than those sleeping tablets for my husband.  Dr Tehan prescribed about 10 of the sleeping tablets at a time.

At that time I had a white sealyham bitch. On the 26th January 1963 I left my husband at about 1.30pm. I had given him his food. The defendant or my son were to look after my husband in my absence. My son was there when I left. I knew my son intended to go out that evening. My husband was still in bed. His condition as far as I could see was that he was very weak. I took him out of bed and washed him and changed him and found him very weak. When I left him he was lying flat on his back with about three pillows under his head and his shoulders. I returned at about 11.30pm and went to my living room and the defendant was there. I had a cup of tea with the defendant. Nothing was said about my husband. After that I went to my husband's room and found the light was on there. My husband was lying on his back with his fingers to his mouth. The bedclothes were perfectly in order. I could see he was dead.

I came down to the sitting room where the defendant still was and I said to him 'I think Fred has gone'. I cried. The defendant took me in his arms and said, 'Don't upset yourself'. I suggested we rang for a doctor and I then went to my sister's house at 103 Clapham Road and she telephoned Dr Tehan. The defendant remained at my house. I went back to my house and waited the arrival of Dr Tehan. When he arrived I went to my husband's room with him and I saw the doctor pick up from the floor one of my husband's pink sleeping tablets. I am positive that's what it was.

Before I had gone out I had left as usual the tablet in a matchbox by my husband's bed. When I was there with the doctor I did not notice if the matchbox was still there. I did not notice if there was anything like a cup or a saucer beside his bed. Sometimes there was a beaker there and sometimes not. It was in a beaker that he had his hot drink. I was present when Dr Tehan examined my husband. He certified my husband as dead.

The funeral arrangements were undertaken by Mr Sweeting and my husband was buried in a grave which I bought at Lambeth Cemetery, Tooting, on the 30th January 1963. The defendant and I continued to live together.

My dog died about three months after my husband had died. I did not ask the defendant anything about the death of my dog. I saw it by the bottom gate in the back garden. It was dead. There seemed to be a black line down one side from her head to her tail which made me think that maybe she had been knocked down. I went in and told the defendant that the dog was dead at the bottom of the garden and he told me to go in and said he would bury it. He buried the dog in the garden at the side of the wall, on the right as one left the house to enter the garden.

Shortly after this the accused went into St. Thomas's Hospital for a stomach operation. He has never said anything to me about the death of my husband or my dog.

The porter was tried at the Old Bailey on 17 January 1966 but found not guilty. He was also found not guilty of administering a poison to him with intent to endanger his life.

At the trial he had denied the charges.

The earlier conviction for robbing Frederick Randall's wife was reported on 25 October 1963.

It was heard that they had met when he had been in prison serving a sentence of preventative detention and that on his release he had gone to live with her.

He had been charged with stealing £126 6s belonging to Frederick Randall's wife as well as obtaining £3 by false pretences with intent to defraud from the licensee of the Royal Oak public house at 10 Clapham High Street.

The court heard that Frederick Randall's wife would have often had some of her employer's money which she would take home and the porter was said to have taken £126 6s from her handbag and then left the house and committed a number of other offences.

Just before his arrest he attempted to commit suicide and spent some time in hospital.

It was also heard that he had previously managed to obtain possession of a cheque book and made out a number of dud cheques that people, including the Clapham licensee, had cashed.

His probation officer stated that he had 15 previous convictions and had also admitted 15 further offences with worthless cheques.

It was just over two years later that he was charged with raping the 9-year-old girl and claimed that he had murdered Frederick Randall, for which he was sentenced to ten years. He was convicted of that charge at the Old Bailey on 22 January 1965, along with burglary and housebreaking.

His full criminal history was:

  1. 1925: Stealing chocolate - 6 months borstal.
  2. 1930: Gross indecency - 9 months hard labour.
  3. 1935: Stealing four coats, value £7.5.0 from hall of dwelling house - 3 months hard labour.
  4. 1936: Leaving wife and children chargeable - 3 months hard labour.
  5. 1937: Unlawful wounding, Living on the earnings of prostitution, Assault - 6, 6 and 1 months hard labour (conct).
  6. 1939: Obtaining money by false pretences (2 cases, 2 cases considered) - 3 and 3 months hard labour (conct).
  7. 1940: Pavilionbreaking and stealing cigarettes and tobacco - 18 months hard labour.
  8. 1942: Shop breaking and stealing property (5 cases), Housebreaking and stealing property (2 cases Larceny considered) - 3 years penal servitude.
  9. 1944: Housebreaking and stealing clothing and other property, Receiving stolen property (1 case considered) - 9 months hard labour.
  10. 1946: Shopbreaking and stealing clocks and watchmaker's tools value £60 - 18 months imprisonment.
  11. 1948: Housebreaking and stealing a watch, clock, broach and stamps total value £25, Stealing in a dwelling house clothing, clock, suitcase, studs, etc value £24.10.0, Stealing foodstuffs value 6/6 from unattended motor car (3 cases considered) – 3 years penal servitude.
  12. 1952: Stealing in a dwelling house the sum of £8.10.0, Assault occasioning actual bodily harm - 1 & 4 years imprisonment (consec).
  13. 1956: Housebreaking and stealing money, clothing, jewellery and radio set, total value £102.0.11, Housebreaking and stealing money, cheque books, postage stamps, value £11, Obtaining an electric shaver, value £11.4.11 by false pretences (29 cases considered) - 9 years preventative detention.
  14. 1963: Stealing in a dwelling house £126.6.0, Obtaining £3 by false pretences (15 cases considered) - 2 years’ probation.
  15. 1965: rape of a girl, aged 9 years, Burglary and stealing a television set, value £85, Schoolbreaking and stealing steps, relay wireless set, loudspeakers and record player, total value £125 - 7 years, 2 years and 12 months (conct).
  16. 1965: Stealing in a dwellinghouse, False pretences, ie the original offences of 17 October 1963 - 12 and 12 months imprisonment (conct).

It was noted, in relation to the charge of stealing from Frederick Randall's wife in 1963, that he had found work as a painter after his long sentence, and the Chairman of the London Sessions said that he was impressed by the fact that he had found work and made some effort to go straight after being released from such a long sentence and said that in the hope that he would respond to mercy, that he would be given a chance. He noted that it had been a beastly and dirty trick that he had played on Frederick Randall's wife, noting that even after that she still had some faith in him, and he was given a two year probation order for that offence.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see National Archives - CRIM 1/4466

see Nottingham Guardian - Tuesday 18 January 1966

see Daily Mirror - Saturday 15 January 1966

see Wolverhampton Express and Star - Monday 29 November 1965

see Daily Mirror - Tuesday 23 November 1965

see Lincolnshire Echo - Tuesday 18 January 1966

see Streatham News - Friday 25 October 1963