Date: 14 Jan 1956
Robina Bolton was found murdered at her flat in Westbourne Terrace, Paddington on 14 January 1956.
A 27-year-old bearded man was tried for her murder but acquitted. It was heard that there was not enough evidence against him and the judge directed the jury to acquit him, saying, 'I must satisfy myself that there is some piece of evidence that is more than mere suspicion. You cannot put a multitude of suspicion together and make proof out of it'.
Robina Bolton was a prostitute and her husband had been driving her to the flat in Westbourne Terrace so that she could have sex with clients. He took her there on the night of 13 January 1956 and when he went back to get her the following morning he found her dead with eight serious injuries to the back of her head that had been inflicted with a sharp instrument.
The man that was tried for her murder, known as 'the bearded man', admitted that he had been with her until 3am on 14 January 1956 but said that when he left her that she was well and alive. However, it was noted that there were a number of inconsistencies in his statements to the police.
The police report stated that there was little more than circumstantial evidence against the man but one part of that evidence was the finding of a magazine called True Detective Vol5 No1 which contained a story called 'Murder Walked In' which it was claimed detailed the story of a murderer whose behaviour was similar to that of the man tried. However, the defence claimed that there was little similarity. The story was about two hitchhikers that broke into a house and bound the husband after which one of the men then went into the wife’s room and killed her with an axe for no reason and later claimed he could not remember doing so.
Robina Bolton was also known as Ruby Bolton and was a prostitute with 22 convictions recorded against her for soliciting prostitution, the last being 29 April 1954. She had additionally been convicted once for brothel keeping and twice at Blackpool convicted for leaving a child en chargeable to general rate.
She had lived in Flat 7 on the ground floor, 32 Westbourne Terrace in Paddington, W2 with her 35-year-old husband who it was noted had been a motor driver for a few weeks. It was also noted that he also had a conviction recorded against him that he received on 22 February 1952 at Marylebone Magistrates Court where he was fined £40 with 10 guineas costs or three months imprisonment for managing a brothel.
Robina Bolton was described by neighbours as an attractive, brown haired woman, well dressed and well spoken.
The police report noted that it was thought that it was probable that Robina Bolton's husband had for a long time been living wholly or in part on his wife's immoral earnings. However, it was further noted he had been operating a car hire business under the style of 'Ruby Car Hire'.
It was noted that it was her husband who had found Robina Bolton at the flat soon after 8am on the Saturday 14 January 1956, saying that he had found her lying in bed naked, the lower part of her body being covered by bed clothes and with severe injuries and with her handbag and its contents missing.
Soon after Robina Bolton was found a pathologist from Guys Hospital was called out. After making his examination he reported, 'she lay dead in a double bed set in the corner of the room. The head was set face down on the lower edge of a pillow and the body stretched straight down the bed, the legs a little apart. Extensive injuries were present over the back of the head. The conditions present were consistent with death having taken place about 12 hours prior to the time of measurement of the temperature of the body at the house, and further examination at the mortuary suggested that the period was probably 10 to 12 hours, rigor mortis not being quite complete. Death in my view must have taken place in the early hours of 14th January, say between 12 and 2am. Eight deeply chopped wounds were set over the prominence of the right side of the back of the head, parallel with each other and lying between the back of the right ear (which was severed) and the midline. The wounds were 5in, 4 3/4in, 4 1/2in, 4 1/2in, 4in, 3 1/4in, 3 3/4in and 3in in length, sharply chopped wounds which penetrated in several cases as deep as 2in and the brain was extensively lacerated. The left hand bore two wounds which could represent one injury, the left thumb being virtually severed through bone at the middle knuckle and the forefinger similarly through the first segment. The cause of death was shock and haemorrhage from head wounds. There would appear to have been no fresh sexual assault. There was nothing to suggest that deceased had been either tied up or beaten or that any unnatural assault had taken place'.
The police report stated that it was thought with some confidence that the wounds that Robina Bolton had received were caused by a sharp type instrument that was not found that had a cutting edge of some three inches or more.
It was further noted that insofar as the pathologist's report went that it was imperative to consider his estimation of the time of death, that being between 12 midnight and 2am on 14 January 1956.
Robina Bolton's husband said that Robina Bolton had been a prostitute or call-girl for several years and that they had occupied the flat at 32 Westbourne Terrace only since 27 December 1955.
It was noted that on the afternoon of Friday 13 January 1956 that Robina Bolton's joint account with her husband with the Midland Bank Ltd had a credit balance of 12/3d, which was in spite of the fact that they had issued four cheques for the following amounts that were due to be presented and paid immediately:
It was heard that Robina Bolton's husband had said that he and Robina Bolton had been anxious that the money should be procured to credit the banking account to the extent of honouring the cheques, particularly the first two, and that Robina Bolton had actually telephoned the Midland Bank to find out whether any of the cheques had been presented.
As such, the police report stated that it was doubted that the financial position of Robina Bolton and her husband at the time was anything but extremely poor and additionally that their general financial position was such as not to expect Robina Bolton to have been giving any money away.
It was said then that in order to try to get money to settle their liabilities that they had gone out soliciting around Robina Bolton's usual 'beat' in Hertford Street, W1 on the evening of Friday 13 January 1956 at about 8.30pm.
Robina Bolton's husband said that Robina Bolton took one client to the flat at 9.15pm from whom she received £4 and that between then and 10.15pm she had another client with whom she went to her husband's home address from whom she received £5 and that before 12.40am that she had another client at the flat who paid her £2, a client that was described as a 'little guy'.
It was noted that none of the clients were traced.
Following that it was heard that Robina Bolton had communicated with another man who called her at the flat and who she had met before and it was said that it was the man that was later charged with her murder.
Robina Bolton's husband said that Robina Bolton told him about the man before, saying that she had met him on the Wednesday night, 11 January 1956 and that he had offered her £1 for a short time but who she had refused. He said that Robina Bolton told him that she had given the man her telephone number at the flat and that further, during their conversation that she had told him that she had not recognised him as a man that she had been with several months previously but that the man had then reminded her that they had met previously after he had just got out of prison after having served 9 months for writing obscene literature. He said that she also told him that the man had grown a beard.
Robina Bolton's husband said that Robina Bolton later told him that the man later called her at her flat at 32 Westbourne Terrace and then went round to see her at which point he offered her £15 to stay the whole night but that she had put him off, saying that she had not known what he, her husband, was planning on doing, but had suggested to the man that if they later met in Park Lane and he wasn't otherwise fixed up by that time that she might reconsider the offer. It was said that shortly after Robina Bolton had met her husband who then drove her to her beat in Hertford Street sometime after midnight on 14 January 1956 at which point they arranged that if she were to see the bearded man again that she would take him back to the flat and that he, her husband, would stay at a friend’s house in Rainsford Street and would telephone her later to see what happened.
Robina Bolton's husband said that it was about 12.45am on 14 January 1956 that he dropped Robina Bolton off at the corner of Park Lane and Hertford Street and that after that he drove round and returned about five minutes later at which time he said Robina Bolton had gone. As such, he said that he later called Robina Bolton as agreed at the flat and they had some cross talk which they had previously agreed on in which Robina Bolton said, 'I have got somebody here all evening', and 'I am sorry, but you will have to stay at a hotel'. He said that at the end of the conversation he asked Robina Bolton whether it was the bearded man that she was with and said that she told him that it was. He said that he then told Robina Bolton to leave the curtains apart and the lights on and told her that he would be home at about 6am.
Robina Bolton's husband said that he then went off to his friends house in Rainsford Street, arriving at 1.30am and staying until 5.45am. He said that when he first got there his friend was not there, but that his wife let him in and that his friend returned at 2.15am and didn't go out again.
Robina Bolton's husband said that at about 5.45am he drove round to 32 Westbourne Terrace in his car but said that the curtains were not apart as arranged and that after making two brief attempts to ring her in which he had no reply, he went to a restaurant where he had some refreshment.
He said that he telephoned again at 8am, allowing the phone to ring for several minutes but got no reply and that he after went round to the flat and went in, finding the lights and the fire off and Robina Bolton dead in the bed with a gash to the back of her head.
Robina Bolton's husband said that his first thought was to call his friend which he did and said that his friend suggested that he return to Rainsford Street which he then did and that it was not until 9.22am that his friend telephoned Scotland Yard.
The police report noted that the lapse in time between Robina Bolton's husband discovering Robina Bolton's body and the police being informed initially caused them some concern, but they said that they had determined that Robina Bolton's husband had been afraid of possible proceedings against him for living off Robina Bolton's immoral earnings and that in that time Robina Bolton's friend had called a solicitor that had then gone round to Rainsford Street who after hearing what they had to say had advised them to immediately get in touch with the police.
The police report noted that it obviously reflected little credit to the solicitor that he had himself not immediately informed the police, but concluded that it did not appear to be something to be argued at that time.
The police report noted that, as unfortunate as though it might be, that they had to accept what Robina Bolton's husband said about his first visit to the flat in which he said that he found no murder weapon nor Robina Bolton's handbag, although it was later heard that he said that he found it whilst sorting out their things as he prepared to vacate the flat, and that as such, they had to assume that robbery was a possible motive.
The police report then stated that ,against that background, that the story unfolded with it being seen that the bearded man was a most unusual character, with perverted sexual instincts, and who it was believed was the last person to see Robina Bolton alive.
The police report stated that Robina Bolton's husband further told them that it was not Robina Bolton's custom to go out soliciting after 12.30am and that it was not her habit after having clients to dress, but instead, to show them to the door in her night dress or dressing gown. He additionally said that it was also her habit to get in touch with him by telephone after a client had left or alternatively to find him waiting in his car somewhere nearby.
The police report stated that there was evidence from which it could be assumed that the bearded man had left Westbourne Terrace at about 2.15am or soon afterwards and that as such, in accordance with her usual custom that Robina Bolton should have soon after telephoned her husband at his friend’s house in Rainsford Street, which she didn't appear to have done.
The police report stated that their first suspect in the case was Robina Bolton's husband and that although his story was to some measure corroborated by his friend at Rainsford Street and his friend's wife who had also been at that address, they felt that there was good reason to make enquiries to eliminate him from their investigation and so it was thought therefore of supreme importance to trace Robina Bolton's associates, and more especially the person that had been described as 'the bearded man' and who was later charged with the murder.
The 'bearded man' was soon identified and it was noted that he had one conviction: 6 and 6 months imprisonment consecutive; 6, 6 and 6 months imprisonment concurrent, for publishing obscene books and on three other charges of sending obscene literature through the post for which he was fined £5, or one months imprisonment concurrent, at Bedford Borough Magistrates Court on 3 May 1955. It was further noted that he was later released from that sentence on 31 December 1955 and that there was reason to suppose that he might have returned to the maisonette, 60 St George's Terrace in Primrose Hill, NW1 where he had previously been living with a 22-year-old woman, it being noted that he had been separated from his wife since January 1955. It was additionally noted that at the time of the murder investigation that his wife had divorce proceedings against her husband, the bearded man, underway.
The police went to see the bearded man at his address at 6pm on 15 January 1956 and said, 'At 9.45am yesterday morning, at Flat 7, 32, Westbourne Terrace, Paddington, W2, I saw the dead body of Ruby Bolton who had been murdered, and I believe you may be able to assist me in relation to my enquiries as to who killed her', to which the bearded man replied, 'Ruby Bolton, she was a prostitute wasn't she. I knew her as Ruby. I was with Ruby Friday night'.
When the police started to question the bearded man, one of the first things he told then was, 'I suppose you know I have only been out two weeks and the other chap has only been out a week or didn't you know'.
The police report stated that the bearded man then accompanied them at their request to Paddington Police Station where they said to him, 'You realise this is a most serious matter and I would like you to tell me anything you remember about your movements between 11pm on Friday, 13 January 1956 and 9am on the following morning, that is, yesterday morning'. The bearded man then indicated that he had spent the night with Robina Bolton and the police then asked him how much he had paid her and he told them that that he had not given her any money and that it was in fact her that had given him money, saying that she had given him £2.
The police report then noted that they had not previously known of any prostitutes paying the male to go with them and from the Robina Bolton's known financial position that they thought that the possibility of Robina Bolton having given money away on the occasion as suggested was more than improbable.
The police further noted that significance of the alleged present of money from the prostitute seemed to be an unsettled feature in the bearded man's mind as he later changed the amount that he said Robina Bolton had given him to £3 and then later claimed that the sum was £5.
When the police then enquired about how much money the bearded man had in his pocket he produced a wallet that contained in one compartment two £1 notes and in the deep envelope of the fold of the wallet six £1 notes. The police said that when they took the money and looked at it the bearded man said, 'I borrowed £4 from my ex-partner yesterday afternoon'. When the police asked who his ex-partner was he indicated that she was his girlfriend but that she had thrown him over for another man a few weeks previously.
The police report stated that at that stage it appeared reasonable to comment as to the necessity for his receiving a loan of £4 from his girlfriend a few hours after he had been given, as he said, £5 from Robina Bolton.
The police report stated that when they asked the bearded man when he left Westbourne Terrace that he said 'It would be some time before 3 o'clock in the morning because she had told me that she had another client coming at that time'. He additionally said that he had had intercourse with Robina Bolton at Westbourne Terrace and that he had not used a preventative.
The bearded man then told the police that when he got undressed and into bed with Robina Bolton that he was naked except for his sock and when he was asked what had happened to his socks he had said that they had been an old moth eaten pair that he had thrown away in a rubbish bin under the sink at St George's Terrace that day. The police noted that in fact they did find just such a pair of socks, although a different colour in that receptacle. However, they additionally noted that they also found a pair of the same colour as those described by him in a dustbin at the address allocated to the maisonette 60.
However, the police stated that they doubted that either of the pairs of socks that they found were those that the bearded man had worn on the day, noting that they had to be seen to be described regarding the very bad state that they were in. Additionally they noted that they doubted that the bearded man had been telling the truth about the socks, submitting that it could have been that he had got rid of the ones that he had been wearing as it was more than likely that they would have been blood stained.
When the bearded man was informed that Robina Bolton's handbag was missing he denied having seen it at all.
However, amongst the articles taken from his flat was a magazine entitled 'True Detective Stories' and the police stated, 'for which it is worth, and I suggest, having regard to this prisoner's apparent mental make-up, it is worth a lot, there is a story in that magazine which bears a remarkable resemblance to the set up in this story, but the circumstances are such that it would be very difficult to introduce it in evidence'. It was described in brief, as a story in which a man, having recently been released from prison who comes home to find his wife had turned against him, and a murder taking place in which an axe is used'.
The magazine was found in the dining room on a tray table just inside the door on top of a pile of mainly women's magazines. The table was on the other side of the door from the bed. The bearded man's ex-partner said that she first saw the magazine in the flat about a month earlier lying about on a seat and didn't know where it had come from or who had brought it in.
However, the police said that what they thought might have turned out to have been the most important exhibit in the proceedings was a briefcase which it was noted had been the bearded man's habit to carry around with him and which was found in his bedroom, locked, and which contained a large number of photographs either of nude or semi-nude women, several of which depicted female flagellants.
The detective that examined the briefcase said, 'The detective handed to me this briefcase which was locked and which I saw him take from a cupboard. I opened the case with a key on a ring which had been handed to me by the bearded man. It contained a large number of photographs, all of women in various stages of undressing, some of them of pornographic type and ten of them depicting female flagellants. There was also a typed script of a story entitled 'An Old Custom', and two letters'.
The bearded man later made a statement after the police finished searching his home.
The police said that they were at that time almost certain that the bearded man was the murderer and on the following morning they saw him again in the presence of some other detectives and asked him whether he had any objections to certain tests to which he said that he had no such objection and so tests were carried out on the bearded man's body and his briefcase after which positive reactions for blood were found on material taken from under his fingernails as well as inside his briefcase.
The police report stated that in their opinion the murder weapon had in all probability been an axe and submitted that they thought that the bearded man had carried the axe in his briefcase.
The police then asked the bearded man whether he had suffered from any blackouts and said that in response he volunteered the information that whilst recently in prison he had been seen by a doctor that had told him that he had in his personality a part black and a part white and that the parts were too far apart and needed knitting together.
The police said that when they asked the bearded man whether he had any explanation as to why his fingernails and briefcase should show positive for blood he said, 'Is it Ruby's blood?', and after the police replied, 'It may well be', the bearded man said, 'It is on my conscience if I can possibly have done it, but I cannot remember. If it is Ruby's blood, it looks as though I must have done it, there is no other explanation'.
He was then cautioned and told that he would be detained.
At 2.45pm on Tuesday 17 January 1956 the police saw the bearded man again and said, 'I want you to listen very carefully and concentrate on what I am going to say to you. I have been informed through expert medical opinion that Ruby Bolton died as a result of head injuries inflicted with a sharp instrument between 12am and 2am on 14 January 1956. I believe you were the last person to see her alive. As you know, I have also been informed that the results of scientific examination of your fingernails and of the briefcase which you admit is yours, show positive reactions to blood tests. I have been informed by the deceased woman's husband that you met her last Wednesday night, and because you then only had £1 to spend she refused to go with you. The husband has told me that his wife Ruby had told him that she had arranged to spend last Friday night with a bearded man, who was the same man as she saw on Wednesday night. I believe you are that man and that you promised to give her £15, to spend the night with her. I also believe that you told Ruby Bolton that you have received or expected to receive £500 from a JP at Oxford for keeping him out of trouble in connection with some indecency matter. I also believe that it was the husband of this woman who spoke to her on the telephone whilst you were at the flat at about 1.20am on 14 January 1956. I have already asked you if you can offer any explanation about the matters I have spoken to you about, and I am not satisfied with your explanation'.
After the police said that the bearded man handed them some toilet paper with some pencilled notes on it. However, the police said that they found it difficult to read and said to him, 'This is hardly readable. Do you wish me to take anything down in writing', to which the bearded man said, 'I will read out what I want to say'. He was then cautioned and then, whilst looking at the toilet paper, dictated a statement which he then read and signed. He was then charged with Robina Bolton's murder shortly after.
It was noted that in his statement he introduced something new, namely that immediately after having had intercourse with Robina Bolton that he had wiped himself with a handkerchief that he had placed ready in his briefcase and which he had left lying against the side of the bed and that after using the handkerchief he had temporarily returned it to the briefcase, and the police said that it was their opinion that he had done that as an attempt to explain away the presence of the traces of blood in his briefcase.
The police investigation identified the driver of the taxi that the police believed took Robina Bolton and the bearded man from Hertford Street soon after 12.30am on 14 January 1956, and drove them back to the junction of Craven Road and Westbourne Terrace, noting that 32 Westbourne Terrace was on the corner. It was heard that the taxi driver had identified Robina Bolton from a passport photograph that the police had shown him and that he had picked her up on previous occasions and knew her quite well by sight.
Whilst the police report stated that little turned on the matter, it was noted that the bearded man had said that Robina Bolton had not spoken to the taxi driver during the journey, but that the taxi driver said that he recalled having some discussion with Robina Bolton about the fare and the fact that he had only been given a 3d tip by the man. It was noted additionally that the taxi-driver said that he got the impression that the man had been holding something behind his back and that he did not see what it was. When the taxi driver had attempted to describe the bearded man's beard he had tried to indicate that it was of the bushy type.
The police investigation also determined that on the day after the murder that the bearded man, it was believed, went to see a hairdresser at 44 Brewer Street, W1 at about 10am on Saturday 14 January 1956 to ask first for a haircut which it was thought that he didn't need, and then for a beard trim. It was further noted that with regards to the beard trim that he had hair removed from his sideboards and cheeks and that it was suggestive of him having attempted to alter his facial appearance.
The barber said:
'I am the proprietor of a Ladies and Gentleman's Hairdressing shop at 44 Brewer Street, W1. On Saturday, 14 January 1956, I opened the shop sometime after 10am. One of my customers that morning was a man aged about 35, about 5ft 5in to 6in who was wearing a full beard which was dark in colour. I cannot tell you what clothes he was wearing. He asked for a haircut and I gave him just a trim. In my honest opinion he did not appear to be in need of a haircut. When I finished he said he would like something taken off his beard. I asked him if he meant to have it all taken off and he said, 'No. Only the sides'. I then got my closest clippers and removed the sides of his beard, leaving him with a small rounded beard on his chin. I then shaved the sides of his face. I charged him 4/6d and he gave me 5/- and then left the shop. I think I would know the man again although he was a stranger to me. From what he said I understood that he had just come to London and had got a job locally. He did not say anything else about himself. This is the first time for many years that I have shaved a beard. I have one assistant in the lady's saloon but she was not in the shop at the time. I cannot fix the time that the man was in the shop, but I should say it was between 11am and 12.30pm'.
It was noted that the fact that the man that had had the hair and beard cut on the morning of 14 January 1956 was born out by a tailors cutter that knew the bearded man, having met him whilst in prison, and who had, along with his 20-year-old wife, been staying with the bearded man and who had met him in Archer Street on the Saturday morning, and said that he had spoken to him about a barber to whom he was proceeding.
The tailors cutter said that on the night of 13/14 January 1956 that he went to bed at about 10.30pm at which time he said that the bearded man and his ex-partner were both in the house.
The tailors cutter's wife said that she saw the bearded man on the morning of 14 January 1956 at about 7.45am, saying that at that time that 'he had quite a lot of beard, it was bushy' and that when she next saw him at 2.30pm the same day that it was quite short.
The bearded man's 22-year-old ex-partner who was a window dresser and lived with him at 60 St Georges Terrace said that it was about May or June 1954 when she was first introduced to the bearded man and that it wasn't until later that she learned that he was married and living apart from his wife. She said that it was in October 1954 that they made an agreement to live together and said that it was then that they rented the flat at 60 St George's Terrace at a rent of £36 8 0d per month, towards which the bearded man subscribed £20 per month.
She said that when the bearded man was sent to prison that she used to visit him but said that she stopped doing so in about October 1955 when she formed an association with another man and that after he was released from prison on 31 December 1955 that he visited her there at the flat at 60 St Georges Terrace and decided that as the flat was in his name that he was going to live there and he moved back in. However, as the woman had formed a friendship with another man she said that she refused to resume their former intimate relationship.
The bearded man's ex-partner said that she remembered that on Thursday evening 12 January 1956 that the bearded man told her that he was going out to sell two books to a prostitute who he told her was always to be found around Park Lane, however, she noted that she didn't see the books. She said that the following day, 13 January 1956, that the bearded man told her that he had seen the prostitute and had sold her the two books for £1 and that the prostitute had given him her telephone number and that, whilst he did not mention what the number was, that he did during the evening ask her what area the exchange Ambassador covered, it being noted that Robina Bolton's number was Ambassador 2385.
She further said that during the evening of 13 January 1956 that the bearded man mentioned to her in conversation that he was going out to see the prostitute he had sold the books to and that when she asked him why, he replied, 'I haven't had a woman for nine months. I like her, she is off duty tonight. She has invited me round to stay the night'. However, the police report suggested that that was an effort by the bearded man to attempt to influence his ex-partner to resume their former relationship.
The bearded man's ex-partner said that that conversation took place at about 11pm and that soon afterwards he went out and that she did not see him again until 7.30am the following morning when he was in bed. She said that she asked the bearded man then if he had seen the prostitute and said that he told her that he had not and that instead he had been to Lyons and had then caught the last Tube home, statements which the police report stated were entirely untrue.
The police report stated that with regard to the bearded man's finances that there was evidence that his ex-partner loaned him £1 on 10 January 1956 and that in her estimation that he could not have had very much money on him when he left the house late on the evening of 13 January 1956, adding that she also lent him £4 on 14 January 1956.
The police report added that a point to be remembered was that the fact that the bearded man had been 'thrown over' by his ex-partner might have had some peculiar effect on his mind which, as evidenced in previous behaviour, was already considerably warped, noting that his carrying of such photographs as were found in his possession was also another indication to that end.
The police report next considered the route the bearded man told the police he took home from 32 Westbourne Terrace, noting that he had told them that after leaving the flat that he had walked some distance and had then taken a taxi-cab to Euston Road, intending, as strange as it may seem at that hour of the morning, to go to Bedford where his mother lived. The report stated that the bearded man said that the taxi-driver dropped him at Euston Road, near Euston Station, and that when he saw the station he changed his mind about going to Bedford and decided instead to return to St George's Terrace and took another taxi-cab there, paying 5/6d out of a ten-shilling note for which he received 4/6d in change.
The police report said that every possible enquiry had been made to trace the two taxi-drivers mentioned by the bearded man as having taken him from the Westbourne Terrace area to Euston and then from Euston to St George's Terrace, but without success. However, the police report noted that they did find a taxi-driver, Badge number 1074, who lived in Lavender Hill, who said that on the night of Friday 13/14 January 1956, sometime between 12.30am and 2.45am, not being able to establish the time closer, he had picked up a man that matched the bearded man's description at the junction of Bayswater Road and Lancaster Terrace, which was approximately 100 yards from 32 Westbourne Terrace, and took him to Regents Park Road at the corner of Chalcot Crescent, which was 50 yards from St George's Terrace.
The police said that the taxi driver was shown a photograph of the bearded man, it being noted that it was one taken after his beard was cut, but that he had been unable to identify him, although he had said that the face seemed familiar to him. He added that the fare for that journey, which was tested by covering the route, was 4/6d and that whoever it was that he had taken, they had paid with a 10/- note and asked for 2/- change. The police additionally noted that in a test, they determined that the fare from Euston Station to St George's Terrace would have been 2/9d.
As such, the police report stated that the question therefore posed was whether the bearded man had taken the two taxi journeys as he described, or, as they suggested was nearer the truth, that he had been driven by the other taxi driver from Westbourne Terrace to St George's Terrace.
Other evidence was offered by a woman, a buyer, who lived at Flat 6, 21 Westbourne Terrace, who said that whilst she did not hear anything unusual in the adjoining flat during the night of 13/14 January 1956, that she did remember that just before 8am on Saturday 14 January 1956, that she did hear the telephone in Flat 7 ring continuously for several minutes, which it was noted at least corroborated Robina Bolton's husband’s story about trying to contact Robina Bolton by telephone at that time. It was noted that the woman’s husband also heard nothing unusual, and also heard the telephone ringing.
When the police report covered the scientific evidence in the case the police admitted that the scientific evidence could have been stronger, but said that what they did have was of extreme importance. It stated that tests for blood were carried out using the Benzidine presumptive test for blood.
Tests were carried out on rubbings from under the bearded man's fingernails, the hair of his beard and surrounding whiskers, his head hair, briefcase, raincoat, flannel trousers, blazer and a pair of shoes, all of which were found at 60 St George's Terrace on 16 January 1956 with the bearded man's handkerchief being added to the items the following day.
The results proved positive for:
The police report then further details the similarities between the murder of Robina Bolton and the story titled 'Murder Walked In' in the magazine 'True Detective Stories' that was found at his flat. The report stated that as 'fantastic though it may seem' they could not help but wonder whether there was any relationship between the crime portrayed in the story and the murder of Robina Bolton.
The police report noted that the bearded man had just been released from prison and later lived with another man that he met there. It was also noted that the bearded man had previously been connected with the Salvation Army and that he had received psychiatric treatment whilst in prison. It was also noted that when he was searched that he had six £1 notes which were found deep down in a folded envelop of his wallet and that when he had been released from prison that his girlfriend had refused to carry on their former intimate relationship.
In contrast, the police noted that in the story, 'Murder Walked In', the Salvation Army was mentioned, the fact that some money was hidden in a secret compartment of a wallet was referred to, that it was mentioned that one of the characters, the murderer in the story, had received psychiatric treatment, that the reason for committing the murder was that his wife had been unfaithful to him, that the crime was committed with an axe and that the murderer had said that he could not remember doing it. The police report further noted that the concluding paragraph of the story had read:
'Or was it just then, that one night, that the murderer, an ex-con, felt he had to kill? Might not his long separation from his wife during his imprisonment and her rebuff of him upon his return, have aroused more hatred in his heart etc, etc'.
Other extracts were also considered by the police which were thought reflected a connection between the two.
Other witnesses were interviewed by the police ad whilst they were not able to offer direct evidence on the murder, they were able to provide some back ground.
Witnesses included a woman who was considered to have been Robina Bolton's best friend, a 37-year-old prostitute that had lived in Maclise Road, W1, but she was unable to offer anything material.
The police spoke to another 22-year-old prostitute who had lived in Warwick Square, who had known Robina Bolton for a long time and whom whilst not having had the opportunity to identify the bearded man, it appeared she had entertained him in the past, describing him as a good payer, and a man that had once paid her £12 and also referring to him as the one that used to write indecent literature.
The police also spoke to a 22-year-old student that had lived in Flat 4, 32 Westbourne Terrace, immediately below Flat 7, but she said that she neither heard nor saw anything unusual during the night of the murder.
The police also spoke to a 56-year-old machine shop foreman who lived in Bedford Road in Edmonton who said that he had been associating with Robina Bolton for several months and who said that he had loaned her a considerable sum of money and said that in fact she had recently given him a post-dated cheque for the amount of £479.0.0. He said that he had not seen Robina Bolton since Christmas Eve and that he did not know that she was living at 32 Westbourne Terrace.
The police also traced her ex-husband, a 41-year-old butcher that lived in Rossett Avenue in Blackpool who said that he married Robina Bolton on 25 June 1938 but later divorced her on account of her misconduct on 5 December 1947 and who he said he had not seen since the beginning of 1947.
The police report concluded by stating, 'In Conclusion, I would repeat my opinion that in the beaded man, we are dealing with a most unusual character, who has indulged in sexual excesses, and who I suspect has a distorted mentality. For my part, I believe he had murder in his mind when he went to see Ruby Bolton on the night in question. He was bent on having sexual intercourse, and there is no evidence that he had money sufficient to pay a prostitute for that purpose. I believe it to be true that he had offered Ruby Bolton £15 to spend the night with her. I do not believe that she gave him £5 or any money at all, and in the circumstances, except to link it with this crime, I see no reason for his carrying the briefcase with him on the night concerned'. [The police report continued but there are pages missing].
The beard man's first statement on 15 January 1956 read:
On Thursday, 12th January, 1956 at about 11 o'clock I went to the district of Mayfair with the purpose of meeting a prostitute I knew and succeeded in selling her two odd pornographic books I had in my possession. She hangs around in those streets at the bottom of Hertford Street. On my way to Hyde Park Corner Tube Station I met a woman I now know as Ruby Bolton. I knew her then just as Ruby. She was talking to another prostitute on the corner of Hertford Street and Park Lane. She greeted me warmly so I stopped and talked to them both until the other girl left with another man.
I was talking to Ruby for about five minutes. She first asked me where I had been for so long. I had been with her before. May 1955, nine or ten times when I had intercourse with her for payment.
I told her where I had been and explained that I was only in that area through my efforts to raise a few shillings by the sale of the books. I explained that I was very badly off financially, I had the odd few shillings in my pocket plus the pound note for the books.
She sympathised with me and went so far as to say that I should have a cup of tea with her the following night. She explained that she was too busy on Thursday night. she told me I would be sure to find her on her usual pitch late on Friday night. I got home about 12 o'clock that night. On Friday night I arrived at the corner of Hertford Street at about 11.30pm intending to take advantage of her offer, just in time to see her leaving in a taxi with another man.
It occurred to me that it would be a waste of time to wait for her if she was away for the night, so I allowed her time to reach home and then phoned her at an Ambassador number, I think it was 8325 or something like that. She was obviously unable to speak openly on the phone but suggested I should make my way to her flat. This I did after about half an hour, and was admitted by her. We conversed for some minutes, but she asked me to allow her time to accept another client or two, after which she would be free until the arrival at three o'clock of a regular client from the West Country.
She said she had had a busy night and so I asked her to refuse him and allow me to stay all night, but she said she couldn't do that as he hadn't booked a hotel room. We chatted about things in general for a few minutes and I mentioned to her about a JP from whom I said I hoped to get some financial assistance in a few days time.
We had been talking in terms of having a chat but there was no doubt in my mind that she was offering intercourse as well, and the question of payment was not discussed. I then left the flat and it was between 12.15am and 12.30am. She gave me the impression she was also leaving immediately. I walked slowly from there to Hertford Street via Bayswater Road, by which time she had entertained another man and was back on the corner of the street.
I asked her again to allow me to stay with her for the rest of the night, but she was adamant that I must be clear of the flat before three o'clock when her other client was due to arrive. I eventually agreed and we travelled to her flat by taxi. I paid the cab fare. I don't remember how much it was. I imagine I gave him ninepence tip. Ruby did not give him anything. She never spoke to the driver. We went into her flat where she was most friendly and generous. She made cold meat sandwiches, I think beef, and tea, during which time she occupied me with the perusal of a collection of pornographic photographs. She even went to the lengths of sharing a large box of biscuits, which had been a personal Christmas present, with me. It was then about 1.30am Then she suggested we should go to bed and disrobed. She put her coat and dress on the settee, but I don't know where she put the others. I think now she put all her clothes on the settee. I did not see her with a handbag at all. I also undressed, leaving my clothes on a fireside chair, with the exception of my socks which I kept on.
I joined her in bed where we had intercourse in a normal manner, after which we talked of prison life, her daughter, told jokes and so on for about half an hour. We both then washed our sexual parts in the kitchenette. I used the basin.
We both dressed and I left her to await the arrival of the other man. I think it was then about a quarter past two. It could have been a shade later, but not much. She let me out of the flat itself, but I let myself out of the outside door. I should have mentioned that soon after our arrival at the flat the second time, Ruby handed me five pounds which she implied could be repaid when I could afford it.
After I left the flat I walked a few hundred yards and stopped a taxi which approached from my rear and directed him to Euston Road. My intention was to visit Bedford for the day but when I found the driver had taken me to Euston Station instead of St Pancras I changed my mind and caught another cab back to my present home. The cab set me down at the corner of Regents Park Road and Primrose Hill Road. I think I paid this cabman out of a ten shilling note and got 4/6d change. During this evening I was wearing my blazer and flannels, Air Force blue raincoat, black shoes, navy blue socks and grey cotton shirt. The shirt is at the laundry. It was taken in yesterday to the laundry just round the corner in the Regents Park Road. I was carrying a small black brief case containing photographs and a story which I intended to leave with Ruby, but I don't know why I didn't leave them.
However hard up I might have been on the Thursday night, I had the prospect of the loan of four pounds from a friend and had started work on Friday morning in a position which paid £9 per week plus. I was also well equipped as regards clothes and had no accommodation worries. The fact that during my imprisonment I underwent psychiatric treatment at my own request for seven months which was intended only to correct the minor aberration of my mind which previously got me into trouble, did not indicate that I had any violent tendencies, and I cannot agree with the suggestion that something happened on Friday night which I have not told you about in this statement. The account I have given is, in my mind, both clear and complete'.
When the bearded man gave a later statement to the police on 17 January 1956 he said:
'The information I have just been given about the exact time of Ruby Bolton's death still doesn't convince me that I committed this crime. There are a number of points which still do not make sense to me and I raise them now because any further revelations arising from them could only be to my benefit.
If the Police scientist can trace such a minute amount of blood why can he not also trace any semen in Ruby's vagina?
On Friday night when Ruby undressed I noticed several large bruises on her body, is it possible that she already had some small wound from which I may have picked up a small amount of blood? This is the only explanation I can offer for the blood being found inside my briefcase.
In my previous statement I explained that after intercourse we lay talking in bed for half an hour before washing ourselves but immediately after intercourse I wiped myself with my handkerchief which I placed ready inside my briefcase leaning against the side of the bed as my clothes were on the nearest chair which was a few feet away. After using the handkerchief I temporarily returned it to the brief-case.
The police suggest that I murdered Ruby during a blackout, but even if this lasted long enough for me to have no recollection of disposing of the weapon in the same way that I might have done so I would surely have attempted to remove my fingerprints from the flat.
They also say I stole Ruby's handbag, why should I still maintain that I am incapable consciously or otherwise of committing such a crime of violence and I still feel that there is some other explanation. I do not remember making my preparations to commit a crime. I do not remember committing such a crime and neither before or after being approached by the police have I felt that I may have committed a crime'
The bearded man's final psychiatric report dated 19 January 1956 gave a full account of his background, amongst which were details of his family and upbringing as well as his work history and conviction. It was noted that his father died at age 59 with no cause of death known and no known history of psychosis, neurosis or psychopathy and that his mother was still alive, age 69. He had two elder brothers and an elder sister as well as a younger sister, his two sisters being in the Salvation Army and being described as slightly eccentric.
His early life was described as being relatively normal and he reached scholarship standards at school but his family had been too poor to allow him to take it up and after leaving school he worked in a travel agency until he joined the army in May 1946, leaving in July 1952 after which he became a bookkeeper with a timber merchant until the police began investigating him for his business in pornographic books. It was said that his wages at that time had been about £9 a week but that he had been earning £20 a week from his pornographic book business.
He was described as being socially normal, having both close friends and superficial friends but always with a preference for the opposite sex. He was also described as being confident in society, but not aggressive or assertive, it being noted that he was rather suspicious and sensitive in company. It was noted that other than his recent conviction there was no other history of delinquency and it was said that his conduct in prison was entirely satisfactory, including his work record.
He was said to have matured sexually normal and with no history of pre-pubertal sexual interferences and to have masturbated throughout his life with heterosexual fantasies and with no history of homosexuality although he was said to have recently indulged in troilism, sometimes for money.
His mental health was described as good, although it was said that there were symptoms of anxiety from time to time but no hysterical or obsessional symptoms.
It was noted that he had married a German woman in 1950 with whom he had a child. His wife was described as having been an attractive taller woman who was no longer sexually attracted to him and she refused to have any other children by him.
The section on his personality read:
'He was submissive in his re-action to authority, showed no abnormal reaction to frustration and showed an average reaction to changes of life routine. His energy output was average. He was somewhat vacillating in making decisions and extremely conceited as to his own abilities. He showed an average amount of sympathy in social situations. He tended to be over-fussy occasionally about his own suffering. He could be explosive in emotionally charged situations. His habits and recreations were of a group nature rather than solitary. His Coal-directed behaviour was unpractical and unrealistic and overtly selfish. He was over-sensitive to criticism, over concerned about danger and physical threat, and about financial affairs. His self-estimate was high, but nevertheless he tended to be anxious about success and achievement and was sometimes over-dependent on others. He was averagely communicative, had variable aesthetic interests, a variable attitude to morals, strong religious interests, and was teetotal. He was complacent about his sentence'.
The section on the history of his present delinquency read:
'He is said to have been engaged in publishing obscene writings for 18 months prior to this coming to light last January. He began first writing them himself, then making copies of existing books. He built quite a business and finally began sending books by post to women involved in sex cases reported in the newspapers, not he says the victims. He was making about £20 per week at this, having affairs with some of the people he met through his 'business', and spending time in London at good hotels with a girl of 22 whom he met in May 1954. Side by side with this life he was an ardent member of the Salvation Army, and was troubled about the incongruity of this but was unable to solve the divergent aims himself'.
A section titled Aetiology of Delinquency read:
'He has felt himself that he found it necessary to make money to impress his family and others. He has been, and is, concerned with his sexual prowess, stating that he could satisfy any woman, and that prostitutes invite him to have sex relations with him for the pleasure it gives them and without payment. He frequently stresses the large size of his penis, which appears here to be a symbol of virility which is rather lacking in other spheres of activity'.
The resulting diagnosis following the report was 'Behaviour disorder (delinquency) in a hysterical personality of good intelligence. No evidence of psychosis'.
The article 'Murder Walked In' was summarised as follows:
The police report then detailed the similarities:
Extracts from the story 'Murder Walked In' that the police included in a report were:
Paragraphs from the story outlined in red in the evidence read:
However, at the trial, after the prosecution made its case, the defence said that the story in the magazine bore no resemblance to what happened in the flat apart from the fact that a woman was killed with an axe, noting that it would not be proved that Robina Bolton had been killed with an axe.
When Robina Bolton's husband gave his statement he said that they had married on 21 June 1949 but remarried in July 1950 owing to some technical difficulty that he discovered when he applied for a passport. He said that in January 1955 that they both went to live at Flat 18 in Jacobs Well Mews, W1 from where they later moved to Flat 7, 32 Westbourne Terrace on 27 December 1955.
He said that Robina Bolton was a prostitute and that she had been carrying on as such for about 5 years and that she continued to carry on as such after they moved to Westbourne Terrace.
He said that in October 1955 that Robina Bolton had been admitted to Paddington General Hospital for injections for low blood pressure, saying that the injections were made in her buttock and that they caused large bruising, noting that the bruising was still there when she died.
He said that whilst they were at 32 Westbourne Terrace that Robina Bolton would pick up clients in the Hertford Street and Park Lane area, noting that she had no set time. He said that if she had a client in the flat that he would either wait for her or went to a friends. He said that if Robina Bolton had a client for the night that he would go to a friends and that on the occasions that he would wait for her that he would wait in Gloucester Terrace until she came to see him and that they would then go off to Park Lane in his car.
He said that on 13 January he took Robina Bolton to the hairdressers at about 3.30pm and that he next saw her at the flat at about 4.30pm where they sat together until about 8.30pm when they went out. He said that at 7pm they had wild duck, roast potatoes and green beans to eat and that at about 8.30pm they went in his car to Hertford Street and Park Lane where Robina Bolton got out of the car and he went up to Piccadilly Circus and then went back to Hertford Street, but said that Robina Bolton wasn't there.
He said that he then went to Gloucester Terrace where Robina Bolton joined him at about 9.30pm and that they then went back to Park Lane and that Robina Bolton got out and he went to Piccadilly again after which he went back to Park Lane and then back to Gloucester Terrace where Robina Bolton joined him again between 10.15pm and 10.30pm.
He said that they then went back to Park Lane where Robina Bolton got out of the car again, noting that he saw her then speak to another man and that he again went off to Piccadilly and then to Brick Lane and then back to Gloucester Terrace, arriving somewhere after 11pm and then waiting about half-an-hour for Robina Bolton but after she failed to return he said that he then went off to the flat and rang the bell from outside the house but got no answer and so went back to Park Lane where he saw Robina Bolton.
He said that he stayed with her for two or three minutes and then went to Piccadilly again and then went back to Park Lane where Robina Bolton was still in the street and so he pulled his car into Hertford Street where he shortly after saw Robina Bolton getting into a taxi with a man noting that at that time it was about 12 midnight.
He said that he next saw Robina Bolton at roughly 12.30am on Gloucester Terrace and that they then went back to Park Lane in his car, arriving between 12.30am and 12.40am.
He noted that Robina Bolton usually finished going out between 12 midnight and 1am. He also said that on the last journey in his car to Park Lane they had a conversation, the result of which he agreed to go off to stay with a friend until morning, and that he then dropped her off on the corner of Park Lane and Hertford Street and then later telephoned her and then went to his friends flat where he stayed until 5.45am after which he went back to the Gloucester Terrace flat and after failing to get a response at first later entered to find Robina Bolton dead.
After Robina Bolton was found dead he said that he knew of nothing in the flat that could have been used to have caused her injuries.
He added that he don't know of her having had any regular client that had lived in the Wet Country.
Robina Bolton's husband later found Robina Bolton's handbag under the electric cooker when he was moving out on 25 January 1956 after which he immediately informed the police. He said that when he last saw Robina Bolton she had had it with her. It had contained some business cards that he had given her on the Friday afternoon. It also contained two Yale keys for the flat which he said she would have had when he last saw her. He said that she would have need both of them to have got into the flat, one to open the outside door and the other for the flat. He added that he knew of no one else that had a key to the flat. He said that the cooker consisted of a grill, oven and a cupboard with two doors and that the handbag was at the back of the cupboard behind a tin of biscuits, in a position which meant that it could not ordinarily be seen and added that he had never seen the handbag there before.
The police later said that a complication with the finding of the handbag was the possibility that Robina Bolton's husband had initially removed the handbag when he found his wife dead, and possibly taken any money from inside in an effort to conceal the fact that he was living off of her immoral earnings and that he had later placed it under the cooker and pretended that he had found it.
The bearded man was later cleared of murder at the Old Bailey on Wednesday 21 March 1956.
Robina Bolton's inquest at Westminster closed on Tuesday 27 March 1956 without announcing a verdict. The only witness was a detective superintendent. The Coroner said, 'You now inform the court that on March 21, at the Central Criminal Court, the bearded man, who was charged with the murder of Robina Bolton was found to be not guilty and ordered to be discharged. The criminal proceedings are now concluded'.
see National Archives - DPP 2/2501, CRIM 1/2701
see Aberdeen Evening Express - Wednesday 21 March 1956
see Belfast News-Letter - Thursday 22 March 1956
see Liverpool Echo - Saturday 14 January 1956
see Daily Herald - Wednesday 28 March 1956
see Aberdeen Evening Express - Monday 19 March 1956