Unsolved Murders

William Thomas Dearlove

Age: 62

Sex: male

Date: 10 Jul 1950

Place: Cosy Corner Stores, Haslemere, High Wycombe

William Thomas Dearlove was found murdered at his cottage, Cosy Corner Stores, in Haslemere on Monday 10 July 1950.

It was thought that he had been murdered there on 9 July 1950 by a Polish man from a nearby camp who later escaped to Russia with the help of the Russian government.

He was found bound hand and foot, and strangled in his bedroom, which was attached to the store, nearly naked. His cause of death was given as being due to strangulation and suffocation caused by a gag.

A 22-year-old Polish man, described as an acetylene welder, was tried for his murder but acquitted. It was said that he had been concerned with the other Polish man, aged 23, in murdering William Dearlove at his stores. However, it was heard that the other Pole had since fled to Russia with the help of the Russian government. At the trial, the acetylene welder said that the other Pole was 'cocking a snook' at the British Police and the forces of law and detection in Great Britain, who, after having made his escape was found to be broadcasting on radio from Russia that the police and MI5 had tried to train him as a spy and that because he had refused to accept that occupation that they were then trying to pin the murder of William Dearlove on him.

The acetylene welder said that he had gone to William Dearlove's stores with the other Pole with the intention of committing a burglary but said that he had fallen asleep in an outhouse whilst the other Pole had entered.

Withing a few minutes of being acquitted on the murder charge on 9 October 1950 at High Wycombe Court, the police arrested the acetylene welder on the charge that between 9 July and 10 July 1950, being concerned with another person, that he had broken into the house at Cozy Corner in Hazlemere and stolen money and goods worth £80 for which he was convicted.

It was thought that the other Pole had escaped from the High Wycombe area and gone to London where he had then boarded the 1,650-ton Russian ship Sestroetsk shortly after the murder on Sunday 16 July 1950, having signed on as a member of the crew after visiting the Soviet Embassy in London the day before on 15 July 1950, which at the time of finding out the police determined was on its way to Leningrad. The police said that the Pole was known to have attempted to disguise his appearance saying that he was believed to have dyed his hair dark brown, darkened his face and to have grown a small moustache, which was either a few days old or pencilled in.

They added that it was determined that the other Pole had gone to the Soviet Embassy in London and falsely stated that he was born in Lithuania and that he was granted a repatriation certificate. It was however noted that the other Pole was in fact born in Vilna, Poland.

It was reported that after discovering that the Pole had fled on the Sestroetsk that Scotland Yard had tried to get in radio contact with her. It was reported that it was thought likely that the Foreign Office would make efforts to contact the man the moment that the Sestroetsk next touched port, but he was never brought back to the United Kingdom. It was reported on Wednesday 19 July 1950 that the Sestroetsk was next due to call in at Stockholm on the following day, Thursday 20 July 1950 and that the Foreign Office had asked the Swedish Foreign Ministry for help in trying to apprehend the missing man for questioning, with the British Charge d'Affaires in Stockholm asking for the Pole's arrest and extradition if the ship came within Swedish jurisdiction. However, it was said that the Commissioner of Stockholm police had said, 'The Sestroetsk passes through the Kiel Canal, lying in the British occupation zone. If they want to get hold of Stefanowicz, it would be easier for them to do it in Kiel'.

However, when the Sestroetsk arrived at Kiel, the skipper refused to hand the other Pole over to the British police authorities there.

An application was then made to the Swedish authorities for the extradition of the other Pole when the Sestroetsk arrived at its next port of call, Stockholm, however, when the vessel arrived in Stockholm, 15 hours late, the other Pole was found to not be on board. It was reported that when the Swedish police went on board the Sestroetsk to inspect passports they found no trace of him. It was later reported that the Soviet authorities were being invited to explain the circumstances in which the other Pole had been removed from the Sestroetsk by a Soviet tug shortly before it arrived there. It was noted further that the other Poles name was not found to have been on the passenger list at Stockholm, even though when the ship had passed through the Kiel Canal that it had been there.

When passengers on the Sestroetsk were questioned, they said that the man had been transferred to the tug Russian Neptun in the Baltic on 19 July 1950. The Russian Neptun was registered to Ventspils in Latvia. The Sestroetsk berthed in Stockholm at 3.45am that morning, Thursday 20 July 1950 over 15 hours late.

It was said that the reports from other passengers had to be considered cautiously until confirmed by the Swedish police or some other authority, and that it might have been that they had mistaken a pilot boat for the tugboat. However, they said that once the Sestroetsk had steamed out east into the Baltic that it had met the tugboat into which the other Pole was dumped quickly, 'like a sack of potatoes' into it. They said that the whole thing was over in a second.

It was noted that on Tuesday 18 July 1950 that Britain had asked the Swedish Foreign Ministry for help in the case which it was said was expected to be granted on the condition that the Soviet Embassy agreed to allow the Swedish Police to board the vessel.

Some of the passengers said that the Neptun had come alongside the Sestroetsk east of Gotland, Sweden's Island province and that when they had asked the Captain why he was steaming east that he had told them that he had 'an important call from London'. It was also said that as soon as the Sestroetsk berthed in Stockholm that a Russian Embassy official went on board and had a long talk with the Captain. At the same time it was said that Swedish police and plain clothes detectives also stood by on the quay but did not board the vessel immediately as Sweden had not at that time accepted Britain's extradition request, although they later went on board, but were unable to find the other Pole as he was not on board.

When the captain of the Sestroetsk was questioned he declined to make any statement or to confirm that the other Pole had ever been on board.

It was thought that the other Pole had reached London by hitch-hiking after having broken through a police cordon round High Wycombe on the Friday night 15 July 1950.

After the discovery that the other Pole had broken out of the police cordon the police went to Horsendon Hill after it was said that a police patrol car had seen a man resembling the other Pole dive through a hedge after which the police organised a group who formed a line and beat through the undergrowth and copses in search of him and for clues.

The Sestroetsk was said to have been the only Russian ship to have left London during the weekend, having arrived on the previous Monday 10 July 1950 and berthing at Surrey Commercial Docks.

It was later reported on 5 October 1950 it was reported that the other Pole had fled the country with the assistance of the Soviet Government.

Following his murder, the police carried out a manhunt for his murder over the wooded Chiltern Hills across Buckinghamshire. Their search included the use of dogs and patrol cars during which undergrowth was searched with long sticks along the grass-covered ditches, the police working from the small village of Brill and searching a cross a five mile radius with a taskforce of 50 officers drawn from villages across a 15 mile radius.

William Dearlove run Cosy Corner Stores, also known as Cozy Corner Cafe, opposite a large Polish resettlement camp. His body was found when tradesmen who were delivering goods looked through his window and saw him lying bound and almost unclothed in his bedroom.

Shortly after the murder, on Friday 14 July 1950, it was reported that the police beleived that two Polish men were involved with his murder and that they were looking for then and that the reason that they had been able to remain at large so long was because they had been provided with shelter and food by fellow countrymen.

The police described one of the men that they were looking for as being about 5ft 6in tall, with black hair, a stocky build, broad-shouldered, unshaven and wearing a brown jacket and dirty grey flannel trousers. The other man was described as being very blonde, over 5ft tall, and wearing a grey suit.

It was thought that they had been seen by a woman who said that she had seen them acting suspiciously on the two previous mornings.

The Polish acetylene welder, who had lived in Diamond Road in Slough, Berkshire was arrested at his home on the Friday 14 July 1950 and first appeared at High Wycombe court on the murder charge on Monday 17 July 1950. After the acetylene welder was arrested the police began their search for the other Pole who they soon determined had joined the Sestroetsk en-route for Leningrad and who was then conveyed mysteriously to Russia.

When the acetylene welder was charged with William Dearlove's murder he replied, 'I did not murder', which was accepted as a plea of not guilty.

When he was seen at the court, the prosecutor said, 'Sitting next to the prisoner there should be another man, the other Pole, who has escaped'.

The acetylene welder was alleged to have told the police, 'I did not kill the old man. I went to the shop with the other Pole. He killed him. I did not see him do it'.

It was said that the other Pole had lived in London for a time and had been in Buckinghamshire at the time of the murder looking for casual work.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see National Archives - FO 371/86672, MEPO 2/8775

see The Scotsman - Monday 09 October 1950

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Thursday 05 October 1950

see Belfast Telegraph - Thursday 20 July 1950

see Dundee Courier - Saturday 22 July 1950

see Yorkshire Evening Post - Friday 14 July 1950

see Dundee Courier - Thursday 13 July 1950

see Liverpool Echo - Friday 14 July 1950

see Dundee Courier - Friday 21 July 1950

see Leicester Daily Mercury - Friday 14 July 1950

see Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Tuesday 10 October 1950

see Western Daily Press - Tuesday 18 July 1950

see Daily Herald - Monday 17 July 1950

see Western Morning News - Saturday 15 July 1950

see Gloucestershire Echo - Monday 17 July 1950

see Hull Daily Mail - Friday 14 July 1950

see Nottingham Journal - Wednesday 19 July 1950

see Lincolnshire Echo - Monday 17 July 1950

see Nottingham Evening Post - Monday 17 July 1950

see "Alleged Murder At Hazlemere." Times [London, England] 5 Oct. 1950: 3. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 4 Mar. 2013.

see "Pole Acquitted Of Murder." Times [London, England] 9 Oct. 1950: 2. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 4 Mar. 2013.

see True Crime Library