Date: 22 Jan 1949
Place: High Street, Swansea, Wales
Ernest Melville was found beaten to death on a bombed site off High Street, Swansea on 22 January 1949.
His body was found at about 2pm on a bombed site close to a disused air-raid shelter off High Street on a stretch of ground between Dyfatty School and the park in Croft Street.
He had lived at 11 Watkin Street in Swansea and had worked for the Swansea Corporation..
He had severe head injuries and his trousers had been ripped open.
It was thought that he had died about 15 hours before he was found.
The approach to the spot where he was found was by way of a piece of waste ground abutting Croft Street that led directly off the High Street at a point practically opposite the Full Moon public house, which was noted as being an institution much in the limelight in the enquiry and the last place that Ernest Melville was known to have been drinking. His body was about 75 yards from the Full Moon public house, taking a direct line, although access to the cul-de-sac from High Street could only be gained by proceeding along Croft Street to a point almost opposite and then over the piece of waste ground and then into the cul-de-sac, a slight detour which was necessitated by intervening walls and other obstructions, but nevertheless only involved a few additional yards to walk.
However, access to the spot where his body was found could also be gained from two other directions, either from another bombed site in the middle of the opposite side of Croft Street or from the other end of Croft Street. It was further noted that the site was almost directly opposite the cul-de-sac and as such open to any pedestrian proceeding from the High Street or Dyfatty Street. It was also noted that the various avenues of approach were of importance to the inquiry in the light of the evidence and as such were indicated at an early stage in the police report.
When the police examined the scene, they found several bloodstains on the brick walls of the air-raid shelter and the school wall which were less than two feet from the ground level and were horizontally directed. The bloodstains on the shelter walls characteristically suggested that blood had splashed from Ernest Melville's face whilst he was in a somewhat stooping position at a point near the angle of the two walls, and the police in fact found his upper denture lying on the ground at the foot of the front wall below the extremity of the blood splashes.
The bloodstains on the school wall were more in the nature of smudges than splashes and their character and positions indicated that Ernest Melville had recovered or had been thrown backwards from the original blow to his face and he then been precipitated forwards along the school wall to a spot where he was eventually found lying and there had received a further blow or blows, which accounted for the concentration of bloodstains, and some head hair, on the wall behind his head. It was noted that it was at that place, at the side of his head, that the police found Ernest Melville's bottom denture and a small quantity of blood and head hair attached to a large piece of stone.
A more minute examination of the scene was carried out the following day and samples of various bloodstains and head hair were taken away and examined, but they all subsequently proved to emanate from Ernest Melville himself and nothing much else was identified from other samples that was alien to Ernest Melville. However, the police report noted that during the morning of 22 January 1949 that there had been a heavy and prolonged downpour of rain that had saturated his body and left pools of water at the scene of the crime which might have washed away any fragile contact clues that might have otherwise existed.
No finger impressions were found either.
However, a continued search of the scene brought to light an ordinary brass brooch-type men's tie, or collar pin, that was found lying against the school wall at the entrance to the shelter recess. The pin itself was unopened and suggested having fallen out of a person's pocket. The police also found a loose artificial tooth and a white button and at two other spots away from his body they discovered two black buttons, however, none of the items were found to have any known association with the crime and none of them were the property of Ernest Melville, with the exception of one of the black buttons that might have come from his trousers as there was a fly button missing, but neither of the two buttons found compared uniformly with those on Ernest Melville's trousers.
Ernest Melville's post-mortem was carried out at 3pm on 23 January 1949 at Swansea General Hospital.
His post mortem revealed the following:
Ernest Melville's death was given as being due to:
The pathologist concluded that his death was due primarily to head injuries but said that there had also been an attempt to throttle him and that that was a contributory factor. The pathologist said that it appeared most probable that the throttling had preceded the infliction of the injuries to his head and might have led rapidly to loss of consciousness, but not to actual death if it preceded the head injuries, since the latter were clearly inflicted while Ernest Melville was still alive.
The pathologist said that on the assumption that his surmise was correct, that the sequence of events was as follows:
The pathologist concluded by saying that whatever the exact sequence of events, Ernest Melville's head injuries were sufficient in themselves to have caused immediate unconsciousness and rapid death in spite of the relative slightness of the damage found in his brain itself.
Ernest Melville's blood and hair were also examined and were found to match the material found at the scene, including a sample of pubic hair which was found to match loose hair found in Ernest Melville's underclothing and private parts.
In view of Ernest Melville's known homosexual trait, confirmed physically by the pathologist's examination, and reference in his report to his enlarged anal aperture and protruding faeces, a sample of white mucoid material at the orifice of his penis was taken for examination, as also was some excreta. This was considered as of relevant importance to the investigation, as assisting to determine the motive and potential association with the killer or killers. However, the forensic findings failed to find any spermatozoa in either sample and it was the consequent opinion of the pathologist that the penis mucoid was that of mortal ejection following a violent death, although whilst concurring with the first doctor on the matter, a second doctor added that it might also have been the commencement of a normal emission.
Ernest Melville's clothing was examined and the presence of seminal stains was found on the apron of his cotton shirt and on his trousers fly, but the doctor was unable to say whether they were recent, and it was concluded that in the light of Ernest Melville's known sexual habits that the findings lost significance.
It was noted that Ernest Melville's trousers had been ripped open, having been ripped down the seams of each leg from the crotch to the turn-ups, which it was stated would normally have required a good deal of force, but it was noted that Ernest Melville's trousers were well worn and that in places the seams had been repaired although there was no evidence that there had been a hole in the fork previous to the tearing of the leg seems.
There were also some small tears in the sleeves of Ernest Melville's mackintosh which were consistent with their having been caused by the rough stones and bricks that were at the scene of the crime.
When the contents of his stomach were analysed the police found that it contained only a small amount of digested food and a slight odour of alcohol.
A sample of his urine was also abstracted from his bladder and examined and found to contain 0.23% alcohol which was said to have been indicative of Ernest Melville having consumed several pints of beer, and it was the opinion of the forensic analyst that carried out the work that Ernest Melville had been drunk. However, whilst the police report stated that that was to some extent confirmed by the subsequent police inquiries it was considered a rather speculative opinion.
As a final note on the pathological and scientific side of the investigation, the police stated that apart from the injuries noted on Ernest Melville's body, there were no other marks, which meant, in other words, that his hands, fingers, arms, legs and chest were free from any injury, which indicated that Ernest Melville had not put up any real resistance. The report also stated that nor was there indeed any evidence of a struggle, a fact which was confirmed by the condition of his clothing which was not disarranged beyond the ripping of his trousers and the two of his fly buttons being undone. It was added that the latter did not appear to be a normal unbuttoning and that it may have occurred in and with the pull at the fork of the trousers when they were ripped down.
It was noted that Ernest Melville's body was found by several children who then told their parents, one of whom then informed the police, the significance of which being that many local people had become aware of Ernest Melville's murder and also familiar with and aware of its physical features, such as how his body was lying at an early stage, and that as such, nothing significant could be attached to knowledge of those facts as possessed by some of the witnesses that the police later interviewed.
Ernest Melville was born on 10 February 1911 and was one of a family of three sons and three daughters and ended up being the only child that didn't marry and continued to live with his mother and father in a small working class house at 11 Watkin Street in Swansea up until the time of his murder.
He was described as having always been a weak, girlish individual and was said to have performed menial duties at home. He was of slight build and about 5ft 5in tall.
His father and a previous doctor of his said that Ernest Melville had suffered from stomach troubles and had been treated for bladder problems. The doctor also described him as being effeminate and neurotic.
He had been in the army, serving in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, from 17 July 1940 until 13 May 1942 when he was discharged on medical grounds. Prior to that he had had several odd jobs, but according to his father, he had engaged in very little work from the time that he had left school owing to his health. However, it was noted that since he had left the army in 1942 that he had more or less been constantly employed and had worked for the Swansea Corporation for about five years, up to the time of his death, doing light labouring work for the Surveyors Department.
Ernest Melville was well known in the area that he lived and frequented and it was said that he had seemed to have been reputed for his effeminacy and he was known to the Swansea Police as a homosexual which was a crime at the time and was so until 1967 when the Sexual Offences Act 1967 made it legal for men over the age of 21 to engage in homosexual acts together in private, and to have been as associate of others with similar tendencies. It was noted that he had previously been arrested in Swansea on 15 December 1945 at 11.30pm whilst committing an act of gross indecency with another male person who had absconded. He was caught on that occasion in a shop doorway with another man's penis in his mouth. However, he was acquitted on that charge at the Merthyr Borough Quarter Sessions on 21 January 1946, and apart from that, he had never been charged with anything and when the police checked his fingerprints, they found nothing.
During the police investigation the police spoke to a pervert associate of Ernest Melville who explained Ernest Melville's modus operandi in the case that he was arrested for in 1945 and also confided in details to the police about their past practices, which the police stated were calculated to assist them in conjecturing the circumstances in which Ernest Melville received his fatal injuries.
Ernest Melville was described as being of a quiet disposition, friendly and generally liked by those with whom he came into contact, but he was said to have mostly seemed to have kept to him self, and apart from periodical associations, would just talk casually to any man he met, no doubt, it was said by the police in their report, with a perverse object. It was stated by one casual acquaintance, that in fact, during the previous six months before his murder, that he had seen Ernest Melville talking to British and nigger seamen, as well as civilians, in the town. The police report noted that even his mother had told them that Ernest Melville would talk to any stranger to make friends with, although it was added that it was not certain that she was aware of his purpose.
The police report noted that Ernest Melville's homosexual tendencies were extremely relevant in the inquiry as it was their opinion that it was without a doubt that complex that had brought about his death. As such, the police considered in their report that it was desirable, before passing onto the investigatory side of the matter, to summarise his activities in that direction and addressed the statements of several of his associates.
It was noted that Ernest Melville was often seen in the High Street, standing in shop doorways or around public lavatories, and sometimes talking to strangers, and that although his parents said that he was usually home not later than about 11pm, that they agreed that, as he had his own door key, that they were sometimes in bed before his arrival. Other sources that the police spoke to agreed that 11pm was Ernest Melville's usual time to return home, but others spoke of him not getting home until as late as 1am. However, the police report stated that in any event, not only did Ernest Melville possess unnatural tendencies, but he was a persistent importuner, and it was noted that even as late as 20 January 1949, the day before his murder, that he had been seen at about 10.40pm in the High Street, independently in the company of a civilian and two merchant navy officers.
Ernest Melville's father said that Ernest Melville used to arrive home from work each day between about 4.45pm to 5pm and said that on the Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays that he would either stay home in the evenings, or go to the pictures or the theatre. He added that on the Thursdays, Ernest Melville might additionally go to the London Inn public house, and that on the Fridays and Saturdays that Ernest Melville would often visit one or two public houses before eventually always finishing up at the full Moon public house. The police report noted that that routine was also confirmed by a number of other various sources during the investigation.
The report stated that it was determined that Ernest Melville usually changed into an old brown suit, the one that he had been wearing when he was murdered, when he went out on his public house jaunts, and it was observed that he no doubt did that in order to preserve his better clothing from the consequences of unpleasant associations.
Ernest Melville was described by all that knew him as an exceedingly thrifty man who spent little money on himself and none on anybody else. The police report stated that that matter of his behaviour was carefully enquired into insofar as his possession of an attractive sum of money might have provided the motive of robbery for his murder. Ernest Melville's father said that Ernest Melville always had loose money and one or two notes with him when he went out on Friday and Saturday evenings, but that he never carried a wallet or purse, and his mother went on further to say that Ernest Melville always had at least one £1 note that he carried in his trouser pockets.
Ernest Melville's employment with the Swansea Corporation provided him with £5. 7. 3. per week, of which he gave £2 to his mother each week who bought most of his clothes and it was thought that he had saved most of the remainder as the police later found about £80 in notes in his clothing at his home after his death and he had £460 credited in his Swansea Savings Banks, although the account had been in the name of his mother until 23 November 1949 at which time it was converted into joint account after which nothing was deposited, and there having only been £20 deposited in 1948 itself, which the police stated indicated that Ernest Melville had since that time been in the habit of saving his money at home instead of banking it.
It was noted by the police that Ernest Melville had been involved in an incident about six years before his murder when he had been badly 'beaten up' in Castle Street, Swansea, by two sailors to whom he had refused a cigarette. He was later treated by a doctor for his injuries which consisted of a wound inside his mouth cause by one of his teeth. It was noted by the police in their report that in view of Ernest Melville's unnatural tendencies, that it might well have been that on that occasion Ernest Melville had earned what he had got. It was also noted that there was also a more recent reference to him having been assaulted, but that there was no forthcoming evidence of it other than observations from a man and woman who when questioned spoke of Ernest Melville possessing a 'beating up ' complex.
When his body was searched at the mortuary, the following property was found on him:
It was noted that from the list that it could be seen that no property was found in either of his trouser pockets, even though his mother had said that Ernest Melville carried his loose change in them and always had his street door key in his right trouser pocket. It was noted that the key was of a Yale pattern and was not found and that its disappearance came within the scope of the inquiry, whatever the explanation was. The police said that it had to be accepted that he had had his key on him at the time as a careful search of his house failed to produce it. It was further noted that two of his closer friends said that on the occasions that they had visited Ernest Melville's house that he had opened his door with it. It was also noted that it followed that he would need a key to let himself in on the many occasions when no doubt his parents had already retired to bed. It as further noted also that Ernest Melville's mother said that she was adamant that Ernest Melville had had his key with him when he had left his house on the evening of 21 January 1949 although police noted that that was no doubt more in the nature of a presumption on her part than a fact.
However, it was also noted that in considering the possibility of Ernest Melville having been deprived of any of his personal property at the time that he met his death, that regard was required to the fact that none of his pockets in his clothing showed any signs of interference, nor was the condition of his clothing disturbed in any way, apart from his trousers.
The police report stated that before considering the movements of Ernest Melville on 21 January 1949, that it was important to consider his movements on the preceding evening as evidence was received that produced a relationship between the events of the two evenings in that he had been seen in the company of two Merchant Navy officers on both nights and that it was thought possible that he had met them on the night of 20 January 1949 and then agreed to meet them again the following night and that that sequence of events might have been central to him meeting his death. However, this line of enquiry was later thought unlikely.
The police report stated that according to Ernest Melville's father, Ernest Melville had gone out as usual on the Thursday 20 January, but was unable to say where he went, although he said that he normally visited the London Inn public house, a fact which, although it was confirmed by the licensee's wife that Ernest Melville did often visit her house, she refuted, stating that he didn't visit her hostelry on 20 January 1949.
There was no information forthcoming as to where Ernest Melville had spent the evening of 20 January 1949, but the police report stated that they did know that he had been seen in the High Street between 10.30pm and 10.45pm by a number of people including the proprietor of a mobile canteen at the junction of High Street and Alexandra Road opposite the GWR Station. He was alone when he was seen by the proprietor of the mobile canteen, but when he was seen by the other people he was seen to be talking to two Merchant Navy officers in the doorway of Richards' wool shop which was opposite the 'Palace Bar' public house. He was also seen either just before that, or just after that by a policeman who was on duty in plain clothes walking down High Street in the company of two Merchant Navy officers.
The police report noted that the existence of the two officers was confirmed by two men who saw them talking to a civilian, who was not Ernest Melville, who themselves, after proceeding a little further up High Street, saw Ernest Melville talking to a civilian who was a stranger to them in the doorway of Richards' grocers shop which was next to the wool shop. It was additionally noted that corroboration of that sighting was also given by two other people.
As such, the police report concluded that Ernest Melville had been on the night before his murder, 20 January 1949, seen variously in the company of two Merchant Navy officers and a civilian, none of whose identities could be determined, who might have been acquaintances, but it was thought were in all probability strangers. However, the report notes that in any event they served as a further example of Ernest Melville's undoubted habit of importuning.
It was also noted that according another man later said that he had seen Ernest Melville later that night at about 11.40pm not far from Ernest Melville's home when they were each on their way home. However, whilst the man had made an initial statement during the enquiry soon after the murder regarding the events of 21 January 1949, it wasn't until six weeks later that he made a statement concerning the incident of 20 January 1949 which the police report stated left his evidence on that point in some doubt. However, the report noted that if the witness was correct on that point, then it had to be assumed that Ernest Melville had either remained in the company of one or other of the men seen with him in the High Street, or that he had merely continued his indiscriminate importuning.
However, it was noted that the only evidence of value regarding the movements of Ernest Melville on the night of 20 January 1949 was that in respect of the two Merchant Navy officers because certain witnesses detailed an identical set of circumstances the following night, 21 January 1949, the night that he was murdered.
The following day, 21 January 1949, Ernest Melville was at work as usual and finished at about 4pm when he was handed his pay slip by one of the Corporation clerks after which he was with a co-employee who he then left at 4.30pm outside the Wind Street Post Office and went straight home where he remained until between 7pm and 7.30pm when he was thought to have gone out on his usual Friday night routine, being expected home at his usual time.
It was thought that after he left he had gone straight off to the Red Cow public house in High Street, Swansea where he was seen by the licensee there and two customers. The licensee noted that it was the first time that he had seen Ernest Melville in the Red Cow although he said that he had known him from the Ty-Melyn public house where he had previously been the proprietor. It was noted that their statements varied a good deal as to when he was actually in the Red Cow public house but it was said that it could probably be accepted, in the light of later evidence, that he had left the Red Cow public house at about 8pm, having stayed there for probably about half-an-hour or maybe a little less. It was thought that whilst he had been there that he had consumed one half pint of beer.
It was thought that from the Red Cow public house that Ernest Melville had then gone up High Street to the Palace Bar public house which was about 100 yards from the Full Moon public house.
The barmaid at the Palace Bar, a 19-year-old girl who was described as an intelligent girl, said that she had known Ernest Melville for about 12 months, the last four of which were as a regular at the Palace Bar on Friday and Saturday evenings and said that he came into the saloon bar at about 7.45pm on 21 January 1949. She said that she served him a pint of beer and that he stood alone by the counter and that at about 8pm a stranger came into the bar who she served with a pint of beer, who also stood alone at the bar, some distance from Ernest Melville. She said then, that about five minutes later, Ernest Melville looked towards that stranger, smiled at him and then went and spoke to him. She said that they then both drank their beer and that the stranger then ordered two more pints for which he paid. She said that after they stood talking at the counter for about ten minutes, both men then went and sat down in the corner of the saloon bar where they each had three more pints of beer.
The barmaid said that at about 9.30pm she saw Ernest Melville and the stranger leave the saloon bar and said that as they went she spoke to Ernest Melville who indicated to her that he was going to the Full Moon public house for the last half-an-hour to 'give them a tune'.
The barmaid said that she continued serving and about three or four minutes later had occasion to go to the Women's Room at the other side of the premises where she heard laughter and then noticed a married woman that she knew jump on Ernest Melville's back as he was leaving the door into Bethesda Street with the stranger immediately in front of him.
She said that she then saw them both leave and didn't see them again.
The police report stated that the barmaid furnished the most detailed description of the man that had been with Ernest Melville, but noted that she was clearly either attracted to him or had been using some imagination. Her description was as follows:
Age 28-30 years, height 5' 10'' - 6' 0'', hair fair and greased which made it look darker, parted left side, brushed back, complexion fresh, full face, rather long nose, light eyebrows, good clean teeth, square chin, well built with broad shoulders. Dress: fawn mackintosh with epaulettes, double breasted with belt and brown leather buttons, two overlapping pieces at back from the shoulders to just below shoulder blades, collar and tie, no hat. Spoke with local accent. Smart appearance and of Commando type. Can be identified.
The police report stated that it was appreciated that the man was of outstanding appearance as well as being a stranger, and that the barmaids regard for detail extended to the actions of both the man and Ernest Melville, even to the extent of how many drinks they had had and who paid for them, despite her having to serve so many other people in the bar over a prolonged period which she herself assessed as being two and a quarter hours, although it was noted that if the other witnesses from both the Red Cow and Full Moon public houses were to be believed, it could not have been more than one hour. However, the police report added that the barmaids statement had to be accepted at face value and that it was fair to note that it was corroborated in certain details by other witnesses.
One example was that of another woman that had been in the Palace Bar attending an organised supper who also said that she had seen Ernest Melville at about 8pm standing at the bar talking to a stranger, whose description was approximate to the barmaids' although she gave the man's age as being 35 to 40 years. The woman said that after acknowledging Ernest Melville, she returned to the Women's Bar, which was where the barmaid said she saw Ernest Melville and the man leave the premises, where she was attending the organised supper. However, she said that it was between 8.50pm and 9pm when she saw Ernest Melville and the man go into the Women's Room and then leave the premises, heading off into Bethesda Street through the door. She said that she spoke to him and then jumped on his back. She added that as she jumped on Ernest Melville's back, the other man said, 'Come on now' and that Ernest Melville replied, 'All right', and then said, 'I'll be back in about ten minutes'. She said that they then both went out into the street together and that that was the last that she saw of them.
It was noted that in her statement the woman who had jumped on Ernest Melville's back had sad that when he left that he had declared that he would be returning to the Palace Bar, but the barmaid said he didn't. The police report noted that that produced a disparity between their two statements, and as such the police re-interviewed the woman who said that he had declared that he would be returning, who when interrogated varied the age of the stranger from 35 to 40 years to 30 to 33 years as well as stating that instead of saying 'Come on now' that he had instead said, 'Come on Ern' and that that was said impatiently. She also said that she later saw the man outside the Palace Bar about two months later and that when she ran after him that he vanished. The police report then noted that it could be considered that not only was the woman somewhat imaginative, but that her recollection of the precise matters at 9pm on 21 January 1949 might not have been as clear as it might have been had had the events taken place earlier in the day, due to drink. The police report also noted that the woman had a conviction for larceny.
When the police spoke to the woman that organised the supper in the Women's Room at the Palace Bar, she corroborated what the other woman said regarding seeing Ernest Melville and the man leaving the public house and the man's description. However, she additionally said that she had seen Ernest Melville at about 8pm when he had looked into the Women's Room and enquired about what was on. She added that when she told him she saw the man that he was with behind him and said that after they finished speaking that Ernest Melville and the man left and went into the gent's toilets. She added that when she later went into the bar at about 8.45pm for a drink that she noticed Ernest Melville and the man standing at the counter each drinking a pint of beer and said that they were doing the same when she saw them again.
Ernest Melville and the man were also seen by three other women that had been in the Women's Room. The first said that she saw Ernest Melville and the stranger between 9pm and 9.15pm when they were leaving, and saw the other woman jumped on Ernest Melville's back. The second woman said that she had only seen Ernest Melville standing at the Saloon Bar counter but didn't notice whether he was alone or not and the third woman said that she saw Ernest Melville and had a conversation with him. She said that that happened at about 8.20pm and that he had been alone. However, the police report noted that 8.20pm, when she said that she saw him was the time when the barmaid had said that she had seen Ernest Melville seated in the bar with the stranger.
As such, the police report noted that if the several women who all said that they had seen Ernest Melville at the bar alone after 8pm were to be believed, then it should be assumed that it was the occasion when Ernest Melville had gone to the counter to order further drinks for him and his companion, as otherwise, the barmaids statement in which she said she saw him sitting in the bar with the stranger was wrong.
The police added that, bearing the statements of the women that had seen Ernest Melville at the bar in mind, that statements taken from a man, his son and a relative who had met in the Palace Bar between 8pm and 8.20pm, who all said that they had seen Ernest Melville standing at the saloon bar counter at about 8.30pm, also needed to be considered. Of the three men, only the first man noticed that Ernest Melville had been talking to another man, but didn't pay any further attention whilst the other two people in the group took no more than a momentary interest in Ernest Melville's presence and could not say whether he was with anyone else or not.
As such, it was noted in the police report that the point raised by the various statements was that both the group of three and the various women, had all said that they had seen Ernest Melville standing at the counter either alone or in casual conversation at time when the barmaid had said that Ernest Melville had been much engrossed with the stranger and sitting elsewhere in the bar.
It was noted in the police report that it was hoped that the licensee of the Palace Bar would have been able to assist, but his statement was considered to be virtually valueless and it was observed that it was felt by police officers that had interviewed him on a number of occasions that even if he was able to assist that he would have been loathed to have done so and would prefer to be antagonistic rather than helpful.
The police added that they interviewed two other people who also saw Ernest Melville in the Palace Bar whose statements were at variance with the general evidence of the other people in the bar that they had interviewed.
The first was that of a man who entered the Palace Bar at about 8.15pm and had stood at the counter with his drink and upon looking around noticed Ernest Melville who he knew well sitting down along with a number of other people and next to a man whose description was not consistent with that of the other man already furnished by the other witnesses who Ernest Melville was said to have left the public house with. However, it was added that there was nothing to indicate that Ernest Melville had been in the company of the man that the other man described, possibly only just sitting next to him. The man said that Ernest Melville then called him over and that he went over and spoke to Ernest Melville and that he did so, he noticed a man that Ernest Melville was sitting with that he knew and named, but that man was never traced.
The other person who also saw Ernest Melville in the Palace Bar was a woman who said that she had entered the Palace Bar just before 9pm with her sister and had noticed Ernest Melville there with a stranger whose description was quite different to the description of the man that Ernest Melville was thought to have left the public house with. She said that Ernest Melville and the man had apparently been on their way out and that as Ernest Melville passed her that she had a conversation with him, during which she said that the stranger that Ernest Melville had been with looked over his shoulder at her and so she got a good look at him and said that he had not been wearing a mackintosh, which the other witnesses said that the man that left with Ernest Melville had been. The police report noted that with a view to clarifying the matter they attempted to interview the woman’s sister but observed that she was a very slow-witted unintelligent woman whose evidence did not take the enquiry any further, noting that she was unable to say much beyond the fact that she had seen Ernest Melville with another man.
The police report noted that the discrepancies between the statements of the witnesses in the Palace Bar were problematical inasmuch as they could not afford to entirely discard the statements of some witnesses and accept those of the remainder, although they said that quite obviously some of them were wrong. It was further noted that it might well have been the case that the several women that said that they had seen the man in the trench coat, that there had been some auto-suggestion or that it was even possible that there had been two strangers in the Palace Bar with whom Ernest Melville had associated with on separate occasions whilst there.
On the point of the possibility that there had been two strangers in the Palace Bar that Ernest Melville had associated with, it was noted that two other men, one of whom was Ernest Melville's cousin, said that they had seen Ernest Melville at about 9.10pm in the company of two men coming from the direction of the Palace Bar and going towards the Full Moon with one of them saying that he saw all three of the men, Ernest Melville and the two other men, go into the Full Moon public house.
It was said that when the two men passed Ernest Melville and his two companions that one of them had a running conversation with Ernest Melville and noticed that the two men that Ernest Melville had been with were strangers. It was said that that information was volunteered to the police on 22 January 1949 whilst they were making enquiries about the murder and that they both admitted that they had been under the influence of drink and were only able to give an extremely vague description of one of the two men in question. However, it was noted that when subsequent statements were taken from them that they furnished much more detailed descriptions and the police report stated that it was a matter for conjecture whether that was a product of their imagination, or whether it was information that had not previously been disclosed when first interviewed. The police report stated that it was speculated that the two men that had seen Ernest Melville with the other two men had in fact themselves accompanied Ernest Melville to the Full Moon and that they had then concocted their story, but said that they had been assured that as the two men were well known in the Full Moon public house that if they had been there that night, or had entered with Ernest Melville, that the fact would have been known.
It was determined without a doubt that Ernest Melville arrived at the Full Moon sometime around 9.15pm as many statements were obtained from people that had been there that night that had seen him. However, it was noted that as with the witnesses at the Palace Bar, the statements of the witnesses at the Full Moon public house varied considerably with one another and it was difficult to obtain any really tangible evidence.
For example, some people said that he had entered alone whilst others said that he was accompanied by a stranger, and that others said that they had seen him in the Full Moon talking to a stranger whilst others said that they had seen him on his own all the time. Further, from those who spoke of seeing Ernest Melville without a doubt in the company of another man, the descriptions that they provided of the other man were inconsistent with each other.
It was also noted that several people were indeed strangers to some of the customers in the Full Moon and that when they were traced it was found that whilst they were strangers to some customers, they were known by others. It was also noted that in assessing the value of any statements made by people in the Full Moon public house, that consideration should be given to the fact that they were referring to events that occurred during the last forty-five minutes before closing time and that many of them had been drinking for two or three hours beforehand. It was also noted that it should be taken into account that the clientele of the Full Moon public house was drawn from the immediate locality which was described as possessing a community that was generally unhelpful to the police and which was of a low mentality and low moral conduct.
When detailing the witnesses present at the Full Moon public house the police report started off with the licensee, a woman who lived in the house with her husband and their 17-year-old son. The report stated that it was anticipated that they would be of considerable help as to the material events on the night of 21 January 1949, but stated that it appeared that whilst they tried to do so, they didn't have the capacity. It was said that the licensee's husband remembered nothing and was obviously not rational and that it was generally found impossible to have a coherent conversation with him. The licensee was described as being an intelligent woman of about 42 years of age, but neurotic and that in her endeavours to solicit and assimilate information from her customers touching on the events leading up to Ernest Melville's death, that she was quite unable to differentiate between what she had heard from others and what she had seen and heard for herself.
It was always speculated by the police that the licensee might possibly have known more than she had told them about the events, but that on the other hand, it did seem as though she had made every effort to be helpful. It was also noted that in the process of doing so she had allowed the knowledge that she had gained and passed on to the police to become more and more distorted, and it was stated that in fact, in the middle of April an effort was made to obtain a composite statement from her embodying the data that she had supplied to the police from time to time but that the woman became almost imaginative. However, the police report stated that some regard should be given to the statement that she had made to the police on 22 January 1949 when the events of the previous event had been fresh in her mind. It was also later noted that when the licensee gave her evidence at the inquest that it varied so much from her statement that the coroner stopped her and made her stand down.
The police report detailed the geography of the Full Moon public house. The premises, at 144 High Street in Swansea which was still there as of April 2020, faced flush onto the footway and was adjoined on either side by shops. Access was gained by only one entrance, the front doorway, which then took one into a small vestibule that opened in to a Women's Bar on the left side and a Men's Bar on the right side, each of which terminated in a lounge bar at the rear of the premises that was generally referred to as the 'Singing Room'. The Singing Room was partitioned off from the rest of the premises but in addition to the communicating doorways to each bar, there was a service hatch. Therefore, anybody entering the Woman’s Bar from the street could pass through into the Singing Room and thence out through the Man's Bar and into the street again, and vice versa. Each bar was fitted with its appropriate toilet, but as both bars, as well as the Singing Room, in practice catered for a mixed clientele, it was necessary for women to pass from the Men's Bar through the Singing Room to the toilet in the Women's Bar and for men to act conversely, a fact to which frequent references were made in witnesses' statements.
There was a piano, a dartboard and a number of benches, chairs and tables in the Singing Room.
The police report stated that according to the licensee, Ernest Melville had been a customer of hers for about nine years, visiting most Fridays and Saturdays and sometimes playing the piano, usually on his own and said that he did not drink very much.
She said that she noticed him in the Full Moon at about 9.15pm on 21 January 1949 when he came to the counter and ordered two pints of beer, stating that she served him through the service hatch and saw him look towards a young man that was standing near him and who was a perfect stranger to her. She added that the man nodded and then put down a half-a-crown in payment for the beer and that she gave him two pence in change.
She said that a few minutes later she saw Ernest Melville playing the piano with the stranger sitting on the arm of the chair with his arm round the back of the chair singing quietly. She added that a little later she saw both men coming from the toilet together and return to the piano.
The licensee said that the only beer that she remembered Ernest Melville and his companion having was that which she had served them and said that she called 'time' at about 9.55pm and that those in the Singing Room seemed to all go out together and that she didn't particularly notice Ernest Melville leave, but said that it was unusual for Ernest Melville to go in that way as he usually remained behind to help wash the glasses and was therefore generally the last to go.
The licensee described the stranger as aged 28 to 30 years, about 5ft 6in tall, with a fair complexion, pinky cheeks, fair hair inclined towards sandy, clean shaven, thick set and of clean appearance. She added that he had been dressed in a greyish coloured raincoat with a belt but without shoulder straps.
The licensee's son had been seen several times by the police, but he had been unable to say anything useful and it was stated that he was obviously a lad of weak intellect. It was also noted that Ernest Melville had been heard at various times to express an interest in being the licensee's sons' friend and to wanting to take him to the picture but there was no evidence of that ever having been progressed although it was later noted that the possibility that Ernest Melville's murder had been in some way precipitated by that interest was not ruled out although it was not developed as a specific line of enquiry.
The licensee also made up a list of persons who she recollected having been in the Singing Room during the evening of 21 January 1949 which was included in the police report of which there were 26, all of whom were interviewed, plus others. The police report noted that 9 other people were also identified as being in one or other of the bars, but who did not entered the Singing Room, all of whom also made statements.
It was noted that of the people that had been in the Singing Room throughout the time that Ernest Melville had been there that some of them might have been expected to provide valuable evidence as to Ernest Melville's conduct and company. However, it was similarly noted that the police again met with characteristic reticence and misleading, unreliable statements, that left the position in the Full Moon rather obscured.
Witness 4 on the list of people at the Full Moon who had been in the Singing Room, who had been there in the company of his fiancee, witness 3, said that he had been there from about 7.30pm until closing time at 10pm and that although they both quite clearly recollected Ernest Melville coming into the room about 9pm and having spoken to him and to having seen him there at about 10pm, they both averred to him being alone throughout.
It was noted that it was customary for a man to play his accordion in the Full Moon but to leave at a bout 9pm to follow his normal employment, and both witnesses 3 and 4 stated that the accordion player, witness 13, had been there and that he had asked them the time at about 9pm and that when they had told him that he had left and that it was just after that that Ernest Melville was seen to come in.
Witnesses 3 and 4 said that during their conversation with Ernest Melville that he told them that he had been down to the Palace Bar and Brass Bar where he had been 'drinking good beer'. It was noted that the 'Brass Bar' was the nickname for Harris's public house in High Street which was between the Palace Bar and the Red Cow, however, the police report noted that enquiries there failed to produce any confirmation of Ernest Melville's statement that he had been there that evening.
Witnesses 3 and 4 both said that when they themselves left at about 10pm, that Ernest Melville was still there, with the woman, witness 3, saying that she spoke to him and said that Ernest Melville said that he would see them both the following night. Witness 4 said that when he left, Ernest Melville had been in the Singing Room standing by the serving hatch and finishing a pint of beer and that the lights were out. They both also noted that at that time there were about three other people still in the Singing Room, those being witnesses 1, 5 and 6.
Witness 6 said that he had gone to the Full Moon at about 7pm and had gone into the Singing Room where he had met witnesses 1 and 2. He said that there was also another man there that that he didn't know who was employed in the Fuel Works. He said that he played darts with witnesses 1 and 2 between 8.30pm and 9.20pm, although it was noted that the two statements that he made varied considerably in that particular. He said that he saw Ernest Melville come into the Singing Room with a stranger whom he described as being aged 20 to 30 years, 5ft 9in tall, with dark hair, a medium build and wearing a light fawn belted raincoat. Witness 6 said that at that time he and witnesses 1 and 2 had been seated at a table where they were joined by witness 5 at about 9.30pm who had then come in from another bar, noting that the man from the fuel works had left about 15 minutes previously. He said that at about 9.35pm that Ernest Melville sat and played the piano and that his companion remained standing and that they remained so until he and witness 2 left the Singing Room at about 9.50pm, leaving Ernest Melville and the man there.
He added that the only people that he saw talking to Ernest Melville were witnesses 3 and 4.
He said that he himself had been a regular of the Full Moon for about three months up to that date and that that was the first time that he had seen Ernest Melville there in the Full Moon, which the police report stated seemed to be a remarkable statement.
The statement of witness 1 substantially confirmed that of witness 6, with the exception that he said that he left the Full Moon at 9.55pm and that when he did so, in addition to Ernest Melville and the stranger, witnesses 5, 3, 4, 9 and possibly 15 were also still there.
Witness 1 described the stranger as being about 35-years-old, about 5ft 10in tall, with a pale complexion and brownish coloured hair which was patchy as if he had been going bold. He added that the stranger had a prominent chin, had been clean shaven and had been dressed in a dirty greenish coloured belted mackintosh, and had been wearing a collar and tie but no hat. However, when he was subsequently re-interviewed, he put the strangers age at between 30 and 40 years and changed his complexion to anaemic, his hair type to between sandy and ginger and the colour of his mackintosh to fawny.
He was noted as having amplified his earlier account of the stranger by saying that he had been standing by Ernest Melville all the time and that in making his way to the toilet he had made a mistake and had went to go through the bar. He added that he didn't notice Ernest Melville go to the toilet, which the police report noted was in opposition to what other people said.
The statement that witness 2 gave was pretty consistent with that of witness 1 and 6, but said that he thought that the time that Ernest Melville came into the Full Moon was sometime after 8pm which the police report noted was a rather vague estimate and that it should be presumed that the actual time that Ernest Melville had entered the bar was close to 9.15pm. However, it was noted that witness 2 went on further to state that he had seen the stranger in the Full Moon on a Saturday a week or two earlier and stated that although Ernest Melville had also been in the pub, that he had not seen them together on that occasion.
Witness 2 also said that at closing time on 21 January 1949 that he left with witness 5 and that as he did, he saw Ernest Melville by the main entrance talking to the stranger. However, the police report noted that the man that witness 2 was referring to as having been seen talking to Ernest Melville by the main entrance, referred to in that instance as a stranger, was in fact witness 12.
Witness 5 was described as a rather unintelligent young man and in his statement said that he had accompanied witness 2, who he identified with the wrong name, to the Full Moon on the evening of 21 January 1949, saying that he remained in the Men's Bar until about 9.45pm when he went into the Singing Room. The police report noted that the degree of inaccuracy in his statement about the events of the night could be judged by his obviously inaccurate statement to the fact that he had seen Ernest Melville come into the bar between 7pm and 8pm, although additionally noted that he might have been right when he said that Ernest Melville had come in with a stranger. It was also noted that in his first statement that he had said that Ernest Melville and the stranger had been in conversation when they had entered the bar, but that when he was later re-interviewed, he said that they were not in conversation and said that he wasn't even sure if they were together. He also said at first that he didn't go into the Singing Room but later that he did. He additionally said that although he left the Full Moon at 10pm with witness 2, he did not see either Ernest Melville or the stranger again.
The statements of witnesses 7, 8, 9 and 10 were dealt with collectively by the police in their report. It was found that witnesses 7 and 8 had only just been released from prison a few days earlier and that although witness 7 had a little knowledge of the Full Moon public house, witness 8 was a complete stranger. Witnesses 7 and 8 had arrived together between 7pm and 7.30pm after drinking elsewhere and it was said that they were in no doubt in a somewhat truculent mood, which was evidenced by the statement of a bus conductor. They were described as being loosely bent on further drinking and female company and that once arriving at the Full Moon they had got into the company of witness 9 and 10, both women, who had both been in the Full Moon alone prior to joining company. It was said that they engaged in drinking, and that witness 8 and 9 additionally engaged in dancing and singing, during which time Ernest Melville was said to have been at the piano.
The police report stated that there was little doubt that, despite their antipathy to the police, that witnesses 7 and 8 had had little regard for what took place in the Singing Room outside of their own interests and that in the absence of their knowledge of local personalities they were not able to afford any material assistance to the inquiry. However, it was noted that by virtue of their criminal records and other considerations, that they fell into the suspect category, that aspect of which was dealt with later in the police report, although it was stressed that there was no evidence against either of them.
Witness 9, a woman, said that she had been a regular in the Full Moon for some years and that on the night in question she had arrived there between 7.30pm and 7.45pm and that after spending about an hour in the Women's Bar that she had gone into the Singing Room where she spoke to witness 10 and sat down with her after which the two men, witnesses 7 and 8 came and sat with them. She said that at the time that they joined them the accordion player was still there and that when he left, which the police report stated was known to have been at about 9pm, that Ernest Melville came in to the room from the Men's Bar.
She said that Ernest Melville had been alone and that if he had been with anybody else that she would have noticed. She said that he had stood by the serving hatch and had called for his pint and that she spoke to him and asked him to play the piano which he did. The woman said that she was emphatic that Ernest Melville only played once, although the police report stated that others, including the man that she had danced with, witness 8, said that Ernest Melville played a number of tunes and that he did so for some time. However, the woman, witness 9, said that after Ernest Melville played his tune that he sat in a corner by the piano near a stranger and had remarked, 'No more' and had started to laugh.
It was further noted that the woman, who was first interviewed on 23 January 1949, was interviewed twice more and that in common with the majority of the local people, her statements were not consistent and that in her later interviews she had yielded a good deal of more information than she had volunteered when first seen. In particular, she had said in her first statement that she had first seen Ernest Melville at about 9.45pm when he was sitting by the piano at which time the accordion player had just left the room, but that in her later statement she had said that the time that she first saw Ernest Melville was nearly an hour before that. She had similarly first described the man that she had seen Ernest Melville sitting by as being about 42 years old, but then later assessed his aged to be 52, as well as varying his description and certain other features.
The police report noted that they did not for one moment think that the woman, witness 9, had been lying or obstructive, but said that her being continually pressed for her knowledge on the matter had resulted in the blatant emergence through her natural reticence a consequential prejudicial effect on her recollections, which, the police added, was characteristic of so many people that they had endeavoured to obtain information from during the course of the investigation.
It was noted that the woman offered a very good example of the tendency to withhold information in her reference to a man that had been in the Full Moon, not included on the list, who she asserted had spoken to Ernest Melville whilst he had been playing the piano and who had then returned to the bar, although that information was not volunteered until 8 March 1949, sometime after the murder, but which was found to be true after the man that she referred to was traced and although he did refute having spoken to Ernest Melville, did admit to having been in the Full Moon on the night, stating that it was only his second visit there over a long period.
The police report stated that the other woman in the group of four, witness 10, also considerably supplemented her first statement when she was re-interviewed. She was described as an intelligent and truthful woman of a higher degree of respectability than the general clientele of the Full Moon and stated that she had never been there before 21 January 1949. She said that she had arrived at about 7.30pm having promised to meet her husband there and had sat in the Singing Room the whole time, but had not known anyone else in the room until witness 7 came in who she said lived in the same area as herself, and said that it was that fact that assembled the two men and two women together in the group of four.
She spoke of the accordion player leaving at 9pm to go to work and of her female companion, witness 9, going over to speak to Ernest Melville who she said had been sitting at a table with another man. She said that Ernest Melville then got up and played the piano and that he continued to do so until closing time. She said that she left the premises just after 10pm with witness 7 and 8 with the object of their catching the same bus home, but said that she met her husband near the Palace Bar and so went home with him, leaving the two men, witnesses 7 and 8, walking down High Street.
The woman said that the man that Ernest Melville had been sitting with in the Singing Room remained at the table after Ernest Melville went to the piano and that she didn't see him speak to anyone other than Ernest Melville when she passed him to go to the toilet. She also said that the table that the man had been sitting at was under the serving hatch near to the entrance of the Men's Bar and the police report noted that if that was true then they had to accept the licensee's statement about the stranger having paid for Ernest Melville's drink at the serving hatch because she had put the two men at about the same spot and at about the same time as witness 10 did except that the latter had said that they had been sitting whilst the licensee had said that they had been standing. However, the police report conceded that naturally their posture would have altered whilst they were calling for a drink and added that furthermore, the description of the stranger given by the woman, witness 10, was not all inconsistent with that furnished by the licensee, although she had said that she would not know him again.
The woman said that she saw nobody else with Ernest Melville as he was playing the piano and that she only noticed him talking to the stranger on the two occasions and that they were both in the Singing Room when she left. However, she did add that she had heard Ernest Melville say that he had been to the supper in the Palace Bar and that he seemed half drunk.
The police spoke to another man that had been in the Singing Room, witness 11, who they described as being unreliable and whose statement did not materially assist beyond his reference to a stranger who he said was sitting behind Ernest Melville and that Ernest Melville had also been sitting in the corner of the room. He said that he didn't see Ernest Melville speak to either of the men nor anyone else, but he later identified the stranger that he said as having been sat behind Ernest Melville as witness 12, but then subsequently as witness 8. It was noted that the features of witness 8 and 12 were not dissimilar. It was further noted that in view of his reference to the man buying a certain woman not listed a drink, that it could safely be assumed that the man had been witness 8. However, the police concluded by stating that they considered witness 11 as a thoroughly unreliable witness whose observations at subsequent interviews were no doubt imaginary.
The police report stated that in the early stages of the enquiry, every effort was made by local enquiries, press notices and channels of information, to trace all persons who had been in the Singing Room during the period that Ernest Melville had been there on 21 January 1949 with the object of obtaining all available evidence and establishing the identity of the murderer. The report noted that that extended to the public house as a whole but that they concentrated on the Singing Room as being of primary importance. However, it was noted that many of those present in the Full Moon on the night had refrained from coming forward and that they were only located by persistent enquiries and that some of them, it was suspected had only given the police a limited version of what they had seen or heard. The police report stated that they felt that it was not because the people had wanted to shield anybody or had wanted to obstruct the police, but that they had just not wanted to 'get mixed up in the affair’ which they said was an attitude of mind that seemed to pervade the area in which the investigation took place and which had been accentuated by a not unnatural aversion to being linked with a homosexual, however remotely.
The police noted that one of those reserved types of witness was witness 19, who was a merchant seaman and who lived next door to the Palace Bar. He said that he had arrived in the Full Moon at about 9.20pm and had gone straight to the Singing Room where he had seen Ernest Melville playing the piano. He said that he spoke to Ernest Melville and formed the opinion that he was half drunk, which he said was very unusual. He said that after about ten minutes he left, and that as he did she noticed Ernest Melville get up from the piano and go to the serving window with his glass and saw that he was very unsteady on his feet.
The police report noted that as a result of their press appeals, witness 12 came forward on 24 January 1949 and a statement was obtained from him. He said that he had been at the Full Moon at about 9.20pm on 21 January 1949 and had gone into the Singing Room where the piano was being played and remained there until closing time. He said that he spoke to Ernest Melville for some little while and said that whilst he was doing so that two men joined in the conversation, however, he said that he could not describe them, although the police report suggested that the men might have been witnesses 7 and 8.
When the police re-interviewed witness 12, he reiterated his statement, but said that prior to going into the Singing Room he had spent a little time in the right hand (Men's) bar where he had got into conversation with two women, one who he said had been wearing glasses and the other who he described as the pregnant wife of a trawlerman, witnesses 29 and 30, who after their conversation left the bar.
It was suggested that in view of the fact that witness 12 had been admittedly in conversation with Ernest Melville for some minutes prior to closing time, that he might have been the stranger referred to by a number of witnesses, a possibility connected in particular with the assertion that witness 2 had made stating that he had seen the stranger in the Full Moon a week or two earlier, and so the police questioned witness 12 on that matter. As a result, witness 12 agreed that although he was a stranger to the Full Moon, he had called there a few times and that he thought that the last time that he had ben there was on 5 November 1948, stating that the reason for his infrequent visits was that he was known to the licensee and that his family discouraged his frequenting public houses, although he noted that he found the Full Moon to be a convenient place to call, because it was adjacent to his bus home after visiting Swansea.
As such, on several Fridays after the murder, witness 12 was persuaded to visit the Full Moon under discreet police surveillance with the object of his being identified by witnesses who had spoken of seeing a stranger with Ernest Melville, but the police report stated that the initiative did not meet with much success. It was noted in particular that the licensee did not remember his calling but subsequently, and characteristically, convinced herself that he was there, even to the extent that she saw him give cigarettes to a couple of women.
He was also identified by witness 11 as the man sat behind Ernest Melville but witness 11 then preferred witness 8 as the man that he had seen sat behind Ernest Melville. Also, witnesses 10, 1, 6, 31 and 32 all averred that he was not the man referred to by them.
It was further noted that of the remainder of the witnesses that had been in the Singing Room as per the list suggested by the licensee, the remainder of them had left the Singing Room before Ernest Melville had arrived.
The police report added that of particular interest amongst the people that had been in the Singing Room on the night but who had left prior to Ernest Melville were three brothers by inter-mixed marriage, witnesses 15, 16 and 17.
It was noted that witness 15 was initially suspected of being the murderer and that even after the investigation ended, there were still certain allegations against him, however, the police report stated that there was no evidence against him.
On the issue of the statements of the three brothers regarding the events in the Singing Room, the police report stated that there was no evidence to repudiate their statements which were to the effect that they had been sitting in the Singing Room between 8pm and 8.30pm at which time they had gone to the Palace Bar and that after a short stay there they had returned to the Full Moon after which two of the brothers, witnesses 16 and 17, left together between 8.45pm and 9pm, leaving the third brother there, witness 15. The police report stated that the reason for the two brothers leaving the third brother at the Full Moon was, in their words, that neither of them liked the third brother and that they had wanted to rid themselves of his company. It was said than that meanwhile, the two brothers spent their time drinking elsewhere and didn't return to the Full Moon.
When the third brother was questioned, he first said that he returned to the Full Moon with his brothers at 9.30pm but later changed his story to say that he actually left the Full Moon at about 9pm, or just after they had returned from the Palace Bar.
The accordion player, witness 13, said that he had left the Full Moon at about 8.50pm to return to work and stated that although he knew Ernest Melville very well, he had not seen him in the Full Moon that night.
It was noted that witnesses 20 and 21, two women, had been drinking earlier on in the Palace Bar and had gone off to the Full Moon briefly but had returned to the Palace Bar before Ernest Melville arrived.
It was further noted that witnesses 22, 24 and 25 were all customers in the Full Moon who had been drinking in the left hand, or Women's Bar on the night and had all passed through the Singing Room at some point to used the men's toilet in the opposite bar during the period that Ernest Melville was there.
Witness 25 said that he had arrived at the Full Moon not long before 8.45pm and had some minutes later noticed Ernest Melville in the Singing Room playing the piano with a man leaning over him with his hand on his shoulder. He said that between 9.20pm and 9.25pm that he had gone through the Singing Room to the toilet and had on the way spoken to Ernest Melville and asked him for a cigarette and said that Ernest Melville had given him a Woodbine after which he had gone to the lavatory. He said that when he had spoken to Ernest Melville, he had been alone and that when he returned from the lavatory, Ernest Melville was still alone and that he didn't see any stranger with him. He added that on his way back he was spoken to by one of Ernest Melville's companions and said that as a consequence he asked Ernest Melville for another cigarette but said that Ernest Melville didn't give him one. He said that he didn’t see Ernest Melville again.
The police report noted that Ernest Melville was a non-smoker and that there was no real evidence that he ever carried cigarettes about with him. The police report noted that it was possible that Ernest Melville might have always had one or two cigarettes on him to offer potential acquaintances, but that that was doubted and it was noted that as a fact that when his body was searched that there were no cigarettes nor a cigarette pack in his clothing.
Witness 24 spoke of seeing Ernest Melville playing the piano and also of seeing him coming from the lavatory together with the man described in the press as wearing an army style mack. The police noted that his description of the man was very vague, but noted that he dwelt on the fact that the man had had a strong and peculiar smell of hair oil about him. The man stated that after the man and Ernest Melville came out of the lavatory together, he saw Ernest Melville at the piano and the man standing near him with his hand resting on top of the piano. The man said that he also saw Ernest Melville and the man leave the Full Moon together and said that when he himself had got outside that they had both gone. However, the police stated that his statement should be treated with care for several reasons. First it was stated that he was obviously a young man of loose morals and that it was more likely than not that when he had seen Ernest Melville that he had been under the influence of drink. It was also noted that he had also spoken of having some previous knowledge of Ernest Melville's habits and of himself being in and around Croft Street between 11pm and 12 midnight that night following a quarrel at home after having had an argument there when he got back from the Full Moon.
It was noted that his position as a possible suspect was also considered.
The police report stated that witness 22 made an early statement but said that it was always considered that he had been in a position to assist more in connection with the matter, not so much as to provide any direct evidence, but in the general set-up of personalities who were present in the Full Moon on the night and the trend of events, particularly those touching upon the congregation of persons outside the bar at closing time as he was invariably one of those present. However, it was noted that his statement was at complete variance with any of the other witness statements inasmuch as he spoke of Ernest Melville and a stranger, whose description was entirely different to that furnished by any other witness, as coming into the Men's bar at about 8.45pm and each ordering his own drink at the counter. He said that that he had been facing them as they went to the counter and that he and Ernest Melville acknowledged each other and said that when Ernest Melville was served his drink that he took it into the Singing Room, leaving the other man at the bar.
He went on to say that between then and 10pm that he had occasion to go through the Singing Room to the lavatory and said that he saw Ernest Melville there on a number of occasions and that amongst other persons who were present, that he noticed a tall man standing near the counter whose description matched that of a man who the police interviewed and concluded whose presence in the Full Moon on the evening in question was open to considerable doubt. The police report stated that on the assumption that his description was of the tall man was invalid, they said that nothing of significance could be attached to that part of his statement and noted that the statement of the tall man that it was thought he was describing was dealt with later.
The police report stated that the only additional material that the man provided was that when witness 12 was later put forward for identification in the Full Moon, he remembered him being there, but added that he had not been with Ernest Melville.
It was noted that witness 26, one of the people that had spoken to Ernest Melville in the Palace Bar earlier in the evening was the only person traced that had seen him in both places. He said that he had been in the Palace Bar only for about five minutes and would have arrived at the Full Moon at about 8.30pm. He said that he stood at the bar drinking and that at about 9pm he saw Ernest Melville come into the opposite bar and call for a drink and that he stood facing him. He said that about 15 minutes later, at about 9.15pm, he went to the lavatory and that he saw Ernest Melville there who he said remarked on him having lost his temper when he had got into an argument with two men, thought to have been witnesses 7 and 8. He said that he left Ernest Melville in the lavatory and that although he later heard the piano being played, he didn't go into the Singing Room again and saw no more of Ernest Melville.
It was noted however, that the man that witness 26 had seen Ernest Melville standing next to in the Palace Bar was not the same man that he had seen with him with in the Full Moon.
The police report noted that the man's assertion that he had seen Ernest Melville drinking at the counter in the Men's Bar was in keeping with witness 22's statement except for the fact that he made no reference to a second man. The police report stated that the independent versions of the statements had to be considered not only with the statements of those witnesses in the Singing Room, but also with the accounts of the persons who had actually been in the Men's Bar.
It was as such noted that witnesses 29 and 30, where two sisters that had been in the Men's Bar and that of them, witness 30 had recalled witness 12 speaking to her as well seeing him speaking to Ernest Melville as he sat at the piano in the Singing Room. It was noted that from witness 30's statements that it was perfectly clear that witness 12 had been speaking to Ernest Melville just on closing time as it was after she and her sister had returned to the Full Moon at 9.50pm to 9.55pm that they passed through the Singing Room to the toilet and noticed witness 12 and Ernest Melville together, with her adding that she had spoken to him. It was also noted that it was at that time that witness 30 had said that the licensee had called 'time' and that there were only about three people left in the room, ie Ernest Melville, witness 12 and another stranger who she could only vaguely describe as being a lot older than witness 12 and wearing a dark overcoat and a cap and who had been sitting on a chair next to Ernest Melville. She had said that the stranger had appeared to have been with Ernest Melville but that she didn't think that he had known witness 12. The police report stated that no other person appeared to have referred to the strange man and that his identity remained unestablished, but noted that the possibility was not overlooked that he might have been one of the witnesses, or other people known to be in the bar, whose description was not quite given by witness 30.
It was noted that the other woman, witness 29, offered little else in evidence, but that she did say that she and her sister had got to the Full Moon at about 9.30pm, or just before she saw Ernest Melville in the bar with about five other people, one of whom she knew as a woman who lived in Ann Street in Swansea. As to the position in the Singing Room at closing time she did not say any more than Ernest Melville had been playing the piano and that there had been a number of people around him, none of whom she recognised.
The police report noted that the woman referred to by witness 29 was undoubtedly the sister of witness 23, who was not herself on the list of people given by the licensee. The woman was also said to have been in the Men's Bar with her sister, witness 23. It was noted in the police report that when reference was made to witness 30's statement she had said that witness 12 had spoken to her when she had arrived in the bar and that at that time she had been with witness 23. The report then went on to state that in the light of that, attention was then called to witness 23's statement in which the only matter of relevance was the fact that she had mentioned taking a bottle of 'Ben Truman' beer to Ernest Melville in the Singing Room at about 9.30pm.
The police report noted that it was worth mentioning that witness 23 was probably more friendly with Ernest Melville than any other woman in the Full Moon with the possible exception of the licensee and that consequently it was felt that she, and for that matter her sister too, were in a position to assist the enquiry much more than they had done. It was noted that both women were in the bar from 7.30pm until closing time and that it was truly remarkable that neither of them saw Ernest Melville enter the bar or had any knowledge of witness 12's presence or any other material facts, yet witness 23's recollection was sufficiently clear for her to nominate some thirteen persons who were in the public house that night and whose presence had been confirmed by enquiries.
The police added that after interviewing both sisters, witnesses 23 and her sister, that they had formed the view that both were not prepared to become involved in the investigation and were able to help more than they had done.
The police report went on to state that that opinion was strengthened by a statement made by a man that had visited the Full Moon on the evening of 22 January 1949 who had said that he had heard some customers discussing the murder, one of whom he described as a blonde woman who the police stated they had no doubt was witness 23, and that she was heard to say, ''... you don't want to know too much or we'll be taken down'. The report noted that even assuming that the woman overheard was not witness 23 that the attitude of mind expressed in the man's presence was a further indication of potential witnesses attempting to extricate themselves from police attention rather than come forward to assist.
The police noted that witness 28 was a man that had been in the Man's Bar from about 8.40pm until closing time and that he had spoken of seeing Ernest Melville in the Singing Room just after 9pm and of his later playing the piano although he went no further than that, stating that he left the premises at about 10.10pm with witness 23, with whom he had been associating.
Witness 32 had been employed casually at the Full Moon as a barmaid but on 21 January 1949 she had been a customer and was present there from 7pm until 10pm. She said that at about 9pm she heard the piano being played and that when she passed through the Singing Room on her way to the toilet, she had seen Ernest Melville at the piano and had spoken to him. She said that she noticed that a man was sitting on the arm of Ernest Melville's chair with his arm round the back of it but said that she didn't see the man's face, but noticed that he had sandy-coloured hair and that he had been wearing a Burberry coat and was thick set. She added that they were both still there when she returned from the toilet. She said that the last time that she noticed Ernest Melville was at about 9.30pm.
The police report stated that about seven weeks after the murder, witness 35, a man, was identified as having been in the Men's Bar on the evening in question and a statement was obtained from him. He disclosed that at about 9pm he had seen Ernest Melville walking through the bar into the Singing Room and that they acknowledged each other. He said that Ernest Melville had been alone at the time and added that he remained until 10pm but did not see Ernest Melville again after he had entered.
The police report stated that two women, witness 31 and witness 27, who were habitues of the Full Moon public house and who had been independently present during the evening of 21 January 1949, both made statements of a pertinent, although irreconcilable, character, which not only embraced Ernest Melville's presence in the public house that night, but also his movements immediately after he left the premises.
The report added that the evidence of the two women however had to be most carefully considered and that before dealing with it that the evidence concerning Ernest Melville and the Full Moon, as far as discussed, needed to be summarised and analysed such that the trend of events up to 10pm could be brought into perspective and which would then allow the statements of the two women, witnesses 31 and 27, to be better tested and appreciated.
It was said that taking the evidence of the various witnesses by and large, it seemed conclusive that Ernest Melville had left the Palace Bar at about 9pm or just after and had proceeded to the Full Moon which was only two or three minutes’ walk away. It was said that the stated times of his departure from the Palace Bar and his arrival at the Full Moon were sufficiently elastic however for him to have spent some few minutes elsewhere in the interim and it was noted that it was that factor that needed consideration in relation to his companion at the Palace Bar with whom he left there. It was added that whoever that man was, and that one had to have regards to the discrepancies between witnesses, he had not been traced, despite enquiries and press appeals.
The police report stated that it was certainly not witness 12 because he had visited there since and was not identified. The police report further noted that although it had been suggested that that there might have been two men in the Palace Bar, they thought that that was unlikely and that they were of the opinion that the stranger in the Palace Bar did not accompany Ernest Melville to the Full Moon and that the two men had parted soon after they left that public house. The police report stated that bearing in mind the general description of that stranger and the alternative description furnished by the woman that had entered the Palace Bar with her sister at 9pm that no description adequately fitted anyone that had been seen entering the Full Moon.
It was further added that as to the two men that had been seen with Ernest Melville by his cousin and witness 14 proceeding from the direction of the Palace Bar to the Full Moon, that one might conjecture that they were local habitues also proceeding from one public house to another, as was Ernest Melville, and that they had met up with one another and that the fact that they had not come forward and said so was not so surprising in view of the anonymity complex of so many of the local people in the case.
The police report went on to state that certainly, if one was to accept the general evidence from the Full Moon, Ernest Melville did not arrive there with two men and that it was open to much doubt as to whether he arrived there in company at all. However, the police report noted that it was on that point that they had nothing conclusive and as such had to preserve an open mind, but said that it did seem as though Ernest Melville had had a particular reason for going into the Singing Room, whether direct, or after a short stay in the bar, as the police stated that their information showed that Ernest Melville usually spent his time in the Men's Bar and would only go into the Singing Room to play the piano when asked to.
It was added that what exactly happened in the Singing Room apropos Ernest Melville there was no clear picture as the various witnesses were not only inconsistent with each other, but in many cases were in direct opposition. The police report stated that it was regrettable that a definite and reliable line of evidence was not available to them, although noted that it may well have been that one or other of the persons who had made statements had given them the precise facts, but that they were not able to recognise as such because of the alternative statements. As such, the police report stated that the only means of assessment, in the absence of corroboration, was in respect of the witnesses themselves, and added that that was very much a matter of opinion and that it necessarily followed that the acceptance of any particular evidence should be treated with reserve.
It was noted that several men had been referred to by one person or another as strangers, but had been identified, but that they did not altogether exhaust the anonymous personalities who had been described to them. The report stated that one probable explanation of that was that the witnesses at the time had no particular reason to notice others very closely and so in their recollections of persons unknown to them they had been able to give only limited, and possibly speculative, details.
Additionally, it was noted that the general degree of intelligence along the witnesses was rather low, and that it needed to also be remembered that by 9.30pm to 10pm, on a Friday night, pay night, that a good deal of drink had been consumed.
The police report went on to state that they had already dealt with all the persons known to have been in the Full Moon Singing Room at some time during the evening of 21 January 1949, but went on to state that the report would move on to concentrate upon those known to have been there whilst Ernest Melville was there between 9.15pm and 10pm, with a view to the evidence linking him with an unknown individual, or for that matter, a known one.
The report went on to state that so far as they were aware, the following persons fell into that aforesaid category:
The report started off stating tat the value of witnesses 7 and 8, the men recently released from prison, was negligible. It was also stated that the evidence of witness 4 and 3 did little more than to admit the presence of Ernest Melville and to negate the existence of a stranger, so far as they noticed or were prepared to say. It was then noted that both the licensee and witness 10 both spoke of a stranger who was at one time, at least, positioned at a point on the Men's Bar side of the service window but who according to the licensee was soon sitting on the arm of Ernest Melville's chair with his arm wrapped around the back of it.
The police report compared the licensee's description of the stranger with that of witness 10's.
Witness 10: about 57.
Licensee: About 5ft 6in.
Witness 10: unknown.
Licensee: Fair, pinky cheeks..
Witness 10: Not observed.
Licensee: Clean shaven.
Witness 10: Roundish and clean shaven.
Licensee: Fair, inclined to sandy.
Witness 10: Lightish, parted on side brushed back off forehead (not greased).
Licensee: Well built.
Witness 10: Well built.
Licensee: Raincoat, greyish with belt (no epaulettes). No hat.
Witness 10: Raincoat, lightish fawn (not officer's type). No hat.
However, the police report stated that in the matter of both women, they could not be relied upon too much as when they were tested in relation to other personalities, they were both wrong and were inclined to overstate, particularly witness 10.
The police report stated that bearing in mind that both of the women spoke of first seeing Ernest Melville with the stranger around about 9.15pm and of seeing the stranger there after that almost to the point of closing time, 10pm, and having regard to the licensee seeing both men coming from the toilet together, and of witness 10 seeing only Ernest Melville going to the toilet, they said that their attention was directed to see what the other witnesses said.
The police report noted that witness 6 said that he had seen Ernest Melville come into the Singing Room from the bar with the stranger between 9.10pm and 9.20pm, although in his original statement he had said between 8.30pm and 9pm, and that they had then stood by the counter or service window there, near a table which the police report stated put them at a spot that was consistent with the statement of the licensee and witness 10. Witness 6 said that at about 9.35pm Ernest Melville went over to the piano and sat down and started to play during which his companion remained standing. The report noted that there again there was a close relationship between his evidence and that of the two previous women, covering the period from Ernest Melville's entry into the Singing Room until nearly closing time. Witness 6's description was then reiterated:
It was noted that there was a distinct difference, of course, in the matter of hair colouring and that he had been unable to describe the man's face and noted that as with the two previous women, that he had said that he would be most unlikely to be able to identify the man again.
The police report noted that witness 1 struck them, as did witnesses 6 and 10, as being one of the more intelligent of the Full Moon witnesses, and noted that he had expressed himself as being confident that he would be able to identify the stranger that he saw again. However, it was noted that the description that he had given was largely different to that given by witnesses 6, 10 and the licensee, although his evidence otherwise fell into line with theirs. The police stated that when they re-interviewed witness 1 that he put the time of Ernest Melville's entry as between 8.30pm and 9pm, having originally said that it was about 8.30pm and re-affirmed that having seen the stranger follow Ernest Melville into the Singing Room that he thereafter stood by Ernest Melville and only left him when he visited the toilet, but said that he did not see Ernest Melville go to the toilet.
It was observed that as with the licensee, witness 1 also saw the stranger buy Ernest Melville a drink, but that on re-interview, he said that he did not know who paid for the beer. He finished by saying that he had left the Full Moon with witness's 6 and 2 and that when he did Ernest Melville and his companion were still there.
The two descriptions that he gave of the stranger were:
Originally: About 35.
Originally: 5ft 10in.
Subsequently: 5ft 10in.
Originally: Prominent chin, clean shaven.
Subsequently: Prominent chin, clean shaven.
Originally: Brownish and patchy as if going bald.
Subsequently: Between sandy and ginger, thin and high off forehead, not greased.
Originally: Raincoat, belted, dirty greenish colour. Collar and tie. No hat.
Subsequently: Raincoat, belted, fawny coloured. Collar and tie. No hat.
The police report stated that for reasons foretold it was not expected that the witnesses could give detailed and reconcilable descriptions, but that the object of classifying them were more to test the credibility of individual witnesses and if possible to pinpoint a specific person in relation to the synonymity of surrounding facts.
The report noted that so far they had dealt with four persons who were in substantial agreement, and that any disparities between them could logically be due to the fact that each was concerned with his or her own affairs and that, in not having any particular reason to closely observe them, could not for one moment be expected to synchronise their attention upon Ernest Melville or his companion. As such, it was noted that any person who momentarily spoke to Ernest Melville, as for example as one man allegedly did, might easily pass unnoticed.
However, it was considered remarkable that none of the four witnesses whose evidence having first been reviewed, remembered having seen witness 12 speaking to Ernest Melville. The report stated that the only feasible explanation lay in the probability that as he did so, 'time' was called and that Ernest Melville had put down the lid of the piano, by which time the others had left. However, it was further noted that all four witnesses had the opportunity of seeing witness 12 later, but none of them other than the licensee recalled seeing him there.
However, it was noted that witness 5 described the man that he had associated as being with Ernest Melville as being quite unlike the description furnished by the other four witnesses, describing him as follows:
It was noted that witness 5 added that the man that he had seen was not witness 12, but it was recalled when witness 5 made his original statement he had said that Ernest Melville and the man had been in conversation when they had entered the bar between 7pm and 8pm but that when he was re-interviewed he had said that they were not conversing and even added that they might not have been together at all. It was additionally noted that when he was re-interviewed, he remembered having spent the last quarter of an hour in the Singing Room but had not seen Ernest Melville, and as such, in view of his obvious inaccuracies, the police said that they thought that his evidence could be discarded.
When the report went on to consider the statement of witness 11, it first noted that he had spoken of two strangers, one of whom had been sitting behind Ernest Melville as he played the piano who was considered to no doubt have been witness 8. Although he identified the stranger later as witness 12, it was observed that the plan of the room (Plan D in evidence) confirmed that it was in fact witness 8. The other stranger who had been seen sitting in the corner by witness 20 was however not identified and he gave the following description of him:
The police report reiterated that they did not place much reliance on witness 11, as not only had he failed to distinguish between witness 12 and 8, he had named several people as still being in the Singing Room when he had left at 9.50pm but who in fact had left much earlier.
Witness 2 spoke of a man who he subsequently identified as witness 12, saying that he and Ernest Melville had both entered the Singing Room sometime after 8pm and that they had sat down on the far side drinking. He had said that they were together for the whole of the evening and that when Ernest Melville had played the piano the other man had stood beside him. He had then said that at closing time he had seen them both by the glass entrance door to the bar and that he recollected that he had seen the man in the Full Moon a week or two before. When he was re-interviewed he identified the photograph of witness 8 as the man that he had seen, but it was stated that it was obvious that it could not have been witness 8 who had been in the Full Moon one or two weeks earlier as he had only just been released from prison. It was further noted that although witness 6 had said that witness 2 had been drunk when he had left the public house on 21 January 1949 that it was noted that the description that witness 2 gave of the man, as detailed below, certainly did not convey that impression:
It was additionally noted that it would be appreciated from the contents of the relevant statements and Plan D, that witness's 1, 6, 2 and 5 were together all the time that they were in the Full Moon with the proviso that witness 5 had spent some considerable time playing darts in the Men's Bar. It was also noted that each of them spoke of witnessing Ernest Melville entering the Singing Room with the stranger they referred to with witness 5 going so far as to say that he saw them enter the public house together. However, it was noted that their descriptions bore little, if any general relationship. It was noted that those furnished by witness's 5 and 2 were practically identical with one another, as also were both men in accord that Ernest Melville had come into the public house a long time before he actually did. Additionally, the stranger referred to by witness 2 and identified by him as witness 12 could not have come in with Ernest Melville and been with him all the time after that, if witness 30 was to be believed.
It was finally noted that witness 9 spoke to seeing a stranger who had sat down in a corner quite close to where Ernest Melville had sat down when he had finished playing the piano, and who she described as follows:
Originally: About 42.
Originally: Thick set.
Originally: Not given.
Later still: Ruddy complexion and a smooth face
Originally: Round, clean shaven.
Originally: Light brown suit and green shirt.
Subsequently: Light brown suit and green shirt, trilby hat.
She had also said that there had only been two or three other people in the room as it was close to ten o'clock, but that she did not know who they were.
The report noted that with the exception of witness's 11 and 9, who both spoke of the stranger being of 40 years of age or more who had sat in the far corner of the room, all those descriptions furnished by the other witnesses were in some agreement, with the strangers age generalised around 30 to 35 and his height being 5ft 6in to 5ft 10in tall and that apart from witness 5, they had all said that he had been wearing a belted raincoat. It was noted that there was however more disagreement in other particulars, eg face, hair and build. It was said also that they had all spoken of him being a stranger to the Full Moon and of him having been there from the time of Ernest Melville's arrival until closing time with witness 2 going further to say that they went out together.
It was additionally noted that of the other person in the bars that had had occasion to notice the stranger, the evidence as to his general description and movements was in keeping with that emanating from the Singing Room witnesses, even in the matter of time.
As such, the police report stated that upon reviewing the known evidence up until closing time that it was a propitious stage to introduce the statements of the two women, witness's 31 and 27 who said that they had seen Ernest Melville after he had left the Full Moon at 10pm on 21 January 1949.
It was noted that witness 31 said that she saw Ernest Melville enter the Full Moon at 8.20pm with a stranger with the following description:
She said that Ernest Melville spoke to her and that she asked him to have a drink but said that he pointed to his friend at which point she observed that she did not know him and that they then both entered the toilet.
She said that she later heard the piano being played and knew that it was Ernest Melville playing and that about 9.55pm the licensee called 'time' and that she went to the front door for a breather. She said that she then noticed four men standing on the pavement by the window of the public house and said that one of them said 'Look out, there's Witness 31 on the doorstep'. She said that she didn't know the men and said that she was just going to see who they were when Ernest Melville came out of the Full Moon. She said that when he came out the four men stepped back into Bob Davies' shop doorway which was next to the Full Moon public house and that Ernest Melville then walked quickly across the road towards Croft Street and that she then returned to the bar.
Witness 31 said that she thought no more about the matter and went with her friend to her home in Llangyfelach Street to collect some money that her friend owed her and then went home.
It was additionally noted that in witness 31's statement that she referred to an unknown man who, after the murder was discovered the following day, made a remark suggestive of the victim's identity at a time when nobody else knew, but that for reasons mentioned elsewhere, no significance was attached to that as the matter had already very quickly gained currency in the locality.
The police said tat when they re-interviewed witness 31 who reiterated her story, she added that as Ernest Melville went to cross the road from the Full Moon that a bus was coming along and that she had warned him of its approach and that he had dodged back from it. She also averred that he had been alone and that no other person had been in the vicinity except for the four men that she had earlier referred to, who she could only describe as two having worn macks and the other two being shorter and dressed in suits.
It was noted that witness 31 also later had the opportunity of seeing witness 12 and had said emphatically that he was not the man that she had seen enter the Full Moon in Ernest Melville's company.
It was noted that witness 31 was a garrulous woman, of imagination in some directions, who was quite shrewd and who had stuck to her story from the inception of the inquiry. However, it was noted that its credibility had to be weighed against the evidence of witness 27 who gave a different account.
Witness 27 was interviewed by the police within two hours of the discovery of Ernest Melville's body and her statement was written down and completed by 4.40pm the same day. Her interview had been requested after witness 31 intimated that she knew who had committed the murder.
It was noted that it was a fact that when Ernest Melville failed to return home on the night of 21 January 1949 that he was reported missing to the police by his brother-in-law whilst his father made personal visits to the Full Moon and to witness 23's house in an effort to trace him. The police report noted that when the women the following day met at the Full Moon and began to gossip about the murder, not knowing whose body it was, that it would not be an altogether unreasonable speculation on somebody’s part there to guess that it might have been Ernest Melville, even though his name had not been released at that time aas the victim. It was further noted that witness 27 said that it was witness 31 who made that suggestion after the licensee told them about Ernest Melville's father's earlier call looking for Ernest Melville.
However, be that may, the report stated that witness 27 apparently said, although she was reluctant to admit it, that she had seen Ernest Melville the previous night outside the Full Moon with witness 15 and another man and it was that information that witness 31 intimated to the police which then caused them to interview witness 27.
In her statement she said that at about 9pm on 21 January 1949 that she had seen Ernest Melville come into the Full Moon alone and go into the Singing Room where he played the piano. She said that he had a drink and that she saw him talking to two fellows who were about the same size as himself, with one of them being of the same nature, ie fond of men, indicating that that man was witness 15 who lived in Prince of Wales Road. She said that witness 15 was dressed in a navy suit and that the other man had a brown suit. She added that she believed that witness 15 also had a mack.
She said that when the licensee called 'time' that she left the premises with her husband and that they then went to Adrian's Fish shop for chips, which was a little higher up than Croft Street. She said that when they came back down High Street, on the opposite side to the Full Moon that she saw three men arguing outside the Full Moon and that one of them was Ernest Melville and that the other two were those that she had seen earlier in the Full Moon. She said that she could not hear their voices, but said that they were handling each other. She said that when she and her husband got by the old Olive Branch, a bombed site a little lower down, that they crossed over the road and that when she looked back she saw two of the men crossing the road to Croft Street, one of them being Ernest Melville and the other being witness 15. She noted that the time then was about 10.15pm. She concluded her statement by saying that she didn't know the man in the brown suit but that she had seen him before.
The police report stated that the importance of witness 27's statement could not be minimised and that an effort was made to obtain corroboration from her husband, but he said that he had been drunk and saw nothing. It was noted that he was a convicted thief and a vicious type of man and that although a statement was subsequently taken from him that it was worthless.
As such, as a consequence of witness 27's statement, the police concentrated their efforts on witness 15 in the initial stages of the investigation and interrogated him and his step-brothers, witnesses 16 and 17. However, witness 15 was able to provide an irrefutable alibi that was strengthened as time went on.
The police report noted that it was already known that the three brothers had been to the Full Moon twice that evening and that on the second visit, two of them, witness's 16 and 17, had left the third, witness 15 at the Full Moon after which he went to the Lord Nelson public house where he met a friend of his, who was actually the father of the barmaid from the Palace Bar, and then went to the Palace Bar with him where they both remained until 10pm after which they both went to the friend’s house in Prince of Wales Road where they continued drinking until about 11pm after which witness 15 went home. After arriving home he then went back out about 5 minutes later and called at the Greenline Taxi Office in High Street where he ordered a taxi to take him to an address in Pedrog Terrace in Mayhill which was the home of a woman that he had been associating with and shortly after married. He then spent the night with her.
Witness 15's friend was seen and gave a statement and confirmed what witness 15 had said noting that just before they left the Palace Bar that witness 15 bought two flagons of beer which they consumed at his house after which witness 15 left between 11pm and 11.15pm, adding that they had been together constantly from about 8.15pm when they had met in the Lord Nelson. The police report noted that that was not entirely true as they knew that that witness 15 did not leave the Full Moon before 9pm, but noted that they thought that it was a genuine mistake on the friends part.
The friend of witness 15 was a 63-year-old dock labourer and he was known to the chief inspector as a genuine and reliable man and that in that light the police concluded that he was telling the truth. He explained his friendship with witness 15 due to the latter having courted another of his daughters for some time but said that he had caused the association to cease as witness 15 had suffered from epilepsy.
When the police later interviewed the barmaid from the Palace Bar on that point, she said that when she arrived home from work that night at 10.20pm she had found witness 15 and her father drinking and said that witness 15 left her father at about 10.45pm, but that she spent about 15 minutes with him at the front door and as such, he actually left the house at 11pm. She added that she then saw him walk off towards his own house a little further down the street.
The police said that further enquiries were also made at Greenline Taxis in High Street which revealed that at about 11.30pm a taxi-driver returned to the office from a trip and found a young man waiting to go to Pedrog Terrace in Mayhill and that he took him there but didn't know the number of the house. It was also noted that the description that he gave of his fare fell into general lines with that of witness 15.
Further corroboration of witness 15's presence at the Palace Br was also provided by other witnesses including the licensee who affirmed that witness 15 bought two flagons of beer. His presence was further confirmed by another man that had been in the Palace Bar who said that he drank with him and left at about 9.59pm. Witness 15 was also seen by a passing couple, witnesses 33 and 34, who saw him outside the Palace Bar on their way home, who said that they spoke to them and that witness 15 kiss the wife. It was noted that the couple, witnesses 33 and 34 had also been in the Full Moon earlier that night and had both said that they had seen Ernest Melville still in the Singing Room at 10.05pm. As such, the police report stated that the fact that witness 15 was seen outside the Palace Bar at 10.15pm precluded any association between him and Ernest Melville and that the evidence of the other witnesses went on to accentuate that alibi, and that in those circumstances that witness 15 had to be ruled out as being concerned in Ernest Melville's death. It was added that there was also no known motive and that the only evidence against him was that of witness 27.
The police stated that they interviewed witness 27 twice but that she stuck with her story although made one or two variations and considerably supplemented it. In her second statement she said that she entered the Full Moon between 8.15pm and 8.20pm on 21 January 1949 after having spent about an hour at another public house and remained in the Men's Bar until 9.55pm. She said that she was joined by her husband at 9.15pm and saw Ernest Melville come into the Men's Bar between 8.50pm and 8.55pm on his own and go through to the Singing Room. She said that she saw him playing the piano and remembered witness 23 taking him a 'Ben Truman'. She said that at about 9.10pm she saw a man come through the bar opposite to where she was, which would have been the Women's Bar or the left-hand bar and order a pint as he was going through the bar which the licensee served him. She said that after a time it went quiet and that the licensee put on a record and that she next noticed Ernest Melville and the man come out of the toilet and go into the Singing Room. She said that Ernest Melville then played the piano and that the man sat in an armchair next to the piano in the corner of the room. She noted that the man spoke to Ernest Melville, as well as one or two others, including witness 9.
She then went on to reiterate her first statement stating that she and her husband then went off to the fish shop, but omitted to say that she didn't look back and omitted to say that she had seen Ernest Melville and witness 15 crossing the road. The police report noted that in fact she specifically said that she did not see him cross High Street.
The police report stated that in testing witness 27 on the question of the identity of Ernest Melville, she said that she had known him for about two years from the Full Moon and from picnics. She added that she had known witness 15 for many years and said that he had been in the Singing Room when she had got to the Full Moon and sitting down alone opposite three or four men. She said that he had then been wearing a navy suit but that when she had later seen him outside that he had been wearing a mack with no hat. When she described the third man that she had seen outside, she said that she had seen him in the Full Moon about a fortnight before 21 January 1949 and described him as being aged between 37 and 38, about the same height as Ernest Melville and witness 15, about 5ft 5in tall, clean shaven, medium build, hair between colours, dressed in a brown suit, wearing a mackintosh and no hat.
The police report noted that witness 27's second statement amplified her first statement although she denied seeing Ernest Melville cross the road from the Full Moon with witness 15 and also did not associate the three men in the Singing Room. However, she remained positive that she had seen the men outside the public house at 10.15pm and it as verified by the police that she hand her husband did pass there at about that time by the two people who were also witnesses from the earlier events at the Palace Bar who said that they passed 'Good night' with them as they passed, but said that the time was nearer 10.05pm.
As such, the police stated that with a view to still further putting her story to the test, she was again interviewed on 9 April 1949 and notes of the interview were recorded. In the first place she had said that Ernest Melville would only play the piano if coaxed and that when he went straight through to the Singing Room on 21 January 1949 that she was surprised. She said that he used to come in at different times on Fridays and Saturdays and mostly stayed in the Men's Bar in the company of himself, and witnesses 23, 32 and another woman and added that he was always pleasant and never spoke about any friends or enemies.
She said that on the evening of 21 January 1949 that she had been standing at the bar facing the door and that she was certain that Ernest Melville came in alone and that he had gone straight into the Singing Room, which was a thing that she had never seen him do before. She added that about five minutes later she saw a man come through the bar into the Singing Room, but said that she was unable to say whether he came in from the street or from some place in the bar, stating that at that time she had been stood talking to witness 23 and her sister, stating that at that time witness 32 was in their company.
However, she admitted that by that time she had had six pints of mild beer, but said that she was quite sober. She again recalled witness 23 taking Ernest Melville a 'Ben Truman' and said that she herself then went through to the toilet and saw Ernest Melville at the piano but said that she didn't notice whether the stranger was there. She added that when she had been to the toilet earlier at about 8.30pm she had noticed witness 15 sitting down with two or three others on the bench by the dartboard but that when she returned they had gone. She said that at that time Ernest Melville was not there, which the police noted was at variance with her first statement and that when that was pointed out to her she agreed that it was wrong and said that witness 15 had gone before Ernest Melville had arrived. However, she reaffirmed that the stranger had been sat in the corner and that he had spoken to several people, including witness 9.
She then said that her husband was drunk and that they left before closing time and that when they arrived at the fish shop she noticed that the time by a watch that was on a shelf was 9.50pm. It was noted that the clock in the Men's Bar in the Full Moon was electric and that it was not working. She said that she stood in a queue for about ten minutes and that they then went down High Street and saw a woman walking up alone and then noticed that the door of the Full Moon was closed and that there were a few people talking at the corner of Thomas Row a few yards away. She then asserted again that she saw Ernest Melville, witness 15 and a stranger outside the Full Moon and when the police pointed out to her that it had been proved that witness 15 had been elsewhere at that time she retorted, 'then it must have been his twin brother' and remained unconvinced. She then recalled seeing Ernest Melville cross High Street towards Croft street, but said that it was not witness 15 that she had seen him crossing with but the stranger.
When witness 27 was asked to describe the stranger, she said:
The police report noted that so many of the details of her story were entirely accurate but yet there were inconsistencies, including her mistake about witness 15 talking to Ernest Melville and the stranger in the Singing Room. Next she said that the stranger came through the Women's Bar but then altered it to the Men's Bar and there was also her assertion hat witness 15 had gone off with Ernest Melville towards Croft Street which she then changed to say that Ernest Melville had gone off with the stranger towards Croft Street. The police also noted her averment in her second statement in which she said that she didn't see them cross over the road at all.
The police noted that there was one thing for certain however and that was by the time she had been seen by the sergeant that she had had little or no time to concoct a story or to co-opt other people's and so it was very difficult to not believe that she did see somebody cross High Street whom she had concluded was Ernest Melville with either witness 15 or the stranger. However, the report added that there was also no doubt that by that time she was to some extent influenced by the drink that she had had and that it also had to be remembered that it was dark even though the street lighting was good. The police report also noted that there was some suggestion that her eyesight was also impaired from repeated assaults by her.
She was noted as only having one conviction for assault, but was considered to be a woman of loose morals, by which, along with stealing, she and her husband subsisted. However, the police noted that nevertheless, they were of the opinion that she was trying to be truthful, but thought that in many instances she had been inaccurate and imaginative. For example, the police stated that they could not believe that she had taken so many details of the stranger's appearance in such a brief observations as she had had of him at a time when she had had no particular reason to notice him at all.
The police report noted that as with the contrary evidence concerning the movements of Ernest Melville in the Palace Bar and the Full Moon, the police noted that they met with similar disagreement between witnesses as to what he had done after he left the Full Moon.
The police said that they had witnesses 2 and 24 who said that seen Ernest Melville leaving or preparing to leave with a stranger, witness 31 who said that she had seen him come out on his own and witness 27 who said that she had seen Ernest Melville associating with a stranger and witness 15.
The police report noted in the early stages that some of the evidence indicated a relationship between the events of 20 and 21 January 1949 regarding Ernest Melville's movements after 10pm on 20 January and after 10pm on 21 January.
It was noted that Ernest Melville had been seen between 10.30pm and 10.45pm on 20 January 1949 by a number of witnesses in High Street talking to two Merchant Navy officers as well as to a civilian.
The report added that as a consequence of information that the local CID received from an informant, two men were contacted and made statements. They were two local housebreakers and according to them, they had been walking up High Street at about 10.40pm on 21 January 1949 and when they had passed Watts' butcher's shop they had seen Ernest Melville walking down in the company of two men in Merchant Navy uniform, with a peak cap and said that they heard Ernest Melville say 'Good night' to them. It was noted that that was about the same time that he had been seen on the preceding night, and moreover, it was in the same area, near Watts' shop, which was only a matter of yards from Richards' shop.
The police report noted that it was quite evident that the two shopbreakers were prepared to help them and stated that whether or not their statements were accepted as true, that it was considered with certainty that they had believed in the accuracy of their statements and had not had the slightest intention of misleading the police. They had recalled their own activities on the evenings of 20 and 21 January 1949 with a view to ensuring that they had seen Ernest Melville on the later date and that the possibility that their sighting from the day before was precluded. It was further noted that their accounts were also corroborated by a number of other witnesses precisely, with one exception, that being their assertion that they had travelled up High Street by bus on 20 January and that they had walked up on 21 January 1949.
As such, it was stated that their evidence seemed to discount any significant contact with the Full Moon and to promote the the two Merchant Navy officers as probable suspects for the murder.
This scenario was strengthened when similar evidence was furnished by a man who averred to having seen Ernest Melville talking to the two Merchant Navy officers in the doorway of Richards' wool shop at 10.35pm on 21 January 1949.
The man was a young man of 20 who had been to the pictures with his fiancee and after having put her on the bus had decided to walk home and had been in the process of doing that when he saw Ernest Melville with the two men. He also knew Ernest Melville by sight and had spoken to him on one occasion, and so it was said that there was no possible question of mistaken identity.
However, it was said that like the two housebreakers, he was required to account for his movements on 20 January to ensure that he had not confused the two days. It was noted that in his first statement he had thought that he had seen Ernest Melville on 22 January 1949, but that when he had found out that Ernest Melville was dead by then, he varied the date to either 20 or 21 January and then settled on 21 January 1949 as being the date that he saw him. However, it was noted that he was working from memory alone as his routine on the three days had been exactly the same.
However, the three men's stories gained credibility after the proprietor of a mobile canteen opposite the GWR Station in High Street and his assistant said that two young Merchant Navy officers had visited their canteen late on the night of 21 January 1949 after having come down High Street from the direction of the murder. However, the canteen proprietor also expressed some doubt as to the night that he had seen the two men, but later settled positively on 21 January on the grounds that his assistant only worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday and that his wife assisted him on other days.
He said that the time that he saw the two Merchant Navy officers was at about 11.30pm and said that after visiting his mobile canteen that they continued to walk down the High Street in the direction of the docks.
However, his assistant could only say that that she had served the two men at some time between 10.30pm and midnight.
They both described the two men by their seeming appearance of officer class.
The police report stated that the facts gave strong grounds for suspecting the two unknown Merchant Navy men, noting that the surrounding circumstances amplified that suspicion.
The report stated that in the first place it was remembered that Ernest Melville had left the Full Moon a little earlier than usual and that that lent colour to the possibility that he had arranged to meet the two seamen on the night of 20 January on the following night at the same time and place.
Then there was the presence of the two seamen at the mobile canteen at about 11.30pm which could be reconciled as affording some three quarters of an hour to proceed to the scene of the crime, commit the murder, and to then arrive at the canteen.
It was further noted that the circumstances of the crime itself were not at all inconsistent with two young seamen having 'beaten up' Ernest Melville without intending to kill him, in a way characteristic of assaults by the offended upon the unnatural importuner.
The police report stated that there was a certain amount of scepticism about all of that, however, it was felt by the police that, without neglecting the various other angles to the investigation, that it became important to trace the two seamen and stated that in that direction a tremendous amount of work was put in by the investigating officers, but without success.
It was further noted that by reason of evidence later received by the police, that their reserved opinion that the alleged events of 20 and 21 January concerning Ernest Melville and the two seamen pertained only to the night of 20 January 1949 with the witnesses regarding the sightings of 21 January 1949 being wrong received a little more confirmation.
However, the police report detailed the enquiries that were made to trace the identity of the Merchant Navy officers.
In the first instance the police carried out local enquiries and the press were directed to solicit for all possible information regarding Ernest Melville and the two Merchant Navy officers, but nothing was obtained. It was however noted that the fact that the only people that had allegedly seen Ernest Melville after he had left the Full Moon on 21 January 1949 were those who said that they had seen him with two naval officers had to be borne in mind as significant.
The police said that all the ships that had been in the Swansea Docks at the time that would enable members of their crews to be in High Street, Swansea between 10.30pm and 10.45pm on 21 January 1949 were ascertained and listed for reference. The ships affecting the same times on 20 January 1949 were also listed and recorded. It was additionally noted that the first list contained those vessels that were in port on both nights.
Lists of the crews were obtained from the owners or agents and then checked with the shipping Registry at Cardiff and then ultimately with the respective Masters, so as to ensure that no members of the crews during the relevant period were overlooked. However, the report noted that they were only really concerned with those seamen who were more likely to wear any kind of officers uniform and who were no more than 30 years of age.
It was found that most of the vessels in question had left port, some before the discovery of the murder, and it was not until 11 April 1949 that the last of those that had left after the night of 21 January 1949 was vetted, that being the SS Brighton that had left Swansea on 22 January 1949 for Cuba and did not return until 11 April 1949 when she docked at Cardiff.
However, it was later discovered that the routine varied between ships such that apprentices and stewards on some wore uniforms whilst mates and engineer-officers on others did not, and hence it became necessary for whole crews to be scrutinised to ensure that no potential suspect was missed.
Some ships never returned to Swansea or any other local port and so in some cases interrogations were carried out by other forces, on request, with one instance necessitating the dispatch of police to Liverpool to intercept a large vessel, the SS Paparoa, that had left Swansea on a six-month trip to New Zealand, and which had a large number of young officers and the crew.
In some cases it was found that members of crews had been paid off and had not re-signed, and so there again the police had to use other forces to carry out individual interviews.
With the exception of a coloured seaman, no member of any of the crews that they had vetted had disappeared, and apart from two seaman from the SS Tennyson, who were away at sea again, every man, eligible by age and the possession of uniform, who had been in Swansea on the late evening of 21 January 1949 was interrogated and a statement obtained from them.
Further statements were also taken from other members of crew in assisting with matters of alibis and the allocation of uniforms.
The net result of all of that was that nobody was found who admitted knowing or speaking to a man of Ernest Melville's description on either 20 or 21 January 1949. However, it was noted that at the time of writing the report, the SS Clytoneous was still at sea and that two other seamen had also gone off to sea on the SS Tennyson before they could be interviewed.
It was further noted that the importance of tracing vessels that left before the evening of 21 January 1949 was of lesser importance to that those that had been in port on 21 January, but that it was considered that it would have been more satisfying to have traced the two seamen who were seen to speak to Ernest Melville on 20 January 1949 to develop the fuller picture.
The police report noted that 'As the marine aspect of this investigation is to a great extent self-contained and is rather voluminous it has been considered as conducive to simplicity and clarity to file all statements and relative data under a separate index, which is numbered Index 2. I do not think any good purpose would be served here in attempting to analyse these various statements with a view to promoting discrepancies and so arranging for re-interrogations of specific individuals, although this has been done with the crews of several ships eg Tennyson and Dexterous, because a consensus of opinion has been arrived at by the investigating officers that Ernest Melville was murdered before 10.30pm on 21 January, and that the evidence concerning Ernest Melville and the two Merchant Navy officers pertains to the 20 January and not the 21. This was always a conjecture, despite the possibility of Ernest Melville meeting them on two successive nights'.
The police report then went on to provide the reasons for that conclusion:
The police report went on to state that other evidence later came to light that also, if accepted, tended to discount the story of Ernest Melville and the two seamen. It further stated that if it were to be believed that Ernest Melville had died before 10.30pm, then any further searches for the two merchant navy officers would be unnecessary even if considerable satisfaction could be achieved in tracing them.
The police report noted that before leaving the Merchant Navy angle, that inquiries were made to trace Royal Navy personnel who had passed through Swansea during the vital period to which end records of Royal Navy railway passenger warrants were examined with 28 possibles identified but without success although it was noted that four of them were yet to be interviewed as they were away at sea on the HMS Vanguard.
It was also noted that a man made a statement to the effect that he had been driving his car at about 11.05pm and had past the bombed site between Croft Street and Howell Street and had seen a sailor dressed in full naval rating uniform with a cap standing in the middle of the road beckoning him to stop, which he didn’t. The police report however said that it was thought that the naval rating had come off one of the last trains at Swansea which was due at 10.46pm. The man’s statement was further confirmed after another man came forward to say that he had seen a sailor of similar appearance 'thumbing a lift' in High Street, Swansea between Mariner Street and Ebenezer Street, which was practically opposite the railway station, at about 11.05pm. Appeals were made for the sailor seen 'thumbing a lift' in the newpaspers on Thursday 3 February 1949. However, the police report stated that although that man was not identified, they were satisfied that the facts excluded him from suspicion.
The police said that they also made efforts to trace other Merchant Navy officers who might have passed through Swansea in uniform for any other reason, for example, whilst going home by train, but with no success.
It was also determined that there were a large number of students at the Swansea Wireless College, of which 15 possessed naval uniforms, and enquiries were made there, but without success.
YMCA and seamen's hostels were also checked without success.
The police report then went on to deal with the evidence that they proposed showed that Ernest Melville had actually met his death before 10.30pm.
It was noted that during the house to house enquiries that took place after the murder, that three persons spoke of hearing unusual noises.
The first woman lived immediately opposite the scene of the murder and said that at about 1am she distinctly heard the sound of heavy footsteps treading on the corrugated sheeting and within a minute of so she head the sound of what appeared to be stones being thrown on the sheeting. She said that there were two plain thuds and that everything then went silent. She added that several other occasions she had seen men and women walking over the corrugated sheeting, usually around 10.30pm, but never so late as 1am. However, she said that she placed no significance on the noises until she heard about the murder.
The second woman said that at about 11.30pm she heard a howling coming from the lower part of the street, towards the murder spot. She said that it was the sound of a human being and afterwards realised that it was a man's voice. When she was subsequently interviewed, she said that it was a long-drawn-out howl, 'like a person when he is falling down a cliff' and that it was horrible and that she sat up in bed frightened. She said that at the time she had been in bed reading and had reached over to check the alarm clock for the morning. It was noted that the woman was the sister of a man whose name was found in Ernest Melville's pocket and she said that she later discussed Ernest Melville's murder with him and their mother.
The third woman, who he police report states provided what appeared to be the most significant piece of evidence, said that at about 10.30pm on 21 January 1949 that she had gone from her home at 20 Croft Street to her mother's house at 7 Croft Street and that as she was passing the spot where Ernest Melville was later found murdered, she heard the sound of galvanised sheets shaking. She said that she didn't look in the direction of the sound but carried on to her mother's house which was a few yards further on. She said that she heard no other sounds, human or otherwise and said that she got the impression that there was someone near the spot and that the galvanised sheeting was being disturbed. She noted that there was nobody else in the street at the time other than herself as far as she could see.
When the police interviewed the third woman, they noted that her statement conveyed nothing of a significant character, however, the police said that they received more information on 1 April 1949 which indicated that she knew more than she had indicated and the police went to see her again on 1 April 1949.
The police noted that she was obviously displeased to see them when they called and said that she didn't think that she would be troubled again and repeated what she had said the first time. However, when the police asked her whether she knew any more, with some reserve, she said that when she had heard the galvanised sheeting being disturbed she had also heard a strange noise like a groan or a moan, noting that she had never heard anything like it before and that it frightened her and that she then ran off to her mother’s house an told her sister. She agreed that she had not told the police of that before and when asked why, she said that she had not wanted to become involved in the matter and had not wanted to say anything in the first place. She went on to desire the police to also not trouble her about it again. The police went back later that afternoon and took a statement from her.
It was found that after she had found out about Ernest Melville's murder she had given her statement to the police, without mentioning the groaning, and that on 23 January she had been at her mother's house and had said, 'You know that noise I told you about, I am sure it sounded like a groan'. It was heard that her sister then told her to tell the police, but that she had replied saying that she had already made a statement. She said that it was definitely after the discovery of Ernest Melville's body that she had come to the conclusion that what she had heard was a moan or a groan.
The police said that they interviewed most of her family all of whom supported her statement and the police determined that she used to make the trip to her mother's house each night at about 10.30pm, but had stopped doing so after the murder. The police described the woman as striking them as being quite truthful and unimaginative and said that when they questioned her about what she had heard she made no attend to amplify on what she had already said and appeared to resent the implication that what she was saying was not true.
The police noted that despite the woman’s reticence, they were sure that she was telling the truth and that her story was reliable and noted that whatever the true interpretation of her story was, that the situation served as a further example of the lack of co-operation that the police experienced with the local inhabitants, noting that there was an entire family possessing knowledge that was patently of importance and that despite original interviews and later house-to-house routine visits, had never been disclosed. The police report added that they felt convinced that there were others who had also heard or seen something but had also failed to say so.
The police report added that between 10pm and 10.30pm on 21 January 1949 that many people had passed through Croft Street, including some who had made statements, but that the woman and her family and others all said that they literally all saw nothing, not even ordinary passengers like themselves.
However, it was noted that there were two exceptions, that being two women, mother and daughter, who lived some considerable distance away in the Mayhill district who said that they had been out at the Lower Lamb public house at the corner of Croft Street and High Street and had left there soon after 10pm and then walked up Croft Street towards North Hill Road. They said that as they came abreast of the bank before reaching the Croft Street entrance to Dyfatty Park, they witnessed an incident involving two men which, the police report called for particular attention.
They were both interviewed three times. The mother stated that as she and her daughter had walked up Croft Street at about 10.10pm that she saw two men walking about 5 to 10 yards ahead of them in the same direction and said that the shorter of the two men got up on the grass bank on the left side of Croft Street near the entrance to Dyfatty Park and that the other man stood at the foot of the bank close to the park fence and shouted 'Hey, come down', and said that the shorter man replied, 'I'm not there yet'. She said that she had assumed that the men had gone to urinate.
The mother said that she assumed that it was about 10.10pm when she saw the two men as they had left the public house at about 10.05pm.
She was quite vague about their description, and apart from speculating that the taller of the two men was somewhere about 40 years of age and about 5ft 7in in height, she thought that he had been wearing a mackintosh and had had a cap on. It was noted that at the time there was a streetlamp on and it was not raining and there was nobody else about.
She added that she had known Ernest Melville by sight for many years and had met him on a picnic about a year earlier and had heard him speak with a girlish voice and for the latter reason said that she didn't think that the shorter of the two men had been Ernest Melville, although she said that they had both spoken with local accents.
She said that she and her daughter continued to walk up Croft Street and that they then called on another daughter at 16 Croft Street and waited there until about 10.30pm whilst a son-in-law went out and fetched a taxi to take them home.
The daughter, who was described as an intelligent young woman who was the wife of a RAF officer and served in the WRAF during the war estimated that she and her mother had left the Lower Lamb at about 10.07pm. She said that she didn't notice either of the two men until she was abreast of the grass bank when she saw a man standing at the foot of the bank facing Dyfatty School. She said that she heard him say, 'Hey, come on', and then heard a voice from somewhere up the bank answer, 'I haven’t got there yet'. She said that she assumed that the man that was standing at the foot of the bank had been waiting for the other man who had gone to urinate.
The police stated that both women were taken back to Croft Street and asked to point out exactly where they had seen the men and both indicated a spot at the junction of the grass verge and the park fencing as where the tall man had stood and indicated an indefinite point in the background, towards the scene of the crime, as to where the second man had been.
However, the daughter was noted as having seemed to have taken some notice of the taller man and described him as follows:
She added that it was very doubtful that she would recognise him again. She added that they both spoke with local accents and that the tall man had called the other man by his name but that she could not remember it. She added that she had also had the inexplicable feeling that there had been more than one man on the bank and that there was a conversation. She noted that she had never known Ernest Melville and so could not say if he was one of the men that had been there.
The daughter mentioned her brother-in-law getting the taxi, but added that it didn't arrive until just after 11pm and said that as they got into it it just started to rain.
The police report stated that the evidence of the mother and daughter on its own was of little consequence, but when taken in conjunction with the evidence of witnesses 27 and 31 it assumed some relative importance. It was further noted that whatever may have been the object of the two men who were seen, that it was considered by the investigating officers as most unlikely that they went to urinate, for the sole reason that there were plenty of other more immediate and convenient places and that it was quite unnecessary at least for one man to have disappeared into the background for such purpose. However, it was noted that that was purely a matter of opinion, but if one also regarded their conversation, it seemed to denote some other object, particularly as the mother said that they could not have been there very long.
It was also noted that the matter of the exact words that the man had used might have varied, as a statement taken from a third woman that had been with the couple up until 9.55pm on the night stated that when she met the daughter a few days later and the daughter related what had happened to her, she said that the daughter told her that the man had said, 'Hurry up' and that the other man had replied, 'All right, wait a minute, I haven’t got it in yet'. However, when the police questioned the daughter on that matter, she averred that what she had initially told the police was correct. The police stated that they had to accept what the daughter had said as correct and considered that the variation that she had told her friend might have been just an attempt to impress her.
The police report stated that excluding the Merchant Navy officers angle, all the circumstantial evidence pointed to Ernest Melville having disappeared from view before 10.15pm and that despite the most persistent local inquiries by all the officers engaged in the investigation, nobody was found who could say that they had seen Ernest Melville after that time.
It was noted that Ernest Melville was not a man who used to go straight home after leaving the public houses at 10pm an on his Friday and Saturday jaunts he was often seen by many people hanging around shop doorways in the upper part of the High Street at 11pm and after.
It was noted that whatever might have been his usual practices, it seemed evident that he had departed from them on the night of 21 January 1949, because apart from his direct entry into the Singing Room and not remaining behind at closing time he made a bee-line for Croft Street, the place where he was found and he could only have done so of his own volition. The police report stated that whether Ernest Melville had arranged to meet somebody there or was influenced by his undoubted alcoholic condition to spontaneously accompany somebody there, was not known, but it was observed that his motive in going there was an unnatural one and brought about his death.
The police report stated that the question of motive was an important factor in the case and one that the investigating officers had reflected on quite a lot. It was said that the peculiar featured of the crime automatically suggested that the assailant or assailants acted out of a sense of revulsion, either at the invitation to participate in homosexuality or following actual indulgence. The police report stated that if the latter explanation was the case then they did not think that for one moment that more than one man was responsible but if the former, then it was equally consistent with one man or more. However, the report went on to consider Ernest Melville's own attitude and to consider whether he would have been likely to have accompanied two men to such a place unless he knew them, in view of his experience of being 'beaten up'. The report noted that that was a complex that he still had and it was noted that after he had not seen an acquaintance for some time, he expressed the fear to his mother that he might have been 'beaten up'. However, the report stated that on the other hand, the drink that he had consumed might have made him a bit irresponsible as some witnesses had spoken of him being whilst under the influence of drink.
It was added that whilst the forensic report suggested that Ernest Melville had been drunk, of the many people that had seen him up to 10pm on the night of his murder, only two or three of them had spoken of his condition and the woman that had spoken to him at 10pm had made no reference to him being drunk. It was further noted that the police enquiries showed generally that Ernest Melville was of a sober disposition and it was open to conjecture to what extent his mind was affected by the four or five pints of beer that he was known to have consumed throughout the whole of the evening on 21 January 1949.
The police report noted that on the assumption that revulsion was the operative instinct behind the crime then it became a matter of speculation, in the absence of evidence, as to the circumstances that led up to that.
The report noted that owing to the peculiarity of the murder, the injury to his private parts and the ripping of his trousers, which occurred in a seaport town, one of the first things done was to discover whether any similar cases were known.
A search of the Criminal Record Office Method Index proved negative, but as the result of circulations in local Crime Information’s, 28 January and Police Gazette, 4 February, it was learned that an identical case had occurred at Barry Dock in 1941. In that case the victim did not die, and the offender was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. However, the convicted man who was a merchant seaman was presumed lost at sea in 1943 when his ship was torpedoed. As such, the police carried out discrete inquiries at Barry Docks but found that nothing evolved to suggest that he was not dead.
It was further considered that the man's techniques, injury to the private parts, ripping of the trousers down the seams, head injuries and then robbery, might have been adapted by one of his fellow seamen on one of the 14 vessels that he had been a crew member on and that such a person might have been in Swansea docks on the night of the murder. The process of identifying all the crewmembers on the 14 vessels that the man had once been a crew member on was described by the police as a colossal task which was painstakingly and tirelessly carried out by two detectives, but which produced no contacts.
It was further noted that although the assault in Barry Docks was the only near identical case that the police could trace, they were by no means isolated cases and that as distinct from the flippant assaults upon the importuner, murderous attacks were made, from time to time upon the unnatural seducer. It was also noted that many of the cases were accompanied by robbery which almost invariably in such instances was the primary object of co-operation.
The report noted that in the case of Ernest Melville, his terrific injuries, the throttling, the grasping of his testicles and the ripping of his trousers were more in keeping with an infuriated person or persons who intended to give him a 'good hiding' and to expose him for what he was. The report noted that if there had been any intention to kill him that it might have been thought that interference with his testicles and trousers were superfluous acts. The report stated that whether or not Ernest Melville was robbed was a moot point because his pockets were not turned out and his clothing generally showed no signs of other interference. Furthermore, he still had his wristlet watch and ring and some loose money. However, his street door key was missing and if his parents were to be believed then he should have had more money on him than when he was found. However, the police said that whatever the explanation for his missing articles, they did not think that robbery was the primary motive for his murder, if even robbery had occurred.
His key was never found, but the police canvassed local children to see if any had found it.
The police stated that on the assumption that Ernest Melville was murdered soon after 10pm, it was thought that the suggestion of urination could be discounted as he had just used the toilet in the Full Moon and it was further noted that it was unnecessary to proceed as far as the cul-de-sac for that purpose as the area generally lent itself as a convenience. The report also noted that any more urgent necessity could also be ruled out as no excretia was found at the spot.
The report also noted that any question of intimidatory methods being imposed on Ernest Melville to get him to go to the place where he was found was also ruled out as the place was far from lonely and that it was the view of the officers that knew Ernest Melville the he would have run away or cried out and would have been seen or heard.
As such, the report stated it appeared that his homosexuality was central to his murder although it stated that whether or not his murder was preceded by any unnatural act could not be said because nothing to suggest that was found and whilst his trousers had been ripped, they were still braced and his fly buttons were closed except for two and one that was missing which was more consistent with them having come undone when his privates were gripped and trousers ripped down from the crotch than anything else. Moreover, his post-mortem failed to find any spermatozoa in his anus or other evidence that could be deemed recent.
However, the report noted that in view of his conduct when he was arrested for gross indecency, it was noted that sexual indulgence could have been obtained without any removal of his clothes, which might have involved him being in a stooping position, a theory which would have accounted for the blood splashes on the walls being within two feet of the ground level and which could have been produced by a violent kick in the face, thus dislodging his false dentures at the same time, and the remainder of his injuries could have been inflicted as initially suggested.
It was also noted that in line with the assailant being alone, it was noted that he appeared to have also acted with uncontrollable fury and struck him with a large piece of stone, striking him far more blows than were necessary than if there had been two people wanting to give him a 'hiding'.
It was also considered that given Ernest Melville's proclivity for importuning young men the possibility was considered that Ernest Melville might have interfered with somebody whose relatives or friends had got together with the object of 'beating up' and had lured him to the scene for that purpose. It was noted firstly that the evidence of witness 31 related to four men that she had seen outside the Full Moon at a few minutes to ten.
It was also noted that Ernest Melville was known to have expressed an interest in taking the 17-year-old son of the licensee of Full Moon public house and that that might have had something to do with things.
Further to that, the police said that they took a statement from a 75-year-old widow who said that on the day of Ernest Melville's funeral she had gone to the Albert Hall Cinema where she had met another old lady coming out who told her that her daughter had previously been waiting for a bus near Croft Street on the night of the murder and had overheard four men talking together and saying that they were 'going to beat him up tonight', but that she didn't know who they were referring to or know the men. The 75-year-old woman said that she didn't know the other woman who told her that and wouldn't recognise her again but said that she had also told her that she had shingles.
As such the police stated that every effort was made to trace the source of the information and the police appealed to the local press in that matter and also local doctors in the search for a woman with shingles, but they were unable to trace her. It was also noted that the 75-year-old woman was also considered mentally feeble.
With regards to Ernest Melville's fears of being beaten up, a friend of his said that she saw him three weeks before Christmas when he told her that his life had been threatened and when the woman asked him by whom, he said, 'quite a gang'. The woman, who was not alone said that she asked him whether he knew any names but said that whilst he said he knew one and had an idea about another, that he would tell her when he next saw her alone. She said that when he then went to walk away, he told her as he did 'If anything happens to me, I don't want you to think it was just an accident. I am telling you, and I am also going to tell a few more so that they'll know if anything happens to me, so that they might speak up for me'.
The woman said that next time that she saw Ernest Melville was on the Wednesday morning of the week that he was murdered but said that he made no reference to the threats or the men that had made them when they spoke.
She also noted that three weeks before he told her of the threats that he had had a black eye.
However, the information was only provided by the woman on 1 March 1949 and only after persistent local enquiries. When she was asked why she had not informed the police of what she knew earlier, she said that she had been a bit frightened and had wanted to be sure of the facts.
However, the police were not able to confirm what the woman had said with the woman that she had been with when Ernest Melville had told her and when she was questioned she said that Ernest Melville and the woman had talked out of her hearing and she had not heard what Ernest Melville had said. However, a girl at a cinema remembered the woman telling her that Ernest Melville had been threatened.
The woman added that Ernest Melville had told her that he was very fond of the son of the licensee at the Full Moon and wanted to take him to the pictures.
The police report noted that the woman's evidence had to be treated with caution, especially in the light of the fact that she did not come forward herself, but yet could not be ignored. The police noted however, that the information put the name on the piece of paper that was found in Ernest Melville's pocket into perspective.
The name on the piece of paper was identified to have been a 27-year-old labourer who had lived in Dyfatty Street which was close to the scene of the crime, about 100 yards away, and not very far from Watkin Street where Ernest Melville had lived.
The labourer had spent about five years in the armed forces, Marines, during the war and had his family name had changed after his mother re-married. The name on the scrap of paper was actually his nick name with his old surname.
Before detailing the labourer, the police detailed the scrap of paper that was found with the labourer’s name on it. It was determined to have been a small piece, torn roughly from the Radio Times and contained sufficient programme data to show that it was from the edition that covered the period 28 November to 4 December 1948.
The name was written in the margin in indelible pencil and from comparison of handwriting, it was determined to have been Ernest Melville's handwriting. The pencil was later found in a coat pocket that was hanging up in Ernest Melville's home that he had not worn for some time, and was verified as being the one used forensically. It was found that Ernest Melville's family took the Radio Times, but that only Ernest Melville read it and that after each issue ceased to be of current value it was immediately discarded and used for toilet purposes.
The labourer was described as being quite unlike the majority of other local residents and was known by few people and was described almost as an unknown quantity and not even known to Ernest Melville's family.
When the police went to question the labourer, they said that he had been very nervous and before they began to question him said that he had an alibi up to about 10pm for the night of the murder after which he was at home with his mother. He said that he had known Ernest Melville since he was a small boy but had never cared for his company. However, he said that he last saw Ernest Melville about a fortnight earlier outside his house and said that he asked Ernest Melville whether he was still going to the Full Moon public house and said that Ernest Melville told him that he was using the London public house on a Thursday and that the 'boss' there had told him that there was a good night there on the Saturday. The labourer said that he didn't arrange to meet Ernest Melville and that as they were talking another person came by.
With regards to his movements, the labourer said that he had been in the Carlton Picture House from around 6.15pm until about 9.20pm on 21 January 1949 but was unable to remember the name of the picture that he saw. He said that when he came out, he went to the Lyric Billiard Hall where he met two people and sat and watched them playing snooker. He said that after they all went home together with the other two leaving him outside the Lower Lamb public house at the corner of Croft Street and High Street at about 10pm noting that the pubs were still open and that he then went to his sister’s house in Croft Street and then went home, arriving at about 10.05pm or 10.10pm after which he had supper and then went to bed at 11pm.
The labourer added that at about 11.30pm he heard a scream, like someone screaming for mercy and that when he looked out of his window on to Greyhound Street to see what it was, he saw a man walking by his house going towards North Hill Road or down the Slaughterhouse Way. He said that the man was about 30, 5ft 9in tall, dressed in a dark suit, a white muffler and had no hat.
The police said that when they produced the piece of Radio Times with his name on it that he could give no explanation about it and said that he never signed with the name that was shown which was his nickname. The police said that they did that in order to seek his reaction to it, but said that nothing was gained by it beyond an expression of surprise.
The labourer was interrogated twice more but maintained his story.
He was also questioned about the scream that he had heard and said that his sister had also heard it and had told him after he had got back from the football on the afternoon of 22 January 1949.
However, he did add that about 14 months earlier he had heard Ernest Melville argunig with a man in an air-raid shelter in Dyfatty Street
After questioning the labourer, the police said that they were not satisfied as to his position in the matter and said that several factors produced grounds for suspicion against him.
On 29 January 1949 the police went to his house and searched it but found no bloodstained clothing or buttons missing therefrom, or any buttons at all similar to the ones found, or any other evidence linking him to the crime. However, they noted that they were faced with the indisputable fact that the man's name had been in Ernest Melville's pocket and that it must have been there for a reason.
The police reasoned that if the name had been in reference to Ernest Melville had been threatened that it did not mean that the labourer had murdered Ernest Melville. It was also noted that of all the people questioned, the only people that heard the scream at 11.30pm were the labourer and his sister, each in their own home.
The police said that when they interviewed the two men that the labourer said he had been with on the evening of 21 January 1949, they found that they both had criminal records, one with nine convictions for larceny and assault etc, and the other with four convictions for shopbreaking and larceny. It was noted that the labourer had no convictions. However, they both corroborated the labourers story, saying that he came into the billiard hall at about 9pm saying that he had been to the pictures and that they all left together between 9.25pm and 9.30pm and walked up High Street and that they left the labourer at the corner of Croft Street at about 9.45pm, having made arrangements to go to a Swansea vs Notts County football match the following day. They said that the labourer then walked up Croft Street and that they continued up High Street and went home with one of them later going back out at 10.40pm to go on night work.
They said that the following day they picked up the labourer at his home and went off to the match, returning at about 4.50pm to find a crowd of people and learned about Ernest Melville's murder and that later that evening they all went out to some public houses. The two friend said that whilst they were out drinking, the topic of conversation amongst other things included Ernest Melville's murder and it was heard that the labourer told the men that whilst he had been in bed he had heard a scream and that he had got out of bed to look but had seen nothing. They also said that he told them that his sister had told him that she had heard a scream that morning. One of them said that they thought that the labourer had told them that he had heard the scream at about midnight.
However, the two men said that they were not particularly friendly with the labourer and said that they had only been out with him a few times, whilst one of the took that further and said that he had met the labourer about three months earlier, around the beginning of November 1948 when he and another friend were out together, saying he had not seen him before. He said that when they met, the labourer said to his friend, 'Even Ernie Melville won’t have anything to do with me now, he wouldn't give me a 'GAM' so I knocked him up in the air'.
When the police asked one of the men what exactly the labourer had said about the murder on the night they were out, he said that the labourer had said that Ernest Melville's body have been covered with stones and that only his legs were showing and that his trousers were 'ripped on the leg' and that he thought that the murder was terrible. He added that the labourer had told him that he had heard a scream and had looked out toward Dyfatty Park but had not seen anything, and also that his sister had told him that she had also heard the scream.
The police said that the man that told them that was of weak character and had a very bad stammer, but as he had provided the police with a new line of enquiry, they decided to re-interview the other man who was described as being much more intelligent and from a large family which was averse to the police. However, the police said that when they interrogated him, he rather unwillingly spoke about a time about two or three weeks before the murder when he was with his friend and when they met the labourer. He said that the conversation drifted towards girls and that the labourer said, 'Even Ernie Melville won't have nothing to do with me' and said something about hitting him, either saying that he had done or he was going to. The man said that the labourer had been laughing when he had said it and that he took it that he was referring to Ernest Melville's girlish ways.
When the police asked the man about what they had talked about on the evening of 22 January with the labourer about the murder whilst drinking, the man said that the labourer had said that Ernest Melville had been found in a 'terrible mess' and that he had known Ernest Melville well. He said that the labourer had said that Ernest Melville had been found covered in stones and thought it was murder but didn't say why. He said that the labourer also mentioned the scream that he had heard and about his sister also hearing it and thought that the labourer had also said that he had been in bed at 10.30pm.
The man later told the police that he had known the labourer for about two years but had known him better in the last three or four months, saying that they had been out about 12 times, mostly to pubs and generally on a Friday or a Saturday. He said that whenever they had been out they had mostly walked up High Street to Bridge Street by the traffic lights at the corner of Dyfatty Street and had stood talking with others until between 10.30pm and 11pm, but that Friday 21 January 1949 was an exception when the labourer had left then at the corner of Croft Street, as well as 22 January 1949 when the labourer had left them at the junction of High Street and Alexandra Road and gone off towards Orchard Street.
The police report stated that the reason that the labourer had sought the company of the to men on the evening of 22January 1949 was because an appointment that he had made with the girl that he had been to the pictures with on the day before had fallen through.
It was noted that another man had also been present when the labourer had spoken of threatening Ernest Melville.
He also had a criminal record and it was noted that when he was later interviewed, he had been in Swansea Prison awaiting trial for sacrilege and also had six other convictions.
He said that he had been friendly with one of the men and had also known Ernest Melville saying that he used to see him on Saturday nights after he came out of the Full Moon standing in doorways. He said that one night Ernest Melville stopped him and asked him to go for a walk with him but that he had refused and that Ernest Melville then gave him a cigarette. He said that he didn't know what Ernest Melville had wanted but had known about his reputation and so didn't go with him.
He said that one Saturday night about three months previous, he had met the labourer and his two friends at the Seamen's Mission and they had later met Ernest Melville by the lights at the corner of Dyfatty Street and had talked to him. He said that about two weeks later they were in Morriston looking for work when they had seen Ernest Melville on the road and said that hey each asked him for a 'tanner' for a cup of tea but that he had refused.
The police report noted that emanating from the statements of the men and the labourer was evidence of recent association between them and some sort of threat by the labourer to harm Ernest Melville which took place about the same time that Ernest Melville had allegedly told the woman that he had been threatened by a gang.
The police report stated that before moving on that it was worth noting that the labourer lived less than 100 yards from where Ernest Melville was found murdered, taking a direct line and a little more otherwise. Access to his house could be gained in two ways, firstly by walking down Croft Street from Dyfatty Street and the other by coming over the bombed site at the rear of the houses in Croft Street. It was further noted that Greyhound Street, which the labourer in his statement said he saw the man after he heard the scream, was immediately to the rear of his house and formed part of the totally derelict area there and that at the foot of, ie towards his house, there was a street lamp.
The labourer's sister made her statement on 24 January 1949 in which she said that she saw Ernest Melville earlier in the evening of 19 January 1949 at 6.20pm when he stopped at her doorstep as he was passing down Croft Street. She said that she didn't go out that evening and went to bed at 11.15pm and had been in bed for about five minutes, which would have been near enough 11.30pm, reading a book, when she heard a 'howling sound' coming from the direction of the lower part of the street. She said that it was the sound of a human being and that it was only one howl and that she afterwards realised that it was a man's voice. However, she said that she didn't hear any other sounds and later went to sleep. It was noted that she lived at 24 Croft Street, which was toward the Dyfatty Street end and as such her reference to the 'lower part of the street' would have encompassed the sphere of the crime.
The police said that they re-interviewed the labourer's sister on 11 February 1949, after they had interviewed her brother the labourer three times as well as the labourer’s friends and said that on that occasion she gave a more detailed account. She said that she had known Ernest Melville for many years from her school days and noted that he had always been girlish and never robust and that he would get the worst of any squabble. She said that about three weeks before his murder that she had heard that he had been 'beaten up' and that that had occurred two or three weeks before that, which the police report took them back to about the time that the woman who said that Ernest Melville had told her that a gang wanted to beat him up saw him with a black eye.
She reiterated that she saw Ernest Melville on the evening that he was murdered and said that the last time that she had seen him before that was about two weeks earlier. She added that Ernest Melville had never been in her house, nor her mother's house as far as she knew.
The labourer’s sister was the wife of a Trinity House lightship man who only came home periodically and who had been away on 21 January 1949. She said that she had gone to work each day during which time her mother had visited her house to look after her young children.
She said that on Saturday's she usually left at about 6.40am and didn't get home until between 5pm and 5.15pm. She added that her brother, the labourer, called on her nearly everyday and usually left at 8pm, but said that on Fridays it was generally between 10.30pm and 11pm when he would leave, with their mother, and that on Saturdays it might even be later.
She said that on the Friday 21 January 1949 that the labourer had called at her house at about 10.05pm after he had been to the pictures and that their mother was there and that after about five minutes they both left, saying that she had estimated the time based on the fact that at 10pm she had tuned her radio set to the transmitter of her husband's ship which operated at that time.
She said that on the 22 January 1949 that she came home between 5pm and 5.15pm and arrived at the corner of her street and then heard that Ernest Melville had been murdered and then saw that the site had been cordoned off by the police, and said that when she then got to her house her mother was there and that they then discussed the murder. She said that she told her mother about the howl that she had heard the previous night and when the police then asked her to describe it, she said that it was 'like a person when he is falling down a cliff', noting that it was horrible and that it caused her to sit up in bed frightened. She said that she didn't know what direction it had come from. She then said that a few minutes after that that her mother left to go home to make tea for the labourer who she was expecting home from a football match. She said that her mother then came back about half-n-hour later and was then followed ten minutes later by her brother who then left again after about fifteen minutes.
She said that whilst the labourer was in her house that he had said that it was a terrible thing about Ernest Melville and that he told her that he had heard a howl between 11.30pm and 11.45pm and that it was like a wail. She said that he told her that he didn't know where it had come from but that he had got up and looked through his window and had seen a fellow with a white muffler on. She averred that her brother had mentioned the howl before she had told him that she had also heard it.
She added that her brother visited her again on Sunday 23 January 1949 and that she told him that the police had been to see her and said that he told her to tell the police that he lived at 33 Dyfatty Street. She said that the only description that her brother gave her of the man that he said he had seen out of his window on the night of the murder was that he had had a white muffler.
When the labourer's sister concluded her statement, she said that she had never seen her brother and Ernest Melville together and that as far as she knew they were not friends although she said that her mother had told her that Ernest Melville and her brother had spoken outside by her house some time before.
When the police spoke to the labourer’s mother, she said that the labourer and the daughter, the labourers sister were two of three children by a former marriage and that her husband was a merchant seaman who was away on 21 January 1949. She said that she knew the Melville family, but had never seen her son, the labourer, talking to Ernest Melville and had not heard that they had been out together. She added that the labourer would go out to the pictures during the week and took drink on Saturdays and that he usually came home between 10pm and 11.30pm and if late would say he had been to his sisters or had been talking coming home.
She said that the labourer always had his supper, read his papers and went to bed between 11pm and 11.45pm and that she always locked up and that if he stayed downstairs she she had her bedroom door open and would hear him go to bed. She went on to say that she occupied the front bedroom and that the labourer occupied the back one which overlooked Greyhound Street. She said that he would shut his door when he went to bed and that after he was in bed that she would shut hers and that when she went to bed that she would bolt the outer back door and the scullery door and also lock the front door, leaving the key in the lock on the inside. She added that both bedrooms had gas lighting, but that as there were no mantles that the lights were never used and noted that a light from Greyhound Street shone into her son's bedroom.
The police report stated that before coming to 21 January 1949 that they asked the labourers mother what time her son had come home on 19 and 20 January 1949 and said that she was unable to remember. The police said that they then referred to the 22 January and noted that she failed to remember what time he had come home on that day as well, but thought that it was between 10.30pm and 11pm. The police then asked her about a more recent date, 29 January 1949, and said that all she could say was that it would not have been too late as he had not been out late all that week. However, the police noted that when they asked the mother what time her son, the labourer, had come home on 21 January 1949, the day of the murder, that she recollected that she had been at her daughter’s house when he had come in at about 9.55pm and that after talking for a few minutes that she went home and that he followed her shortly after and that she got his supper for him and that he looked at the paper and then went to bed which would have been between 10.30pm and 10.40pm, adding that she herself went to bed at about 11.15pn and did not look into his room.
She said that she first heard about the murder the following day at about 2pm when she had been at her daughters house and that when her son came home at about 5pm she asked him if he had heard about Ernest Melville being murdered and said that he told her that he had heard about it on his way home. She said that she then got his tea and then returned to her daughter’s house and that the labourer followed her there about three quarters of an hour later. She said that by that time her daughter was home and that they then all talked about the murder, noting that her daughter spoke to her of hearing a howl like a dog at 11.30pm and that her son said that he had also heard it and described it in the same way. She said that her son also said that he had got out of bed to look and that he had seen a man walking through Greyhound Street who had a white muffler on, but that he didn't say anything else about what he looked like as that was all he could see. She added that since that time the murder had been discussed but her son had said nothing more about it.
The labourer's mother said that she did not take the Radio Times and that her son had two suits, a blue one and a brown one, but that he didn't often wear the brown one. She added that he also had an old pair of grey working trousers and an old navy overcoat and an old brown overcoat and a mackintosh. She also said that he had never worn a hat and didn't possess one. The police report noted that her statements regarding her son's clothes were all confirmed.
The police report stated that statements of the three family members, the labourer, his sister and their mother were compared and it was noted that they were very much in unison, and which all, in particular, covered the labourer’s movements on the night of the murder from about 9.55pm until he was in bed and that both brother and sister claimed to have heard the howl at about 11.30pm which they both subsequently identified as being human. It was further noted that both the labourer and his sister's bedrooms faced onto the crime scene and it was thought that it was truly a remarkable coincidence that they were the only two people who had spoken of hearing the noise, which was, according to the descriptions, quite startling. The report stated that it was simply inexplicable that other persons such as the woman at 9 Croft Street heard nothing like it.
However, the police report noted that there was some disparity as to who mentioned the matter of the howling first and that in telling his mother and sister about the man he was said to have only been able to tell them that he was a man wearing a white muffler and had not furnished any other details such as he told the police.
It was further noted that the labourer’s description of the man that he had seen that he gave to the police was very similar to that of his own, as follows:
Man in Street: About 30.
Man in Street: 5ft 9in.
Labourer: 6ft 1 1/2in.
Man in Street: Not given.
Man in Street: Dark suit, white muffler, no hat.
Labourer: Blue suit, white muffler, no hat.
As such, the police stated that the circumstantial evidence against the labourer promoted him as a likely suspect to Ernest Melville's murder, that being:
The police report went on to state that there were other factors that could further be allied to the foregoing without over-theorising, those being:
However, the police report noted that they fully realised that in advancing these various facts and theories that they were being very speculative and were nowhere near having a prima facie case against the labourer.
The police report added that they were also aware that they were either putting the time of the murder at 1am, on the basis of the tin-worker's evidence, or a return to the scene of the crime at that time.
It was also noted that that theory was considered before they heard the other woman’s evidence who said that she had heard a groan as she passed on her way to her mother's house that put the time of the murder at 10.30pm. However, the police said that even if they ignored the tin-worker's evidence, the theory remained unimpaired.
The police report then went on to state that the possibility was then conjectured that Ernest Melville and the labourer had arranged to meet in Croft Street at about 10pm, hence the note in Ernest Melville's pocket acting as a reminder and his departure from the Full Moon slightly earlier than usual, or the possibility that they had actually met accidently, and that the crime took place before the labourer arrived at his sister's house and that he had returned at 1am and found that Ernest Melville was dead and had then attempted to cover his body with stones, which photographs of his body showing several stones on his right arm and shoulder suggested.
The police report stated that on the assumption that the theory was right, the evidence of the mother and daughter who thought they saw two men on the grass bank was considered and it was thought that the tall man fitted the description of the labourer except that he had said that he had not been wearing his mac on that night, which one of his friend concurred with.
However, the police report stated that at all events, the labourer remained very suspect and so they decided to put him under observation and to promote anonymous conversation with him in one of the public houses that he frequented in the hope that he would commit himself as to certain features of the crime, eg injuries to the testicles and throat and the particular ripping of the trousers, that they had taken steps not to publicise and which would, therefore only be known to the assailant.
As such, a young officer who was attached to an out-section and was not known in the town was employed for the purpose and observation was maintained on him from 12 to 19 February 1949 and contact made with him, but he resisted all overtures to get him to converse for any length of time.
He was seen in the company of several people including the friends that he had been seeing recently.
Also, in parallel, the police said that other angles to the investigation were made to obtain all possible evidence against the labourer, but nothing else was forthcoming.
He was interviewed a fourth time but maintained his story, although he amplified his description of the scream that he had heard, describing it as a 'terror scream, as if someone was in difficulties', which the police described as an expression far in excess of his mother or sisters accounts.
He was again asked about the clothes that he had been wearing but gave the same details as he did earlier although when they questioned his friend, his friend noted that the labourer had been wearing a cap on the Saturday, 22 January 1949. When the police asked him about the cap, he said that it was a new cap that belonged to his step-father and that he had taken it off before he had got to the pub. The police said that the only point about that detail was that the labourer might have had some idea about varying his description from the previous night.
He added that after coming out of the Marines about three years earlier that he had spoken to Ernest Melville on about six occasions.
When he was questioned about having heard Ernest Melville arguing in the air-raid shelter, he said that he had been in bed one Saturday night when he had heard Ernest Melville arguing with a man, saying that he recognised Ernest Melville's voice and said that it was at about 11.30pm, adding that he didn't hear any of the conversation.
When he was then questioned about the alleged threat to Ernest Melville, he denied it entirely. However, after further pressure, he admitted that he might have told one of his recent friends that he 'may have hit Ernest Melville for trying something funny like', but not because he would not go with him adding that it would have been in a joke.
The police noted that most parts of his statements were not in accord with the various other witnesses and appeared clearly designed to protect his own interests and it was noted that that included the statements of his two friends who said that he had never parted from them at Croft Street before 21 January 1949. When he was questioned over that he denied it and said that he had sometimes left them there at Croft Street, and on other gone alone up Orchard Street, which he said had only happened twice, on 21 and 22 January 1949. He also denied the statement of the man that said that he had told them at the Seaman's Mission that he had met Ernest Melville by the traffic lights at the corner of Dyfatty Street one night and talked to him although he admitted that he had done so about six months earlier.
The police report stated that whether or not the labourer was the man that murdered Ernest Melville, that he came out of the inquiry very badly and although there were other suspects to be considered, he remained in the limelight of suspicion. The report stated that there was an absence of direct evidence against him and noted that no person could possibly be charged with Ernest Melville's murder without a confession. The report noted that that fact must have been self-evident to the perpetrator by the latter stages of the investigation and it was accepted that that would increase the difficulties in securing an admission, even if they were certain who the murderer was.
The police report then went on to consider witness 12 as a suspect who was the last man to be seen with Ernest Melville. He admitted that he was in Ernest Melville's company when the licensee called 'time', having been in the Singing Room for about a minute buy then and saying that he then stayed for about another couple of minutes talking to Ernest Melville. He said that there had been two or three other fellows in the room at the time and that he then went to the toilet and that when he came out everyone had gone and that he left the Full Moon by the left-hand bar alone. It was noted that witness 2 said that he had seen witness 12 leave with Ernest Melville via the right-hand bar but that witness 22 said that he had seen witness 12 leave via the left-hand bar with the man, meaning that if witness 12 was correct, then both witness 2 and 22 were wrong..
Witness 12 said that after leaving the Full Moon he went to the bus stop by the Zoar Chapel which was about 100 yards away towards the lights at the junction of Bridge Street and Dyfatty Street and that after not more than five minutes he caught his bus home. He said that whilst he was on the bus he met a man who he vaguely remembered and said that during their conversation got to know that they were distant relatives, and that he got home at 10.30pm.
The police said that they traced the distant relative who they determined was a convicted criminal with a 1932 conviction for breaking and entering and three other minor convictions. They noted that witness 12 had a clean record. The distant relative said that he had been at the Working Men's Club in Alexandra Road until 10pm when he had left and walked up High Street to Tontine Street which was only a short distance from the GWR Station, where he caught a bus at about 10.10pm. He said that the bus was full, but that he sat on the first seat inside. He said that at Zoar Chapel, about 350 yards from Tontine Street, that Witness 12 got on the bus, saying that he had last seen him several years earlier and that they got into a conversation and determined that they were related. He said that he got off the bus at Arthur Street at about 10.20pm which was before witness 12's stop, leaving witness 12 on the bus.
The police also went to witness 12's home whilst he was out and spoke to his wife and her mother, noting that they both seemed to be decent and respectable people and that neither of them seemed the slightest bit perturbed by their visit beyond a natural curiosity and went on to confirm witness 12's story of having got back by bus and of having met the distant relative by chance en-route.
His wife said that she thought that witness 12 had gone out on 21 January evening to the Hafod Club where she thought he had been until 9pm when he had then gone to the Full Moon for a drink at about 9.30pm. The police report noted that that was the only discrepancy that they found in their statements as witness 12 said that he had been in public houses in High Street earlier in the evening.
The police report noted that there was no evidence of any association between witness 12 and Ernest Melville beyond the few minutes conversation in the Singing Room at 10pm on the night of the murder and it was noted that the fact that he had been in Ernest Melville's company at that time was confirmed by witness 30 although there were some discrepancies in their statements with witness 30 saying that it had been about 9.20pm that witness 12 had spoken to her in the Men's Room whilst witness 12 said that it was just before 10pm which would have meant that it was after witness 30 and her sister had returned from the Palace Bar to the Full Moon between 9.50pm and 9.55pm.
It was further stated that when witness 30 said she passed through the Singing Room at about 10pm, witness 12 had been with Ernest Melville and another stranger who was sitting there, whilst witness 12 said that there were two or three other people that appeared to be there with Ernest Melville at the time.
The police report also noted that if they were to believe witness 12, his wife and the man he met on the bus, as well as the many other witnesses who said that they had seen Ernest Melville in the Singing Room when they left at 10pm, then witness 12 simply would not have had the time to commit the murder. It was further noted that there was also an entire absence of motive so far as he was concerned. It was also noted that with the exception of witness 2, no one else had identified witness 12 as the stranger that had been seen in the Singing Room and it was further noted that his description did not answer many of the descriptions of the stranger that had been furnished, his description being as below:
As such, the police report stated that the evidence therefore dismissed witness 12 as a suspect.
The police report stated that there were a number of other potential suspects in addition to the labourer and witness 12.
One of those was an old school friend of witness 9. The man was 34-years old and was interrogated on 9 March 1949 after witness 9 was re-interrogated earlier that day when she said that she remembered seeing him come into the Singin Room just as Ernest Melville started to play the piano and speak to him, who she said laughed and said, 'Hah hah'. She added that after a few minutes he left the Singing Room and didn't know whether he stayed in the bar or left. She added that it was the first time that she had seen him in the Full Moon.
The police said that when they interviewed the old school friend of witness 9, he agreed that he had gone into the Full Moon on 21 January 1949 stating that his reason was to look for a woman acquaintance. He said that he had been to the Full Moon about two weeks earlier, which was his first visit for about six months and with a friend of his who was home on holiday from working away and that they had sat in the left hand bar and had met a woman there and had then left his friend in the bar and gone off to the top of the street with the woman.
He said that he later went back to the Full Moon on his own on 21 January 1949 having first been to two other public houses and had gone into the left hand bar where he saw a man he knew and then saw the woman he had met before there. He said that he stayed in the Full Moon for about 5 or 10 minutes, but denied going into the Singing Room, although he said that he might have glanced in, or even gone in for a second and added that he didn't remember anyone playing the piano or the accordion but said that he remembered some sort of music there.
He said that he didn't know Ernest Melville and didn't recognise his photograph but thought that he had heard his name.
After interviewing the man the police said that they considered the possibility that the woman that the man was referring to was witness 9 herself, and suggested that as a consequence of some discussion that they had had that she had belatedly told the police about his presence and had then added a fictitious conversation between the man and Ernest Melville for some reason. However, the police said that witness 9 repudiated the suggestion and said that she only mentioned his presence because the police had asked her to recollect all she could.
When the police made discreet inquiries about the man they found nothing else to assist in their enquiry and determined that as far as he was concerned the case remained there.
It was also learned in the investigation that Ernest Melville had been friendly with an unknown man who had lived a short bus ride from Swansea and his mother said that Ernest Melville told her that he had taken the man home with him whilst other family members were away on the previous August Bank Holiday in Aberystwyth, adding that they had met on previous occasions and that they would meet at the Palace Bar but that she didn't know much more. The police carried out inquiries at the Palace Bar in that regard and found that the barmaid there remembered Ernest Melville coming to the bar about two or three months before his death with a certain man, but said that it was not the man that Ernest Melville had been with on 21 January 1949, but noted that the man did come in the following day and that she had seen him about three times since.
Observation was kept to trace the man and he was eventually identified and located as a 24-year old of Mynyddbach-Y-Glo in Waunarlwwdd, which was a district on the outskirts of Swansea where he lived with his wife. He was seen and it was determined that he was without a doubt the man that Ernest Melville's mother had referred to and that he had actually known Ernest Melville for about four years. He said that he used to meet Ernest Melville in the Full Moon and said that it was not until about nine months earlier that they started drinking there together.
He denied ever having been to Ernest Melville's house but did say that just before the previous Christmas he had gone to work near Worthing and had stopped seeing Ernest Melville, and said that when he returned and saw Ernest Melville again, Ernest Melville asked him if he had been beaten up or had been ill. He said that he saw him about three more times after that, including the Friday or Saturday before he was murdered in the Palace Bar but said that on 21 January 1949 that he had been with a girl in Cwmbrla Square where they had visited a few public houses drinking finishing up in the Star in Fforestfach at 10pm after which they went back to his house as his wife was away in Worthing.
The man's alibi was verified and the barmaid at the Palace Bar agreed that he was not with Ernest Melville n the night of his murder in the Palace Bar.
When the man was questioned as to the normal aspect of his relationship with Ernest Melville, he said that he knew Ernest Melville as a 'Nancy Boy' but averred that he had never suggested anything wrong to him although he did think that Ernest Melville 'seemed very fond of him', and that he now knew why. The police noted that the man was of a peculiar disposition and that in their opinion was slightly effeminate and said that they found it hard to believe that their friendship was a natural one. The police said that they pressed the man on that point but said that he denied that there was anything improper although he did admit that Ernest Melville had made a suggestive observation to him on one occasion.
The police report stated that whatever the terms between the man and Ernest Melville, that the evidence exonerated him from suspicion, but noted that it further served to illustrate Ernest Melville's habits and of the entire absence of information that they had about it until his mother gave them the lead. The police noted that even those people that were obviously aware of the association such as the licensee of the Full Moon and witness 23, had told them nothing about it and noted that it made them wonder how much more information they were similarly withholding from them.
Ernest Melville's mother also mentioned that Ernest Melville had recently been working with two stepbrothers who she said were jealous of him because he was senior to them, and she thought that they might have been quarrelling with him and they were interviewed, but the police found that the disagreements amounted to no more than words and found that there were no grounds there for suspicion.
The police also stated that there was the possibility that Ernest Melville's murderer might have suffered some sort of injury in the attack that might have necessitated medical treatment and consequently special inquiries were made of all hospitals and doctors in Swansea resulting in some six men being identified as having had some sort of relevant treatment.
One man was initially considered a possible suspect as he had had treatment after having been involved in a brawl in Swansea on the night of 21 January 1949 and had been a crew member of the SS Sinai and that when he returned to the docks was arrested for larceny for which he was later given three months imprisonment. However, it was established that the police had been called out to the brawl and their evidence and that of a cafe proprietor exempted them man from further suspicion.
Another man was also considered with some suspicion as he had injured his eye and had been in High Street n the evening of 21 January 1949, but it was later determined that his injury had been inflicted much earlier in the evening and that at 10.45pm he had been at a canteen.
An anonymous letter was received with a Motherwell postmark enclosing the photograph of a man stating that he knew a lot about the murder and had been friendly with a girl in Port Tennant. The woman was traced, and it was found that the man in the photo was a man that she had been intimate with. Statements were taken and the police determined that the writer of the letter was the man’s wife in Motherwell and it was later found that the man had not been in Swansea on 21 January 1949 but had been on his way there by train, later returning on 10 February 1949. The police concluded that the man could be safely eliminated from suspicion.
The police report also recalled the two witnesses 7 and 8 who had just been released from prison who had been in the Full Moon on the night of 21 January 1949 with the two women witnesses 9 and 10 and who were said to have left the Full Moon with witness 10 with a view to catching the same bus but that she had met her husband near the Palace Bar and they had continued to walk off down High Street.
Statements from them were taken and it was found that witness 7 had 10 convictions for larceny and witness 8, who was 21 years old, had 11 convictions the last being 3 years imprisonment on 8 March 1949.
Witness 7 said that he had met witness 8 in prison together and that after they were released they met up on 21 January 1949 at about 4pm in Swansea and took him home after which they went out drinking at about 5.30pm, eventually getting to the Full Moon at about 7.25pm because witness 8 wanted to go to town to look for a woman.
The police noted that a bus conductor was interviewed in that regard who said that he had seen them as indicated in a truculent frame of mind.
He said that they remained in the Singing Room until 10pm when they left, leaving witness 10 outside with her husband and went down the High Street as far as the station where they met a foreigner who was drunk with whom they walked with as far as Wind Street where they all went into a fish shop where the foreigner paid for food. Witness 8 then suggested that they should take the foreigner home with them as he had money and winked but witness 7 said that he did not want to get into trouble and they eventually left the foreigner the went back to the Sailor's home where he was staying.
Witness 7 and 8 then caught a bus home, arriving at 11pm and found another man. Witness 7 and 8 then had an altercation, which was confirmed by the third man and that witness 7 then left.
Witness 7 said that the last time that he saw fellows playing the piano in the Full Moon was at about 9.45pm when he asked him to play 'Trees' but said that the fellow didn't know it, noting that at the time he thought that the man was under the influence of drink. He said that the only person that he knew in the Singing Room was witness 10 and that when he left there were still three women and an elderly man there.
The police re-interviewed witness 7 and said that he reiterated what he initially said in detail and the police report stated that there was no doubt that witnesses 7 and 8 were both strangers themselves in the Full Moon and it was thought that it was probably them that were referred to by witness 12 as being the men that Ernest Melville had been with because allowing for a little elasticity in times witness 7 admitted speaking to Ernest Melville.
He also corroborated what witness 8 said and said that after leaving his house that he went to the docks where he slept.
He later fell into the hands of the police on 12 February 1949 and had since been in custody and was re-interviewed but maintained his original story.
However, another prisoner was interviewed on 5 April 1949 in which he said that another prisoner had told him that whilst he was on remand with witness 8 that witness 8 had told him that he was the last person with Ernest Melville and that his body was found laid on bricks, one underneath each elbow and others under his head and feet and that his private parts had been cut off and hung up and as such, both the prisoners suspected that witness 8 knew something about the murder.
The first prisoner that came forward with the account said that he knew the Full Moon public house having last visited it in August 1948 and had seen Ernest Melville playing the piano but had never spoken to him. He said that on 21 January 1949 that he had been working in Briton Ferry and had spent the evening in Taibach and didn’t go into Swansea and had not been there since 9 January 1949.
When he was seen he refused to assist the police and so it was decided to see witness 8 again but despite the co-operation of the prison governor and his officers, he declined to see the police again, saying that he had said all that he knew. The police report stated that witness 8's descriptions of Ernest Melville's injuries was an exaggeration of the facts, but stated that one was inclined to wonder how he knew there were injuries at all to his private parts unless he was repeating a rumour or trying to impress the other prisoner with his knowledge. It was noted also that there had been indeed all sorts of fantastic speculation locally as to the characteristics of the murder and that it was not thought that witness 8's remarks were in themselves significant, as nor was his refusal to see the police again
The police report concluded that witness’s 8 and 9 were indeed two bad me with few, if any scruples, but that there was no evidence at all to connect them with Ernest Melville's murder and their alibi's as to leaving the Full Moon were confirmed by witness 10 after which they had to accept their uncorroborated stories until they arrived at witness 7's home.
Two other men that were considered possible suspects were two mental subjects both aged 24 who were not certified. The reason that they came to the attention of the investigation was that one of them was picked up by the police after having disappeared from his home. When he was first questioned, his statement regarding his movements did not take him into the area concerned on the evening of 21 January 1949, but when he was re-interrogated, he changed his story and said that he had met the other man by accident at the GWR Station and that they had walked around town and had gone as far as the traffic lights at Bridge Street. The first man said that he left the other man at about 11.45pm and went home. He said that all he knew of Ernest Melville was that he had seen his photo in the newspaper but noted that he thought that he had seen him round the town and thought that he was a nancy boy. When his father was questioned, he did not say very much, but said that his son returned home at about 10.30pm on 21 January 1949.
When the other man was interviewed on 4 February 1949, he spoke of walking around the town and going up to the Palace Bar and leaving the other man at the GWR Station at about midnight and then walking home himself, arriving there at about 2am. He was seen again but his mind was so unbalanced hat nothing tangible could be gained from him.
The police report noted that the two young men were problems and their position remained inconclusive and for that reason alone they could not be entirely eliminated, although it was also noted that there was really nothing to justify suspicion against them.
The police returned to witness 24 who had said that he had seen Ernest Melville leave the Full Moon with a stranger at 10pm, noting that it was thought that his testimony should be treated with reserve. It was noted that the police had also interviewed a 37-year-old coal trimmer who said that on 21 January 1949 that he had been drinking in public houses in the lower part of High Street and had later arrived at Dyfatty Street at 10.30pm and then walked down Dyfatty Street to North Hill Road where he lived and stated that at no time did he see Ernest Melville.
However, he later mentioned in a statement taken on 12 February 1949, that whilst walking up High Street sometime earlier in the previous two months between 10.30pm and 11pm, he had seen Ernest Melville standing near the traffic lights and that on one occasion about two months earlier he had seen witness 24 there too and said that as Ernest Melville walked down High Street, witness 24 walked across towards Greyhound Street and said that he came to the conclusion that they were going to meet each other although he didn't see them together. He said that that was the only occasion on which he had seen the two men anywhere near each other.
The police noted that witness 24 was of poor morals although he had only one conviction for larceny, and so thought that the coal trimmers information was not entirely incredible. The police said that they later questioned witness 24 about that but said that he emphatically denied the suggestion and said that he might have gone towards Greyhound Street at the same time to call at his 'girl's' house, referring to a young married woman who lived in Islwyn Road in Mayhill. However, he did then say that some eight weeks earlier before the murder hat Ernest Melville had called to him in North Hill Road sometime between 1.20am and 1.45am and attempt to interfere with him, but said that he pushed him away. He also noted that on several Saturday nights that he had seen Ernest Melville at the same spot with dozens of strange fellows at different times.
Regarding his own movements on the night of the murder, witness 24 said that he left the Full Moon at about 10pm and went home. He said that there was an altercation about some defective electric switch and he left his house, which would have been between 11.10pm and 11.20pm, saying that he stood for a few minutes in a doorway and then made his way through Croft Street into North Hill Road and went to see his girl but said that all the family were in bed and so he came away.
It was noted that witness 24 went to the police of his own volition, but not until 4 February 1949 and explained the delay as being due to his not wanting to shew he was friendly with his girl. He said that he came forward because he had read in the papers that a sailor had been seen to 'thumb' a lift in High Street and that he wanted to tell the police that he had seen no sailor when he had walked along that way.
The police noted that witness 24 was a rather peculiar type of young man and that they did not unreservedly accept his denial of refusing to co-operate with Ernest Melville and that they did not think his moral principles would guard him against that although his natural feelings might. The police said that witness 24 told them on re-interview that he had never seen Ernest Melville with more than £1 but the police recollected that at an earlier interview he had said that he had seen Ernest Melville with a bundle of notes in his pocket.
When the police surmised witness 24's statement, they said that they felt that the whole of his statement was unreliable, although not necessarily entirely untrue and that he should remain remotely in the field of suspicion.
Numerous other minor leads and lines of enquiry were dealt with, many including persons already dealt with in one form or another in complex and drawn out webs of interconnectivity, but they have not all been included here for sake of brevity.
Ernest Melville's inquest opened on 25 January 1949 and was adjourned until 21 April 1949 when the case was completed and a verdict of 'murder against some person or persons unknown' was returned.
Much of the evidence was kept short and the coroner acceded to the police request to withhold from publicity the injuries to his private parts and the peculiar ripping down of his trousers in order to assist any future interrogation.
It was noted that the licensee characteristically varried her evidence from her statements in some particulars and was about to still further depart from her original story when the coroner closed her evidence.
The report concluded that the case would unlikely be solved without a confession and noted that there was no doubt that the underlying motive for the murder was some form of revulsion, either spontaneous or premeditated. Initial reports in the press stated that he had been murdered by someone who 'saw red' and later the theory that he had been murdered by someone labouring 'under a sense of grievance'. The report noted that it was pointless suggesting suspects which would only go to compromise future reviews or examinations and that conflicting evidence regarding the numerous reports of strangers made it impossible to issue a or circularise a specific description of the sort of man that they were looking for, even if such a man existed and would be more likely to aggravate the general position rather than improve it.
Ernest Melville's funeral took place in Cockett Cemetery, Swansea, on the afternoon of 27 January 1949. A crowd of a few hundred, mostly women, watched as his cortege made its way to the graveside. His father walked at the head of the procession accompanied by two other sons.
see National Archives - MEPO 3/3125
see Western Daily Press - Monday 24 January 1949
see Western Mail - Thursday 27 January 1949
see Western Mail - Friday 28 January 1949
see Western Mail - Thursday 03 February 1949
see Western Mail - Thursday 10 February 1949
see Western Mail - Monday 24 January 1949
see Wales Online