Unsolved Murders

Kate Jackson

Age: 43

Sex: female

Date: 10 Feb 1929

Place: Kenilworth, Limeslade, Swansea

Kate Jackson was found outside her bungalow suffering from head injuries on 4 February 1929.

She later died in hospital on 10 February 1929.

She was the Madame X who gave evidence at the Central Criminal Court during an embezzlement trial in 1927.

On the day she had been attacked she had been out to the cinema with a friend with whom she had returned later at night. The friend had said that when they had returned they had parted at the gates of their homes and that later a scream was heard and Kate Jackson was found with head wounds and a broken bottle by her side.

Kate Jackson had gone to the cinema in Mumbles with her neighbour who lived in the adjoining bungalow. They left at about 6pm and returned together at about 10pm. When they returned they each went off to their own homes. However, a few minutes later the neighbour heard Kate Jackson screaming and she rushed out of her side door towards Kate Jackson’s back door where she saw Kate Jackson’s husband trying to raise Kate Jackson up. She said that Kate Jackson was bleeding all down her face. She said that they then got Kate Jackson into the scullery where they washed Kate Jackson’s face and bandaged her head with pillow slips.

Later the doctor was called for. When he examined Kate Jackson he found several wounds on her head and put several stiches into one. She was semi-conscious but was unable to say who her assailant was. At the hospital a police officer was put into attendance with a view to getting a statement when Kate Jackson sufficiently recovered. After a day or so she seemed like she was recovering but on Sunday 10 February 1929 she died.

Her husband was tried but found not guilty. He was a fishmonger.

He said that he had been in bed at the time when he heard a scream and then a thud at the back of the bungalow and that when he jumped out of bed and ran to the back door he saw his wife lying outside on the ground.

The bloodstained door of the bungalow was brought to the court as an exhibit and carried around for the jury to see.

Glass from the broken bottle that was found in the blood by her body was presented as well.

The cause of death was given as heart failure following injuries. The doctor brought a skull in a box to the court on which he showed the jury the exact spot and extent of each of the nine scalp wounds that she had received. He said that the wounds could not have been self inflicted and that considerable violence must have been used.

In court the prosecution presented 40 witnesses. However, the defence only called one witness, a 16-year-old girl who said that she had seen a strange man near the scene at the time the attack took place but her statement was discredited by the prosecution because they produced three witnesses who said that they were also in the same place at the same time as the girl but had not seen any strangers whatsoever.

Before she died, when Kate Jackson was being attended to by a doctor she had managed to say three or four times the word 'Gorse'.

The medical evidence indicated that she had been hit multiple times on the head and that she could not have had her hat on for the whole time. Also, it stated that she had held her hands up in defence but that she had no blood on her cuffs and that she must have had her gloves on at the time. It also stated that she could not have been wearing her coat at the time she was attacked. Her hat was found in the scullery the next morning.

The police report said that if a stranger had committed the murder that it would have been done as the result of a deliberate scheme with a set purpose. It also stated that it was not conceivable that someone could have committed the murder and then slipped off. The report stated that it was a possibility, but a possibility so bare when considered it against the other positive evidence of the case, although it could not be eliminated.

The report also stated that the evidence against her husband was circumstantial although questioned whether or not his actions after Kate Jackson was attacked were those of an innocent man. The report questioned why he had not invited in the neighbours immediately and why he had not called the police, who were themselves informed of Kate Jackson's condition by the hospital. It also referred to a tyre iron that was found in the house which was described as not being in the open but in a position of concealment such that it was almost incredible that it had got there.

The report states that the jury only took 28 minutes to reach their not guilty verdict and went on to state that the gallery of the court was crowded, mostly with women, who upon hearing the verdict cheered and clapped and that upon hear the verdict outside people also cheered and that so dense was the crowd outside that traffic was held up. It went on to say that when Kate Jackson's husband went outside he was embraced and kissed by women and that men played banjos and mandolins.

The report also stated that there was no doubt that Kate Jackson's husband was responsible for her death which it stated was confirmed not only by the evidence collected and [resented to the court but by Kate Jackson's demeanour whilst at the hospital where, for periods when her mental condition was normal, she purposely refrained from discussing the cause of her injuries and by her attitude it was obvious that she was shielding her husband.

The report referred to the amount of work that the police had put in, citing the 40 witnesses called at court and the 50 other persons seen from whom statements had been taken, stating that they had been confronted by numerous difficulties owing to a cloud of mystery and alleged unknown assailants and anonymous letters which the police stated were created entirely by Kate Jackson's husband.

The report also states that the investigation was also hampered at the beginning by the artic weather prevailing at the time.

Kate Jackson's husband said that when he first met his wife she had told him that she had been born in India and had called herself Mollie le Grys. He said that when they were married she had given her name as Kate Atkinson and that she was the daughter of market gardener from Lancaster. He said that shortly afterwards she had told him that she had bought the identity of a girl that had gone to Australia in 1916  and that she was the youngest daughter of a duke and was afraid of being taken back to her family. He said that she certainly received correspondence during their married life with a crest on the back of the envelope.

He said that after they were married they adopted a little girl who he believed to have been of titled parentage. He said that later he began to believe that Kate Jackson had married him because she had wanted him to protect her from someone although he did not know who it was. He said that Kate Jackson was very accomplished and could translate Russian, Dutch and Italian and was fluent in French, adding that she would bemuse him hour after hour by telling him Russian legends. He said that it was Kate Jackson that had bought the bungalow at the Mumbles saying that she had liked its remoteness, adding that she had wanted to be away from everyone. He said that throughout their married life she had been haunted by a secret fear and that whenever there was a strange car in the neighbourhood she seemed terrified and that only days before the attacked he said that she had told him that there had been a big car opposite and that she had been nervous of it.

Limeslade was a very isolated place that lay on the side of two hills near the sea, about seven miles west of Swansea. It consisted of a variety of buildings, some brick and others wood and iron. The cottage where Kate Jackson, her husband and their six-year-old daughter, Kenilworth, was situated near a lane that ran through the bungalows. It was built of wood and iron and lined with asbestos sheets. The font faced south and the back north. It consisted of one bedroom facing south and west, one living room facing south and east, an unoccupied room facing north and west and a scullery facing north and east. Between the scullery and the living room there was a small passage with a recess on the west side that was used as an open cupboard. There was one step from the scullery to the passage. Outside, almost opposite the unoccupied room was a fairly large shed that was used by Kate Jackson’s husband to keep his fish and tools etc..

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

see find.galegroup.com

see "Index." Times [London, England] 8 July 1929: 17. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 4 Mar. 2013.

see "Alleged Murder Near Swansea." Times [London, England] 12 Feb. 1929: 5. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 4 Mar. 2013.

see Derby Daily Telegraph - Wednesday 13 March 1929

see Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Monday 08 July 1929

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Thursday 07 February 1929

see National Archives - MEPO 3/1646, ASSI 72/55