Unsolved Murders

Olive Balchin

Age: 40

Sex: female

Date: 20 Oct 1946

Place: Manchester

Source: www.scribd.com

Olive Balchin was beaten to death with a hammer at a bomb site in Manchester around midnight on 29 October 1946 and a man, Walter Rowland, was convicted for her murder and executed.

However, the case was controversial because a man, David Ware, confessed to her murder shortly after Walter Rowland was convicted, but before he was executed, and his confession was ignored by the courts and the Home Secretary after they concluded that it was false, and Walter Rowland was executed, but then, after some years, in 1951, David Ware went on to attack a woman in an almost identical manner saying that he was addicted to hitting women over the head.

Walter Graham Rowland was convicted for her murder and executed on Thursday 27 February 1947 at Strangeways Prison. He claimed he was innocent and soon after his conviction David John Ware confessed to her murder. The police interviewed David Ware and he made three confessions, but after he was interviewed a third time, he said that he had made it up. Walter Rowland appealed his conviction on the grounds of David Ware's confession but his appeal was refused on the grounds that the Home Secretary had more power than they to make a decision on the matter, and other issues, but the Home Secretary allowed his execution to go ahead. Several years later, on 10 July 1951 in Bristol David Ware attacked a woman with a hammer and when he was arrested, he said, 'I don't know what is the matter with me. I keep having an urge to hit women on the head'. He was convicted of her attempted murder and sent to Broadmoor where he later hung himself.

When Walter Rowland was convicted, he said to the jury, 'May God forgive you for condemning an innocent man'. He then said to the judge, 'I have never been a religious man, but as I have sat in this court during the last few hours the teachings of my boyhood have come back to me, and I say in all sincerity I am innocent. And when I stand in the Court of Courts, before the Judge of Judges, I shall be acquitted of this crime. Somewhere there is a person who knows I stand here today an innocent man. The killing of this woman was a terrible crime, but a worse crime is being committed here today. Someone with a knowledge of the crime is seeing me sentenced for a crime I did not commit. The day will come when the case will be quoted in the courts of this country to show what can happen to a man in a case of mistaken identity. I have a firm belief it will be proved in God's own time that I am totally innocent of this charge, and I am going to face what lies before me with a fortitude and calm that only a clear conscience can give. That is all, my lord'.'.

However, it was also noted that Walter Rowland had a previous murder conviction from 1934 when he was convicted of the murder of his two-year-old daughter.

Olive Balchin had arrived in Manchester in August 1946 and had resided in a women's hostel in Manchester. It was heard that she followed no regular employment whilst in Manchester and was of loose moral character and was constantly in the company of various men. The last time she stayed at the hostel was on the night of 18 October 1946 and she was last seen alive at about midnight on the night of 19 October 1946 when she was seen by a man having a quarrel with a man at the corner of Cumberland Street and Deansgate in Manchester near a bombed building where her body was found at 11am on the following morning, Sunday 20 October 1946.

She had been murdered by a hammer which was found near her body with bloodstains on it. A piece of brown paper was also found near her body which bore the impressions of the hammer and it was clear that the hammer had been wrapped in it.

His post-mortem showed that she had been hit about the right side of her face with a hammer and that the bone around her eye had been broken. There was brain protruding, and her right cheekbone was broken. The nail of her left index finger had been broken off and there were two wounds on the back of her head on each side. The cause of her death was given as being due to laceration of the brain due to a fractured skull.

It was noted that there was no evidence that she had suffered from venereal disease.

Walter Rowland was born on 26 March 1908 at New Mills in Derbyshire. After leaving school he was employed for a time as an apprentice engraver, but in April 1926 he enlisted in the Army and his parents purchased his discharge on 1 June 1926. He again enlisted in the Army in January 1927 but was discharged as medically unfit after only sixteen days' service. In February 1927, while Walter Rowland was unemployed, he was convicted of stealing and was bound over for twelve months. In June 1927 he was convicted of inflicting grievous bodily harm on a woman and was sentenced to three years' borstal detention, from which he was released on licence in April 1929. In May 1930 he married his first wife, but she died in childbirth ten months later. In July 1932 he was convicted of larceny and driving away a motor-car without the owner’s consent, and was sentenced to two months' imprisonment. In September 1931 he married his second wife, by whom he had one child, but his wife divorced him on the grounds of cruelty in November 1945 whilst he was awaiting trial for the murder of Olive Balchin.

On October 1932 Walter Rowland was convicted of robbery and attempted suicide and sentenced to twelve month's imprisonment and on his release from that sentence Walter Rowland obtained casual employment as a labourer.

However, in April 1934 he was convicted of the murder of his two-year-old child who he strangled and sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted, and he was released on licence on 31 July 1942.

After his release he again enlisted in the army in September 1942 and served until June 1946 when he was released under Class B.

After his release from the Army he lived for a time with his parents at New Mills in Derbyshire, but afterwards went to Manchester. However, since his discharge from the army he had not been in regular employment and had been living in hostels and lodging-houses.

At his trial for the murder of Olive Balchin, it was heard that at about 5.40pm on the afternoon of 19 October 1946, a man, who was subsequently identified as Walter Rowland, entered the shop of a licensed broker and bought a hammer. The hammer was a leather-dresser's hammer and the broker asked the man what he wanted that particular hammer for, and when Walter Rowland told him that it was for general purposes, he was told that it was no good for that as it would not knock a nail in. However, the broker said that Walter Rowland replied, 'It will suit my purpose'.

The hammer was subsequently found at the scene of the crime and the paper in which it had been wrapped were subsequently identified by the broker as the hammer and wrapping which he had sold on the afternoon of 19 October 1946 to a man whom he positively identified as Walter Rowland and it was noted that the broker could not be shaken under cross examination as to his identification of Walter Rowland as the man who purchased the hammer.

It was noted that the broker had described the man that bought the hammer as a dark man although Walter Rowland had light hair, but he accounted for that by saying that Walter Rowland had had his hair plastered down with grease on the night that he saw him.

The broker said that at that time the man that bought the hammer had been wearing a raincoat and that after purchasing the hammer he had placed it in the pocket of his raincoat.

Walter Rowland later arrived at his parents’ home in New Mills at about 7.30pm on the evening of 19 October 1946 where he changed his clothes and then left again at about 9.20pm saying that he intended to return to Manchester.

Then, at about 9.50pm Olive Balchin, as identified by a woman, was seen going in the direction of Deansgate.

Between 10.30pm and 11pm, a man, accompanied by two women, entered the Queen's Cafe in Deansgate which was near to the place where Olive Balchin was later found murdered. A woman in the cafe said that she definitely identified one of the women as Olive Balchin, and also identified the man that was with her as Walter Rowland. The woman said that she also noted that Walter Rowland had been wearing grease in his hair and had been carrying a thin parcel about a foot long which was wrapped in brown paper. The woman said that she had seen Walter Rowland on two previous occasions in the cafe, but that she had not previously seen Olive Balchin. The woman said that the man and the two women then left the cafe at about 11pm. It was noted that she was unshaken in her identification of both Olive Balchin and Walter Rowland.

Then, about an hour later, at midnight, on the Saturday 19 October 1926, a man was in Deansgate taking his dog for a walk when he saw a man and a woman standing at the corner of Cumberland Street and Deansgate who were 'in a quarrel, arguing'. He said that he paid particular attention to this couple, because it was unusual to see people arguing at that time of night at that place. He also later identified both Walter Rowland as the man that he had seen and Olive Balchin as the woman and was also unshaken under cross-examination regarding their identification.

That was the last time that Olive Balchin was seen alive.

Walter Rowland, who answered the description of the man seen with Olive Balchin, both in the Queen's Cafe and in Deansgate on the night of her murder, was found by the police on the evening of Saturday 26 October 1946 in the Services Transit Dormitory at Long Millgate, Manchester. He was in bed at the time, apparently asleep, and when he was awakened and told to get dressed, he sat up in bed and said to the police, 'You don't want me for murdering that fucking woman, do you?'

He was then immediately cautioned, and while he was dressing he said to the police officers, 'Is it about that coat?' He was then taken to police headquarters and interviewed at length with regards to his movements on 19 and 20 October 1946.

Walter Rowland said, 'I am admitting nothing, because it is only a fool's game to do that. I can account for where I was. I was at home at New Mills when she was murdered. I didn't come back to Manchester that night'. He was then asked whether he wanted to say where he stayed on the night of 19 October and he replied, 'Have you seen my mother?, and when he was told that they had not, he said, 'Well, I did come back to Manchester. I got a lift in a car and then went to a pub for a drink. I didn't go into Deansgate. I stayed in the Ardwick District, had a bit of supper and stayed at the Grafton House in Hyde Road. I didn't get in till after one o'clock'.

He was then told that the police would have to make inquiries at the address he had given and he said, 'Well, I didn't stay there. I stayed at 36 Hyde Road, and I only stayed there for one night'. The police report noted that it would be seen that Walter Rowland had first said that he had stayed at home on the night of 19 October, and then at Grafton House, and then at 36 Hyde Road, and further that it was 20 October 1946 that he had stayed at 36 Hyde Road.

The police then asked Walter Rowland whether he knew Olive Balchin, Walter Rowland said, 'Yes, I have known her for about eight weeks. I used to call her Lil. I made sure that she didn't know my name'.

Walter Rowland then asked the police whether they had a photograph of Olive Balchin, and he was told that they only had a photograph of her from after she was found dead and that it was not pleasant to look at as she had been badly knocked about and it would be difficult to identify her from it. Walter Rowland then said, 'Things like that don't happen to decent women, and whoever did it didn't do it without a cause. You can't see what you've done in the dark but let me see it and I'll tell you if it's the same woman'. Walter Rowland was then shown a photograph of another person dressed in Olive Balchin's clothing and he replied, 'That is her coat and hat, but it's not the woman'. The police then told him that it was another person dressed in her clothing, and Walter Rowland was then shown two photographs of Olive Balchin and he said, 'Yes, that's her, but I've got a fighting chance and I'm going to hang on to it. I've got an uncontrollable temper, but that's not evidence, is it? I'm sure I wouldn't do that'.

Walter Rowland then went on to say, 'It's possible that the hammer was got to do a job with. I wasn't going to do a job that night. The fact that I went home proves that, unless you think I could do the job when I came back. I'm not admitting anything. I came back on the 9.30 bus from New Mills and got off at Ardwick. I was never near that place on Saturday. I know where it is because I walked past it on Tuesday, but I didn't go on the site'.

The police then asked him if he had been wearing a raincoat on 19 October 1946 and Walter Rowland replied, 'I was wearing this suit' and pointed to the suit he was wearing. He continued, 'I had a mac I borrowed from a man. I haven’t given it back to him'.

Walter Rowland then pulled out a card from his pocket that had a doctors name on it and said, 'I might as well show you this. You'll find it. I had a pride in my body. It was a blow to find I had VD. I wanted to know where I'd got it. If I'd been sure it was her, I'd have strangled her, I did think it was her. It's hard to say it was her now. Had she got VD? If she gave it to me, she deserved all she got'.

Walter Rowland was then asked if he wanted to make a statement and after being cautioned said:

'I first met Olive Balchin in Lockharts Cafe, near Victoria Station, about seven or eight weeks ago. Since then I've met her on three or four occasions. I've had intercourse with her twice, once on Baxendales blitzed building site and the other time in a doorway in a side street between Albert Square and Deansgate. Shortly after I had intercourse with her I suspected that I had contracted venereal disease. When I first consulted a doctor, I had a blood test and it came back negative. Since then I have consulted various ex-army medical orderlies and from what they told me I was convinced that I had got a venereal disease. On Friday night the eighteenth of October, I went to Littlewoods Cafe in Piccadilly, and I saw Olive Balchin there, I knew her as Lil. I bought her cakes and tea. It was in my mind to try to find out whether she had this complaint without letting her know. I left there about quarter or half past nine with Lil and I left her at the bottom of the stairs and went down towards London Road Station for drink in the Feathers. Later I went to the NAAFI and stayed there. Before I left her I said I would see her the following night. On the Saturday morning I went up to Old Trafford, Trafford Park, to do some business. I met a girl I know. We went on a tram to a cafe in Salford not far from the Ship Hotel. We had a cup of tea. She had no money and I had no money. I left her. I told her I was going to the Post Office but I went to meet some of the boys to get some money. I met the boys in Listons Bar and had a few drinks with them. We went to Yates and had a few more. At three o'clock I left them and went back to the cafe where I saw Edith. She started creating so I left her and came downtown again and I knocked about town and had a wash. I went to the Post Office for a parcel I was expecting but it wasn't there, so I decided to go home for it. I got a bus at Lower Mosley Street to New Mills where I arrived at about quarter past eight. I went to my mother's house. I changed my things there and put on all clean stuff. Then I came back on the bus to Stockport, arriving there at about ten o'clock and I had a few drinks in the bottom Wellington. I got a bus to Manchester and got off at Ardwick. I went up Brunswick Street and had some supper in a chip shop. I made a few enquiries as to where I could get bed and breakfast and I was directed to Hyde Road. I went there and stayed at number thirty-six. It would be about half past twelve or quarter to one. I told the landlord and the landlady that I had come to work for Seddons of Hulme. I booked in and signed the register. I only stayed there one night. I have given the black shoes I was wearing in Little woods on the Friday to a man for the price of a packet of fags. The raincoat I was wearing on the Friday I had borrowed, and I've given it back to an American'.

The police report noted that Walter Rowland once again said that he had spent the night of 19 October 1946 at 36 Hyde Road, but stated  that in fact, according to a witness, it was the night of 20 October 1946 that he had stayed at that address.

Walter Rowland's clothes were then taken and sent off for examination to the Home Office Forensic Laboratory in Preston and after examination, a doctor there said that he found greys hairs adhering to his coat that corresponded in structure with hairs from Olive Balchin's head, although he added that because they were grey hairs, he had been unable to give any positive identification.

The doctor said that on the vertical edge of Walter Rowland's left shoe, there was a human bloodstain, which was about 5/8in at its highest point above the level of the ground.

He also found a quantity of debris in the turn ups of Walter Rowland's trousers that consisted of fragments of brick dust, cement, charcoal, clinker and withered leaf tissue, all of which corresponded with material taken from the scene of the crime.

It was noted that there was an absence of blood on his clothing and when the doctor was later cross-examined over that, he said that the absence of blood did not necessarily mean anything, adding that Olive Balchin's injuries could have been caused without the assailant having any blood on his clothing and that the absence of blood on Walter Rowland's clothing did not involve eliminating him from the crime. He went on to say that he was not all surprised that a person could inflict the injuries in question and yet bear no trace of the injuries himself, saying, 'The blows that killed this woman are not what I should call rapidly blood-letting injuries'. He said that he had had experience of cases where a hammer had been used and where the amount of spurting blood had been comparatively negligible, and the assailant had had none on him.

At his trial, Walter Rowland's defence endeavoured to secure his acquittal on the ground that he had been mistakenly identified and that he had been in an entirely different place during the night on which the crime was committed. Walter Rowland himself gave evidence as to his movements on the night of 19 October 1946 and denied that he had ever used grease on his hair and said that although his mother had given him a bottle of brilliantine, he had never used it, and had in fact given it to his brother.

He admitted that he knew Olive Balchin over a period of between seven and eight weeks and had had sexual intercourse with her on two occasions and on ascertaining that he was suffering from syphilis in the secondary degree he naturally suspected her as having given it to him, although he also suspected other women with who he had sexual intercourse.

Walter Rowland swore that on the afternoon of 19 October 1946 he had visited the GPO at about 5.20pm to call for a parcel of washing that he expected to receive from his mother. The parcel had not arrived and Walter Rowland said that he then decided to go to his home in New Mills. He said that he was at that time wearing a pale brown shirt with a striped collar that matched it, but denied that he was wearing a mackintosh or had any grease in his hair that night. He said that when he got home, he changed his underclothing, putting on a blue shirt and a plain collar. He said that he then left his home and caught the 9.20am bus to Manchester. He said that he had not bought ay hammer of any description from the broker and had in fact never seen the hammer until he saw it in the police station after his arrest. He said that he then got off the bus from his home at Mersey Square in Stockport, and then went into the Wellington Hotel, where he had some drinks at the bar and that while he was in that bar at 10.30pm he saw two uniformed police officers who were visiting the licensed premises. He added that at the same time, 10.30pm, just before he left the licensed premises, the sale of liquor there was discontinued and that after he left he walked across Mersey Square to the bus stop and caught a bus for Manchester. He said that he was carrying a parcel containing overalls and a shirt that he had bought from his mother's house. He said that on arriving at Manchester he got off the bus on the Manchester side of Ardwick Green at some time very shortly after 11pm not far from Brunswick Street. He said that after getting off the bus he went to a fish and chip shop where he bought some chips and then asked a soldier where he could get a bed and breakfast and was directed to a row of houses where the soldier told him casual people were taken in for the night. He said that he rang the bell at the house in Brunswick Street and recognised the keeper of the house as a keeper of premises where he had previously spent a night. Walter Rowland, however, said that he didn't remember the number of the house, although he did say that he remembered catching a glimpse of a small white enamel plate screwed to the door. He said that he signed the visitors' book at that address, 81 Brunswick Street, in his own handwriting, but that the date of his arrival, 19 October 1946, was entered by the keeper of the premises. He said that the date of departure, which was shown in the visitors' book also as 19 October 1946, was also entered by the landlord. He said that having arrived at his lodgings at about 11.15pm he then went out within a few minutes to get a mineral water because he didn't feel very well. He said that he borrowed a key from the keeper of the premises and returned back to his lodgings a few minutes afterwards and went to bed, handing the key back to the keeper of the premises when he arrived.

Walter Rowland denied that he had seen Olive Balchin at any time during the day or night of 19 October 1946 and also denied that he was in the Queen's Cafe on that evening, although he admitted that he had previously been in the premises.

With regards to the evidence given by the man that said that he had seen him quarrelling with Olive Balchin at midnight, Walter Rowland swore that he was asleep in bed in Brunswick Street at the time.

He also denied that when visited by the police on 26 October 1946 that he had said to them, 'You don't want me for murdering that woman, do you?'.

With regards to the statement that was attributed to him by the police that he admitted saying 'because it was only a fool's game', Walter Rowland swore that the words were taken out of context and were used by him in replying to a question made by the police to him that he had been living on his wits.

Walter Rowland explained that when in his statement to the police he said that he did not go back to Manchester that night, that when he used the term Manchester, he had been referring to the centre of town, and that he was never nearer Manchester that night than Ardwick Green.

However, he admitted that he had said to the police that, 'Things like that don't happen to decent women' and that, 'whoever did it did not do it without cause'.

He also swore that he had no recollection of saying to the police anything about his having a 'fighting chance and going to hang on to it', though he did admit saying that it was possible that the hammer was got to do a job with and that he was not going to do a job that night.

He added that he had no recollection of saying, 'I'm not admitting anything'.

However, he also admitted that he had said to the police, 'If I had been sure it was her I would have strangled her', and also said that for all he knew it might have been Olive Balchin who had given him VD.

When Walter Rowland was cross-examined at the trial, he admitted that he did say that if Olive Balchin had given him VD then she deserved all she got. However, Walter Rowland swore that he had never been in the blitzed site where Olive Balchin's body was found.

When Walter Rowland was asked why he had never told the police that he had spent the night of the crime at 81 Brunswick Street, Walter Rowland said that if he had told the police they would never have believed a 'bull' story like that, since he did not know the actual number in the street at which he stayed. He said that at first he really believed that he had stayed on the Saturday night at the address which he had given to the police, but that when he had realised that he had in fact stayed at Brunswick Street, he kept that information to himself because he thought the police might not believe him.

When Walter Rowland was questioned about admitting to the police that he had promised to meet Olive Balchin the following day, he explained that he had not, in fact, arranged to meet Olive Balchin, and that it was merely a figure of speech by which he meant that he would be seeing her sometime.

Walter Rowland also admitted in court that he had told the police that if he had known that Olive Balchin had given him VD that he would have strangled her.

Evidence for the defence was also given at the trial by police officers from Stockport who said that in fact two police officers in uniform had visited the Wellington public house in Stockport on the night of 19 October 1946 at the time that Walter Rowland said he had seen the officers on the premises. However, it was heard that the value of the evidence was discounted by the fact that the visit of the police officers to the public house was in the nature of a routine visit and, as a police witness said, 'You can rely that at weekends they (public houses) are visited'.

The landlord of the premises at 81 Brunswick Street in Chorlton-on-Medlock in Manchester where Walter Rowland spent the night of 19 October 1946 gave evidence at the trial and said that Walter Rowland came to his house on the night of 19 October sometime between 11.15pm and 11.20pm and that after signing the visitors' book he went out for a few minutes to fetch some fish and chips. He said that he lent Walter Rowland a key and Walter Rowland returned the key to him when he came back after a short absence. The landlord said that he went to bed at about twenty minutes to midnight and that Walter Rowland slept in the middle room downstairs. The visitors' book was produced in court and showed that Walter Rowland arrived at 81 Brunswick Street on 19 October 1946 and departed on the same day, 19 October 1946, however, the landlord said that the date of departure was incorrect and that it should have been 20 October.  When the landlord was cross-examined at the trial, he admitted that if Walter Rowland in fact stayed in his house on 19 October 1946, that he could have left the house and returned to it without his knowledge. However, he was positive that Walter Rowland had been in his house at 11.40pm on the night of 19 October 1946.

A witness for the defence gave evidence on behalf of Walter Rowland and said that he had ben in the Queen's Cafe on the night of 19 October 1946 and that he had seen two women with a man, but said that Walter Rowland was not the man that he had seen, noting that he had never seen Walter Rowland before in his life until he saw him in the dock at the trial. However, it was stated that the witness was a very feeble one. It was said that after Walter Rowland's arrest, he had been shown a newspaper photograph of Walter Rowland and had recognised the photograph as the photograph of a man whom he had seen in the Queen's Cafe. The judge then pointed out to the jury, however, that they should take it that the witness’s evidence was to the effect that he had never seen the man in the dock, Walter Rowland, before and had not seen him in the Queen's Cafe on the night in question, so far as he was aware.

When the judge summed up, he told the jury that the real issue in the case was the identification of Walter Rowland, and that the jury's decision turned on the view they formed of the reliability of the witnesses who had given evidence. He told the jury that they ought to consider three questions:

  1. Whether there was any evidence of a motive.
  2. Whether there was any evidence of preparation of the crime by Walter Rowland.
  3. Whether Walter Rowland had any opportunity to commit the crime.

The judge pointed out that Walter Rowland had had an opportunity of telling the police where he had in fact stayed on the night of 19 October 1946, but did not avail himself of it, and also that they ought to take into account Walter Rowland's explanation for his silence on the matter.

He also noted that Walter Rowland had said in his statement that he had gone to a fish shop in Brunswick Street on that night, but that he had said nothing of having spent the night at the house in that street.

With regards to the question of whether the witnesses who had identified Walter Rowland had made a mistake because they had described him as a man who had dark hair, whereas Walter Rowland had light hair, the judge pointed out that evidence had been given by a Captain in the Salvation Army, that Walter Rowland had come to the hostel of which he was in charge on the morning of 21 October 1946, and that at that time Walter Rowland's hair appeared to the Salvation army Captain as dark and well-greased.

The judge then warned the jury not to pay any attention to the evidence of the feeble witness from the Queen's Cafe, except in so far as it might tell in favour of Walter Rowland.

The judge also warned the jury not to pay too much attention to the evidence of the doctor who related to the articles that he had found in the turn-ups of Walter Rowland's trousers.

The jury found Walter Rowland guilty on 16 December 1956 after an absence of two hours and made no recommendation to mercy. (He was executed on 27 February 1947 at Strangeways Prison.)

After his conviction, Walter Rowland protested his innocence, saying, 'The killing of this woman was a terrible crime, but there is a worse crime being committed today, because someone with knowledge of this crime has seen me sentenced for a crime I did not commit'.

It was after that, on 22 January 1947, that David John Ware who was at the time detained in Liverpool Prison, confessed to the murder of Olive Balchin.

His confession read:

'I, David John Ware, wish to confess that I killed Olive Balshaw with a hammer on a bombed-site in Deansgate, Manchester on Saturday Oct. 19th about 10pm. We had been to a picture House near the Belle-vue Stadium earlier in the evening I did not know her before that night I wish this to be used in evidence and accepted as the truth'.

When the police went to see David Ware in Liverpool Prison about his confession and interviewed him, he said, 'Yes, I will tell you all about it. I wouldn't have said anything about it and it would have been another unsolved crime, but I heard a few days ago that Rowland is appealing against his conviction and I thought this would help him because I know he is innocent'.

David Ware then made a detailed statement as follows:

'I left Stoke on Friday Oct. 18th, 1946 with money that I had stolen from the Salvation Army Hostel where I worked as a booking clerk. I hurried to Longton where I caught a bus to Uttoxeter and from there by train to Manchester. Arriving in Manchester about 7.30pm I met a girl and stayed the night with her in some part just outside the City. On Saturday morning I left her and wandered around on my own scheming how I could get some money. I decided in the afternoon to buy a hammer for purpose of committing robbery with violence. I bought a hammer after some searching near the railway station which is on the road from Piccadilly leading to Manchester Hippodrome. I tried many shops in this area but they could noy oblige me. At six pm I met Olive Balchin outside the Hippodrome I spoke to her and suggested going to the pictures my idea was to kill time till it got dark. I went to a small Picture House near the Belle Vue station with her. We came out at 9.0pm had a cup of coffee opposite the cinema and caught a bus to the centre of the city.

I did not know whether to leave her or not but after finding a dark place not far from Piccadilly I decided to spend a while with her. The spot where we stopped was a place or building that I took to be bombed in this war. We went inside the ruins and stood for a short while near the entrance. We were quite close to each other and being so near she took the opportunity of going through my pockets. I was aware of this, but I did not show her. I was ate up with hatred and felt immediately that I'd like to kill her. I realised I had the hammer so suggested that I'd like to make water and went further in the building. In there I took the brown paper off the hammer and threw it in the corner. I went back to her and suggested moving further inside where we could not be seen. She agreed to this and we moved further inside. She was on my left and with my right hand I got the hammer out of my pocket. Whilst she was still in front and had only a few paces to go before reaching the wall I struck her a violent blow on the head, (I should say the right side). She screamed and before her scream lasted any length of time, I struck her again this time she only mumbled. Her hands were on her head protecting it the second time she fell to the floor up again the wall and I repeated the blows. Blood shot up in a thin spray. I felt it on my face and then I panicked threw the hammer and left everything as it was. I made no attempt to get my money. I ran and ran zig-zag up and down streets I didn't know eventually getting to Salford Station. I was frightened of going on the station, so I decided to go to Stockport. I caught bus to the Hippodrome then another to Stockport, sleeping at a lodging house there. On Sunday I tramped to Buxton and on to Chapel-en-le-Frith where I stayed the night at the institution. On Monday I hitch hiked to Sheffield and surrendered to the police for the stealing of some money at the Stoke on Trent salvation Army Hostel.

I have been in custody since'.

The police reported that all of the detail contained in David Ware's statement could have been obtained from material published in the press.

They said that when they looked into his background they found that he had been employed as a booking clerk at the Salvation Army Hostel in Hanley and that he had left that employment on 18 October 1946, taking a sum of money with him which he had received on behalf of his employers and he surrendered to the police for that offence in Sheffield on 21 October 1946.

It was said that at the time he was closely interrogated by the Sheffield Police as regards any other offences he might have committed, especially with regard to the murder of Olive Balchin. However, he denied that he had been in Manchester during the relevant time and stated that he had not visited Manchester for the past two years.

There were no visible blood stains on his clothing, nor any evidence that there had been bloodstains that had been removed.

The story that he gave to the police was that after stealing the money at Hanley he caught a bus from Uttoxeter and from there had got a lift on a lorry to Sheffield where he had picked up a woman and stayed with her till his money was spent and had then surrendered to the police.

When the police looked into the statement that David Ware made about having tried various shops in Manchester with a view to purchasing a hammer, they made enquiries at all likely shops in the vicinity of Piccadilly, Manchester, but could find no evidence of any person asking for a hammer with the exception of the hammer, which was purchased from the broker that day.

However, it was determined that a man giving the name of Ware did sleep at a lodging house at Stockport on the night of 19/20 October 1946. It was also found that on the morning of 20 October 1946, that a man, giving his name as Ware, was admitted to a Public Assistance Institution at Chapel-en-le-Firth, stating that he had come from Stockport and was on his way to Bakewell. His clothing had been examined at that time, but nothing unusual was noted.

It was determined that David Ware was received into Walton Prison on 23 October 1946 whilst awaiting trial for the offences he had committed at Hanley and that whilst there he had had access to newspapers at the prison and, according to the police reports, could have made himself thoroughly conversant with the details of the crime.

David Ware's clothing was also examined by a doctor, but the doctor could find no materials in his trouser turn-ups that would serve to identify their wearer with the site where Olive Balchin was found.

The doctor also submitted a report commenting on David Ware's confession, and said that in his view, the circumstances of the crime were inconsistent with David Ware's statements.

The doctor stated that in his opinion, the most probable reconstruction of the crime was as follows:

T'he woman was felled by the first blow, this fall was responsible for the cut in the beret and injury to the back of the head. Her assailant then gave a number of blows concentrated in the region of the right eye, the infliction of these injuries may also have intensified the injury at the back of the head'.

The doctor added that in his opinion that since the weapon used was a short hammer, it would not have been possible for the assailant to deliver such a concentrated series of blows from a standing position, and that it would have been necessary for him to crouch or kneel in a position favourable to his collecting in the turn-ups of his trousers material from the site.

The doctor also commented on David Wares claim that Olive Balchin screamed after having been struck on the head and said that in his opinion after examining her injuries, anything more than an initial voluntary yell seemed unlikely.

The doctor added that from his investigations he thought that the description given by David Ware of his attack on Olive Balchin was not consistent with the facts of the case and added that it was his opinion that there was no evidence from his clothing that he was ever on the site.

The police noted that following Walter Rowland's conviction, they made further enquiries and obtained two other statements from witnesses regarding Walter Rowland's hair. The first was from a detective sergeant with Manchester City Police who arrested Walter Rowland on 15 September 1946 on a charge of warehouse-breaking who said that at that time Walter Rowland's hair was well-greased and had a dark appearance, but seemed lighter at the roots where the grease had not reached. The other witness was the officer in charge of the Salvation Army Hostel in Manchester that Walter Rowland went to on Monday 21 October 1946, two days after the murder. He said that Walter Rowland's hair was definitely dark and that his hair was well-greased and brushed back. He later said, 'I got quite a shock at Court when I saw his hair was fair, and I would have sworn if asked that he was a dark-haired man'.

Further police enquiries were also made on the question of whether Walter Rowland had been in possession of a raincoat at the time of the murder. It was noted that the broker that had sold the man the hammer said that the man, who he identified as Walter Rowland, had put it in his raincoat pocket after purchasing it. The police stated that when they spoke to the woman at 36 Hyde Road in Manchester, where Walter Rowland stayed on 20 October 1946, she said that she noticed a raincoat on 21 October 1946 which she presumed belonged to Walter Rowland because there was no one else in the house at the time. She said that when Walter Rowland left the house at some point, she noted that the raincoat was also gone and said that when he later returned for lunch that afternoon he had no raincoat with him.

The police report noted that David Ware had a medical history. It stated that in July 1941 he was admitted to the Buckinghamshire Mental Hospital from which he was discharged after three weeks. He was called up for military service in August 1942, and served with the Royal Engineers until 1943, when he was discharged on medical grounds. His Army medical record showed that in 1943 he stated to the Army doctors that he had a tendency to be depressed since his youth. It was noted that according to David Ware that he liked the Army, but since February 1943, he seemed to lose hold of himself and lost interest in work, friends and recreation.

It was noted that prior to his admission to Carstairs Military Hospital in May 1943, David Ware said he had impulsive thoughts about killing a woman and ultimately finishing his own life. The report on him stated that on admission to the military hospital that he had impulsive thoughts on homicide and suicide and was unable to occupy himself. In another military hospital in March 1943, David Ware stated to the doctors that he was depressed and the relevant entry dated 20 March 1943, was:

'He improved sufficiently to warrant posting but today states he is depressed, the world is coming to an end, has mentally staged a murder, wanted to get hanged but says he is not suicidal, cannot be responsible for himself. He presents little evidence of anxiety but some depressive features'.

David Ware was transferred to another military hospital and in May 1943 the report on him stated that, 'Since admission he had lost ideas of homicide in order that he himself might die. The general demeanour remains one of depression'.

David Ware was finally discharged from the Army in 1943, the diagnosis being manic depressive psychosis.

Walter Rowland appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeal after his conviction and Counsel for the Prosecution called the attention of the Court to the confession which had been made by David Ware.  The Court adjourned the hearing of the appeal in order to enable the defence to make further enquiries. At the resumed hearing of the appeal on 10 February 1947, Counsel for the Defence sought leave to call David Ware as a witness. However, the Lord Chief Justice pointed out that it was impossible for the Court of Appeal to re-try the case or to usurp the functions of the jury. It was stated that according to the Lord Chief Justice, if David Ware had been called at the trial it would have been necessary for all the witnesses to be brought forward to see whether they could identify David Ware, or whether the jury would have seen the difference in appearance between David Ware and Walter Rowland. It was stated that the Court of Criminal Appeal could only enquire into whether or not there was ground for interfering with the verdict of the jury on evidence which the jury had before them. The Lord Chief Justice also pointed out that it was not an unusual thing for all sorts of statements of so-called confessions to be made by people who had nothing whatever to do with the crime. The judge said that the defence was asking the Court of Criminal Appeal to sit as a court of inquiry and enquire whether the real murderer was David Ware and not Walter Rowland.

Eventually the Court of Criminal Appeal decided that they would not admit new evidence for David Ware. Counsel for the defence then sought leave to call additional witnesses to rebut the evidence of the prosecution as to the identification of Walter Rowland. One such person was a woman from the Wellington Hotel in Stockport who was prepared to give evidence that on the night of the murder, Walter Rowland was in the hotel until after 10.30pm, thus rebutting the evidence of the prosecution that Walter Rowland was in a cafe in Manchester between 10.30pm and 11pm on the night of the murder.

However, the Court of Appeal refused to admit her evidence because the solicitor for the defence had taken a statement from her before the trial, and it was contrary to the rules of the Court of Appeal to admit the evidence of a witness who could have been called at the trial.

However, the Court of Criminal Appeal did, however, allow the defence to call two additional witnesses whose evidence was not available at the time of the trial.

The first was a man that said that he had been in the bar of the Wellington Hotel in Stockport on the night of 19 October 1946 and that he had seen Walter Rowland sell a packet of cigarettes to a customer and that he himself had bought a packet from Walter Rowland at about 10.30pm, when the sale of liquor had been stopped. He added that he saw Walter Rowland leave the Wellington Hotel just after closing time. The man admitted that he had been shown a photograph of Walter Rowland on 12 January 1946, but was not able to identify Walter Rowland from the photograph as the man who had been in the Wellington Hotel, and that he did not identify Walter Rowland until he saw him in the dock at the Court of Criminal Appeal.

The other witness called by the defence at the Court of Criminal Appeal was a man that had been at a cinema and corroborated the statement by the man that said he had seen Walter Rowland sell a packet of cigarettes in the Wellington Hotel who said that he had been to a cinema in Stockport on 19 October 1946 and that the film shown on that night finished at 10.12pm and gave evidence to the effect that it would have been impossible for the man to have got from Stockport to Deansgate in Manchester in a quarter of an hour on a bus.

The Counsel for the defence, as such, urged that the evidence given by both Walter Rowland and the two additional witnesses showed conclusively that Walter Rowland was in Stockport between 10pm and 10.30pm and that it followed that one of the most important witnesses for the prosecution, the woman that said that she saw Walter Rowland in the Queen's Cafe with Olive Balchin  between 10.30pm and 11pm on the night of 19 October 1946, was wrong in her identification.

However, the Counsel for the Prosecution pointed out that the two vital witnesses for the prosecution were the broker that sold the hammer and the man that saw the man and woman quarrelling at about midnight, and that the evidence given by the woman from the Queen's Cafe as to where Walter Rowland was before midnight was not of vital importance.

The Lord Chief Justice pointed out that Walter Rowland had admitted that he was in Manchester on the night of 19 October 1946 and as such, the precise time that he got to Manchester was not so very material. He said that if it was correct, as Walter Rowland had said that he had got a lift to Manchester, a very great part of what the Counsel for the Defence was submitting 'goes by the board altogether', stating that 'If he got a lift he could have been there before 11 o'clock, but even then that is not the material time'.

As such, the Court of Criminal Appeal dismissed the appeal, but the Lord Chief Justice said that they would put into writing their reasons for refusing to allow the evidence of David Ware who had made the confession to be called.

It was said that on hearing the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeal, Walter Rowland said, 'I am an innocent man. This is the greatest injustice which has ever happened in an English Court, why did you have the man who confessed here and not hear him? I am not allowed justice because of my past'.

However, the police report stated that in the opinion of the police, there was little doubt that Walter Rowland was properly convicted by the jury. They stated that the points that seemed to them to point conclusively against him were as follows:

  1. He had a motive for the crime in that he was suffering from VD and suspected that he had contracted it from Olive Balchin. In fact, he admitted that if he had been certain that he had caught this disease from Olive Balchin he would have strangled her.
  2. In the statement made to the police he admitted that he had made an appointment to meet Olive Balchin on the night of the crime, though he said later that he had no definite appointment and that his remark to Olive Balchin was merely a figure of speech.
  3. He seems to have taken measure to disguise his appearance by putting grease on his hair to darken it. Although both he and his mother denied that he ever used grease, there are several witnesses to prove that Walter Rowland did in fact on occasion put grease on his hair which had the effect of making it dark.
  4. The identification by the broker of Walter Rowland as the man who purchased the hammer with which the murder was committed was quite unshaken, so also was the identification by the man of Walter Rowland as the man whom he had seen quarrelling with Olive Balchin at about midnight on the 19 October 1946.
  5. Walter Rowland's explanation of his withholding from the police any information as to where he said that he in fact spent the night of the 19 October is quite unconvincing. Walter Rowland told the police that he had been in Brunswick Street that night to buy fish and chips, and it is almost impossible to account for his having failed to remember at first that he had spent the night at a house in that street, or for the fact that having remembered it he refrained from telling the truth to the police.

The police report noted that Walter Rowland was not a man of good character, and had once before been convicted of murder in 1934 and that on that occasion also, he had pleaded not guilty, the charge being that he had murdered his two-year old daughter, swearing that he had left her well in her cot. However, it subsequently appeared from the Chaplain's report that Walter Rowland later admitted his crime and expressed repentance for his offence.

As such, the police report concluded by stating that notwithstanding the confession of David Ware, they did not think that there was anything to suggest that there had been a miscarriage of justice and that there was not even a scintilla of doubt that would justify a reprieve on that ground.

Following Walter Rowland's conviction, the Home Office carried out an enquiry into David Ware's confession. The enquiry was titled:

Enquiry into the confession made by David John Ware of the murder of Olive Balchin in respect of which murder Walter Graham Rowland was convicted at Manchester Assizes on the 16th December, 1946, by Mr John Catterall Jolly, KC and was presented by the Secretary of State for the Home Department in Parliament by Command of His Majesty in February, 1947.

The instruction for the enquiry was:

To enquire into the confession made by David John Ware of the murder of Olive Balchin, to consider any further information which may have become available since the conviction of Walter Graham Rowland for the murder of Olive Balchin, and to report whether there are any grounds for thinking that there has been any miscarriage of justice in the conviction of Rowland for that murder'.

The inquiry was carried out in Manchester on 21, 22 and 23 February 1947.

It covered, in short, the conviction of Walter Rowland and the first confession of David Ware on 22 January 1947. It detailed the police visit to interview him on 24 January 1947 and his second statement. It then detailed Walter Rowland's conviction. The enquiry then detailed Walter Rowland's appeal on 10 February 1947 and its dismissal with the written reason for its dismissal.

In his third statement, David Ware said:

I am at present service a term of imprisonment in HM Prison, Walton, Liverpool.

The Statement I made to the Detective of the Manchester City Police Force on the 24th January 1947, is true.

I am a stranger to Manchester, having only visited the City on two occasions previous to the 19th October 1946, when I was there about two or three hours each time.

When I arrived in Manchester from Stoke-on-Trent, on the 19th October 1946, I had about £1 5s. in my possession.

I bought the hammer referred to in my statement of 24th January at a shop which was situate on the main Road from the Railway Station to the Hippodrome Theatre. The Shop was on the left hand side of the road some little distance after passing under the bridge which passes over the Road below the Railway Station. The Road declines from the Railway Station and a little further down from the shop it inclines to the Manchester Hippodrome.

In the window of the shop there were a number of what appeared to be secondhand tools displayed for sale.

Whilst I was buying the hammer, a man came in and bought a screw driver. He was served whilst the shopkeeper was attending me.

I paid 3s 6d for the hammer. The man who served me was of stocky build and middle aged. The hammer was a double-headed hammer and I took it to be a cobbler’s hammer. After buying it I said to the man who supplied it, This will be suitable'. He wrapped it in a piece of brown paper.

After meeting the woman at the Hippodrome Theatre, we got on a tram car the indicator of which read 'Belle Vue'. We left the tram car at the Stadium and then walked up the road for quite a long way until we came to a third-rate Picture House on the right-hand side of the road. We went into the Picture House together.

The woman was wearing a light brown Tam O'Shanter type of hat. I am certain of that. Her coat was either dark blue or dark brown. It was of the double-breasted type. The buttons on the coat attracted my attention. They somehow appeared to me to be unsuitable to the coat.

On returning to Manchester we left the bus at Piccadilly. We walked forward until we came to the Shops down the road to the left and then turned to the right eventually coming to the bombed ruin. I was looking for a quiet place.

After I had felt this woman feeling in my pockets, I felt in my trousers cash pocket and found that a 10s note, which I was certain I had put in that pocket, had gone.

After I left the bombed site, I found myself at a Railway Station. I thought of going on to the Station and asked an elderly man what Station it was and he told me it was Salford Station.

I became afraid of going on to the Station and I got a tram car close by. I asked the Guard if I was going to the Hippodrome, He said, 'No' and pointed out to me the buses at the Bus station.

I boarded a bus and took a ticket for the Hippodrome. On the bus I noticed spots of blood on the left sleeve of my mackintosh.

When I got to Sheffield, I took the belt off my mackintosh and threw it away together with my cap. I did this in order to alter my appearance. I later read in the newspapers that the man wanted for killing the woman in Manchester had not been wearing a hat and I realised I had made a mistake in throwing my cap away.

I surrendered myself to the Sheffield Police for the Offence I had committed at Stoke as a 'cover up'. I thought I would be safer from possible detection in the hands of the Police or in prison, than I would be if I were wandering about.

Whilst on remand before my conviction I had access to newspapers, I read all about the finding of the woman's body but did not read any report of either the Police Court Proceedings or the trial of Rowland. The last I read was a paragraph which said that an arrested in connection with the Manchester 'Blitz Site Murder' was expected at any moment.

I then purposely avoided reading the newspapers, as I did not want to read anything more about the murder.

The first thing I heard of Rowland's conviction was on Saturday the 18th January 1947.

On that day whilst at Exercise in Walton Prison a fellow Prisoner told me that a man who had been convicted of the Murder of a woman at Manchester had appealed and that his Appeal had been dismissed.

This information worried me a great deal as I knew that only a short time would elapse before that man's execution. I thought a great deal about it and on Wednesday the 22nd January 1947 I asked to see the Governor of the prison and I made a statement to him.

I do not know the man Rowland.

However, on 22 February 1947, he stated that the previous statements that he had made were untrue.

His statement of 22 February 1947 read:

I wish to say that the statements I have given confessing to a murder are absolutely untrue. I have never seen the woman Balchin, who was murdered in Manchester, in my life. I did not murder her and had nothing whatever to do with the murder. I made these statements out of swank more than anything, but I had a feeling all along that I wouldn't get very far with them. My health has not been too good since the outbreak of War and I really do feel I want some treatment. I also thought I was putting myself in the position of a hero. I wanted to see myself in the headlines. In the past I wanted to be hung. It was worth while being hung to be a hero seeing that life was not really worth living.

The first time I thought of confessing to this murder was when I read about it in the Daily Herald when I was at Buxton on the Monday after the murder. It was the twenty-first. On that day I was already wanted by the police at Stoke-on-Trent for stealing some money and I noticed that the description of the man wanted for the Manchester murder answered my description. I went on to Sheffield the same night and went into the Library. Before I went to the Library I went to the Salvation Army Hostel and I was worried because I was broke and had no money. I then realised it was the Salvation Army I had stolen the money from at Stoke an that they might have sent a message through about me and I might be arrested. I think I had eightpence halfpenny when I went in there and I spent that on tea and cakes and then left. It was then I went to the Library and I read in the papers about the murder. I then read the description of the man who it was said was wanted. I went to the Salvation Army Hall, not the Hostel, and told the officer there that I had stolen money from the Salvation Army Hostel at Stoke. I did this because I was tired and hungry, and the Salvation Army Officer took me to the Police Station. On three previous occasions when I have committed offences, I have given myself up to the police. I made a statement about the offence I had committed and where I had been but I denied I had been to Manchester. I did not say anything about the murder. I was not prepared to confess to it then as I didn't know enough detail about it.

During my remand and whilst awaiting trial at Quarter Sessions I read all about the murder from newspapers and continually built up a story so that I knew all the details of it. It was during this time that I made up my mind to confess to the murder at a convenient time. During the first few days after the murder before anyone was arrested there didn't seem to be too much in it but after I knew Rowland was arrested for it, it magnified the thing and made it bigger altogether. I knew then there would be plenty of time to make my confession just before he was hung so as to make it spectacular in the way I snatched him from the gallows. I set myself to get all the details of the murder in my mind and continuously repeated the story to myself until I knew it right off.

While I was awaiting my trial Rowland was sentenced to death and I read about it in the paper and I also read that he was going to appeal. I thought this was the right moment to come out with my confession so that it could get to the Court of Appeal. I was then in Liverpool Prison and after applying to see the Governor I made the confession to him. I wrote the confession out myself but I did not put any detail in it. The statement of confession which I wrote out and handed to the Chief Officer is untrue. I was then put into hospital in the Prison and the following Friday two officers from the Manchester CID came to see me. I told them certain details which I had prepared in my mind and then put it into a statement in writing for the officers. This statement was also untrue and the matters which I stated I had learned from reading the newspapers and from conversation with other prisoners, some of whom came to the prison after the murder. I cannot name the prisoners with whom I discussed the murder apart from one man and another a Scotsman. I tried to get all the facts I could from other prisoners. I was rather surprised to find that so many people believed me but when I found they were I carried on with it. I also played on the fact that the real prisoner made such a strong claim to innocence. After this, in fact a week later, I was interviewed by a solicitor and two barristers who said they were representing Rowland. I made a statement to them also or really I answered questions they asked me. They did tell me that I need not answer unless I wanted to. I feel much easier in my mind now that I have told the real truth. It was because I so well fitted with the description of the man wanted for the murder that I fell into this and chose it as the one to confess to.

On 19th of October I was in Manchester, arriving by train from Uttoxeter at 7.30pm or thereabouts. I know it was 7pm by the clock at Stockport Station as the train passed through it. I left the Station by the main entrance, down the slope to a public house at the bottom on the left-hand side. I think the name of the public house had some connection with the railway. I really went into the pub to change a lot of coppers and silver which I had stolen, into notes. There were too many people in the pub to safely do this so I left it and went to another public house about two hundred yards further along past the Station away from the City. In this pub, in the public bar was a short stoutish woman serving the beer. I changed my coppers and silver, I think about three pounds worth altogether, with this woman. I think I made the excuse it was money I had taken for newspapers. Whilst I was in there a man was put out of the bar by two men who I think were on the staff, after he had insulted the landlady. I think the time was then about a quarter past eight. Leaving this public house, I went to Piccadilly and entered another public house where I stayed for drink until nearly closing time. I then went to a cafe opposite where there is a deaf woman in charge. It appeared to be visited by a loose type of woman. I left there at about eleven o'clock and sat on a seat in Piccadilly. A prostitute came and sat down beside me and I arranged to spend the night with her. We took a taxi for a short journey which I believe cost about three shillings and went to a residential hotel where the girl was known. I only knew the Christian name of the girl, but I have forgotten it. The house was kept by a rather stout foreigner who I believe was Italian. I paid twenty-five shillings for our bed and breakfast and signed my correct name in the register. In the same hotel that night was a man with a scar on his right cheek aged about twenty-five who was associating with a girl in the house. This man later came to Liverpool Prison where he was to commence serving a six months sentence. He had a Welsh girl in the house. I slept with my girl all night and got up about nine o'clock in the morning.

We left the house a bit after ten o’clock, went to a shoe shop a few doors away and to a cafe  a few doors away from that for a meal. We then both caught a 'bus with Piccadilly on it and went to Piccadilly which was a three halfpenny ride. I think there was a hospital near where I caught the 'bus. On reaching Piccadilly we went into a rough public house in one of the side turnings off Piccadilly and I left the girl there, it would be round about half past twelve. I wandered round the blocks for a few minutes and then decided to have some lunch. I went into Woolworth's and got a meal of fish, potatoes and green peas. On leaving Woolworth's I turned right and continued along that road for some distance and got into a market where there was a number of stalls. I then went to a posh cinema which was about five minutes’ walk from Piccadilly. Between Piccadilly and the cinema, I passed a tableaux forming up. I think it was to do with the Army as one of the things I saw outside the large building was a large decorated model depicting a Military badge. There were soldiers, nurses and ambulance men congregating there also. The cinema I went into was very near to this place and I paid 2s 9d for my seat which was well down on the ground floor. I cannot recall the title of the picture but to the best of my memory it was a wartime picture with aeroplanes and parachutists jumping out. There was nothing outstanding in the programme which I can remember. I was tired and had a sleep whilst I was in the pictures. There was a clock on the righthand side of the screen which I noticed was half-past five when I woke up and I decided to pull myself together and go out. It would be about 5.45pm when I left. I retraced my steps to Piccadilly and had some tea at Gardener's Cafe. I think I had sausages, potatoes and peas. I left this cafe at about seven o'clock and strolled easily to the Oxford public house in Oxford Street where I entered the first room on the left inside the door. I stood at the bar for a time and then took a vacant seat. I thought they were all together at first but later found they weren't. The man was a demobbed soldier, I think from the RASC, as he was talking about having his ninety pounds gratuity and the women were pulling his leg about not buying any drinks. The man was about twenty-six, 5 feet 8 inches, fair hair, clean shaven, medium build, dressed in a greyish suit with an Army Discharge raincoat. It looked like demob clothes and he was very smart. From the conversation I judged that both women were married and aged about 35 to 40. One had on a very light-coloured mackintosh with very large patch-pockets. We sat there altogether for an hour and when no one bought them any drinks they left. There was an old woman who came in and sat down and begged some cigarettes from me. The bar got very crowded indeed and I stayed talking to the man until the house closed. I had told him that I was a booking clerk. When we left the public house, I left him immediately. I knew I should not get a bed in Manchester but knew I should get one at Stockport, so I decided to get there whilst someone was up. I took a 'bus from nearby to the Hippodrome and from there took another 'bus to Stockport. Whilst I was on the latter 'bus I asked a man if I was all right for Stockport, but he told me that I must get off at once as that 'bus turned the wrong way. I got off and changed on to another 'bus by walking a little way along the road to the next 'bus stop. I paid three pence for the journey. I did on the wrong 'bus and about sixpence on the following 'bus to Stockport. If I came out of the Oxford at ten thirty, which I believe was closing time, I would have been at the lodging house in Stockport at between 11.15pm and 11.30pm. I do not know the name of the lodging house or the street it is in, but on going over the railway bridge entering Stockport I had to turn left and then left again. I had not been to that lodging house before. I saw an old man in charge of the house, and he took me into a rough office and asked me if I had my identity card. I produced my identity card and I believe the man copied the particulars off it. The card was in my proper name and the old man wrote the particulars in a small book about 10 inches by 6 inches. The man told me that I had got the last bed and this was the first bed on the right in the first room on the first floor, this bed being turned at right angles to the other beds. When I got to the lodging house a number of residents were in the general room talking around a stove. I slept at this place and did not leave until 8.30am the next morning or perhaps nine o'clock. I had breakfast at the Tramway depot canteen at Stockport. On this day I intended going to Stoke and endeavouring to influence them to do something about the money I had stolen. My money was very low and I got on the road and walked hoping to get a lift. After walking about six miles I found I was on the road to Buxton, so I continued. I knew here was a workhouse where I could get a bed near Buxton and I stayed at the workhouse at Chapel-en-le-Frith. I left there next morning (Monday) and walked back to Buxton where I bought five Woodbine cigarettes and a Dailey Herald newspaper. I read about the Manchester murder an this was the first I knew about it. I had seen a News of the World on Sunday but saw nothing in it about the murder. Having read of the murder and noticed the description of the suspect it struck me how much I was like him and I thought it strange, in view of the fact that I had been walking about, that I had not been stopped and questioned. I left Buxton to walk to Sheffield and I got two lifts on the road, one by a car and one by a small van which dropped me in Sheffield just as it was getting dark.

It was on this day that I thought of the idea of confessing to this murder and I decided to surrender to Sheffield Police for stealing the money at Stoke. I hoped the Police would also suspect me of the Manchester murder and in order to make my description more correctly fit the man wanted for murder, I threw away my cap so that I too should be hatless. To the best of my recollection I threw my cap and my belt from my raincoat away when in a small alley I think running beside a factory not far from the Salvation Army Hall at Sheffield. They were small buildings in the alley, and I threw the belt which lodged on the roof and the cap I threw over the roof out of sight. The Sheffield Police did not directly question me about the Manchester murder although they did ask me to account for my movements on Saturday night. The cap was a brown tweed one, size 6 7/8, which I bought in Bolton and may have a Bolton shopkeeper's name inside. It was fairly new. The belt is a fawn ordinary raincoat type with leather covering on the buckle and slightly worn. Regarding this cap and belt, whilst I think I am right in what I have said about the place when I threw them, I definitely had a cap and belt and definitely threw them away in Sheffield.

I do remember reading in the paper about the peculiarity of the buttons on the coat worn by the murdered woman.

Whilst I was on remand and waiting trial, I stitched mail bags to earn some money. In doing so I often pricked my fingers. I used to wear my raincoat whilst doing the mailbags and I accidently got some spots of blood on the front of it. When I was preparing my mind to confess to this murder, I deliberately put spots of blood on the lower forearm of the two raincoat sleeves. I later washed these spots off with a piece of wet rag and burnt some of them off with the tip of a cigarette. In my statement I made to the solicitor I referred to blood on the left sleeve of my mackintosh, but it is untrue what I continued to say about them. I said in the solicitor’s statement that I paid 3s 6d for the hammer as I had been told this by a fellow prisoner.

It is true that I do not know much about Manchester having only been in the City, apart from this occasion, for one day in August last and for two days in 1943 when I stayed at Eccles and visited Manchester whilst I was there.

I would like to say that I am sorry I have given the trouble I have and I didn't realise the serious consequences it might entail had the confession been believed.

This statement has been read over to me and it is all true.

David John Ware.

The author of the inquiry stated, 'I have considered this written statement in the light of the whole of my investigation and all the circumstances of the case and of my observation of Ware's manner, demeanour and mentality. I am satisfied that when Ware told me he did not commit the murder he was then speaking the truth'.

However, he stated that to carry the matter further, that he arranged for an identification parade to be held and David Ware was asked to take any place he liked amongst ten other men  and the broker who sold the hammer was then asked to see if he could identify the man that he sold it to. However, after looking at the eleven men in the identity parade, he said, 'Nobody there I can recognise, sir'.

The man that had seen Olive Balchin and the man arguing at midnight was also asked to attend the parade and he also failed to identify the man, saying, 'No, nothing like them'.

Similarly, the woman that had seen Olive Balchin and the man at the Queen's Cafe was asked to look at the men in the identity parade and she said, 'No, no, definitely no'.

David Ware was then taken away to a room in the prison and then each of the witnesses were taken to see him and told that the police were investigating him and asked whether he was the man that they had seen.

After seeing David Ware in the room, the broker said, 'He is not the man, nothing like him'.

The man that saw Olive Balchin and the man at midnight said, 'Definitely no'.

The woman from the Queen's Cafe said, No he was not. No, definitely'.

The person leading the enquiry stated further that David Ware had said in his first statement that he had murdered Olive Balchin at 10pm, and as such, if that were true, then it would mean that the man that said he had seen the couple at midnight and later identified Walter Rowland as the man and also Olive Balchin at the mortuary as the woman would have had to have been mistaken on both counts of having seen the man and woman at midnight.

It was also noted that in the course of the police investigation, a statement was taken from a witness which, although not material to any issue at the trial was of importance in verifying the veracity of David Wares statement. The witness was the licence of the Sawyers arms in Deansgate and he had said that he had been out with his dog on 1 October 1946, leaving home at about 10.30pm and said that his dog had run about over the waste ground where Olive Balchin's body was found for about five minutes and said that his dog was a 'rather vicious dog' and that 'if a woman had been wounded, with blood on her, it (meaning the dog) would not have left that place'. When he was asked if he was sure of that he replied, 'No doubt in my mind'.

As such, it was stated that it was clear that if Olive Balchin had been killed by David Ware at about 10pm then her body would have been lying on the site at the time when the man's dog would have been running about there and that it would have been found.

The report also noted that in David Wares third statement, he had introduced additional details that he had not mentioned before, in particular, stating that Olive Balchin had taken a ten-shilling note from him. It was noted that David Ware had told his doctor that after he killed Olive Balchin, he had taken his ten-shilling note from her and then thrown it at her. However, when her body was found, there was no ten-shilling note. It was noted that it might simply have not been found but was otherwise an inconsistency with his statement and the known facts. It was further noted that Olive Balchin had had a ten-shilling note on her but that it was discovered in the left hand bottom pocket of her overcoat. It had been carefully folded into a small capacity and placed at the bottom of a Midland Bank paper cash packet and that on top of the ten-shilling note, there were eight half-crowns, a two shilling piece, a shilling piece, a sixpence, a one penny and two half-pennies, making a total of £1 13s 8d and that the cash bag was then filled up with letters and bed tickets and then placed in the bottom of the pocket which was then filled up with papers and other property and that if Olive Balchin had stolen the ten-shilling note then it could not have possibly have been that one.

It was also noted that the police inspected numerous press cuttings that David Ware might have seen whilst awaiting trial and in two press cuttings Olive Balchin and had been referred to as Balshaw and that David Ware had also referred to Olive Balchin as Balshaw in his written statements, indicating that he had read the newspaper articles.

It was also noted that in his statements he had said that he had bought the hammer at 4pm, which it was said was clearly inconsistent with the evidence of the broker who sold the hammer at the trial.

The police noted that in his final statement of truth, David Ware had mentioned going to the cinema alone during the day and sleeping through much of the film. He was taken in a police car to the Woolworth's shop and asked to direct the police to the cinema that he said he had been to on the afternoon of 19 October 1946 which he did. It was found that the main picture that had been on that afternoon had been 'Theirs Is The Glory' which depicted the battle of Arnhem and showed aeroplanes and parachutists and it was also confirmed that the cheapest seats were 2s 9d and they were on the ground floor. The inquiry stated that it seemed extremely significant that that was the first time that David ware had mentioned anything about going to a cinema in the afternoon, as distinct from the evening, on 19 October and that upon being checked, his statement was consistent with the ascertained facts.

The inquiry noted that in David Wares statement he had said that he had gone to Richard's Lodging House in Great Egerton Street and remembered signing the book. The police noted that when they went there, they found that the book had been destroyed, by the proprietor. However, the person that had booked David Ware in said that he remembered David Ware arriving because he made a joke about his name because when he asked him where he came from they realised that David's surname was Ware. The old man said that David Ware occupied bed 31 which when inspected was found to be at right-angles to all the other beds in the room, as David Ware had said. The old man also added that to the best of his recollection, David Ware had arrived on 19 October 1946 sometime between 11.15pm and 11.30pm, and that he had produced his identity card.

As such, it was considered that David Ware must have, upon realising that the time of his arrival at Stockport could be checked, been obliged to fix the time of the murder that he was confessing to at such an hour that would be consistent with him having then journeyed to Stockport and arrived there, ie at 10pm and that further that when he man saw Olive Balchin and the man, Walter Rowland, at midnight, that David Ware would have been in Stockport at the lodging house.

The inquiry also determined that the part owner of the hotel at 36 Hyde Road said that she remembered Walter Rowland having stayed on the Sunday night, 20 October 1946, because he had had grease in his hair. She said, 'I particularly remember that night because I grumbled about the grease and that on my pillow slips because my men if I see them with a greasy head, I always give them a piece of calico to put on the pillows and that she remembered Walter Rowland; and asking him to go to the kitchen with her as she was very 'steamed up' over it, and gave him a piece of calico for his pillow.

The inquiry also noted that the lack of material in David Wares trousers to support the claim that he had been to the bomb site also supported the claim that he had lied about murdering Olive Balchin.

It was also noted that when David Ware confessed to the murder of Olive Balchin, he was taken to the hospital where it was said that he confessed to the medical officer that he had killed a girl in Edinburgh but changed his story to say that he had intended to murder a girl at Falkirk and that he was 'put about' when he was asked why he would confuse Falkirk with Edinburgh. The doctor later said that he thought that David Ware had been attempting a hoax after having read some newspapers and that he felt that he would not be in any danger 'because witnesses had already proved someone else had done it and they could not touch him',

The inquiry also noted that David Ware's medical history was also relevant as it showed that he had been diagnosed with manic depressive psychosis.

The inquiry also noted that during conversation with David Ware he had said that he had started to read about murders when he was a school boy and that he had been interested in the Heath case, Sidney Fox case and Rouse case, saying that he remembered that Rouse insured himself and then burnt a body in a car, making it look like it was his own. It was noted that the Sidney Fox case was similar as he had insured his mother an set fire to her and he also referred to the case of Armstrong. The inquiry stated, 'I regard these matters, taken with the other material before me, as some indication of a morbid interest in the macabre, which might well for exhibitionist reasons lead a man to assume responsibility for a murder which he had not committed'.

It was also heard that the Governor of Manchester Prison who had seen both David Ware and Walter Rowland said that he thought that there as anything in their appearance which was likely to lead to them being mistaken for each other,

As such, the inquiry concluded that, 'Having enquired into the confession made by David John Ware of the murder of Olive Balchin, and having considered further information which has become available since the conviction of Water Graham Rowland for the murder of Olive Balchin, I report that I am satisfied that there are no grounds for thinking that there has been any miscarriage of justice in the conviction of Rowland for that murder'.

It was later confirmed in the House of Commons, Westminster, on 6 December 1951 that David Ware was recently found guilty but insane, on his own confession, of the attempted murder of a woman who he attacked with a hammer. As such, a plea was made to the home Secretary for a new inquiry into Olive Balchin's murder and Walter Rowland's conviction and execution.

David Ware was convicted of attempted murder on Friday 16 November 1951. He had been 43-years-old at the time. He had struck her on the head with a hammer at Durdham Down after getting into a conversation with her. He later surrendered at Bath. He said, 'I intended to kill her but after the first blow the hammer broke. I get an urge to kill women and I cannot help myself. If there is not some cure for me, I am afraid it will happen again and I will kill someone'.

When the doctor examined him, he found that he had been a patient in a mental hospital at least four times in the previous ten years.

When the doctor was asked whether David Ware had said anything about Olive Balchin, the doctor said, 'He told me he was guilty of the murder to which he had previously made a confession in 1947. In my opinion he was having illusions and hearing an imaginary voice'.

David Ware later hung himself at Broadmoor on 1 April 1954. The verdict at his inquest stated that he killed himself while the balance of his mind was disturbed, and that his cause of death was strangulation through hanging by the neck. It was noted that in anticipation of his suicide, he didn't leave any reference to the murder of Olive Balchin and the execution of Walter Rowland.


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


see Oldest Profession

see Murderpedia

see Belfast News-Letter - Friday 07 December 1951

see Newcastle Journal - Saturday 17 November 1951

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Thursday 15 April 1954

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 26 February 1947

see National Archives - MEPO 3/2990, ASSI 86/9, MEPO 3/664, ASSI 52/589, ASSI 52/440, HO 45/25467, PCOM 9/731, HO 45/25466