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Thomas Barnwell

Age: 26

Sex: male

Date: 24 May 1938

Place: Hyde Park, London

Thomas Barnwell was stabbed in a fight in Hyde Park at the meeting ground near Broad Walk on Sunday 15 May 1938.

He had been walking home through the park with his flatmate when two men that they had never seen before made an unprovoked attack on them.

It was heard that one of them hit Thomas Barnwell in the face and that Thomas Barnwell then hit him back and there was then a scuffle after which the two men walked off.

Thomas Barnwell then went after the men and there was a second scuffle during which Thomas Barnwell was stabbed. His friend said that when he got up to Thomas Barnwell and the two men the second time, the two men were walking away, and Thomas Barnwell was holding his side. His friend said that Thomas Barnwell told him that he thought that he had been kicked and had a lump in his left groin.

Thomas Barnwell's flatmate said that whilst they were walking across the park, at some stage Thomas Barnwell had drawn his attention to a third man that he had referred to as Mick and who was an Irishman.

He was taken to St Georges Hospital where he died nine days later on 24 May 1938.

When the doctor later examined him he said that he thought that Thomas Barnwell's wound had been inflicted by a sharp weapon.

It was said that he had been stabbed several times and that the knife had been fairly long.

The pathologist said that his death was due to peritonitis following a wound to the left groin.

The police were unable to find any witnesses to the murder.

The police said that they had made enquiries among taxi-drivers, coffee stall keepers and news vendors near the park but had found no clues.

It was heard that a man had stopped a cab in Park Lane and asked the driver to take him to Marble Arch where they picked up Thomas Barnwell and took him to St Georges Hospital. It was said that as soon as the hospital authorities established the character of his wounds they called the police who then at once attempted to find the taxi-driver and his fare that had brought Thomas Barnwell to the hospital, but neither of them could be found.

Thomas Barnwell was a cinema commissionaire and had formerly been in the Irish Guards. He had lived in Holbein House on Pimlico Road, Chelsea. He was 6ft 4in tall.

His flatmate that had been with him on the night was an osteopath.

On 30 May 1938 it was reported that the police were taking steps to end black mail and threats in Hyde Park. The police said that in the search for Thomas Barnwell's murderers they had not overlooked the possibility that they had been amongst the men there who made their living by means of threats. They added that most of that type of person were already known to the police and said that they were being closely watched in the hope that an unguarded word might give them away.

It was reported, as such, that Scotland Yard were sending in plain clothes officers into Hyde Park near Marble Arch as part of a new plan to trap black mailers. It was said that particular attention was being given to that area because it was described as a sort of clearing house for those that battened that kind of crime. It was said that the detectives used were trained men who knew the signs of the crook. It was stated that they would carefully watch a suspect and follow the people that they spoke to and that the intended victim would then be lured to a cafe or someplace in order to lure the crook there also and any threats made could then be heard by the detectives. It was noted that there was still some difficulty in overhearing what was said in the open air, but that it was noted that once a black-mailer could be made to feel like he has got his man that he could get careless. It was said that if they could be lured to a cafe where they had set up microphones the conversations could be listened to nearby by a policeman taking short-hand notes.


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

see www.truecrimelibrary.com

see The Scotsman - Saturday 28 May 1938

see Daily Herald - Wednesday 18 May 1938

see Daily Herald - Wednesday 25 May 1938

see Daily Mirror - Wednesday 25 May 1938

see Daily Herald - Saturday 28 May 1938

see Daily Mirror - Saturday 28 May 1938