Unsolved Murders

Queenie Winifred Harman

Age: 17

Sex: female

Date: 20 Jul 1932

Place: 43 Eversfield Place, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex

Queenie Winifred Harman was beaten to death with an Indian club at her home at 43 Eversfield Place in St Leonards-on-Sea.

Her husband was tried for her murder but acquitted.

She was found dead in bed.

They had occupied the basement flat there and had been married in March 1931 and had a 1-year-old child.

Queenie Harman was employed as the caretaker at the building and Queenie Harman's husband had been a lorry driver with Messrs. J Carter, the Baldslow haulage contractors.

Above the flat on the first floor were the offices of Messrs. Rayner and Keeler, Ltd., opticians which were said to be unoccupied during the night. Then, to either side there was an apartment house and a private hotel.

The husband said that he got up at 5.20am and made himself and his wife some cocoa and gave their baby a feed and then went off to work on the bus. He got his lorry from Baldslow and went back to his flat because he had forgotten his dinner and when he went into see his wife in the bedroom he said he found her dead. He then went to the police station, arriving at 6.44am to report his wife being dead.

When the police arrived, they found everything in order with the doors locked and no evidence that Queenie Harman's clothes had been disturbed. She was found normally in bed with her head beaten in. The Indian club, which was bloodstained, was found nearby lying on the floor of the passage outside of the bedroom. They said that they came to the conclusion that she had been murdered in her sleep. There was no evidence of a struggle.

A quantity of money was found in the flat which appeared to indicate that robbery was not the motive.

The police also found no evidence of any dinner having been prepared for the husband.

They had had a black dog that had barked when the police arrived but soon stopped and which later howled restlessly during the investigation after crowds started to gather outside after hearing about the murder and was later taken away to the police station.

Queenie Harman's husband said that he had not seen the club for four months and when he had last seen it it had been in a shed at the bottom of the steps leading to the front door. Another club was also found in a cupboard whose door was slightly ajar and it was said that both clubs were perfectly clean and did not show any signs of having been kept in a shed.

When he was charged with her murder later in the day at 6.10pm he said, 'I did not do it. I swear on God's honour I did not do it'.

In his statement, Queenie Harman's husband said that he had gone to bed the night before, Thursday, at about 10.30pm and had gone to sleep after setting the alarm for 5.15am. He said that he then got up at 5.20am and made cups of cocoa for himself and his wife in the scullery and took Queenie Harman's hers and woke her up and gave it to her. He said that he then went back to the kitchen and had his along with some food. He said that he then made the baby a bottle of warm milk and took it into the bedroom and gave it to the baby. He said that shortly after he kissed his wife whilst she was still in bed and then left the house between 5.50am and 5.55am, taking the trackless bus outside his house at about 6.05am or 6.10am, and rode as far as the Victoria Hotel public house in Hollington and then walked across the footpath to Park's Hill to his work in Baldslow.

However, he said that he had forgotten his dinner and so he got in his lorry and started it up and drove home to get it. He said that it must have been about 6.40am or 6.45am when he got there. He said that when he went indoors and opened the bedroom door to tell his wife that he had come back for his dinner he saw that the bedclothes were pulled right over Queenie Harman's head. He said that he pulled the clothes back and saw a tremendous lot of blood. He said that he didn't remember if he covered her up again after because he came out in such a hurry and drove his lorry off to the police station.

He added that Queenie Harman had one or two enemies but said that he didn't know their names. He said that she had been keeping company with two or three young men, two of whom were married, but said that he didn't know their names or where they lived.

He said that a fortnight earlier he had been walking along Hastings Pier when Queenie Harman had pointed one of the young men out to him that she had been keeping company with but said that he didn't think he should recognise the man again and said that all he could say about him was that he was a young man of medium height. He said that he told Queenie Harman at the time that he didn't mind her walking with other men as long as she kept true to him.

Queenie Harman's husband had said that about two weeks earlier he had bought her some stout and that she had had a drink of it that night, and then the following afternoon he had gone to get the rest of it and had told him that when she had drunk it straight from the bottle it had burnt her throat inside. He said that she had told him when he had got home and had added that she had destroyed the bottle and the stout before he had returned. He said that she had told him that she had made herself sick and had felt alright afterwards. He said that when Queenie Harman went home the following day she had told her mother who had been so alarmed about it that Queenie Harman had then told her that the stout had then been tested and was found to have been all right.

He also said that when they first got married they had had one or two tiffs but that they had been getting on all right for the last nine months and said that he let her go out twice a week for an evening on her own and that when she went out he would look after the baby.

At the trial it was heard, that without blackening the character of Queenie Harman, there was evidence of justification for her husband feeling jealous of Queenie Harman and it was heard that Queenie Harman had a rather flighty disposition.

It was also heard that on the way to the police station he had made no attempt to stop any policemen on the way even though he had passed one.

His clothes were taken and examined, but no bloodstains were found on them.

The basement flat consisted of a front room with a small box room off of it next to which there was a kitchen and a scullery and then a backyard that had no exit.

It was also noted that it was about 3 1/4 miles from the garage to Baldslow to the flat via the London Road and a little over 1/2 mile from the flat to the Central Police Station.

The husband was acquitted due to lack of evidence.

Two years later in February 1934 he committed suicide by throwing himself on the railway at Polegate

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Hastings and St Leonards Observer - Saturday 06 August 1932

see Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Thursday 21 July 1932

see Yorkshire Evening Post - Thursday 21 July 1932

see Hastings and St Leonards Observer - Saturday 13 August 1932

see Hastings and St Leonards Observer - Saturday 23 July 1932, (with photo of Queenie Harman in hat)

see Hastings and St Leonards Observer - Saturday 06 August 1932 , (with photo of husband)

see Western Daily Press - Friday 16 February 1934