Date: 10 Sep 1938
Place: 268 Rush Green Road, Romford
Florence Helen Knight was strangled at her home by her husband.
However, her husband, who admitted strangling her, and was tried for her murder, was found not guilty and acquitted.
He said that he had gone for her in a temper after he had found out that she was seeing another man. He said that when she came home at 11pm he had asked her where she had been and said that she had a sneer on her face and was sarcastic and that he then went for her in a temper. He said that he didn't mean to do her any real injury, but just to impress upon her with some violence that he was through with that sort of thing.
When the judge summed up he said that the husband was a man of exemplary character and said to the jury that if they came to the conclusion that on the night of the tragedy that the husband had no intention of killing his wife, then he was entitled to be acquitted.
The jury were absent for 20 minutes and when they returned, they gave a verdict of not guilty, and the husband was discharged.
The police report stated that at about 11.32pm on the Saturday, 10 September 1938, the husband called Romford Police Station and said, 'I have just done my wife a serious injury and will you send a Police Officer and an ambulance to 268 Rush Green Road, Romford. You'd better send somebody quick'.
After the police received the message, they went to 268 Rush Green Road by motor car and said that a few minutes after they arrived they saw the husband standing on the doorstep. The police said that when they asked him if he had sent for the police the husband said, 'Yes'. The police then said that they told him that they were police officers and asked him what the trouble was and said that the husband said, 'She is lying in the front room there'. One of the policemen there said that he noticed a scratch on the husbands left temple that was bleeding slightly.
The police said that when they went in, they went into the living room that was situated at the front of the house, they saw Florence Knight lying on her back near an armchair on the right side of the fireplace nearest to the window. They said that over her head there was a cushion from the armchair and a piece of green cloth that completely covered her head. They said that she was fully dressed with the exception of her hat and left shoe. They said that her head was facing towards the fireplace and her feet towards the opposite wall, and that her legs were separated at the feet for a distance of about one yard and that her right leg was bent slightly upwards from the knee. The police notes stated that her skirt was drawn slightly above her knees.
A policeman said that he then removed the cushion and cloth from her head and felt her pulse and came to the conclusion that she was dead. He said that there was a small pool of blood that appeared to have come from her throat on the floor to the right side of her head, and that there was slight bruising on the front part of her neck.
The policeman said that he then formed the opinion that Florence Knight had died from strangulation.
The policeman said that he then went to see the husband and said, 'I think this woman who you say is your wife, is dead. I am going to arrest you and take you to Romford Police Station, where you will be detained'. The policeman said that the husband then said, 'I understand, but let me see my kiddies first'. He then went upstairs and saw his three children aged 7, 4 and 2 who were asleep.
He was then taken to Romford Police Station where he was charged with murder.
Evidence was heard from a greengrocer who said that he had first got to know Florence Knight about two years earlier when he called at 268 Rush Green Road to deliver orders. He said that he remembered one occasion when she had asked him to lend her £1 on Friday 25 February 1938. He said that she told him that she wanted to get a few things and would pay him back four shillings a week until she had paid him back. He said that he gave her a £1 note but said that before he gave it to her she said, 'If you will do that you can come upstairs with me, then you won't want any change back'. He said that he refused to do that but said that he told her that he would give her five shillings and said that they then went upstairs and had connections.
The greengrocer said that she paid him back eight shillings of the pound in two sums of four shillings. He said that he later went off with the circus and said that when he later came back and went into the hospital that she came to visit him twice. He said that he only had connections with her the once but said that when they first met she had told him that if the blind downstairs was half drawn, that he was to know that her husband was at home, but that if it was up, that it was alright to call.
The man that she had been seeing at the time she was strangled was a 32-year old tram driver who had a wife and two children. He said that he met her on an outing party to Southend-on-Sea. He said that they pal'd up together for the day and at the end of the day he gave her his photograph and that she gave him her address. He said that after they they corresponded with each other about once or twice a week. He said that when he met her he told her that he was single and said that she told him that she was single.
He said that they later met at Romford Railway Station and later went to the cinema and told each other that they were actually married, and Florence Knight told the tram-driver that she had children but said that as far as her husband was concerned, she only existed. He said that after the initial meeting, they began seeing each other once a week and would either go to the cinema in the evening or to Raphael Park or Cottons Recreation Ground in the afternoon.
The tram-driver said that the last time that he saw Florence Knight was on the night of 10 September 1938 when they met by appointment at Liverpool Street Railway Station in London and later went that evening to New Cross Dog Racing Track. He said that they then returned to Romford that evening and after having refreshments in a cafe at Reneo Corner, he left her at about 10.30pm and caught a bus for Romford Railway Station.
A love letter that was later shown in evidence at the trial that Florence Knight had written to the tram-driver read, 'Darling, I keep imagining you making love to your wife, and I feel all hot with temper. I wish you were all mine. I was thinking how lovely it would be if we could have a week's holiday together. I could sleep peacefully then, and not have nightmares. Love for ever, Flossie'.
After the judge summed up and described the husband as a man of exemplary character, he remarked that no more miserable witness could have taken part in any police court than the tram-driver.
see Chelmsford Chronicle - Friday 11 November 1938
see National Archives - DPP 2/578