Date Of Execution: 30 Mar 1909
Crime Location: Union Street, Plymouth, Devon
Execution Place: Exeter
Executioner: John Ellis
Edmund Walter Elliott was convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend Clara Jane Hannaford 15
He cut her throat in Queen Lane, off of Union Street, in Plymouth on 17 November 1908.
Edmund Elliott was a barber's assistant. He was an illegitimate child and his mother had been 16 years of age when she had given birth to him and had gone on to run a soldier's brothel.
Clara Hannaford was 15 years old and her mother had been convicted of running a brothel and admitted to having a prostitute as a lodger at the time of the murder.
Edmund Elliott and Clara Hannaford had been seeing each other on and off for the previous two years, seeing each other or at the very least being friends. However, around May 1908, Clara Hannaford's mother forbade Edmund Elliott from coming to her house because he was idle and out of work and said that he had an illegitimate child.
Clara Hannaford slept in a tenement room with a 17-year-old adopted daughter and her other 10 year old sister.
During the six months that he had been forbidden from coming to Clara Hannaford's house, Clara Hannaford's mother heard that Edmund Elliott had been in Clara Hannaford's bedroom where he had threatened to do for Clara Hannaford and another girl with a razor. She said that when she caught Edmund Elliott in Summerland Place she thrashed him until a police constable came along and he ran off.
The adopted daughter that had been in the room at the time Edmund Elliott had come in said that it was early in July and said that she was woken up by hearing Edmund Elliott say, 'I've come in with the full intention of doing for you tonight'. She said that it was Edmund Elliott's voice but that she didn't see him. She said that he was by the side of the bed. She said that she heard something tap on the bed and said that he then said, 'I have it open mind'. She said that Clara Hannaford then said, 'Oh Ted don't be so silly you'll wake up Elsie' and said that Edmund Elliott had replied, 'Very well if she wakes up and screams I shall do the same for her'. However, she said that when she looked up Edmund Elliott had gone.
Since around the beginning of November 1908, Clara Hannaford's parents had allowed a sailor to pay attention to her and on the evening of 17 November 1908 he took her to the theatre. When Edmund Elliott heard that Clara Hannaford had gone to the theatre with the sailor he went there to meet them and followed them out. As they were walking along the sailor said that he heard Edmund Elliott say to Clara Hannaford 'Come down the lane and I’ll prove it'.
Edmund Elliott left Clara Hannaford and the sailor after that and Clara Hannaford and the sailor went to the Atheneum Hotel where they joined their parents at 10.30pm.
A while later Clara Hannaford was seen to go outside the pub and join Edmund Elliott. The person that saw her go out and join him said that they heard Clara Hannaford say, 'I'll come down (the lane) if you won't touch me'. They were then seen to go down the lane where Edmund Elliott was seen to strike Clara Hannaford and knock her hat off. The woman that had seen them go out said that she remonstrated and then went into the pub to look for Clara Hannaford's parents. The woman said that when she came back she saw Clara Hannaford and Edmund Elliott further down the lane and said that Edmund Elliott had his arm around Clara Hannaford's neck. She said that a few minutes later Clara Hannaford came back to the pub with her throat cut from ear to ear and died a few minutes later.
Edmund Elliott then gave himself up at a police station and said, 'I did it with a razor in Queen Lane. She went out with another man to night. I met her and did it and put her right.'. When he was charged he said 'It was not premeditated in any way. It was done on the spur of the moment.'.
The blood-stained razor was found where the woman had last seen them outside in the lane.
Clara Hannaford's mother said that Clara Hannaford had more fear than fondness for Edmund Elliott.
Edmund Elliott was convicted of her murder and sentenced to death. He was recommended to mercy on account of his age but not reprieved and was executed on 30 March 1909 in Exeter.
The Atheneum Hotel had been at 189 Union Street in Plymouth, approximately where the Aldi store is today. Queen Lane had been off Union Street near to Derry’s Cross where Colin Campbell Court is today.
see National Archives - HO 144/906/176671
see Closed Pubs
see Pub Wiki
see Illustrated Police News - Saturday 28 November 1908