Date Of Execution: 7 Jan 1913
Crime Location: Buckland Hill Wood, Wadhurst
Execution Place: Lewes
Executioner: John Ellis
Albert Rumens was convicted of the murder of Mabel Ann Maryan 10 and sentenced to death.
He asphyxiated her in Buckland Hill Wood, Wadhurst on 6 September 1912.
Albert Rumens was a farm labourer and lived next door but one to Mabel Maryan who lived with her parents. They had known each other well and were friends.
On 6 September 1912 at about 5pm Mabel Maryan left home with two little boys to go blackberrying. However, Albert Rumens joined them and seemed to have persuaded Mabel Maryan to leave the two boys and to go off with him, and they were seen together getting over some gates in the fields.
At about 6.30pm, a keeper heard two or three screams coming from a wood and said that it all then went quiet. The keeper said that he then went up and looked over a hedge and saw what he thought was a man lying on a woman about 10 yards into the wood and said that he called to them to get out. The keeper said that Albert Rumens then got up and said, 'All right, I'll come out', but said that as he was coming out he said to Albert Rumens, 'Bring the other out too', and said that Albert Rumens replied, 'It's all right she knows the way out she will come out presently'. However, the keeper said that he was not satisfied and went to look and saw Mabel Maryan lying dead with her face crushed in the ground. However, he said that at that point Albert Rumens disappeared.
When the police arrived, they found that Mabel Maryan had the end of a handkerchief grasped in her left hand which was later identified as belonging to Albert Rumens. It was bunched in the middle and soaked in blood and appeared to have been forced into Mabel Maryan's mouth.
Blood was dripping from Mabel Maryan's mouth and her nose was flattened, and it was thought that her death had been caused by Albert Rumens forcing her face into the ground with a grip from behind on her neck, and it was found that she had marks on her as of a thumb nail about an inch below her left ear. It was said that great pressure would have been used as her hyoid bone, the V-shaped bone about her throat, had been broken in the middle.
The police report noted that her chemise was out of her drawers at the back and her skirts were up over her back, but her dress was otherwise in order and there were no signs of any outrage.
When Albert Rumens was later arrested that night, he denied murdering Mabel Maryan, saying that she had left him near a place close to where she was found.
The police report noted that he set up a sort of alibi and told the police to speak to three or four people who he named, saying that they would be able to prove where he had been. However, the police report noted that that was of importance as it showed that Albert Rumens had known what he was doing ad had realised his position.
However, it was said that he had been identified as the murderer beyond all possibility of doubt.
At his trial, his defence claimed that Albert Rumens was eccentric when in drink and that one of his cousins was in an asylum and that another had thrown themselves under a train.
It was also suggested that Albert Rumens had only used the handkerchief to stop Mabel Maryan from screaming, and that he had not intentionally killed her.
The police report said that they thought that Albert Rumens had attempted some sort of indecent familiarity that had made Mabel Maryan scream, and that he had then tried to stifle her cries by forcing the handkerchief into her mouth and that to then avoid certain detection if he allowed her to survive, he had killed her.
It was noted that Albert Rumens had been drinking on the day but had not appeared to have been drunk.
Albert Rumens pleaded not guilty but was convicted.
see National Archives - HO 144/1244/231896