Date Of Execution: 13 Aug 1915
Crime Location: Herne Bay, Blackpool and Highgate
Execution Place: Maidstone Prison
Executioner: John Ellis
George Joseph Smith was convicted of the murder of three women, Beatrice Constance Annie Mundy 31, Alice Burnham 25 and Margaret Elizabeth Lofty 38, and sentenced to death.
He drowned them all in baths and the case became known as 'The Brides in the Bath Murders'.
He was caught after the landlady of his second victim in Blackpool became suspicious and informed the police when she read of the death of his third victim in very similar circumstances in Highgate.
The police were unaware of the pattern at the time and had no reason to suspect either foul play or of George Smith having committed murder. However, after they carried out certain investigations they developed evidence of a clear pattern and arrested George Smith, at first on fraud after he made a false entry in a marriage register. However, he was later charged with the three murders and tried at the Old Bailey where he was convicted. However, the trial was noteworthy for the use of the method of 'system' in which George Smith was not tried for all three murders, but rather the jury were asked whether they agreed that there had been a pattern in the deaths, that being that all women were drowned in baths and that upon agreeing that, if they felt that George Smith was responsible for one murder, that of Beatrice Mundy, and that there was a pattern that he was therefore guilty of all three murders.
The process of 'system' was generally used for other types of criminal prosecution and there were few examples of it being applied in cases of murder. As such, the jury were never asked to decide whether George Smith had actually been in the bathroom when he killed Beatrice Mundy, just that there was a 'system' or pattern, and that George Smith was responsible, which was proven through all the other evidence, such as the fact that he married all the women and benefitted financially from their deaths.
Beatrice Constance Annie Mundy
Beatrice Mundy was found dead in her bath on 13 July 1912 at 80 High Street, Herne Bay, Kent. She was 35 years old.
George Smith met Beatrice Mundy in September 1910 in Clifton, Bristol and had married her on 26 August 1910 in Weymouth and soon after extracted £138 of her savings and absconded, leaving her penniless. It was not until March 1912 when he met her again by chance and they moved to 80 High Street, Herne Bay. They lived in Herne Bay for three months during which time George Smith transferred her full financial assets over to himself and then murdered her in the bath on 13 July 1912, after which he went back to his wife in Bath.
Alice Burnham was found dead in her bath on 12 December 1913 at a boarding house in Regent Road, Blackpool. She was 25 years old.
George Smith met Alice Burnham in Southsea in early October 1913 and on 15 October 1913 they were engaged and by 20 October 1913 he had transferred her money to himself. He later arranged for her will to be made out in his favour and took out a life insurance policy. On 10 December 1913 they went to Blackpool where George Smith drowned her in the bath on 12 December 1913.
It was noted that the landlady at the guest house they stayed at was highly suspicious of George Smith and the death of his wife and when George Smith left, leaving his card, she wrote on the back of it, 'Wife died in bath. We shall see him again' and when she later read of Margaret Lofty's death in Highgate she wrote to the police of her suspicions, sending them newspaper cuttings of the coroners hearing reports and it was that that drew the attention of the police to George Smith and resulted in him being arrested and convicted.
Margaret Elizabeth Lofty
Margaret Elizabeth Lofty was found dead in her bath on 18 December 1914 at 14 Bismark Road, Highgate, London. She was 38 years old.
George Smith met Margaret Lofty in early December 1914 but she was self-conscious about anyone knowing about their relationship as George Smith was not well educated. She then ran off with him to get married, telling her family that she was going away to work. George Smith arranged for her to make her will out in his favour and take out life insurance before they married on 17 December 1914 in Bath after which they went to London and took a room in Highgate and the next day George Smith drowned her in a bath.
note - some dates, mainly months, are approximations.
At the time of his arrest George Smith was described as being age 43, 5ft 8in tall, medium build, fresh complexion, hair dark brown and with a sandy drooping moustache.
Bath Dimensions and Women’s Height
The various sums that George Smith received from each of the women that he took money from are detailed below:
Mrs FW: £20 in gold, two £5 notes, and her belongings worth £80-£90.
Miss SAF: £340 in total, £50 in cash, £260 in the bank and £30 in Government Stock.
Beatrice Mundy: £2403 15s.
Alice Burnham: £27 19s 5d in her Savings Bank, £100 plus interest due from her father, £10 due from her sister.
Miss AR: £70, Furniture worth £14.
Margaret Lofty: £19 in the Savings Bank, George Smith took out life insurance on her worth £700.
George Smith bought a fair amount of property with the money that he stole from the women that he became involved with. Known property transactions are:
George Joseph Smith
George Joseph Smith was born in 1872 at 92 Roman Road in Bethnal Green and was said to have displayed early criminal tendencies, having been sent to a reformatory at the age of 9, staying there until he was 16. After returning to live with his mother he was convicted in about 1890 for a small theft and was sentenced to seven days.
On 7 February 1891 he was convicted of stealing a bicycle and sentenced to 6 months hard labour at Lambeth Police Court.
He was later convicted on three counts of larceny at the North London Sessions for larceny and receiving under the name of George Baker and sentenced to 12 months hard labour. It was also stated that it was known by the police that at about that time be was the associate of a woman whose identity was unknown, who he would place in various situations and had steal things for him.
After being released from court he opened a baker's shop at 28 Russel Square in Leicester where he met an 18-year-old girl who he later married under the name of Mr and Mrs Love. They moved about together and George Smith arranged for her to take on various situations, not working himself.
Whilst living together, at some point in 1899, George Smith met Miss ---- and shortly after married her without his First Wife finding out.
However his wife was later arrested by the police and although George Smith managed to flee to London he was arrested there on 11 November 1900 and taken to Hastings were he was convicted for receiving stolen goods on 9 January 1901 and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. He was released from prison on 10 October 1902 and went in search of his First Wife but she avoided him and her brothers drove him away. However, his First Wife felt that she was in danger from George Smith and she went to live in Canada, only returning a couple of times over the next four years for short visits.
In June 1908 George Smith went to Brighton where he met Mrs FW who he followed to Worthing where she worked. He then proposed to her after which he asked her how much money she had, her revealing that she was worth £33 13s. He told her that he was an antiques dealer. Three weeks later George Smith arranged for Mrs FW to withdraw her money and on 3 July 1908 they went to Camden Town Post Office where Mrs FW withdrew £20 in gold and two £5 notes. Immediately after getting the money George Smith made an excuse to leave saying that he needed to go to White City but instead he went to their apartment and took his belongings as well as hers, valued between £70 and £80 and went back to Bristol.
When he arrived in Bristol he used Mrs FW's money to set up a second-hand furniture shop at 389 Gloucester Road and soon after met his Third Wife who he married on 30 July 1908.
Whilst George Smith and his Third Wife were in Southampton around June 1909 George Smith met Miss SAF who he told he was a dealer in antiques. It was said that they became close but did not see each other again until October 1909 when they renewed their relationship and after discussing money they married on 29 October 1909. After determining the status of her finances he arranged for it to be transferred to him and by 2 or 3 November 1909 George Smith had secured all of her money, including the £50 that she had had in cash at the time and £260 in the bank and on 5 November 1909 the £30 in Government stock was cashed and handed over to him.
After securing her money George Smith took Miss SAF to the National Gallery where he then took an opportunity to leave her and went back to their apartment where he packed up every item that she owned and fled. When Miss SAF returned to the apartment she found only three empty boxes and George Smith's bicycle.
George Smith then went to Southend where he wrote to his Third Wife asking her to join him. On 16 November 1909 George Smith invested £240 of Miss SAF's money and bought the house at 22 Glenmore Street in Southend for £270, £40 being left on the mortgage.
The Case - Beatrice Mundy
George Smith and his Third Wife later moved to Ashley Down Road in Bristol, borrowing money off of the Southend property until 2 September 1910 when there was £93 owing at which time George Smith started to look for another source of money. and it was then that he met Beatrice Mundy in Clifton.
Beatrice Mundy was the daughter of a deceased bank manager and possessed a fortune of £2,500.
Beatrice Mundy's brother who was a Commercial Traveller and lived at Longleat, 18 Chatsworth Road in Bournemouth said that their father had died on 11 December 1904 and that he and Beatrice Mundy were the sole family survivors and under his will benefitted practically equally although noted that his portion was rather less than hers. He said that because Beatrice Mundy was not considered to be a good business woman and knew little of matters relating to investments that he and two of his uncles were appointed trustees and a Deed of Settlement was entered into, noting that the affair was managed almost entirely by one of the uncles. He said that he knew that Beatrice Mundy's investments brought in an income of approximately £8 a month and that it was that money that she lived off.
The list of securities included in Beatrice Mundy's Trust Dead at the time were:
Beatrice Mundy's brother said that after their father died that Beatrice Mundy had no settled place of abode but sometimes stayed with friends and sometimes with relatives but that he knew that in 1910 that she had been staying in Bristol but did know a particular address.
George Smith and Beatrice Mundy became engaged soon after meeting and on 22 August 1910 they went to Weymouth where they took two rooms at 14 Rodwell Avenue and four days later on 26 August 1910 they married. When they married George Smith gave the name Henry Williams, picture restorer.
However, George Smith did not murder Beatrice Mundy for another two years. Instead, in the first instance, he stole her money and made off as he did with Mrs FW and Miss SAF.
George Smith soon determined that Beatrice Mundy was receiving the £8 a month income and that she had a further £138 that had been retained by her trustees for emergencies. It was noted that on their wedding day that George Smith had even instructed his solicitor to write to Beatrice Mundy's family solicitor for a copy of Beatrice Mundy's father's will and when he received it he saw that the bulk of the estate was beyond his grasp but that he could at least get the £138 and it was heard that by 13 September 1915 that he had possession of all of it except £3 which was used to pay for the professional fees.
After that, George Smith fled back to Bristol to his Third Wife, leaving Beatrice Mundy penniless.
Beatrice Mundy's brother said that on 26 or 27 August 1910 he was told by his uncle that Beatrice Mundy had married which was the first that he had heard of the matter, noting that he had never heard that she had been acquainted with anyone or had contemplated marriage. He said that he also later received a letter from Beatrice Mundy to the same effect, but noted that he had since destroyed it. He said that he heard nothing more about it until he was informed that Beatrice Mundy's husband had left her at which point he went to 14 Rodwell Avenue in Weymouth where he found her very much distressed and hysterical, saying that she had practically no clothing, was penniless and was in debt to the landlady.
Beatrice Mundy's brother said that Beatrice Mundy was in no fit state to travel at the time but that he later removed her to his address in Poole where she stayed for two or three months after which she left to live with some friends. He said that he didn't see her again.
After George Smith left Beatrice Mundy he wrote her a letter claiming that she had given him a disease. The letter read:
'Dearest, I fear you have blasted all my bright hopes of a happy future. I have caught from you a disease which is called the bad disorder for you to be in such a state proves you could not have kept yourself morally clean. It reminds me of what you told me in ref. to the immorality of the man. Anyhow you have got the disease somehow. I don't wish to say you have had connections with another man and caught it from him, But it is either that or through not keeping yourself clean. Now for the sake of my health and honour and yours too I must go to London and act entirely under the Doctors advice to get properly cured of this disease. It will cost me a great deal of money because it might take years before I am cured. The best thing for you to tell the landlady and everyone else that I have gone to France. But tell your uncle the truth that I have caught a certain disease from you and that I have told you that I shall not return to you until entirely cured. But even your uncle may not ever know that we are parted, unless he happens to visit you so you must keep him away. But if other relatives visit you tell them I have gone to France on business But you uncle tell him the truth, also tell your uncle that you have promised me faithfully to remain with the landlady here until I return. If he happens to ask you about the money, tell him that you kept all the money which was sent to you in a leather bag and 2 days after I had gone you happened to go to the beach and fall asleep and when you woke the bag of money was gone. If you do not carry out every word of my advice you will cause a lot of trouble and the whole affair will be in the Police Court and you will bring disgrace on yourself and relations now study this letter and whatever you do stick to everything you say never alter it or else you will get mixed up and make a fool of yourself. When you have read this letter take it in the street and tear it up.
After you have studied these letters whatever you do take them out in the street and tare them up and throw them away as I told you before tell everyone I am gone to France on business and remain here till my return. No one in in the world need know your disgrace if you do what I say and keep away from every one you know But if your Uncle happens to come here and demand why I have left take my advice and tell him the real truth, that I have caught a disease from you and promised to keep away till I am thoroughly cured, which may take weeks months or years, but he need not know anything in writing as long as he keeps away write to him a week before the 8th and mention nothing about it & ask him to send your money order for £8 instead of cheque but don't write before. It will take me a lot of money for cure. If you are asked by your uncle about the money say 2 days after I left you had it all in a hand bag and lost it on the beach while asleep. Now stick to every word of this and never alter it, or else serious trouble and disgrace will fall on all.
Ask you uncle about a week before the 8th to always send your cash in a money order so you can change it at the Post Office pay the L.Lady 25/- weekly for board and lodgings and take my advice and put 30/- out f the £8 into the Post Office Saving Bank, so it will come in handy for illness or other emergencies or for us when I return. If you do not I shall be angry when I return. You can believe me that I shall sure to return to you even if it is years to come pray do stop here in this town till I return, and leave the Will and Settlement in the care of the L.Lady till I come for them myself and tell the L.Lady that you have £8 every month interest on the Will, But whatever you do never leave any letters about so she could know the address of you relatives mark what I say, now tare this letter up at once and throw the pieces in the road'.
After going back to Bristol George Smith paid off the £93 mortgage on 21 September 1910.
George Smith and his Third Wife then moved about a bit, first going to Southend where they opened a small antique and general dealer's shop, staying for four months before then moving to Barking, Road, then Walthamstow and then back to Bristol in early 1912, in each place carrying on the same type of antiques business.
When they got to Bristol they opened a shop in Bath Road, Brislington. However, after seven weeks George Smith went off travelling leaving his Third Wife to run the shop in Bristol and whilst in Weston-Super-Mare he ran into Beatrice Mundy again, by chance and they rekindled their relationship.
Whilst George Smith was away he failed to maintain his Third Wife, sending her only 32 in five months and she eventually sold the shop, which wasn't doing very well, for £5 and didn't see George Smith again until about the end of July 1912 or beginning of August 1912 after he had murdered Beatrice Mundy.
Beatrice Mundy had gone to Weston-Super-Mare on 2 February 1912 to stay at a boarding house called Norwood and it was on 14 March 1912 when Beatrice Mundy had gone out to buy some flowers that she saw George Smith, by chance, staring out over the sea. After taking George Smith back to Norwood, Beatrice Mundy and George Smith went off together, never to return to Norwood and without collecting her things. It was heard that on the very day that George Smith and Beatrice Mundy met again that George Smith took Beatrice Mundy to a solicitors office in Waterloo Street in order to initiate communication with Beatrice Mundy's relations in order to extract more money. It was heard that George Smith explained his actions of August 1910, saying that he had borrowed the money and he gave Beatrice Mundy a promissory note for that sum with 4% interest. It was heard that the solicitor had advised Beatrice Mundy to send the promissory note to her uncle but she never did and it was assumed that George Smith had frustrated that effort.
The solicitors letter that explaining George Smith's actions of 1910 following his return read:
'Dear Sir, We have been consulted by Mr and Mrs Williams who we are pleased to state have now adjusted the differences which arose between them and are now living together as man and wife again.
They are both desirous that we should write to you in order to make you acquainted with these facts and also to give some explanation with a view to removing any apprehensions which may be in your mind in regard to a loan of £150 which was made some time ago by Mrs Williams to her husband.
The facts in regard to this transaction appear to be that some time prior to his marriage Mr Williams went abroad and to enable him to do so he borrowed money from certain of his friends and the £150 advanced by his wife was for the purpose (as indeed Mrs Williams understood at the time), of discharging these debts.
We have advised that Mr Williams should give his wife a Promissory Note for £150 such note to bear interest at 4% per annum, and this he is quite willing to do.
Both our clients think it is due to you as the Trustee of Mrs Williams to be informed of the circumstances in which Mr Williams left his wife.
The fact appears to be that Mr Williams was (though as it turns out wrongly) under the impression that he had contracted a contagious disease. In consequence he designed to be absent from his wife for a time and was naturally reluctant to tell her of his true reason for leaving. It is, however, only fair to him to state that he wrote a letter to Mrs Williams at Weymouth informing her of the circumstances and of his intention to return so that he has since been assiduous in his efforts to find her in order to provide her with a home.
Mrs Williams informs us that she is willing to forgive the past and that she has decided to live again with her husband.
As the contents of these letters are of a private character we must ask you to kindly treat them in confidence'.
Beatrice Mundy's brother said that he received a letter from George Smith on 18 March 1912 with a short note added by his sister, Beatrice Mundy, addressed from 35 Wilmount Street in Woolwich and after that they received a number of letters regarding financial matters that they delayed for as long as they could.
After meeting in Weston-Super-Mare George Smith and Beatrice Mundy moved about a bit and eventually went to Herne Bay on 20 May 1912 and took up residence at 80 High Street, signing a year’s tenancy for £18 a year, payable monthly.
At the trial the clerk that arranged the rental said, 'On or about 20th May, a man giving the name Henry Williams came to me in regard to 80 High Street. I recognise him in the photo. He was clean shaven. He asked what the rental was, and I told him £18 per annum on a yearly tenancy, but he said that would not suit him, as he got his money monthly. I said if it was only a question of the payments I had no doubt we could arrange it. I showed him our printed form of agreement, and he said he would like to take the house. I asked him how many people were to occupy the house, and he said, 'Only my wife and I. We have been married two years no family.' I asked him what reference he could give me, and he said none. I then asked if he could not give me his previous landlord, and he said, 'Never had one' that previous to his marriage he had been living abroad a good deal. I asked where he had been living for the two years he had been married, and he said, 'We have been going about to different places and living in furnished rooms. I have just come from Ashley.' I asked him for a solicitor's reference, but he could not give me one, and then I said, 'Have you a banking account?' On that he put his hand in his coat pocket and pulled out a book. I looked at the cover and said, 'Oh, that is a post office savings bank Book. I do not mean that sort.' I held out my hand to take it, but he put it back again as he said, 'You need not be afraid. There is between £50 and £60 there.' I said, 'If you are going to furnish the house it won't leave much to live on,' and he replied, 'Oh, but my wife has a private income paid monthly. I have not got anything except that. I dabble in antiques.' Speaking about his wife he said, 'I might just as well tell you she is a notch above me. She is the daughter of a bank manager, and I met her in a boarding-house. Her friends did not at all approve of the marriage.' The owner then came in. I briefly explained the circumstances, and we finally settled that he must have the house on a yearly tenancy, but he could pay the money monthly, the first month to be paid in advance, and the other months as they became due. The house was fit for giving possession at once. A few days later I went over the house with the prisoner to check the landlord's fixtures contained in the schedule, the agreement dated 20th May, between the owner and Henry Williams, of 4 King's Road, Herne Bay. Williams paid the first month's rent on 20th May, and I handed to him the key of the front door. There is no bathroom in this house, nor is there any water laid on upstairs'.
After moving into 80 High Street, where George Smith would later murder Beatrice Mundy in the bath, George Smith started to look into Beatrice Mundy's finances and the £2,500 that she had in gilt-edged securities. He got hold of another copy of her voluntary settlement and went to a solicitors office in Herne Bay to discuss raising money and it was considered that Beatrice Mundy's trustees were thought very unlikely to permit Beatrice Mundy buying an annuity with the money or to consent to a revocation of the settlement and it was noted that if Beatrice Mundy died intestate that her estate would have gone to her next-of-kin under the Statute of Distributions and he would get nothing.
However, it was realised that if they left wills in each other's favour, Beatrice Mundy with £2,500 and George Smith with no money at all, that if she died he would get it all and as such mutual wills were drawn up and executed on 8 July 1912.
At about the same time Beatrice Mundy's brother said that they received a number of letters from 80 High Street, Herne Bay and he said that he was consulted by his uncle with regards to Beatrice Mundy's estate and Beatrice Mundy's applications for her estate to be made over to her, but said that as far as he knew that that was delayed as much as possible and that every obstacle was put in the way to do that but that they eventually granted her request.
He said that Beatrice Mundy later wrote to say that she had made her will out leaving everything to George Smith and that another letter followed almost immediately saying that she had had a fit and that she was feeling very ill.
The following day, 9 July 1912, George Smith went out and ordered an iron bath. It was noted that the bath cost £2, but that George Smith had reduced the price down to £1 17s 6d. However, it was further noted that he didn't pay for it either, as after murdering Beatrice Mundy in the bath on 13 July 1912, he took the bath back to the ironmongers on 15 July 1912 and got a refund.
The man that sold him the bath said at the trial, 'I recognise the prisoner. I first saw him sometime in May, 1912. In July of that year I had a second-hand bath for sale, which the prisoner saw standing in my shop, He asked me the price and I said it was £2. His wife came in a day or two afterwards and offered 37s. 6d., which I accepted. The bath was delivered about 9th July. The bath was a five-foot bath with a plug at the bottom. A few days after 13th July I saw the prisoner again in my shop. He asked me if I would take the bath back again. I do not think he gave any particular reason for asking me to take it back, except that he was leaving the neighbourhood. The bath had not been paid for, and I took it back. There was never anything paid for the bath.
After the man gave his evidence the bath was brought into the court for display.
The bath was noted for having had no taps or fixings at all and required filling and emptying by hand. It was also noted that there was no water laid on upstairs in the house where Beatrice Mundy took her bath.
On 10 July 1912, the day after buying the bath, George Smith took Beatrice Mundy to see a doctor in Herne Bay and told him that Beatrice Mundy had had a fit. The doctor had been in practice for two years and it was later heard that George Smith gave him little information about the fit, but instead gave positive acknowledgement to the leading questions that the doctor gave him about the expected symptoms of a fit, such as limbs twitching, jaws moving, etc. Although when Beatrice Mundy's was questioned and told the doctor that she remembered nothing more than having had a headache, the doctor prescribed bromide of potassium which was a general sedative.
The doctor went to see Beatrice Mundy on Friday 12 July 1912 but the doctor found that there was nothing wrong with her other than she looked like she had just woken up, noting that it was a hot day, but he prescribed her more bromide. However, George Smith called him out again that day at 3pm and he again found that there was nothing wrong with Beatrice Mundy, noting that she complained of nothing worse than lassitude.
When the doctor was questioned at the trial he said, 'Two people walk into my consulting room and tell me a tale that is consistent with epilepsy. At that time I have to put some leading questions, but I have no reason to suppose that there is any suspicion attaching to them. However, I get the information, and the information leads me to suppose that it sounds like epilepsy that this woman is suffering from, It is not wonderful that I do not see her in a fit, because in nine cases out of ten when you are first consulted about an epileptic attack you do not see the patient in a fit. I am called in a day and a half afterwards, and again I do not see her in a fit, but her condition is not inconsistent with that of a person who has had a fit recently. The following day I am called in, and I find her drowned in a bath. Again I have no suspicion. I have no reason for suspicion that there is any foul play. The woman is grasping a piece of soap in her hand, and, as has been said, people when they are seized by the legs, or something else like that, would put out their hands to grasp the bath. I cannot understand to this day how it was that she was grasping that soap. I did not examine the soap at all, I simply released it from her grasp'.
When the doctor was asked whether he thought that if a person died suddenly with something in her hand that it would that be still retained after death, he replied, 'Yes', but when asked whether he thought that a person had fainted with something in their hand would retained their grip on an object, he replied, 'I should think not. I do not know'.
It was noted that before Beatrice Mundy went to bed again that she wrote her uncle a letter which read:
'Last Tuesday night I had a bad fit, and one again on Thursday night. It has left me weak and suffering from nerves and headache, and has evidently shaken my whole system. My husband has been extremely kind and done all he could for me. He has provided me with the attention of the best medical men here, who are constantly giving me medical treatment, and visiting me day and night. I do not like to worry you with this, but my husband has strictly advised me to let all my relatives know and tell them of my breakdown, I have made out my will and have left all I have to my husband. That is only natural, as I love my husband'.
George Smith called for the doctor again the following morning, 13 July 1912 at about 8am, telling him that he thought that Beatrice Mundy was dead. When the doctor arrived he found Beatrice Mundy dead in the bath with her head beneath the water with a piece of Castile soap clutched in the right hand. The doctor said that there was no pulse but that her body was still warm and he tried artificial respiration but with no result.
A police constable later came by at 10am and took a statement from George Smith, noting that the bath was three thirds full.
He said, 'I was at Herne Bay in June, 1912. About ten o'clock on the morning of the 13th I went to 80 High Street. I had heard of the death of Mrs. Williams. I saw the prisoner at the house and told him who I was and what I had come about. I asked to see the body, and he said, 'was it necessary?' I replied that it was quite necessary, and then I went upstairs'.
He said that he then went upstirs where he saw the bath which was about three parts full of soapy water and then took a statement from George Smith. The said that George Smith said they had both got up together at 7.30am that morning, and that he went out to get some fish and returned at about eight o'clock, unlocked the door, went into the dining room and called to his wife. He said that George Smith then said that after getting no reply he went into the bedroom that they used on the same floor, but she was not there and that he then went upstairs to the back bedroom and found Beatrice Mundy in the bath with her head under the water. He said that he then raised her head and spoke to her, but got no reply and then went for the doctor who came almost immediately and assisted him to lift her out of the bath. He added that the doctor applied artificial respiration, but to no avail.
After Beatrice Mundy was found dead and the doctor and constable left George Smith went out to make arrangements for laying out Beatrice Mundy's body and went to see his neighbour who could not come immediately, but later went across at 2pm. It was noted that when he went into the room Beatrice Mundy was still lying naked on the floor, which he said gave him a bit of a shock, but noted that she had had a sheet about her feet and that he then pulled it up and covered her body and then asked George Smith for a pillow to put under Beatrice Mundy's head as it was lying on the bare floor.
On the day Beatrice Mundy died George Smith sent a telegram to her family that read, 'Bessie died in a fit this morning; letter following. Williams', which they received shortly after reading the letter that she had just sent them.
George Smith then sent a letter to them that arrived on the Monday that read, '13th July, 1912, 80 High Street, Herne Bay, Kent, Dear Sir Words cannot describe the great shock I suffered in the loss of my wife. The doctor said she had a fit in the bath, and I can assure you and all her relatives that everything was done which was possible to do on her behalf. I can say no more. Believe me, Yours faithfully, Henry Williams'.
However, it was noted that the letter contained no mention of the inquest or would it would be held and the first they heard of it was on the day that it was being held even though they had written to the Coroner on the Sunday 14 July 1912 asking that a post mortem be carried out on the grounds that Beatrice Mundy had died so suddenly. However, the Coroner carried out the inquest without a post mortem, noting, 'assuming the husband was fond of his wife, and there was no evidence to the contrary, but a great deal of evidence that he was, it was a terrible blight'. The result was that only George Smith and the doctor, who had only been in practice for two years, gave evidence and the Coroner returned the following verdict:
'The cause of her death was that while taking a bath she had an epileptic seizure, causing her to fall back into the water of the bath and be drowned, and so the deceased died from misadventure'.
At the inquest, George Smith's deposition read:
'I live at 80 High Street, Herne Bay, and am an art dealer. I identify the body as that of my wife, Bessie Constance Annie Williams, who lived with me at the same address, aged 35. I have been married to her two years. No children. During the last week my wife has been very queer. She had a sort of nervousness and headache. She had a fit on Tuesday night, another on Thursday night. She had never had fits before. On Wednesday morning I went to see the doctor with my wife. The doctor sent medicine, which she took. On Thursday morning at 1am she had another fit. She was in bed at the time. I went for the doctor, who returned with me. He saw my wife. The fit was by then over, but she was nervous and her hands were clammy. I went back with the doctor and fetched some more medicine, which she took. On Friday afternoon the doctor came. She was all right Friday night. On Saturday morning, 13th July, 1912, we both got up together about 7.30, I went out for a stroll and got some fish. I returned about eight o'clock. No one was in the house excepting my wife when I went out. I locked the front door when I went out. We always did that, as the slam-to latch was out of order. I went into the dining room and called out for her; then I went upstairs, looked into the bedroom, and then into the bathroom. She said the night previously she would be having a bath that morning. She was in the bath. Her head was right down in the water, submerged. She had a piece of soap in her hand. I spoke to her, raised her head. I pulled her head right out of the water and rested it on the side of the bath. I then went straight after the doctor. I asked him to come. I went back at once and had just got upstairs when I heard the doctor coming. I called him up. Her head had sunk down again in the bath, her mouth being on a level with the water. The doctor felt her pulse and said he was afraid she was dead, The doctor and I got her out of the bath. I held her tongue while the doctor used artificial respiration. After about ten minutes he said it was hopeless. The bath was about three-quarters full. It was tepid. I did not get the water. We slept down-stairs, and I had not been upstairs that morning previous to finding her in the bath. We have been on good terms together. I had only just bought a lot of new things for her, clothes and furniture. Her life was not insured. She had private means. I have never seen any of her relatives. I communicated the news of her death to her uncle and her brother on the Saturday soon after the doctor left. Paper shown to me purporting to be a copy of a letter from her brother to me, has not, in fact, been received by me. [Then questions put by the jury] The water would have to be carried upstairs into the bathroom. She must have carried it up herself, I do not know when. I cannot say whether she was dead when I first saw her in the bath. I found no life in her then. There was a bucket in the bathroom. I came from Ashford to Herne Bay, Kent, about three months ago. My wife bought the bath, we had it fixed. It had to be emptied by the bucket, as there was no pipe to drain it. [Recalled] I wrote the note to the doctor in my house before I went for the doctor. Henry Williams'.
It was noted that there were twelve doctors in Herne Bay and that the doctor that George Smith had chosen to attend to Beatrice Mundy was the most junior of them all.
Following the inquest, George Smith wrote another letter to Beatrice Mundy's family that read, 'Dear Sir, I hope you received my letter this morning. The result of the inquest was misadventure by a fit in the bath. The burial takes place tomorrow at 2 p.m. I am naturally too sad to write more to-day', which was the first that her family had heard of any inquest.
Following the inquest, George Smith arranged Beatrice Mundy's funeral which took place on Tuesday 16 July at 2.30pm and cost seven guineas. George Smith was offered the option of a grave for 8s 6d, but he decline and she was buried in a common grave.
After the funeral George Smith resold the piano and the furniture from 80 High Street for £20 4s.
He then went to see the clerk and secretary to the owner of 80 High Street to tell them that his wife had died and he was moving away. The clerk said, 'I first heard of her death on 16th July. I had no knowledge of any inquest having been held on the 15th. On the morning of the 16th I was in my office. The prisoner came in. He was extremely agitated. Immediately he got in he came up to my desk, which is rather a high one, bent down his head, and commenced to sob. I was very much surprised, and asked him what was the matter. He continued sobbing, and I then said, 'Has anything happened?'. He looked up and said, 'Have you not heard? She is dead.' I said, 'Who is dead?', and he said, 'My wife. She had a fit during the week. I went out. She went to have a bath, and she must have had another fit, for when I came back I found her dead in the bath.' I was so shocked that I was quite unable to say anything. I simply stood there and looked at him. And then all at once he said, 'Was it not a jolly good job I got her to make her will?' I still could not say anything; indeed, I was more shocked, and he appeared to be angry because I did not say something. Then he said, 'Well, is it not the correct thing when people marry for the wife to make her will and leave everything to her husband, and her husband to make his will and leave everything to his wife?'. I then said to him, 'Did you make yours' and he said, 'Yes.' I then looked at him very straight and said, 'I thought you told me you had not got anything'. He said, 'Oh, well, I made my will all the same.' He then told me there had been an inquest the previous day. I asked him, 'Did you let her relatives know?', and he said, 'Yes, I did, and the brutes sent a letter to the coroner, saying it was a very suspicious case. I have never seen any of them, and I never want to.' He also said there was some fellow there who was making notes, and he supposed they had sent him. He went on to tell me that his wife's father had died raving mad, I said to him, 'Where did you tell me her relatives lived?' and he replied, 'I have never told you, but it is a long way off.' He had never told me. That is all I can remember taking place at that interview. He came again on 24th July, and said, 'Well, Hogbens are clearing the furniture out today' and I said, 'What about the rent? There is another month due today.' He said, 'Yes, I have come to pay you,' which he did. He said I must try and let the house for him, but I told him I had no means of letting houses, and he had better see the local agents and try and get some of them to let it on his behalf. He said the doctor had advised him to go away for a short change and get his nerves quieted down; he was not going far; he thought he should not be gone long, and while he was gone, would I look him up a little place in the country with some land, as he should like to buy a place. I said, 'About what figure?' and he said, 'No more than £400.' That was the last time I ever saw him'.
George Smith then went to see the solicitors that that had drawn up the wills and instructed them to obtain probate of Beatrice Mundy's will. A caveat was lodged by Beatrice Mundy's family at about the end of July, but was later withdrawn on 8 August 1912, and over autumn of 1912 all the securities covered by the settlement, except £300 of Cape of Good Hope stock which was retained until early 1913 against a liability of the estate for unpaid calls on shares in a moribund company, were handed over to George Smith. After receiving the money, George Smith converted it into gold and notes and then into house property and then again into cash and then into an annuity. In total, the police determined that George Smith got £2,403 15s from the will.
Beatrice Mundy's brother said that he had never known Beatrice Mundy to have fits other than the one she had had in Weymouth when George Smith left her the first time and said that she was otherwise generally healthy. However, he said that she was always a woman who was easily led.
After Beatrice Mundy died, George Smith wrote to his Third Wife and arranged to meet her in Margate after which they went to Tunbridge Wells and then moved about. He told her that in the time he had been away that he had gone to Canada where he had bought a Chinese image for a song and sold it for £1,000.
It was noted that in August or September 1913 that George Smith met a woman aged between 28 and 30 in Weston-Super-Mare who was a governess, looking after a boy and two girls there and he and his Third Wife became friendly with her and would ask her round for tea, her doing so about three or four times. It was additionally noted that George Smith later told his Third Wife that he was going to insure the governess as an 'investment' and that an insurance agent was actually called to discuss it and that a £500 policy was provisionally arranged although George Smith's Third Wife had said that she was against the idea. It was said that George Smith's Third Wife even accompanied the governess to see the insurance company's doctor who passed her as a first-class life. However, it was thought that George Smith soon after either cancelled the policy and got his premium back, or it never actually existed in the first place.
In October 1913 George Smith left his Third Wife again, telling her that he was going travelling after he had dropped £600 over his houses, and when he returned he had murdered Alice Burnham.
The Case - Alice Burnham
George Smith first went to Southsea after leaving his Third Wife. It was thought that he had met Alice Burnham in the chapel she attended. She had been employed as a nurse for an old gentleman and was described as a stout, but healthy young woman who had recently recovered from a relatively serious operation.
Alice Burnham's father who was a fruit grower who lived at Yew Trees in Ashton Clinton, Buckinghamshire, said that Alice Burnham was a trained nurse and in October 1913 she had been engaged as a private nurse to a gentleman in Granada Road, Southsea, saying that she had been there for about three years. He said that she visited them occasionally but always came over for her yearly holiday.
He said that when his son was married he gave him a Coal Business that he had been set up in at the time and £40 to each of his four daughters. He said that Alice Burnham came home shortly after that and told him that she had enough money to make the £40 up to £100 and asked him to put it into his bank for her which he agreed to do and said that the money remained there.
Within a few days of meeting her they had agreed to get engaged and it was noted that when George Smith went to propose to her that he had brought his bank books and private papers with him and on 15 October 1913 Alice Burnham announced her engagement to George Smith and on 4 November 1913 they married at the Portsmouth Registry Office.
George Smith soon determined Alice Burnham's worth, that being £27 19s. 5d in the Savings Bank, £100 due from her father and £10 from her sister as well as her possessing a quantity of jewellery and clothing.
Before they married George Smith wrote a letter after which they went to Aston Clinton to meet Alice Burnham's parents on 25 October 1913. They were met by Alice Burnham's father in his pony and trap at Tring Station but by 31 October they were asked to leave after George Smith's behaviour was found to objectionable. It was later heard that Alice Burnham's father had taken such a strong dislike of George Smith and had described his as of 'very evil appearance, so much so that he could not sleep whilst Smith was in the house, as he feared Smith was a bad man, and that something serious would happen'.
Alice Burnham's father said that on 16 October 1913 that he received a letter from Alice Burnham dated 15 October 1915 in which she told him that she had married a man named George J Smith which he said was the first that he had heard of George Smith. He said that his wife answered his letter and said that they would be pleased to see them both and that they later received a letter on 22 October 1913 saying that they were going to visit on Saturday 25 October 1913.
He said that they arrived at Tring Station and he met them there with his pony trap and that Alice Burnham introduced George Smith to him and that he then took them home, noting that they stayed until 31 October 1913. He noted that it had been arranged for them to stop longer but said that George Smith had made himself so objectionable that he told Alice Burnham that they had better leave.
It was further noted that Alice Burnham's father had later gone to Somerset House in London to inquire into George Smith but could find no trace of his birth there.
As well as making efforts to secure her wealth, which he mostly accomplished by 20 October 1913, George Smith arranged for a £500 life Endowment Policy to be taken out on Alice Burnham's life.
Following their marriage, George Smith wrote to Alice Burnham's father to request the £100, but Alice Burnham's father was suspicious of George Smith and refused to send it until George Smith threatened him with proceedings. Alice Burnham's father eventually sent George Smith by way of his solicitor £104 1s 1d on 29 November 1913 which George Smith received in his bank account on 4 December 1913.
It was noted that when Alice Burnham's father initially refused to send George Smith the £100 that he instructed his solicitor to write to George Smith to ask him about himself but that George Smith had replied by returning an insulting post card. The postcard reply, dated 24 November 1913, read, 'In answer to your application regarding my parentage etc. My mother was a Buss horse, my Father a Cab driver, my sister a rough rider over the artic regions, my Brothers were all gallant sailors on a steam roller. This is the only information I can give to those who are not entitled to ask such questions, contained in the letter I received on 24 Inst. Your despised Son in law. G. Smith'.
Alice Burnham's father said that Alice Burnham and George Smith had married without his consent and said that that was one of the things that he had objected to. He said that on 1 November 1913 he received a letter dated 31 October from Alice Burnham giving her address as 80 Kimberley Road, East Southsea, and that on 5 November 1913 he received a latter dated 4 November 1913 saying that they had been married that day and asking him to forward the £100 that Alice Burnham had saved in his account. He said that the letter was from Alice Burnham but that he didn't reply to it. He said that he received another letter sometime later which his wife replied to the effect that they could not understand why she should want the money as according to what she had told them George Smith had plenty of money.
Alice Burnham's father said that he received three more letters that he did not reply to, one on 12 November 1913 and one on 19 November 1913 from George Smith and the third from Alice Burnham on 22 November 1913 and that on 22 November 1913 he went to consult his Solicitor in Aylesbury on the matter who wrote George Smith the letter asking about his background. He said that he got the reply to that in the form of a postcard from George Smith on 24 November 1913 as well as a post card from Alice Burnham.
He said that the reason that he delayed sending the £100 was because he mistrusted George Smith but that on 28 November 1913 under the advice of his solicitor that he drew a cheque for £104 1s 1d, which included the interest, which he made payable to his solicitors with instructions to pay it to Alice Burnham.
After arranging the will, George Smith and Alice Burnham went to Blackpool on 10 December 1913 where they first called at 25 Adelaide Street, a Company House, to enquire about rooms but after finding they did not have a bath they went to 16 Regent Road where they took lodgings with a woman.
The landlady of the Company House in 25 Adelaide Street said that George Smith called a few days before she read about Alice Burnham drowning in the bath to enquire about a room saying that they had come from Portsmouth and were looking to engage a furnished bedroom. She said that she shewed them a room on the first floor and that they agreed to take it but that after some conversation George Smith asked, 'Is there a bathroom', and that she said, 'No' and that Alice Burnham then said, 'Well this won’t do for us if there is no bathroom', and that he then declined to take the room. However, she said that knowing that the house in Regent Road had a bathroom she recommended him to try there. She said that she never saw them again and that they were only in her house for five minutes.
George Smith and Alice Burnham then went to 16 Regent Road where they took a room.
The landlady who kept a Company House there with her daughter said that George Smith came by at a bout 5pm on 10 December 1913, with Alice Burnham and asked, 'Do you let apartments' to which she replied 'Yes, what is it you require', noting in her statement that she had a card in the window to that effect. She said that George Smith then said , 'We want a combined bed sitting room', after which he asked, 'Do you have a bath?', to which she replied she did and he then said, 'That's alright then'.
She said that Alice Burnham was apparently in good health at the time. She said that George Smith then asked if they could have tea and she said yes and asked them what time they wanted it, to which George Smith replied, 'A plain tea at 6 o’clock' and they then went up to the bedsitting room on the first floor front and after they appeared satisfied with it they went off saying that they were going to fetch some luggage.
The landlady said that George Smith and Alice Burnham returned at 6pm with their luggage which consisted of a reddish brown holdall and that they had some tea and did some writing during which George Smith asked what time the post went out and said that she told him 8pm. The landlady said that George Smith and Alice Burnham then went out at 7.30pm and returned at 10pm and that she didn't see any more of them that night.
On the day they took lodgings at 16 Regent Road, George Smith took Alice Burnham to see the doctor, telling him that Alice Burnham had a headache on account of the train journey and he prescribed her something for it.
George Smith sent a postcard to Alice Burnham's mother from Blackpool, probably on 11 December, but which was postmarked 12 December 1913, 9.45pm, which read, 'Alice is very ill I will wire you tomorrow. Yours George'.
On 11 December 1913 Alice Burnham asked for a bath which the landlady prepared. However, shortly after George Smith went to see the landlady and said that he he could not make Alice Burnham hear and so the landlady went to look and found Alice Burnham dead in the bath and the doctor was sent for.
Alice Burnham's father said that he received a couple of other letters following the earlier ones about money and that on 12 December 1913 he got the postcard from Alice Burnham written from 16 Regent Road, Blackpool, which he said was his first intimation that they had proposed visiting Blackpool. He said that from her previous letters that he had got the impression that Alice Burnham had been planning on going to Scotland.
Alice Burnham's father said that he had never known Alice Burnham to suffer from headaches and said that her general health was always good.
Alice Burnham had also sent her parents a letter, which read, '16 Regent Road, Blackpool, December 12th 1913. My dear Mother We arrived here last Wednesday, have very nice comfortable apartments and find Blackpool a lovely place. I am sorry to say that I have again suffered with bad headaches, and which necessitated my seeing a doctor my taking medicine. My husband does all he possibly can for me in fact, Dear, I have the best husband in the world. With fond love from us both, yours lovingly, Alice'.
On the morning of 11 December 1913 the landlady said that she saw George Smith and Alice Burnham in the lobby and asked them 'What about your dinner, are you wanting any?' to which she said that George Smith said, 'We will go out and fetch some in'. The landlady then said, 'I find vegetables and puddings for our customers but you must order before you go out'. The landlady said that George Smith and Alice Burnham went out and came back with some chops and asked her to prepare some potatoes and ordered dinner for 1pm. The landlady noted that before they went out and while they were all talking about dinner, she enquired whether they had slept alright and had been comfortable and said that Alice Burnham replied, 'Yes with the exception of a slight headache through travelling otherwise I had a good night'.
The landlady said that George Smith and Alice Burnham went out and returned at 1pm to dinner which she said her daughter took up to them and that they then went out again between 2.30pm and 3pm. She said that they returned again at about 5pm bringing in a small quantity of butter and a small tin of milk and that her daughter then made tea and took it up to them. The landlady said that George Smith and Alice Burnham then went out again at 7.30pm and returned at 10pm, saying that they had been to the 'pictures'. She said that when they went to their room she saw no more of them that night.
The landlady said that the following morning 12 December 1913 at about 8am that their bell rang and that her daughter went up to clear their room. She said that they had had a breakfast of bacon that they had brought down. She said that they came downstairs at about 10amand that she asked Alice Burnham if her head was any better and said that Alice Burnham replied that it was not much better and that she wish that it would clear away. The landlady said that George Smith and Alice Burnham then went out but came back soon after with some stewing beef and said that she enquired whether they wanted a pudding and said that George Smith replied, 'Yes we shall want one'. She said that she then asked what sort they wanted and said that George Smith said a Tapioca.
The landlady said that George Smith and Alice Burnham went out again and returned at 1pm for dinner which she took up and that they then went out again at 2.30pm and returned at 5pm, or just after at which point she said that George Smith asked her for some toast for their tea. The landlady said that she made some and took it up and that at about 6.15 she went up to clear the room and whilst doing so she saw Alice Burnham writing a post card, noting that there was other writing material on the table and that George Smith had been standing behind her looking over her shoulder. She said that she saw George Smith point something out to her that she had written and said, 'I shouldn't put that'.
The landlady said that George Smith and Alice Burnham then went out again at about 7.30pm, apparently to go to the post and said that Alice Burnham told her that they wouldn't be long. She said that before they went out that her daughter told her that they had asked for a hot water bath and that they returned at about 7.45pm and that her daughter then prepared the bath and informed her at about 8pm that the bath was ready. She said that soon after she heard her daughter say to Alice Burnham, 'Don't put too much cold water into it'.
The landlady said that about a quarter or 20 minutes after 8pm she saw water running through the ceiling and down the walls into the kitchen which was under the bathroom. She said that at that point George Smith was upstairs and that shortly afterwards, about 10 minutes later, he came down into the kitchen and brought two eggs and handed them to her and said, 'We will have for breakfast in the morning'. The landlady said that she took the eggs and conversed with George Smith for a few minutes and said that he then went back upstairs and that almost immediately afterwards she heard him say, 'Alice, Alice'. She said that she thought that he was calling for her daughter who then went to the bottom of the stairs and said that she then said to George Smith who was by then on the landing, 'Were you calling me', but said that George Smith replied, 'No, I was calling my wife to put the light out but she does not answer'. The landlady said that her daughter then said, 'You had better see if she is alright' and then returned to the kitchen.
The landlady said that shortly after that George Smith called out, 'My wife does not answer me, go for a Doctor, fetch a Doctor, fetch the Doctor she knows him'. The landlady said that she then ran for the doctor and brought him back to the house and said that the doctor then went upstairs and she went into the kitchen and that shortly after that she went to the top of the stairs and saw the doctor on the landing and said to him, 'Doctor, what is the matter' and said that he replied, 'She is dead in her bath'. The landlady said that she said, 'Nay Doctor', but that he replied, 'Oh yes, she is quite dead'. She said that at that stage George Smith was on the landing but said nothing.
She said that later on, between 0pm and 10pm that George Smith came down to the kitchen and she said, 'Oh dear, this is a bad job', and that George Smith replied, 'It is a bad job, I should never be surprised at anything after this'. The landlady said that she then asked him, 'What are you going to do about sleeping, because I won’t have you in the house', and said that George Smith replied, 'Oh, I could sleep in the room where she is, she won't hurt me'. However, the landlady said that she told him, 'You won't do that, you will have to go out to sleep' and said that he slept next door at number 18.
At the trial, when the landlady gave that evidence, George Smith was said to have interrupted the proceedings and exclaimed, 'This woman is a lunatic'.
The landlady said that in the afternoon that she had seen George Smith with a full bottle of whisky but that in the evening that there was only a little drop left in the bottle.
She noted that the landing and the stairs were covered with a thick carpet and that anyone could have gone from George Smith's room to the bathroom without being heard by anyone in the house.
She said that she had several conversations with George Smith about himself, and said that he said that he had been in the marines and had shaved off his moustache a fortnight previously. However, she added that he appeared to be very indifferent and callous with regard to Alice Burnham's death.
At some point after, George Smith sent a telegram to Alice Burnham's parents which was handed in at Blackpool at 11.30am and received at 12.14pm in Aston Clinton on 13 December 1913 which read, 'To Burnham, The Yew Trees, Aston Clinton. Alice died last night in her bath letter following Smith 16 Regent Road Blackpool'.
After getting the telegram Alice Burnham's parents travelled to Blackpool, arriving on the Sunday 14 December 1913.
The letter that George Smith wrote following the telegram, which was dated 13 December 1913, read, 'My Dear Mother-in-law After arriving here Alice complained of pains in the head and went to a doctor who examined her and gave her treatment. Yesterday she again complained to me and the landlady of pains in the head, when she sent you and her sister a postcard. After which I took her for a walk and she appeared better. Later on I find she had made arrangements with the landlady for a bath. About 20 minutes after she entered the bath I called out to her and got no answer, and after acquainting the people in the house that something is wrong in getting no answer, I entered the bath-room and found poor Alice with her head and shoulders under the water. The doctor who had previously attended her was sent for by my request to come at once, which he did. I held her head out of the water and let the water run off away from her. When the doctor came we lifted her out of the bath he examined her and said she is dead. I then went to the Police Station and asked them to send an official to come to the house and take particulars, which they did. This is the greatest and most cruel shock that ever a man could have suffered. Words cannot describe my feelings. We were so happy together, which she has told all her friends in her letters to them. The people here have been very kind right through the whole time. The inquest will be held early next week. I will then write you, sending all further particulars. Can you tell me her age when she had rheumatic fever, and her age when she was in the Great Ormond Street Hospital'.
The landlady said that Alice Burnham's parents arrived on the afternoon of 14 December 1913. However, she said that before they arrived that she had asked George Smith whether Alice Burnham's relatives would be attending the funeral and said that George Smith replied, 'No, they are too common and too poor' and said that he seemed very surprised when they did appear.
She said that Alice Burnham's parents had food at her house but that George Smith declined to pay their bill, saying that they had to pay for their own food which they did.
The landlady added that she had great difficulty in getting George Smith to pay for his own board and lodgings.
The inquest into Alice Burnham's death took place on 13 December 1913 and a verdict of death from drowning was returned. The full verdict stated that Alice Burnham suffered from heart disease, and was found drowned in a hot bath, probably through being seized with a fit or a faint and that her cause of death was accidental.
Her funeral was then arranged to take place on 15 December 1913.
It was noted that when George Smith went to see the undertaker about a coffin, he had told him that he wanted a deal coffin. It was heard that the undertaker had replied that he would not bury his wife like that even if he had not a penny in the world, to which it was said that George Smith had replied, 'When they are dead they are done with'.
It was noted by the police that in the letter that George Smith had sent Alice Burnham's parents dated 13 December 1913, he had told them that the inquest was to be held in the following week, but observed that in fact the inquest was held on the same day that the letter was written.
It was also noted that as a result the inquest was held quickly and only a few witnesses were present. It was further noted that George Smith, who was described as a transparently uneducated man had made the statement, 'I am a gentleman of independent means, and have never followed any occupation', which it was noted aroused no incredulity, more so when it was noted that he had in fact told the landlady at 16 Regent Road that he had been a marine.
It was also noted that George Smith's statements had discrepancies with regards to him pulling Alice Burnham out of the bath. It was noted that on the one hand when the doctor had arrived he had found Alice Burnham still in the bath and had asked George Smith why he had not pulled out the plug or lifted her out, to which he said that George Smith told him that he had not thought of that.
Alice Burnham's parents attended the funeral, but George Smith left immediately after it, telling Alice Burnham's parents that he had to get back to Portsmouth. He then went to 80 Kimberley Road where he took all of Alice Burnham's things and sold them.
Alice Burnham's father said that the next time that he saw George Smith was on Monday 1 March 1915 at Kentish Town police station when he saw him in a line up with a number of other men. He said that he identified him, but that whilst he was looking at him, George Smith had said, 'He knows I'm Smith, it’s no use fooling about'.
It was noted that when George Smith left 16 Regent Road on Monday 15 December 1913 that he left his card with the landlady asking her to forward him any papers containing accounts of the inquest. However, she said that she didn't do that as George Smith left her no money for the papers or the postage. However, it was noted that she wrote on the back of his card, 'Wife died in the bath. We shall see him again'.
On 18 December 1913 George Smith went to London to see Kingsbury & Turner solicitors in Brixton to instruct them to obtain probate and on 22 December 1913 he returned to his Third Wife in Bristol, telling her that he had been to Spain where he had done fairly well.
In January 1914 he went with his Third Wife to Cheltenham where he arranged for the insurance money, £506, to be paid to him which he then used to increase his annuity after which he and his Third Wife went back to Bristol. Shortly after they went to Bournemouth and then to Torquay after which they went back to Bournemouth where George Smith met Miss AR, a domestic servant.
Miss AR recounted her experience with George Smith in her statement:
'On 7 or 8 September I was in the gardens on the front, sitting on a seat, when a man came and spoke to me. We had some conversation, in which he said he admired my figure. After an hour's conversation, in which he informed me he was an artist, and had £2 a week from some land in Canada, he made an appointment for 6pm the same evening. I met him as arranged. He did not tell me where he was staying. I never knew. Next day I met him as arranged and he then told me his name was 'Charles Oliver James'. He said he had been to Canada, and his agents sent him his money. He also said he understood I had some money. I met him every evening, and I returned to Woolwich on the 14 or 15 September. After the third or fourth day of our acquaintance he asked me to marry him, and I consented, and he said he would put his money with mine and he would open an antique shop. He asked me how much money I had, and I said about £70 odd, and some furniture, including a piano. He asked me to sell them, and I decided to. We went to the registry office and were married by special licence [this was on 17th September]. In the meantime I had sold my belongings, and they realised £14. After we married we left Woolwich for Waterloo, and went to 8 Hafer Road, Battersea Rise, where he had taken two furnished rooms. On the way he showed me a lot of bank notes, and he asked me for my £14 to put in the bank with his. I gave it to him. When we got to our lodgings he produced a post office withdrawal form for me to fill up to draw all my money from the bank. I filled it up, and added, 'with interest to close account' and we went out together to post it. He put it in the box. I signed the withdrawal form in my maiden name, and he gave instructions to the landlady to take it in. About three days later the warrant for withdrawal was delivered, and he took it in. This was on Saturday 19th September, 1914. He kept the warrant. All my clothing was at this address, and was kept in four boxes. On 21st September we went to the post office, Lavender Hill, to obtain the money. He told me to ask for all £1 notes, but they gave me four £10 notes and two £5 notes, and the remainder in £1 notes and cash. In all I received £76 6s and some coppers. He picked up the notes and I the cash, the odd six shillings. I never saw the notes again. The same evening we packed our belongings, with the intention of getting another house. He went out to get a man to take the luggage to Clapham station, and later a man arrived with a barrow and took it away as I thought, to the station. He told the landlady we should go away next day. He paid the bill, I think 10s. I had bought all the food we had. On 22 September we left the house. We got on a tramcar, and on the way he spoke of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and asked me if I would like to go. He took penny fares, and we got off at some gardens. We walked through the gardens, and on getting to the other end he said he was going to the lavatory, and asked me to wait. I did so, and waited about an hour. He did not return, so I returned to 8 Hafer Road, and found the attached telegram waiting for me. [It ran, 'Wait home for letter. Next post. James.'] I remained as requested, and some hours later I received the attached letter (register ad), posted at Battersea. I stayed at Hafer Bead the same night, and returned to 39 Plumstead Common Road next day. None of my boxes arrived, and I have not seen them since. On 22nd February I attended Bow Street, and I identified a man known as George Smith as my husband. I communicated with the post office, and obtained the numbers of the notes paid on the warrant. When I married the prisoner he was clean-shaven. I value my clothing, jewellery, etc. at about £50. The result of my meeting with prisoner was that I was left with only a few shillings and the clothes I was actually wearing. What he had taken consisted of the whole of my life's savings'.
After taking all of Miss AR's life savings George Smith went back to his Third Wife who he gave the clothes that he had stolen from Miss AR, saying that he had been to a sale in London and had bought some lady's clothing and that what he had given her in a black chest was what he had left.
It was noted that whilst they were together after George Smith's trip to London that George Smith had threatened his Third Wife after she interfered with his business. She said, 'He remarked to me that, if I interfered with his business, I should never have another happy day, as the world was wide, and he would forfeit it all. This was because I had spoken about his annuity. Just after Xmas, 1914, we were living in apartments at 10 Kennington Avenue, Bristol, and I said I was going to have a bath. He said, 'In that ,bath there?', referring to the bathroom 'I should advise you to be careful of those things, as it is known that women often lose their lives through weak hearts and fainting in a bath'.
Then in November 1914 George Smith was described as having been restless and he told his Third Wife that he thought that he 'would have a run round again before Xmas with another ‘young fellow'', noting that he was always referring to another 'young fellow', that he had met.
However, it transpired that it was Margaret Elizabeth Lofty that he was referring to.
The Case - Margaret Lofty
George Smith met Margaret Lofty in Clinton in November 1914. Margaret Lofty had recently been disappointed in love having been involved with a man the year earlier who had turned out to have been married.
She had a brother and two sisters and it was considered that because George Smith lacked in address and education, and felt that her mother and sister's would be critical of him, she decided to go away with him and marry him in secret and on 15 December 1914 she wrote a letter from Bristol Station that read, 'I am off to a situation and meet my lady here. We go, I believe, to London for a day or two. Don't worry. Your affectionate sister, Peggy'.
Margaret Lofty's sister said that their father, who was a clerk in the Holy Orders, died in 1892 and that there were four girls and a boy in the family. She said that after her father died that her mother was left provided for and that she would say that she was left in comfortable circumstances.
She said that Margaret Lofty left home in January 1911 and returned in October 1914, remaining for about three weeks before she left again at which point she had been visiting friends and said that the last time that she saw her was 11 November 1914 when she went home for one day. She said that Margaret Lofty was out of a situation at the time and had been for some weeks but said that she understood that she was looking for another. She said that she knew that Margaret Lofty had had pleurisy when she was about 13 years old and said that she had never really been strong and robust and that from time to time that she had been seen by their family doctor. She said that the last time that she saw her Margaret Lofty had been in her usual health.
She said that she knew that Margaret Lofty had some money that had been left to her some years before and knew that practically all the money she had had been kept in the Post Office Savings Bank. She said that Margaret Lofty was always very reticent about her private affairs but said that she did know that about 12 months ago that she had been engaged to be married and that a notice of marriage had been given when it was discovered that the man was already married which she said seemed to worry Margaret Lofty a good deal, noting that she spoke to her about it. However, she said that as far as she knew that that was the only love affair that she had ever had and that she had never told her anything about being engaged to anyone and added that she was not in the least acquainted with any man. Margaret Lofty's sister added that she was not aware that Margaret Lofty had ever insured her life.
Margaret Lofty then went to Bath with George Smith, staying at Dalkeith House, 4 Stanley Road, and married on 17 December 1914 after which they went straight to London, arriving the same day and then going to 16 Orchard Road in Highgate where George Smith had booked a room the previous Monday, paying a 6s deposit. However, the guest house was run by two women, one Dutch and the other German and they had previously been robbed by some guests and were as such careful about who they allowed to stay. One of the women said, 'I did not like the way he asked about the bath', and noted that they did not take in undesirable lodgers without references. It was heard that when George Smith had called on the Monday he had asked to see the bath and had looked at it 'as if he was measuring it with his eyes' and had then said, 'This is rather a small bath, but I dare say it is large enough for someone to lie in'. George Smith then paid the deposit and left, but it was heard that he had made such a bad impression on the landlady that she had decided by the Thursday not to let him stay.
On the day that Margaret Lofty left with George Smith, 15 December 1913, she wrote a letter to her sister that read:
'Dear Sister, I am off to a situation and meet my lady here. We go, I believe to London for a day or two, am looking after her while her daughter has a holiday. It is only for a short time I believe. Hope to see you soon, will write full particulars as soon as ever I can. Don't worry, am well and happy. Sorry not to have been able to tell you before, but it was arranged so quickly barely any time, Your affectionate Sister, Peggy'.
On the day that Margaret Lofty married George Smith she wrote her sister and mother a letter. The letter read:
'Dear Sister and Mother, No doubt you will be surprised to know that I was married today to a gentleman named John Lloyd. He is a thorough Christian man, who I have known since June. I met him at Bath. He was then going to Canada and returning to England in September. While he was away we kept up a correspondence and found by the tone of each other’s letters that our tastes and temperaments and so forth were exactly in harmony, and as I have always been one to keep my personal affairs to myself, I said not a word to anyone about the matter. So I directed my intended husband to address his letters to me C/O General P. Office. Besides it was safer to do so because we might have moved from our house to another. So surely you will not blame me for doing so. It is only natural that I should do anything to secure the one I love, and I have every proof of his love for me. He has been honourable and kept his word to me in everything. He is such a nice man and am certain you would have liked him. That is why I regret to bringing him to see you. I hope you will forgive me for not doing so. My only fault was that I wanted to carry out my plan in my own way. After all I have only done what thousands have done. I will tell my husband all about my relations later on and no doubt he will pay you all a visit. I am perfectly happy. I hope Mother is quite well and yourself and things are now working smoothly with the new maid. Will you be kind enough to strap my box and forward same as early as possible to the above address (14 Bismarck Road, Archway Road, Highgate), as there are several articles in it I require at the present time. With love to you both, Yours affecy. Peggy Lloyd'.
When George Smith and Margaret Lofty arrived at Highgate on Thursday 17 December 1914 at about 3pm they were met by a man who told them that the rooms were not ready and told them to return at 6pm. They left their luggage, and George Smith was said to have left in a temper.
It was noted that after the previous trouble that the women had had with guests they had called on a Detective Sergeant and that the Detective Sergeant had been to the guest house earlier at 2.30pm and had advised them to ask the guests to return at 6pm when he would return.
However, George Smith and Margaret Lofty returned a little after 5pm but the landlady was so frightened by his evil appearance that she would not let him in. She said that he kept knocking and calling out to other people in the road that if it were not for his wife that he would have knocked the man that told him the rooms were not ready at 3pm out.
As the Detective Sergeant was due back at 6pm and George Smith was shouting outside, the landlady went into a neighbour’s house looking for him. She said that George Smith was at the door and that when she went out he asked her whether she had anything to do with the house and said that she said no. She said that they talked a lot but that she didn't remember exactly what about but did say that she remembered asking George Smith whether he had given a reference and said that he replied, 'I have never heard of such a thing. I have plenty of money and a banker; that is good enough'. It was also noted that he had told her that they had just got back from Canada, which it was noted that Margaret Lofty would have known was a lie and that he had been everywhere abroad, but had never been treated as he was being treated. She said that he said, 'I can see it is all planned. All I want is my money and luggage back; I have taken rooms somewhere else', but she noted that George Smith was not aware that she was the landlady as George Smith had met the other lady when he had called on the Monday, and noted that all the time that he was talking that he was running the place down.
However, the Detective Sergeant came by at 6pm and told George Smith that he was acting on behalf of the landlady and said, 'You cannot have the rooms, because you cannot furnish references', to which George Smith was said to have responded, 'They don't want us' and that they then took their bags and after they were given their deposit back they went off, it being noted that George Smith went off in a passion.
They then went to 14 Bismarck Road in Highgate where a woman had a furnished room to let for which George Smith paid a seven shillings deposit and then went away saying he was going to fetch his luggage. However, it was additionally noted that before they took the room that George Smith had enquired as to whether the room had a bath which he was told it was.
The landlady said that George Smith and Margaret Lofty called at her house at about 5pm and that when she answered the door, one of them asked her if she had a room to let and that she replied, 'How did you know I had rooms to let?' and said that George Smith said, 'Someone sent us'. The landlady said that she then said, 'I have a furnished room to let, but who has sent you here', to which George Smith replied, 'I don't know, it was dark'. She said that she then took them to a furnished bedroom on the second floor back and that they then asked for the price and she told them, '7s per week' which she said they agreed to.
The landlady said that when they first came they had no luggage but said that they wanted to come in that night which she said she agreed to. She said that George Smith then went off to get the luggage but that as they were coming down from the second floor that Margaret Lofty asked her, 'Have you a bathroom', to which she replied, 'Yes, there it is', at which point they were on the second floor. She said that they then went down the stairs into the sitting room where George Smith paid the 7s in advance after which he went off for the luggage leaving Margaret Lofty behind.
After George Smith left, the landlady said that Margaret Lofty asked her 'How far is it from here to the station and then to Orchard Road?' and said that she replied, 'I do not know, has your husband gone to the Station for the luggage', to which she said Margaret Lofty said, 'Yes'. The landlady said that she then asked Margaret Lofty how long she was there for and said that she did not know her husband's plans, but told her that they were going to Scotland for their honeymoon. The landlady said that she did not know when George Smith returned saying that he had a latch key, but did say that that they both went out again and that she didn't see them again that night noting that she thought that they had gone to bed early. She also said that she did not know if they had supper that night.
It was however noted then that after George Smith returned that he and Margaret Lofty went off to see a doctor at 30 Archway Road to treat Margaret Lofty and who prescribed for her.
The doctor who practiced at 131 Archway Road in Highgate said that at about 8pm on Thursday 17 December 1914 that George Smith and Margaret Lofty called on him and said that George Smith said, 'I have brought my wife to see you, she complains of a bad headache, which came on when we got out of the Tube Station at Highgate'. The doctor said that he examined Margaret Lofty and said that she seemed depressed and low spirited and complained of pain in the forehead. He said that she had no other symptoms but said that her pulse was quick and she had a temperature of 100.6, which he said suggested acute illness of some kind and said that he gave her something to relieve her headache and told her to let him know the next day if she was no better.
The landlady said that the following morning, 18 December 1913, between 8am and 9am that she took the breakfast into the sitting room where she saw George Smith, but said that Margaret Lofty was not down. She said that she asked George Smith, 'Will Mrs Lloyd have her breakfast upstairs?' and said that he replied 'I don't know, I'll see'. She said that she then left the room and did not see them again until sometime later when they were both in the sitting room.
The landlady said that she recalled that George Smith had told her either the night before or early that morning that he had taken Margaret Lofty to see the doctor as Margaret Lofty had not been feeling well and so she sad that she asked Margaret Lofty, 'How are you feeling Mrs Lloyd?', but said that she did not answer, but said that George Smith said, 'Mrs Lloyd is better, only had a little headache now'.
The landlady said that George Smith and Margaret Lofty both went out in the morning together and were away for some time but came back again at about 1pm for dinner and brought some fish which she cooked, and added that they also brought some Xmas pudding but said that she could not make it. She said that Margaret Lofty had given it to her the night before with some tea and sugar.
The landlady said that Margaret Lofty and George Smith then went out again after dinner and returned in the afternoon when they had tea which consisted of tea, bread and butter. She said that sometime during the afternoon that Margaret Lofty asked for a bath and said that she asked her what time she wanted it and said that she told her 'About 8 o'clock'.
During the day, 18 December 1914, Margaret Lofty and George Smith went to the office of a solicitor at 84 High Street in Islington to make her will, bequeathing everything to George Smith, who was appointed sole executor.
They also went to Muswell Hill Post Office where she withdrew all her money, £19 9s. 5d, having given notice of the withdrawal on 15 December 1914.
They then returned to 14 Bismarck Road at 7.30pm and at 8.15pm Margaret Lofty went for her hot bath.
The landlady said that at about 7.30pm that she saw Margaret Lofty and George Smith in the sitting room and went in and said to Margaret Lofty, 'Your bath is ready', and that Margaret Lofty replied, 'Very well' or 'Thank you' and that she then asked, ''You will take your own candle', noting that she had one in her bedroom. The landlady noted that there was gas in the bathroom but said that it was not used.
The landlady said that shortly afterwards she heard the harmonium in the sitting room being played which she said continued for about 10 or 15 minutes after which it ceased.
She said that about a few minutes later she heard the front door bang and presumed that George Smith had gone out and that about 15 minutes later she heard the front door bell ring and so she answered it and found George Smith there who she said, 'Oh, I forgot I had a key. I have been to get Mrs Lloyd some tomatoes for supper. Is she down yet?' to which she replied, 'I have not seen her'. She said that George Smith had a small parcel in his hand that he then placed on the hall stand and said, 'I will go and ask her if she would like them'. She said that George Smith then went upstairs and that when he was halfway up she heard him call Margaret Lofty by some name that she did not hear.
The landlady said that at that time she was standing at the foot of the stairs and George Smith was getting near the top of the first flight when she heard him say, 'My God there is no answer'. She said that she heard him call again but get no answer, and so she said, 'Perhaps she has gone to the bathroom'. She said that when George Smith got to the top of the first flight that he said, 'There is no light' and said that he then struck a light and then called out to her 'She is in the bath, come and help'.
The landlady said that she said, 'Oh, I can’t come Mr Lloyd' and then called out for another gentleman who she thought was in the house but got no reply.
The landlady said that she then went upstairs and that whilst passing the bathroom to find the gentleman that she thought was there that she heard George Smith ask, 'Shall I let the water off' and said that she replied, 'Certainly, let it off at once'. She said that George Smith then called out, 'Oh, do come and help me'.
She said that she then went to the bathroom and saw that there was a light, but could not remember whether it was the gas or the candle. She said that George Smith was then in the act of getting Margaret Lofty out of the bath, saying that he was lifting her but that her feet and legs were still in the bath. She said that George Smith said nothing and that she then felt Margaret Lofty's arm and found that it was cold. She said, 'I will fetch a doctor and a policeman but that George Smith then said, 'I'll go', but that she replied, 'No, I will go myself', and that George Smith then asked her to fetch the doctor that he had recently seen with Margaret Lofty, saying, 'Fetch the doctor of Archway Road, I took her to him last night'. She said that she then got the doctor and a constable.
When the constable arrive at the house soon after he declared that Margaret Lofty was dead.
The doctor said that on 18 December 1914 between 8.15pm and 8.30pm that the landlady from 14 Bismark Road called on him and that he then accompanied her to her house and that on arriving he went to the first floor where he saw Margaret Lofty lying on the floor and partly inside the bathroom. He said that she was nude with the exception that she was covered with a shawl or blanket. He noted that there was a constable there along with George Smith, but said that he didn't think that George Smith spoke at the time.
The doctor said that he then examined her body and found that her life was extinct. He said that the trunk of her body was warm, but that the extremities were cold and said that in his opinion she had been dead for some little time, but that it was impossible to say how long. He said that he then ordered her removal to the bedroom and that her body was then carried upstairs by the constable and George Smith and laid on the bed where he continued to examine it. The doctor said that he did not recall George Smith making any statement to him to account for Margaret Lofty's death, but said that he did say when he was in the bedroom, 'I hope this won’t be brought in as suicide, I hope they won’t find she was insane', or words to that effect. The doctor said that he then left and later carried out a post mortem examination.
Two days later George Smith called on the undertaker and asked for him to hold the funeral the following day.
The landlady said that she didn't see much of George Smith after Margaret Lofty died noting that she had a bad knee and was confined to her room. She said that when George Smith left he told her that he was going on a cycle tour and would be back in time for the resumed inquest. However, she said that he did not sleep in her house after the funeral. She said that he owed her about 10s when he left.
She later noted that there was a catch on the inside of the bathroom door and said that it was not broken.
The inquest was opened on 22 December 1915, but was adjourned until 1 January 1915. In the interval, George Smith went back to Bristol to his Third Wife on 23 December 1914, and returned to London on 31 December 1914.
When the inquest resumed the jury found that Margaret Lofty died from suffocation by drowning in the water.
On 4 January 1915, George Smith then went to a solicitors at 60 Uxbridge Road, Shepherd's Bush and produced Margaret Lofty's will and birth certificate and instructed him to obtain probate.
However, on 19 January 1915 the police became involved after certain suspicions were raised and communications were made across Aylesbury, with the GPO and in Bath and Bristol and once Margaret Lofty's bank books, bankbook, her withdrawal order, and receipt for £19 9s. 5d and other reports were received they prepared a report on 22 January 1915 with the subject title, 'Suspicious deaths'.
The police then kept a watch on the solicitors office at 60 Uxbridge Road and when on 1 February 1915 George Smith was seen to arrive and then leave he was arrested.
The Initial Investigation
It later emerged that it wasn't until the landlord of the boarding house in Blackpool where Alice Burnham died wrote to the police raising his wife's and the undertakers suspicions that the 14 Bismarck Road death was similar that the case was looked into by the police. The letter had contained newspaper clippings detailing the death of Margaret Lofty from The News of the World dated Christmas 1914 and the coroners account of the death of Alice Burnham at his boarding house.
On 19 January 1914 the police at Kentish Town police station reported into the findings of their investigation up to that point and stated that they had determined that Elizabeth Lofty had died in a bath at 14 Bismark Road in Upper Holloway and that George Smith had a few days later, 17 December 1915, returned to Bath. The report noted that the inquest returned a verdict of Accidental Death by Drowning at that time and that it was determined that there was an insurance policy on Elizabeth Lofty's life but that the details were not known. The report stated however that although they had no real grounds for suspicion that the death was anything other than accidental, something had come to their knowledge that made it desirable to institute further enquiry as to the antecedents of George Smith, who they said they knew nothing about. and added that they felt that it was desirable that George Smith should not get the money in question from Elizabeth Lofty's will for a while.
The report stated that they had requested details of the insurance arrangements but noted that under no circumstances was George Smith to be acquainted with the fact that the police were making enquiries and that as such, obstacles should be placed in the way of him obtaining the money in a way that didn't excite his suspicions.
Following the decision by the police to investigate the matter further they stated that they had little to go on other than that the two cases in Blackpool and Highgate were similar and observed that they were still required to carry out their investigation with discretion without alerting George Smith to the fact. They noted that they had no clear way of determining that the Mr Lloyd, husband or Mrs Lloyd, (Margaret Lofty) was in fact George Smith and could not obtain any photographs and so they determined to that the only thing they could do was to obtain a tracing of the signature of George Lloyd from the marriage register in Bath and compare it to one of George Smith's signatures. Other enquiries were extended to both Aylesbury and Blackpool to determine any further information that might help the police determine the true identity of the husband of Alice Burnham who had travelled with her to Blackpool.
The police report noted at the time that the strange part of it was that Elizabeth Lofty resided with her mother at 19 Woodstock Avenue in Relands, Bristol, noting that no enquiry should be made there, and until her marriage had not known George Smith. The report noted that it was apparent that Elizabeth Lofty had been in the best of health but had a had a cold and had had a hot bath that had then caused an attack of syncope. The report further noted that on the day of her marriage that Elizabeth Lofty had written a letter saying that she had known George Smith for four months, but her family said that they knew nothing of that.
However, after further investigations George Smith was arrested on 1 February 1915 as he left the solicitors office in Uxbridge Road. He was initially arrested on a charge of forgery, ie causing a false entry to be inserted in a Marriage Register at Bath.
The police said that when they first arrested George Smith he told them that he was a land agent but would give them no other account of himself. As such the police communicated with the Prison Commissioners to see if they could determine anyone that might be in communication with George Smith or who might be assisting him and also suggested taking a photograph of him with his cap on and off such that they could circulate it if necessary.
The police report stated, 'To my mind this man has no regular employment and I am of the opinion that he has been obtaining his living by victimising women. He had over £40 on him when arrested and over £50 in the bank'.
On 8 February 2015 the police reported that they had determined that Alice Burnham had married George Smith at the Portsmouth Registry Office on 4 November 1913 and had shortly before that insured her life in the North British & Mercantile Insurance Co. at 61 Threadneedle Street, London through their local agent in Portsmouth at 45-6 Pearl Buildings, Portsmouth and that after the marriage Alice Burnham had made her will out in favour of George Smith on which the police determined George Smith had obtained the full amount from the insurance company.
The police also determined then that George Smith had then on 8 October 1913 bought an Annuity of £76 with the North British & Mercantile Insurance Co costing £1,300. The police noted at the time in addition that they thought that it was very important to determine the full particulars of where the £1,300 had come from as they thought that it was the result of other dealings with insurance companies.
The body of Alice Burnham was ordered to be exhumed on 8 February 1915 at which point the body of Margaret Lofty had already been exhumed.
On 9 February 1915 the police additionally drew a connection between the case and that of a woman that died in similar circumstances in Luxor, Egypt in the winter season of 1912 or 1913 and efforts too were made to look into that and a communication was sent to the Commandant of Police in Cairo, Egypt in connection with that case to see if there was a connection. It was said that in the respective winter season a woman had been in Egypt when an Englishman arrived at Luxor with his wife and took a small villa with her there and that one day he invited some friends that he had made there to his villa and that when he had gone to call his wife he had found her dead in the bath. The woman had noted that it had caused a sensation at the time as the couple had not been married long. It was additionally noted that after the woman's death that the woman's brother had gone out to Luxor and had found out that the man had had another wife in England who had died in exactly the same way. However, the woman said that although they expected a trial that the man had actually absconded and nothing more about it was known. The woman said that as far as she could recollect the man was not a gentleman and said that the case had a close parallel with the Blackpool and Highgate cases.
However, on 10 February 1915 the police determined that George Smith had also married Beatrice Mundy at the Weymouth Registry Office at 14 Rodwell Avenue and then determined that they had gone to Herne Bay in Kent in June 1922 and that on 13 July 1912 Beatrice Mundy was found dead in her bath at 80 High Street after which an inquest was heard and the verdict of misadventure returned. The police also determined that George Smith had then benefited to the amount of £2,579 13s 7d from her death as he was her sole executor.
On 16 February 1915 George Smith was remanded on a charge of causing to be inserted in the marriage register at the Bath Registry Office a false entry relating to a marriage between himself, in the name of John Lloyd and Margaret Elizabeth Lofty. He had earlier admitted to marrying Margaret Lofty in Bath on 17 December 1914 who he had found dead at 14 Bismark Road in Highgate the following evening. He had at first denied that he was identical with 'George Smith' whose wife was found dead in a bath in similar circumstances on December 13th 1913 at Blackpool a few weeks after their marriage, but when he was pressed he later admitted that his proper name was George Smith and that his wife had died in Blackpool, and had then remarked, 'What about it? The entry in the register is not correct, but that is the only charge you can put against me. I must admit that the two deaths formed a phenomenal coincidence, but that is my hard luck'.
On 10 March 1915 correspondence was sent regarding the baths and it was stated that it was agreed by experts that had looked at them that it would have been impossible to have accidently drowned in any of them and as such it was considered that they were a very important factor in the case and it was suggested that the all be obtained as exhibits.
The police initially charged George Smith with the murders of Alice Burnham and Margaret Lofty but he was later charged with all three murders on 23 March 1915.
George Smiths Third Wife
George Smiths Third Wife made a statement but was not called by the prosecution. In her statement she said:
'I reside at the above address (102 Ashley Down Road, Bristol) and an 34 years of age. I am living with my mother and have no home of my own. In 1908 I was living with my mother at 368 Gloucester Road, Bristol and about the early part of July I advertised for a situation as a Housekeeper, where a servant was kept. The advertisement was answered by the man Smith, who resided at 389, same road, and who asked me to call and see him. I went to see him and the address was a second-hand furniture shop. He engaged me as his housekeeper. I had seen him and spoken to him in the shop, but I knew nothing of him. After I had been there a week he asked me to marry him. I don't remember if he said much about himself, except that he said he had some money and he wished to settle down. He also said he had an Aunt who allowed him money, and added that he went about the Country dealing. We were married on the 30th July 1908 at the St Peters Registry Office Bristol. We went together one day to give notice of the marriage by special licence. We were married the third day after giving notice. He gave the name of George Joseph Smith and described himself as a bachelor. We went to his address and continued to live there for some seven months. We left this shop in February 1909 and went to Bedford and took apartments. The furniture was sent there. We only remained two days and then went to Luton, where we took a second hand furniture shop, I think on the outskirts, We remained there about a month. We then left there and I think we went to a shop in Whitehorse Road, Croydon. We have used the name of Smith at each shop we have had. We stayed there about three or four months and finally left about June 1909. We came to Bristol and I stayed with my mother as we had sold all our furniture. He then left me saying he was going round the country to do some dealing. He sometimes wrote but did not give an address, but the communications usually bore the London Post Mark. Some six weeks later I had a letter from him asking me to meet him in Southend. He was living in apartments and I met him there. He bought a Private House there for, I think, £270. He furnished it. He said he had made this money in connection with a picture he bought and sold at a profit. He said it was a 'Turner Sea-scape'. The house was in the South Church District and the Agent's name was Fritterton. We remained there in the Private House two or three months and then we took a shop in Ashley Down Road, Bristol and let the house in Southend. We stayed at the shop from July to September 1910. During this time he left me for four or five weeks. I had one or two letters from him and in one of them I remember he mentioned Weymouth. When he came back he said he had been with a young fellow and they had made about £20. As far as I remember we left Bristol in September 1910. We went again to Southend and opened a shop in London Road. During the time we had been away there had been a tenant in the house. We remained there over Xmas, 1910, and early in 1911 we gave up the shop and went to London and opened another shop in Barking Road. We remained there a few months and went to Walthamstow to another shop, where we only remained a few weeks. As far as I remember we went to Bath then and opened a shop in Broomhayes, and stayed there three or four months. We were there over Xmas 1911 and then went and opened a shop at Bath Rd., Brislington, Bristol. This would be early 1912.
After we had been there six or seven weeks he left me saying he was going to try to sell the private house at Southend. He wrote me three or four letters from London at the first part, but after he had been away about five weeks he wrote me telling me to give up the shop and go to mothers. He finally wrote me about May saying he was going to Canada and would return when he had done some business. I may say that my husband bought the house at Southend through the Woolwich Equitable Society, Powis Street, and during this time he was away I communicated with him once through the Society as he had said he was going to negotiate with them to sell the house. He never gave any address in his letters. I heard nothing further from him until about the end of July or beginning of August 1912, when I received a letter asking me to meet him at Margate. I met him as arranged and lived in apartments with him there. We then went to Tunbridge Wells and lived in apartments opposite a Roman Catholic Church for about two months. He told me he had been to Canada and had made about £1,000 through dealing. He said he met another young fellow there and they had some things they were going to sell in London. I used to go out with him in the afternoons and evenings but the earlier parts of the day I dont know what he did. We left Tunbridge Wells about September 1912 and came to reside at apartments at various places in Bristol, while he arranged to buy a house. He bought a house at 49 Cranbrook Road, where we went to live. He also bought other houses. We lived there from November 1912 till June 1913. He then commenced business at Zetland Road, Bristol, and we went to reside there. We remained there about two months and then went to a house at Clevedon Road, Weston Super Mare. I think the number was 20 or 21. We stayed there till some time at the end of September 1913. While we were there he used to come up to Bristol to sell his houses and I believe he did sell them. We came back to Bristol after selling up all our belongings at Weston Super Mare on or about the 25th September 1913. I stayed with my mother and he left me saying he had lost money on his property and he was going away dealing to see if he could make it up. I heard from him a day or two later from London. He sent me some money, I think £6. He told me to stay at mothers as he was going to Spain. I heard no more from him till just before Xmas 1913, when he wrote from, I think, Brixton, asking me to meet him at Bristol Station on the Tuesday before Xmas but he came in unexpectedly on the 22nd December 1913 (Monday) in the evening.
He said he had come from Spain and the young fellow he was with and he were selling jewellery he had bought in Spain. He let me understand that his journey had been profitable. He remained with us over Xmas 1913, but we slept at another house as there was no accommodation at Mothers house. About January 1914 we went to London for a week and stayed in apartments at Clapham. We then went to Cheltenham, and stayed in apartments near the High Street. I don't know what he did there but we remained about two months. This would be about March. We then went to Bournemouth for 10 weeks, and stayed at apartments at Woodside Road, Bournemouth. We remained till the end of May or beginning of June and then went to Brighton and stayed at different addresses until the latter end of July 1914. All this time he was with me daily. We left Brighton and went to Salisbury for a few days then I came to Bristol and he went to Taunton for a day and met me in Bristol the next day. We both went to Torquay for a day and returned to Bristol. In July or August 1914 we went to Torquay for three weeks, and while we were there my mother came down for a fortnight. About the middle of August 1914 we went to Bournemouth and stayed at apartments at Ashley Road, and while there my husband was out in the evenings. About the middle of September 1914 my husband said he was going to London for a few days. He went away and about a week after I received a Post Card saying he hoped to see me in a few days. He did not come but about a week later I received a letter from him, asking me to go to Weston Super Mare to an address he gave. (Eastville, Longton Grove).
I went and he told me he had been to a sale in London and had bought some lady's clothing. He had some left and gave it to me. It was kept in a black trunk which I had not seen before. We stayed at Weston about six weeks and came back to Bristol and stayed in apartments. He left me again about three weeks before Xmas, 1914 saying he was going to London to do some dealing. I came back to Mothers. He did not write to me and I heard no more of him till the 23rd December 1914, when he casually walked in about 7 or 8pm. He remained over Xmas 1914 for about a week. He then left and said he was going to London over a picture for which he could not get the money. He was away about 10 days, and then came back for a week or so. He went away again for a week or so and finally left on the 1st February 1915 at about 8am saying he was going to try and get the money for his picture. I have not seen him, nor heard from him since. The last time we had a home of our own was in 1913 at Weston Super Mare. Since then we have lived in apartments except when he has been away when I lived with my mother. I never had any suspicions as I believed he was away dealing. All the shops we had were in the second hand line. I have never insured myself and he has never suggested that I should. I have never known him enquire at any of the apartments we have been to for a bath, as he has remarked to me on more than one occasion that he did not believe in using baths in apartment houses, which other people had access to. I remember once at Weston-Super-Mare he had a bath, but all the time I have known him this is the only time he has had a bath in a bathroom to my knowledge. The only medicine he took was Epsom Salts, which he took frequently and he always kept a supply. If I am insured I am not aware of it. During the whole of the times he has left me he has never given me any address to write to and I have been unable to communicate with him. He told me he had an annuity of £2 per week bought with the money he sold his property for. He said it was in the 'English and Foreign Annuity Society' and the Bonds were in the Bank. The lady's clothing that was taken away by the police was brought to Weston Super Mare by Smith. It does not belong to me'.
George Smith's trial opened at the Old Bailey on 22 June 1915 and ended on 1 July 1915.
It was noted that it was the most important case in England in sixty years and had involved over 264 exhibits and 112 witnesses from over forty towns of which 18 were solicitors or solicitors' clerks.
Another particular feature of the trial was the way in which George Smith was only tried for the murder of Beatrice Mundy and that the legal process of 'system' was used to compare a pattern between the other two murders. In principle, this approach did not set out to prove that George Smith had murdered Beatrice Mundy, but that if he did, that he either did them intentionally and not accidentally, or inadvertently, or innocently. The implication being that if agreeing that there was a pattern, that the jury had to determine whether the pattern was that of murder and that George Smith was responsible for that pattern.
The approach of 'system' was controversial and found the basis of a point of appeal.
The law on 'system' stated in part that:
It was further noted that the 'system' although used before in law, was not often used in murder cases.
Another issue brought up at the trial was that of the legal medical situation regarding death from asphyxiation and in particular whether Beatrice Mundy had actually drowned as well as other issues such as the possibility of it being likely that they could have been drowned by force at all. On that matter, the defence submitted to the jury that if they had any doubt whatsoever that Beatrice Mundy had not been drowned then that should return a not guilty verdict.
Other aspects of the case concerning both the cause of death and the evidence that George Smith had murdered the women was that there was nothing to show that George Smith had been in the rooms where the baths were at all or that he had drowned the women by force. He had no scratch marks that were noted to suggest that he might have held the women under the water and that they had resisted, nor was there any other evidence to connect him with the alleged drowning murders.
When the medical evidence was examined, it was further noted that it was not even clear that Beatrice Mundy had drowned at all, or that she had had a fit as claimed or otherwise died whilst in the bath as there was conflicting evidence.
It was noted that in all cases of drowning that there were certain indications post mortem that death had been caused that way that could be determined medically. However, because Beatrice Mundy had died three years earlier and had been buried the opportunity to establish the exactness of her condition after death was diminished.
It was noted that whilst many people drowned after entering a body of water from apparent drowning, that only 25% of them actually died from literal drowning, ie pure asphyxia and breathing in water, and that many of them died from other causes such as syncope, shock, or a stroke. It was further noted that the condition of people that lost consciousness before drowning was different to those that were conscious whilst drowning in that in cases where people lost consciousness before drowning less water was swallowed, there was less congestion of blood in the face, and less bloody froth in the lungs and mouth.
It was further noted that in the case where a person died from drowning whilst conscious that they would generally die within one and a half minutes whilst in the case where a person entered the water in a state of syncope, ie unconsciousness, that they might be recovered after six minutes.
It was further noted that the degree of violence required to drown a person was significant, it being noted that if a healthy and vigorous person was to be drowned that they would be able to offer considerable resistance which would lead to evidence of a violent struggle, and further noted that in the case of Beatrice Mundy that there was none. As such, it was argued that it was not the case that George Smith had drowned Beatrice Mundy.
As such it was submitted by the defence that Beatrice Mundy could not have been drowned by force by George Smith as it was assumed that she would have struggled and that there would have been evidence of the violence that would have ensued.
The issue caused some consideration and it is a significant part of the case that whilst carrying out experiments into how George Smith might have drowned the women that an experiment was carried out in which an experienced swimmer in a bathing costume was sat in the bath with the water to the height that it was in the case at Herne Bay and the woman’s legs were suddenly drawn up and her head submerged. It was noted, significantly, that the woman was unable to get her head up out of the water. It was further noted that when the experiment was performed at the trial that the assistant that was in the bath also nearly drowned and required resuscitation. It was determined that the manoeuvre was effective in both causing drowning, along with the risk of shock, and that the victims arms would be also contained within the bath which would therefore have reduced the chance of injury.
The question of whether Beatrice Mundy was drowned was further explored by reference to the bar of soap that she had had in her hand when she was found and the position of her body. The doctor that examined Beatrice Mundy shortly after she was found dead said, 'The face was upwards, the trunk at the sloping end, the feet out of the water resting on the side of the bath a little below the edge. The position of the body kept the legs from slipping down. The head was submerged, and the trunk partially so. The mouth was under water; her arms rested by her side. The right hand contained a piece of soap. The bath was just over three parts full. (In other words there were at least 12 inches of water in the bath.) The legs were out straight, straight from the trunk'.
Following the doctors evidence regarding the position of Beatrice Mundy's body, the question of epilepsy was addressed. It was noted that Beatrice Mundy had not suffered from epilepsy before in her life and that the chances of her having her first epileptic fit at 35 years of age was 12 to 1 with it further being noted that only 6% of epileptic cases occurred after the age of 30. It was further noted that the chance of a person having an epileptic fit and not screaming out loud, which was described as a being a characteristic of an epileptic fit that once heard was never to be forgotten was about 3 to 1. When the evidence concerning George Smith's description of epilepsy to the doctor was discussed, it was noted that the doctor had said, 'Further than his saying that she had temporarily lost consciousness, he could not get anything very definite out of him', it being noted that George Smith had not mentioned anything about a Beatrice Mundy having screamed.
It was also noted that the post mortem gave little support to the theory of Beatrice Mundy having suffered from an epileptic fit, with her post mortem reporting that her face had been dusky, blue all over, and much congested with blood and that there had been froth that had flowed out of her mouth and that when her chest was pressed water flowed out of her mouth. It was said that the facts from the post mortem suggested that Beatrice Mundy had made continued efforts to breath after her face had gone under the water which did not indicate that she had suffered from an epileptic fit.
It was also noted that when the inquest was carried out that the Coroner and jury had not seen the bath and its dimensions and been able to consider the position that her body was found in or the possibility that Beatrice Mundy could have filled the bath in the 30 minutes that George Smith had been out of the house.
It was noted that Beatrice Mundy had been clutching a piece of soap when she was found and it was observed that it was a feature of drowning people to clutch at anything they could grasp. The saying, 'drowning men clutch at a straw' was referred to as a figurative expression with some substance with it being noted that when people were found in bodies of water that 'the presence of objects in the firmly clenched hand as weeds, grass, sticks, or other objects' was a good indication that they had drowned.
It was further submitted that if Beatrice Mundy had died with the soap in her hand that her grasp would be continued after death, but the consulting pathologist said that if Beatrice Mundy had lost consciousness and relaxed that the soap would have dropped out of her hand but that if her death had occurred immediately that the soap would have been held due to the condition of instantaneous death stiffening.
However, it was said that the problem of the soap remained difficult because of the evidence of the doctor three years after the event when asked whether Beatrice Mundy's body had been stiff, he said, 'I do not think it was stiff. It was limp'. It was also noted that in other cases, items that had been found in peoples grips after their deaths, such as coins, and been so tight that it was only with extreme force that they were able to pry them out.
It was also noted that there was an issue of some blood having been seen on the floor after Beatrice Mundy was taken out of the bath. However, the evidence was not clear and it was suggested that George Smith had in fact wiped it up shortly after it was noticed.
Other evidence was presented at the trial that detailed the state of a person’s organs after having died from an epileptic fit in a bath and it was heard that in just such a case that a man that had died from an epileptic fit in a bath was found to have had much congestion of the brain. However, it was noted that after Beatrice Mundy's body was exhumed and a fresh post mortem carried out that the condition of her organs, which had undergone considerable decomposition were not sufficient to make a determination of congestion.
It was also noted that when George Smith had told his doctor of Beatrice Mundy's death, he had said, 'Bessie died of a fit in a bath', but that the doctor said that he had always been clear on the opinion that her death had been due to drowning.
In the case of Alice Burnham in Blackpool, it was heard that her body had been quite limp when it was removed from the bath and the doctor had considered that she had drowned. It was noted that there was no post mortem description of her body but it was considered possible from the evidence that Alice Burnham might have lost consciousness before she drowned. The possibility that she might have had an epileptic fit was also dismissed as there had been no scream and Alice Burnham was thought to have only had two possible epileptic episodes in her life, one at the age of seven, and another at the age of 24 after a will was read out in favour of an impecunious husband, it being noted that she had suffered from no known fits throughout puberty.
In the case of Margaret Lofty, it was heard that the evidence pointed to asphyxiation as the main cause of death as her lips had been blue and swollen, her face congested, her eyelids swollen and there had been froth exuding from her mouth and nostrils. Additionally it was noted that the only evidence of external violence was an externally visible bruise above her left elbow on the outer side and other bruises, which were recent, beneath the surface. The doctor that carried out the post mortem additionally stated that there was no sign of any disease about her that might have had any bearing on her death.
It was additionally noted that there was no evidence as to how Margaret Lofty had been sitting in the bath as the first time that she was seen by a third party, the landlady, was when she went in and saw George Smith lifting her out of the bath, her body being out but her legs still inside and it was not clear as to whether she had been facing the tap end or the sloping end.
The pathologist that examined Beatrice Mundy's body said, 'I examined the body. It was in an advanced state of decomposition. I formed the opinion that it was a well-nourished and well-proportioned body. The length of it was about 5 feet 7 1/2 inches from the top of the head to the sole of the foot beneath the heel. In the case of a dead body in a natural condition the toes would fall forward somewhat, so that an undertaker's measurements are not a good measurement of the height of a person. There may be a difference of two or three inches. The body was well covered with fat. About the thighs and abdomen there was a condition of the skin known as goose skin. That condition occurs in some cases of sudden death, and perhaps more frequently in sudden death from drowning. It is a sort of corrugating of the surface, a roughening of the surface. I could find no evidence of bruising of any kind. In view of the state of decomposition you would probably not find marks even if there had been any. I also examined the internal organs. The brain was very decomposed. I do not think there was any haemorrhage. The heart was also decomposed. I was able to discover and examine some of the arteries. They appeared healthy. I was not able to distinguish the lungs.
The pathologist said that he then went to Blackpool and examined the body of Alice Burnham. He said, 'That body was in an even more advanced stage of decomposition. She appeared to me to be a very well-nourished woman, a fat woman with large breasts and buttocks. Over the breasts there was 3 inches thickness of fat. The buttocks were large in proportion. I could not directly measure the height of this body on account of the progress of decomposition, but I estimated the height from the length of the thigh bones to be about 4 feet 11 inches. I am afraid I cannot give any idea of the girth of the woman round the breasts or the buttocks. She was big bodied from the shoulders and round the hips, and the hips were tightly wedged in the coffin. I examined the brain, but there was nothing abnormal that I could recognise. It did not appear to be enlarged, but decomposition again was advanced. I could recognise one heart valve, the one which is called the mitral valve. There was a slight thickening of the edge of that valve. The arteries appeared to be healthy. Thickening of the mitral valve is generally ascribed either to the wear and tear of life or to some definite inflammation of the valve. By wear and tear of life I have in mind older people after the age of forty or forty-five. It is also caused by some definite illness causing inflammation such as rheumatism or rheumatic fever. It is found that in rheumatic fever inflammation just at that part is more or less common. If the inflammation exists there, the surrounding parts, or the part itself, tends, to thicken and harden. The mitral valve is the valve which allows the blood to pass in one direction through the cavities of the heart, but should prevent the blood from running back in the opposite direction. If there is slight thickening of the mitral valve, it may have no effect, but if it is at all marked, especially if the valve is contracted as the result of it, then the valve will cease to act efficiently and blood may then be able to leak backwards. In this case I would describe the thickening as slight. Supposing it were not slight, but were marked as I have mentioned, it would affect the general health and the prospect of life, both by causing probable shortness of breath and a tendency to blueness of the lips, and perhaps some swelling of the feet at certain times, and a disinclination to lead a very active life. Supposing it were slight, the person's life or habits of life would not be affected by it at all. In the course of my practice I have seen cases of this thickening of the mitral valve. It is almost an everyday occurrence in post-mortem. If of a slight character it would not of itself tend to shorten the life at all. When thickening of the mitral valve is due to some illness, such as rheumatic fever, the thickening remains at that standard which the fever leaves behind it. It is not progressive unless there has been some serious damage to the valve at the time of the inflammation. I would agree with what the doctor says, that it was about two months' standing, A person possessing a mitral valve with a slight thickening such as I found in this body would not be liable to sudden collapse or any failure or weakness of the heart's action. Assuming that Alice Burnham had rheumatic fever at, say, nine or ten years of age, the condition of the mitral valve as I found it was quite consistent with it having been caused then, and continuing for the fourteen or fifteen intervening years. Sometimes accompanying the disease there is a condition known as St. Vitus's dance or chorea. That condition may come on during convalescence. It sometimes shows itself at an earlier period of the disease, even during the febrile stage. It is brain trouble from which the appearances of chorea come. The brain trouble might probably arise from the same cause as produced the rheumatism, an inflammation'.
When the pathologist examined Margaret Lofty's body he said, 'I examined the body in that coffin. I measured the length of the body, and I found it to be 5 feet 2 3⁄4 inches. She was a well-nourished spare woman. There was a bruise on the back of the left elbow which was visible on the surface, and I found two other bruises close to that one on the back of the left arm which were not visible on the surface. The bruises were caused by separate forces, but they appeared to have been caused at or about the same time. I formed the opinion that they had been caused before death. They were all small bruises; the largest of the three would be about 1 inch in diameter. I should say they were caused recently before death. I examined the brain. It was rather decomposed, and had been cut up at the previous examination. There were in places appearance of congestion, no evidence of any disease. The heart cavities were slightly dilated, and the heart muscles on subsequent examination showed only traces of disease known as brown wasting. There was no fatty disease of the heart muscles. I was able in this case to microscopically examine the heart substance. There was no trace of fattiness at all. I was not able to examine Miss Burnham's heart from the point of view of being able to say there was any fatty degeneration. The post-mortem changes were very advanced, and it would have been quite useless. The same applies to the case of Miss Mundy. I was able to make a satisfactory examination of Miss Mundy's heart. The appearance of brown wasting is quite a usual appearance in a person of that age, thirty-eight, but it should only be slight. It was only slight in this case. The heart was apparently quite effective. There was nothing about it which might render her liable to collapse. There was no weak spot that I could find about her heart. All the other organs of the body appeared to be healthy. As regards the body generally, I found nothing to indicate any weakness or liability to faintness or collapse. I am acquainted with the kind of seizure known as epilepsy. The usual form of epileptic fit can be described in three stages - firstly, the state of complete rigidity of the body, which is called the tonic stage, and which lasts only for a few seconds. Secondly, the stage where there are movements of the body, which is called the face and the trunk. That is called the clonic stage, and usually lasts perhaps for one or two minutes, and thirdly, the last stage of exhaustion, generally accompanied by unconscientiousness [unconsciousness] and continuance of the unconsciousness, the complete effects of which may not pass off for several hours. It commonly appears early in life for the first time, in childhood or infancy. Its appearance at such an age of thirty-three is unusual. I have known a case of its appearance for the first time at such an age in the case of certain diseases. It is due sometimes to inherited causes, where there is a history of mental trouble in the family, for instance. Those are the cases in which I would expect to find it appear at an early period of life. Where there has been a history of mental trouble, after a seizure of an epileptic character, the exhaustion or prostration would last for some hours before the complete effects passed off. It might be apparent for a day or two, but it might not apparently damage the health of the patient generally. A person for a day or two after a real epileptic seizure would in all probability not be in his or her normal vigorous state. The effects of two fits in one day would, of course, be more pronounced, it would take longer to recover from the second one'.
The issue of the baths took a considerable amount of time at the trial.
When the pathologist gave his opinions on the probabilities of how the women had been using the bath, their positions and the probability that they had either had a fit, fainted or otherwise drowned naturally, he said 'I have seen the bath from Herne Bay. I have made myself acquainted with its appearance, and I carefully considered them. I also have before me the measurements of this woman during life. I took the measurements of her body. There are several positions in which it would be possible for a person to take a bath, either sitting down facing the foot end, kneeling facing the foot end, or in the opposite direction. If you were kneeling facing the foot end the toes would be up the sloping part. There would be the same position of the body the reverse way looking towards the sloping end, but there, again, sitting at the foot end it would be less likely to be adopted than sitting in the opposite direction. I think that would apply to all these cases with these particular baths. I base that statement on the appearance and size of the deceased woman and the relation of that size to the dimensions of the lower end of the bath. It would be rather a tight fit in all of them for the women in a particular bath sitting at the foot end, and it would be an extremely tight fit in the case of the Blackpool bath, which is very narrow at that end. It tapers to 12 inches at the bottom. I am doubtful whether in that case the woman could have sat at that end or very near to that end. I see the point at which the doctor puts the marks on the bottom of the bath. From my recollection of the woman I should say that she might possibly sit there. That point is about 18 inches from the foot end. I think it is just possible she might have sat there but it would have been a very tight fit. Speaking from recollection I think that that end tapered to 11 inches. She was not a very fat woman, still I think it would have been uncomfortable for her'
When the pathologist was asked whether he thought a person might also drown if they had been standing up in the bath and fainted, the pathologist said that it was possible.
After the pathologist presented his initial views on the matter he was asked whether he had considered the possibility that a person might lie in a bath soaking and the pathologist said that that was also a possibility. It was then noted that whilst each bath was a different length and each woman a different height that if given the situation that they had been in the bath in a lying position that their heads would come to a certain point up the sloping end, given that they were facing the tap end, and that in probability, given the lengths of the baths that they would not have been able to lie in the bath with their legs fully extended.
It was then considered that if a person in a bath in a lying position had a fit that their body would probably stiffen and the legs become fully extended and the body straight.
However, if a person had been in the bath kneeling and had had a fit that they would have probably fallen forward.
However, it was said that if a person was sitting in a bath when they had a fit that they would probably remain in a sitting position.
When the pathologist was then asked about whether he thought Beatrice Mundy might have had a fit and then become submerged in the bath, assuming it was two-thirds full, he said that he thought that it was highly improbable.
When the pathologist was then asked about his opinion on the position that Beatrice Mundy was found in the bath at Herne Bay, the doctor having said that Beatrice Mundy was in the bath with her back towards the sloping end, and resting wholly or partially against it, with the back of her head resting on the sloping part, and her legs straight out from the hips, resting up against the narrow end of the bath, he said that he could not think how she got in that position in the bath, saying that if her legs had stiffened that they would had stiffened against the bottom front of the bath and would not have come out over the top.
The pathologist said that in the first stage of a fit there would be a stiffening of the limbs and then in the second a contraction and that in neither would the feet come out over the top of the bath and that in the third stage of a fit there would be relaxation. He said that her feet would probably touch the end during their extension in the movements but said that they would not be likely to be raised to any extent in the water.
When the pathologist was asked to consider George Smith's statement, 'I pulled her head right out of the water, and rested it on the side of the bath. I then went straight for the doctor. I asked him to come. I went back at once, and had just got upstairs when I heard the doctor coming. I called him up. Her head had sunk down again in the bath, her mouth being on a level with the water', and then asked whether supposing Beatrice Mundy were pulled up out of the water in that way, her head rested in that way, whether he could give any help as to how her legs would have got into that raised position, her head resting on the side of the bath, and the pathologist said that he could not.
When the pathologist was asked to consider the possibility of Beatrice Mundy having drowned if she had been standing in the bath facing the taps and had had suffered a sudden collapse he said that he thought that it was possible.
When asked about the possibility of her drowning after having suffered a sudden a collapse whilst kneeling and facing the taps, he said that hr thought that it was possible.
When asked the same question regarding Beatrice Mundy having been in a sitting position facing the taps he said that he thought that it was impossible for her to have drowned following a sudden collapse whilst in that position he said that he thought it would be impossible for her to have become submerged as the result of a fit in that position and said the same about the lying position.
The pathologist said the same of her facing the other end of the bath, but noted that it would have been impossible for her to have sat up against the taps as the bath was too narrow for her hips at that point and it additionally noted that the bath was also too narrow at that end for her shoulders to have sunk down with her head between the taps.
When the pathologist was asked about the effect of a person having fainted and then having their face enter the water he said that water would pass down into the windpipe which would probably have had a very powerful smarting effect which would probably recover the person from a faint adding that the presence of any substance, fluid or solid, in the air passages is a very powerful stimulant to the body and the nervous system.
When the pathologist was asked about the effects of drowning he said that a lot depended on whether the submersion was complete or incomplete and whether the patient rose to the surface and got air, or whether the submersion was so complete that there was no access of air. He said that in the case where submersion was complete that a patient could possibly survive about five minutes but that death would probably ensue in less than that time, and in some cases it might be either instantaneous or within a few seconds. He added that if shock occurred on a sudden immersion that consciousness would be lost immediately and that they would make no sound and agreed that they might suddenly submerge and make no resistance.
It was also noted that when death came on by suffocation that the brain would become congested.
When the pathologist was asked to consider Beatrice Mundy's goose skin, he said that he thought that it indicated that she had died suddenly and that her condition was consistent with sudden death from submersion.
Whilst the court discussed the drowning death, reference was made to the death of Archibald Vicar, a 48 year old man who also died from drowning in his bath in Islington on 3 June 1915 and it was noted that he had been found still alive, semi-conscious, in his bath with his head and shoulders out of the water and with a number of bruises on his body. An open verdict was returned in his case and it was considered that the cause was either accident or suicide.
When the pathologist was then later asked to consider the death of Beatrice Mundy at Herne Bay he concluded that the possibility of her death having been accidental was so improbable as to amount in his mind to an impossibility adding that in his opinion the presence of the soap in her hand indicated a violent death, that being one in which a third party had murdered her. However, it was suggested that if George Smith had pulled up her legs or there had been a struggle that she would have put her arms and hands out to grab the side of the bath ot fight back and would have dropped the soap and that as such the evidence of the soap favoured the theory of an epileptic fit, to which the pathologist said that it was not impossible, but that it was not very likely.
It was also submitted that it might have taken twelve or thirteen trips by Beatrice Mundy to fill the bath and that that might have weakened her state, and additionally heard that it was not thought that the water was very hot, and that whilst the temperature at the time was hot, it being July, and with her exertion, but the act of getting into the bath might have caused her the shock which caused her to collapse and drown.
However, it was additionally put later that if a person, whilst getting into a bath found it too cold that they would naturally get out.
It was further considered that Beatrice Mundy might have got into the bath and found that she had slipped whilst sitting down and fallen back with her legs going up into the air, however, the pathologist disagreed that that might have happened, saying that he thought that her feet would certainly go forward but that he did not think they would go upwards
During the questioning of the pathologist, the issue of having pulled Beatrice Mundy up by her feet was discussed and the pathologist said that he thought that it would have been difficult to have got her nostrils under water by pulling her legs up, with it being noted that with her legs out that the level of water in the bath would have been about 8 or 9 inches and that it would have been necessary to have held her head under the water, but said that that could have been done in such a way as to avoid injury to the head. It was further noted that the moment that Beatrice Mundy might have seen George Smith pulling at her legs that she might have put her hands out to save herself but the pathologist said that he thought that it was a matter of both surprise and her being unable to do anything once her head was under water.
The pathologist then put forward the following, 'I suggest she would do it instinctively in spite of it being her husband if she thought it might be in fun, if only in play. Assuming that she did not attribute any evil motive that it was merely a silly thing, just like when boys are bathing, they duck each other in the bathing pool?', to which the pathologist agreed.
Other evidence was presented at the trial that addressed the extraordinary sexual familiarity that had established itself so early and so easily in the relations between George Smith and the three women. Such was the nature of the sudden marriages and sexual familiarity that it was suggested that George Smith might have used hypnotic suggestion both to introduce himself into their lives as well as the lives of the other women that he had defrauded as well as possibly using hypnotic suggestion to have the women drown themselves in the baths without any physical assistance from George Smith.
It was later submitted that if one accepted the notion of hypnotic suggestion that everything else in the case fitted together and made sense.
It was further submitted that in addition to the direct theory of hypnotic suggestion that it was also possible to indirectly will a person to engage in a certain activity though certain methods such as hypnotic suggestion. A later dialogue on the matter noted that experiments had shown that a subject could be made to fire a gun with what they thought was live ammunition at a living person and it was also noted that there were thought to have been two cases in which women had successfully put forward the defence in in a homicide case of hypnotic compulsion by a man.
However, other observers stated that hypnotic suggestion played no part in the seduction of a woman by a man and that once in love, a woman might do anything and that George Smith's brides would have otherwise have given themselves to him regardless, with hypnotic suggestion playing no part. It was similarly later noted that one woman involved in a notable political divorce had said that if the man that she was in love with had asked her to stand on her head in the middle of Piccadilly that she would have done it.
It was similarly submitted that with the idea of hypnotic suggestion aside that regardless of the cause that the power that George Smith had exerted over each of the women that he had become involved with, including the ones that he had not murdered, was enough to not only bring about their sudden engagements, marriages and sexual intimacy, but also to bring them to write their wills out in his favour and carry out the other legal and financial arrangements that they had all down of their own volition.
However, it was generally considered that the women involved had carried out the actions that they had simply because they had been in love and that George Smith, who had been a gymnasium instructor had determined a method to carry out the drownings without inflicting any injuries.
However, it was also noted that whilst George Smith's motivations might have bordered on a form of sexual deviance, a need for mastery over women and the infliction on them of humiliation, in that he stole all their belongings and left them naked on the floor, and border line sadism, it was also noted that he appeared to have only murdered the women in situations where he was otherwise unable to rob them, and in particular benefit from the receipt of their estates for which the process of marriage, the writing of wills and the taking out of life insurance was all directed.
It was noted that George Smith's Third Wife had said of him, 'He had an extraordinary power over women. This power lay in his eyes. When he looked at you for a minute or two you had the feeling that you were being magnetised. They were little eyes that seemed to rob you of your will'.
It was also noted that he was in the habit of wife beating, with one woman saying 'He has beaten me black and blue. Once he looked me in a cabinet folding-bed'.
Another wife said, 'Often he used to brag to me about his numerous women acquaintances. Once I met one of his victims with him and warned her to her face about him. She was greatly shocked, and said she had always regarded him as a good, religious man. That night he came home and thrashed me till I was nearly dead'.
When the prosecution summed up they first noted that it was a fact that George Smith was a systematic bigamist and submitted that the motive for them murders was the love of money.
The prosecution noted that at Herne Bay George Smith had intimated at the inquest that Beatrice Mundy had died from epilepsy, but they noted the evidence was shown at the trial to state that she had been 35-years-old and that it was most unusual for people to start suffering from epilepsy at that age, noting that she had had no recollection of falling unconscious when she was seen by the doctor, was healthy and had no history of epilepsy in the family.
The prosecution noted that whilst it was most unusual for epilepsy to appear without a previous history of it in the family and at that age, they thought that the jury should take it that there was no epilepsy and that assuming that they accepted that that they should then consider it extra-ordinary that George Smith should have taken Beatrice Mundy to the doctor for a mere headache, noting that George Smith had done exactly that for each of the other wives in Blackpool and Highgate and submitted that they should find that the exact same things had been repeated in each case.
The prosecution then submitted that it was clear that if a powerful man put his arm under the knees of a woman in a bath that he would have little difficulty in moving her body into the water and submerging her head and causing her sudden death, citing additionally the evidence of the goose flesh that the inquest had not heard of earlier and which was indicative of a sudden death, noting that if one accepted the premise of a sudden death that everything made sense, including te fact that Beatrice Mundy was found clutching the soap.
The prosecution noted additionally that George Smith also had the opportunity to commit the murder and pointed out that the motive, money, had already been established.
The prosecution then noted that the three cases were so similar that they could not have occurred without design, noting that in each case there was a marriage, the ready money was cashed in favour of George Smith, a will drawn up in his favour, and the victims life insured or possessed property that did not make insurance necessary. He noted that in each case additionally that George Smith had taken his wife to see a doctor about an unimportant ailment, a headache, and that in each case the bride had written home to their family either the day before or on the day they died, and that in each case George Smith had made specific enquiries as to the availability of a bath. The prosecution went on to say that in each case the women had died from drowning and that George Smith was the first to find it and that the water in the bath had not been drained until after the doctor arrived and that the door to the room was not fastened and that on each occasion he had claimed to have been out either purchasing fish, or eggs, or tomatoes to demonstrate that he had not been in the house when it had occurred.
However, when the defence made their closing speech they noted that the prosecution had to prove not only that George Smith murdered Beatrice Mundy but that he also murdered Alice Burnham and Margaret Lofty on the principle of a 'system' of murder.
The defence went on to not that they should not be prejudiced by the fact that George Smith had committed bigamy four times or allow the fact that because he had done reprehensible things at Blackpool and Highgate that he was guilty of Beatrice Mundy's murder. They noted that it could be argued that there was a motive, but observed that, as the judge had said, 'Motive may be an important factor, but it cannot convert suspicion into proof'.
The defence additionally noted that the life insurance policies on Alice Burnham and Margaret Lofty were endowment policies and not all-life policies, which were worth twice as much and asked why a man that was intend on murder would select the lesser option if a large pay-out was the desired goal.
The defence also noted that the prosecution in calling evidence from the case of Alice Burnham and Margaret Lofty, as they had done, simply implied that the case alone for the murder of Beatrice Mundy was not conclusive. The defence asked the jury whether there was one of them who felt, if the case was solely that of Beatrice Mundy, that they felt that facts and George Smith's background were enough to satisfy them of his guilt?
The defence also criticised the Americanism in the administration of British justice, referring to the use of experts to cast opinion on the medical evidence and questioned whether George Smith had not have been a pauper that he would have been able to similarly afford experts to interpret the medical evidence in his favour.
The defence also noted that George Smith did not give evidence, citing the fact that if he did he would have been cross examined by the prosecution and asked all sorts of personal questions about his past that would not have taken the case any further forward.
The defence also noted that George Smith's Third Wife, with whom George Smith had been married for seven years, had given evidence relating to George Smith's character and had said that she loved him and that he was always kind to her and fond of her. The defence then suggested that it the jury looked at the bath, they would find that it was impossible to drown a woman in eight inches of water as had been suggested, noting that if he had that there would have been a struggle and marks left and that she would have put her arms out to save herself. The defence also noted that there were also no sign at all of drugs having been used.
The prosecution the concluded by noting that they had to be sure beyond all reasonable doubt that George Smith had murdered Beatrice Mundy and that the 'system' of murder was also proven and that they had no doubt, else they should return a not guilty verdict.
When the judge summed up he said that the jury were not called on to decide whether George Smith murdered Alice Burnham or Margaret Lofty. He pointed out that in cold-blooded and calculated murders there was rarely direct evidence. He then told the jury that it was not necessary that they should be satisfied how each death was caused if they felt that it was caused by the design of George Smith. He told the jury that they needed to consider whether the series of coincidences in the three cases could have happened by accident or whether they happened by the design of the man, George Smith, who benefited. He added that there could not be much doubt that that George Smith lied wickedly to Beatrice Mundy to get her money and keep her quiet and said that her forgiveness of him was extraordinary. He added that George Smith's story of epilepsy had not been supported by him in the box. The judge went on to say that the position of Beatrice Mundy's legs was one of the crucial points in the case and told the jury that they needed to consider carefully whether the necessity of putting them as they were found in order to keep the head under water for the doctor to see was not the key to the problem.
When the judge commented on the evidence given by the witness that said that George Smith had wept after the death of Beatrice Mundy, he said that they should judge George Smith's character from his behaviour in court, at which point, as the judge started to comment on George Smith's property purchases, George Smith exclaimed, 'That does not prove I did murder does it? This is a disgrace to a Christian country'. He then later shouted out, 'You might as well hang me at once the way you are going on'. The judge ignored George Smith's remark and George Smith then said, 'Sentence me and done with it. You can go on forever, you cannot make me a murderer'. A moment after that George Smith said to the judge, 'You are telling the jury I murdered the woman'.
After the outbursts from George Smith, the judge went on to detail the evidence provided by the Portsmouth insurance inspector who said that George Smith had remarked to him that he would increase his annuity after his birthday, noting that the £500 that George Smith used to invest in his annuity came from Alice Burnham's insurance, and said that if the theory of the prosecution was true that that was a cold-blooded statement for George Smith to have made, saying that it was difficult to realise that a man could commit such a callous crime, observing again that they had not had the advantage of George Smith's explanation or denial in the witness-box. At that point George Smith interrupted, saying, 'You would believe me just as much here as in the witness-box', to which the judge replied, 'I think it quite possible that remark is accurate'.
When the judge finished his summing up he added that the jury should also consider the possibility that George Smith had drugged the women and then went on to liken the playing of the organ in the Margaret Lofty case to the most dramatic moment in English poetry, the knocking at the gate in 'Macbeth'. He also noted that the jury had before them facts that the juries at the inquests had not had.
However, the jury retired for just 23 minutes before returning to find George Smith guilty of murder and he was sentenced to death, the judge directing that he should be hanged in Maidstone Gaol.
After the verdict was returned, the judge said, 'George Joseph Smith, the jury after a patient and careful hearing have found you guilty of the murder of Bessie Constance Annie Mundy. In doing so they must have taken an unfavourable view of your relations with Alice Burnham and Margaret Lofty. They have found you guilty of a cold-blooded and heartless murder, and in that verdict I entirely agree. Judges sometimes use the occasion to warn the public against a repetition of such crimes. They sometimes use the occasion to exhort a prisoner to repentance. I propose to take neither of those courses. I do not believe there is another man in England who needs to be warned against the commission of such a crime, and I think exhortations to repentance would be wasted on you.
After the sentencing, the judge noted that it was ironic how thousands of lives were being lost in the war, sometimes without justification and without inquiry, and that at the same time the apparatus of justice had been asked to consider whether one man should die. However, he added that in England they were trying to carry on business as usual and that it was right in a national crisis that they should do.
George Smith appealed his conviction on 11 points.
When his counsel opened the appeal he said the basis of all administration of criminal justice was the presumption of the innocence of the accused person and added that he hoped that that principle would be very jealously guarded by the court. He noted that George Smith had been tried for the murder of Beatrice Mundy at Hern Bay on 12 July 1912 and that it was the contention that he was going to put forward that there was no prima facie case made out against him for that murder that entitle the prosecution to give the alleged facts with regard to the other women that he was said to have murdered, Alice Burnham in Blackpool and Margaret Lofty in Margate. He said that the proposition of law that he submitted was at it was the act of George Smith that had to be proved first before you could prove other facts that were said to explain the nature of that act. He said, supposing the case of Beatrice Mundy had been taken and George Smith had been called upon for his defence and had pleaded that it was an accident, then the evidence of the other cases could have been called in rebuttal. He said that it was a case in which there was a hiatus in the proof of the prosecution and that the prosecution had to prove that there was no accident and said that until they proved that then there was no case against George Smith and he had not got to set up the defence of accident. He concluded that the prosecution had to prove affirmatively, and if necessary, by implication, that the death had resulted from the act of George Smith and that it was not accidental.
After listening to the defence, the judge reiterated is argument by saying, 'You say that if there is evidence against him, and the question of accident or inadvertence is raised by the defence, then evidence to rebut the accident or inadvertence would be admissible. You say that there must be prima facie evidence of the act having been committed by the prisoner before you get to the question of the defence of accident or inadvertence?' to which the defence replied, 'That is exactly the point. If the Munday case had been heard alone the judge would have been bound to hold that there was no case to go to the jury'.
When the judge and defence discussed the matter, the judge asked whether in the story of Blue Beard where the heads of a number of his wives were found in the cellar that would not be prima facie evidence against the husband and asked whether the facts in the current case might not also be prima facie to which the defence said, 'It all depend on what the evidence was. If six dead women were found in my house that would not be proof that I murdered them'. The judge then noted that it would if first you said, 'Don't look in that cupboard'.
However, after further argument the judge said that the Court held the opinion that there was a prima facie case in law proved against George Smith in the Beatrice Mundy case.
However, the defence then submitted that it was not a case in which the other evidence could be admitted. He said that there was no necessity for George Smith to have said anything beyond 'Not Guilty' and said that it was his contention that there was no single act directly effecting George Smith that connected him with the actual death.
The defence agreed that there was an abundant evidence of motive but added that a super-abundance of motive would not supply deficiencies of fact. The defence similarly noted that the evidence of motive, if believed, was overwhelming, and the evidence of opportunity was sufficient, but reiterated that there was no evidence of any physical act in the short space of time involved. The defence noted that George Smith had practically been tried for three murders, which he noted the judge had realised in his summing up, but said that all that the prosecution were entitled to prove was that two other women were found dead in their baths. He said that they could not then introduce all the other evidence of insurance, will and other matters of prejudice. He said that it was a case were, of all cases, the judge should have said that the prejudice was so great that, on order to secure George Smith an impartial trial, that he should have protected George Smith against the introduction against such evidence. He further argue that the judge had misdirected the jury as to the purpose for which the evidence was admitted.
The defence further submitted that certain evidence by the solicitor and his clerk in Hern Bay should not have been admitted as the consultations had been confidential and privileged.
He also submitted that, in relation to the evidence given by the pathologists regarding the physical manner in which the deaths were caused that it was entirely a matter for the jury to decide whether they were accidental or not.
Following certain other points, the judge asked the prosecution to point out the evidence which would have justified the judge in leaving Beatrice Mundy's case to the jury if it had been tried alone, in other words, the evidence which amounted to a prima facie case against George Smith. The prosecution responded by pointing out that George Smith had bought an inconvenient bath and put it in a very inconvenient room, without a lock, right away from the water supply. He added that it was not until after George Smith had bought the bath that Beatrice Mundy had any suggestion of any illness or fits. Additionally he noted that Beatrice Mundy had made her will out in George Smiths favour whilst George Smith had no money. He said that there was the position of the body as it was found in the bath and the issue of the funeral going ahead without communication with Beatrice Mundy's family, the circumstances of George Smith's disappearance from Herne Bay and his denial of identity when he was arrested. The prosecution concluded that on those facts there was a prima facie case for the jury of opportunity to commit the offence, motive and also of the exclusion of any reasonable possibility of the death having been accidental.
However, his appeal was dismissed. In particular, the Court came to the conclusion that there was a prima facie case that George Smith had murdered Beatrice Mundy quite apart from all the other evidence from the other two cases. Additionally, the Court stated that it was not the duty of the prosecution to prove that George Smith had drowned the women, or identify a particular method of how he killed them, but rather that they were simply satisfied that he was responsible for their deaths, although the Court did note that it would have been more helpful in the summing up at the trial if the judge had not put forward his own theories as to the actual methods adopted.
It was noted that when George Smith was executed that he made no confession and that his statement to the chaplain before his execution was that he was innocent. It was said that he had frequently been seen crying during his last few days. It was said that he was visited by the chaplain at an early hour and that at 7.50am the executioner John Ellis called at 7.50am, entering his cell for the purpose of pinioning him after which they walked the thirty yards to the scaffold, George Smith said to have walked with rather faltering steps. It was reported that death was apparently instantaneous. It was also noted that it was the first time in many years that no permits were issued to the press.
It was noted that George Smiths First Wife had been brought back from Canada for the trial but that after the trial ended she did not desire to return immediately as she was afraid of the journey during the War. However, it was reported on 28 December 1918 that she desired to return and it was determined that a second class fare to Vancouver by the Canadian Pacific Railway would cost £36 1s 6d and a request for funds for that was submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
see National Archives - PCOM 8/138, MEPO 3/225B, HO 144/1404/273877, HO 144/1405/273877, CRIM 1/154, CRIM 1/155
see Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Saturday 03 July 1915
see Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Tuesday 16 February 1915
see Leicester Daily Post - Saturday 26 June 1915