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This Week in Crime

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Practically every day of the year is a landmark of some sort in the annals of crime. Here’s where you can find out what happened this week in years gone by...

Stories from the week beginning June 21st.

He Was Jealous, But Not Insanely

Many residents thought the noise was a car back-firing. It shattered the peace of Seymour Road, Slough, at 11.40 p.m. on JUNE 21st, 1952, and one witness interpreted the sound differently.

"I seemed to hear four shots, followed by screaming and shouting," he said later. "Going into the street, I saw a woman lying half-way in the road. She was still alive. A man was lying on the pavement."

The woman was Eunice Simon, 28, a trainee supervisor at Marks and Spencer's in Slough's High Street. The man was Victor Brades, 27. And in the early hours of the following day Eunice's husband Donald, a 32-year-old machinist, was charged with double-murder. Brades had been killed instantly, and Eunice had died in hospital shortly after midnight.

The police learned that the Simons had been living apart after the husband began drinking heavily. He had assaulted his wife earlier that year, and a court had ordered him not to see her. Eunice had begun going out with Brades, which Simon resented.

At Donald Simon's trial his counsel sought a verdict of guilty but insane, but the jury found Simon plain guilty, having heard that some weeks before the murders he had told a witness, "I will kill both of them…I am under treatment for nerves. I'll plead insanity."

No medical evidence was submitted to support the claim that he was insane, his appeal was dismissed, and he was hanged at Shrewsbury Prison on October 23rd, 1952.

A Sketch To Catch A Killer

The well-spoken, public-school-educated son of a solicitor, 27-year-old Alan James Grierson could always spin a good yam. When he met Mary Gann, an impressionable young shop assistant, he told her he'd had a raw deal in life, and she believed him. What he didn't tell her was that he was a glib, small-time con-man with several convictions.

It was the summer of 1935, and Mary and her elderly mother were looking after a wealthy friend's flat near London's Regent's Park during the owner's absence on holiday. Grierson persuaded Mary to let him stay there. A few days later he announced that he had got a job as a car salesman, and offered to drive Mary and her mother to the seaside on Saturday, JUNE 22nd. He arranged to pick Mary up at Marble Arch at 1 p.m., saying he would then drive her to Regent's Park to collect her mother and they would set out for the coast.

Mary waited outside Marble Arch station for an hour. There was no sign of him, so she returned to the flat and found she'd been locked out. She thought her mother must have got tired of waiting and had gone out shopping, so she waited outside for her to return. But Mrs. Gann didn't come back, and after a while Mary went to a local builder and got him to break into the flat.

They found Mrs. Gann lying unconscious in her bedroom. She had numerous head wounds, and her blood had splashed up the wall and soaked the carpet. She was rushed to hospital, and when the police inspected the flat with Mary they found three empty jewel cases. Some silver plate had been thrown carelessly into a suitcase, and an antique silver cruet was missing.

The police were unable to obtain a photograph of Grierson, but an artist who knew him produced an accurate sketch of him which was published in the Police Gazette. This was the first time the police in Britain had circulated an artist's impression of a wanted man.

Mrs. Gann died within hours without regaining consciousness, and the murder weapon - a bloodied flat-iron - was found in the kitchen. A photograph of Grierson was obtained a few days later, and when it was published in the Sunday papers this led to his arrest in Weybridge, Surrey, where he had taken a job as a handyman.

The missing silver cruet was traced to a Jermyn Street jeweller who identified Grierson as the man who had sold it to him on June 22nd, and that clinched the case for the prosecution.

Convicted of Mrs. Louise Gann's murder, Grierson was hanged at Pentonville Prison in October 1935.

A Fatal Knock At the Door

Her parents were out, and 16-year-old Heather Rata was alone at their King's Cross, London, flat on JUNE 27th, 1968, when there was a knock at the door. She opened it to see Kenneth Rolfe, a 42-year-old mobile greengrocer who she knew. On their return home her parents found she had been strangled with one of her black stockings, and a medical examination established that she had been raped.

The police launched an investigation which ended on December 19th, 1968, with Rolfe's conviction for Heather's murder. Pleading "Guilty" at his trial, he had admitted to detectives that he raped and strangled the schoolgirl when she refused his demand for sex, and after killing her he had taken £200 from the flat.

After the court heard that he had a long criminal record for having sex with under-age girls and sexually assaulting young women, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

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