Seven years after the Second World War there was still a housing shortage in England, and many people were living in ex-army huts. Widowed Dorothy Smith and her 12-year-old daughter Betty were among them, living at a former US Air Force base near Shrewsbury.

At 8.30 on the evening of JULY 21st, 1953, Betty went out to play, saying she was going to Desmond and Margaret Hooper’s hut to see their children. Her mother dozed off in a chair, and when she awoke it was dark and there was no sign of Betty.

Mrs. Smith went to the Hoopers’ home, and Margaret Hooper came to the door in her nightdress. Betty wasn’t there, and the Hoopers’ seven-year-old son said that after he’d gone to bed he’d heard his father say goodnight to her at about 20 minutes to 11.

It was now 1.40 a.m., and shortly afterwards 27-year-old Desmond Hooper came in, sweating profusely, his hands shaking, his trousers wet and muddy. Mrs. Smith asked if he knew where Betty was, and he said he’d sent her home at 10.40. Betty was still missing when her mother returned home, so Hooper phoned the police.

A search was launched, and on July 24th a jacket was found near the top of an air shaft two miles from the camp. Betty’s body lay in water at the bottom of the shaft, and a man’s tie was knotted round her neck.

Desmond Hooper said he’d never seen the jacket before. Asked to account for his movements on the night Betty vanished, he said he’d gone to Haggs Farm to look for some pigeons, but failed to find them. Nobody had seen him, and when the jacket found at the crime scene was proved to be his he said, “Nothing to say.”

He repeated this when he was charged with Betty Smith’s murder, for which he was hanged at Shrewsbury on January 26th, 1954.