“I have killed my mother. Don’t look alarmed. She is in bed.” So said 29-year-old Norman Smith, a solicitor’s clerk and scoutmaster, when he walked into Torquay police station on Sunday, August 28th, 1938.

The crime of matricide is comparatively rare in Britain and scoutmasters don’t usually turn to murder, so detectives hurried to Smith’s home in Hill Park Road to find out why.

By the time he appeared before the magistrates he was prepared to tell the full story. He claimed that his mother, Mrs. Alice Smith, also known locally as Madame Lorraine, a fortune-teller, had tried to cut her own throat and then begged him to “finish her off.” In compliance, he struck her around the head with a rolling-pin.

Smith said his mother suffered from stomach ulcers and sleepless nights and wanted to die.

The court heard that he and his mother were devoted to each other. Two days before the murder he wrote a letter which indicated that he intended to commit suicide after his mother had killed herself, and that he wanted to be buried at sea with her.

At Exeter Assizes on NOVEMBER 8th, 1938, he was found guilty but insane and sent to Broadmoor.