It was Arnold Warren’s heavy gambling that wrecked his eight-year marriage. On May 22nd, 1914, another row erupted over his fondness for unsuccessful horses. He struck his wife Ethel, and she left with their two-year-old son James and found her own lodgings elsewhere in Leicester. Five days later she was awarded 10 shillings a week after she issued a summons against her husband, and he was bound over to keep the peace.
As Ethel was out at work, her mother looked after James, who was collected each morning by 11-year-old Edith Skidmore, who took him to his grandmother, taking him home again later in the day.
Shortly before two o’clock on the afternoon of JULY 10th, Ethel happened to see her husband at the clock-tower at Leicester’s Humberstone Gate. He told her he’d left his job, had withdrawn all his money from the bank and had put it n a horse. If it lost, he said, taking a bottle of poison from his pocket, he would finish himself off.
Three and a half hours later Edith Skidmore collected James from his grandmother and followed her usual practice of taking him for a walk before returning him to his mother.
As they strolled through Fosse Recreation Ground she saw James’s father lying on the grass. On seeing her he gave her a note, asking her to take it to his wife. He would look after James while she ran the errand, he said, and Edith left to deliver the letter. It was a request to borrow a saw, and when Edith returned to the recreation ground she could see neither Arnold Warren nor his son.
At 8.10 p.m. a courting couple were crossing the recreation ground when they came across Arnold and James lying on the ground. The child’s throat was cut and he was covered in blood. Arnold Warren was semi-conscious, and a bottle of laudanum lay beside him.
Recovering in hospital, he said he had lost all his money on a horse running at Haydock. He had gone to the recreation ground aware that he would probably see Edith there with his son, and intending to kill James and himself.
Convicted of the child’s murder and sentenced to death, he was hanged at Leicester Prison on November 12th, 1914.