Although he was described as “a man of less than average intellect,” labourer Thomas Clanwaring was also a man of lively imagination. It was his habit to visit the Rose and Crown pub in Cambridge and regale the regulars with stories about his life which, although they had little to do with the truth, were at least entertaining.

It was Clanwaring’s imagination which led him to the dock at Cambridge Assizes, charged with murdering Alice Maud Lawn. She was found on Wednesday, July 27th, 1921, lying dead at the foot of the stairs near the side door of her little shop in King Street, Cambridge, with her forehead crushed in by the blunt edge of an axe.

Some money had been stolen from the till – but the killer had missed £600 hidden in an upstairs room.

When he was questioned and subsequently arrested Clanwaring characteristically told a variety of stories. But his trial revealed that he could not have walked from the Rose and Crown to Miss Lawn’s shop, killed her, and walked back to the pub within the time he was known to have been alone. He was found not guilty.