On the evening of JANUARY 10th, 1953, screams were heard coming from the Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, cottage of 78-year-old Miss Elizabeth Thomas. A policeman climbed in through a window and found her lying behind the front door. Her skull was fractured, a heavy, bloodstained stick lay nearby, and she died the next day without recovering consciousness.

Her killer was believed to have fled through the back door at the sound of a policeman at the front. Miss Thomas’s savings of £200 were found untouched, hidden between two mattresses, the intruder having been disturbed before he could search her home.

Who was he? A deaf and dumb man, George Roberts, 46, had been seen near the cottage shortly before the attack. Questioning him was virtually impossible because he was unable to speak and couldn’t understand sign language.

He had lived in Laugharne all his life, had never been in trouble, and all who knew him thought him innocent. No blood was found on his clothes, nor were his fingerprints found in the cottage, but he was nevertheless charged with murder and brought to trial.

After the defence successfully opposed the admission of “statements” allegedly made by Roberts, and argued that Roberts, being deaf, could not have heard the policeman at the front door, the prosecution offered no further evidence and the judge directed the jury to return a verdict of “Not guilty.”