Thirty-year-old James Kirkwood, a powerfully built man with one arm crippled by infantile paralysis, walked into West End Police Station in Torpichen Place, Edinburgh, and declared: I killed a woman last night in Ormelie, in Corstorphine Road. Youll find the body in the grounds.
Ormelie was the mansion home of Sir William Thomson, who was on holiday with his family, and Kirkwood was employed there as a gardener. A police search in the grounds on Sunday, AUGUST 7th, 1938, revealed the naked body of Jean Powell, 35, buried in a grave in a potato patch.
She had several fractures of the skull and lacerations caused by the insertion of the shaft of a hammer into her vagina.
At Edinburgh High Court, where he was charged with murder, subsequently reduced to culpable homicide, Kirkwood pleaded diminished responsibility on the grounds that he was suffering from temporary mental derangement associated with his epileptic fits.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment, then asked for leave to appeal against the appalling severity of the sentence, arguing that there was no warrant for the view that a man who committed a crime and who turned out to be epileptic should be shut up for life. The application was dismissed.