Thomas Clay, 27, who lived in poverty in the Epping Public Assistance Institution, had a short and unenviable life. He had TB, and had spent many years in sanatoria. He badly wanted to marry his girlfriend, Phyllis Brace, 24, but his poor state of health prevented it.

Phyllis called at the Institution on JULY 22nd, 1936, and the couple went for a walk in Epping Forest. Twenty-four hours later Clay was found lying by a roadside in an exhausted condition. Next day police found the body of Phyllis in the forest, with her throat cut.

Clay made a statement in which he said they had decided to die together. They went into the forest and took barbitone tablets. He went to sleep and when he woke up Phyllis was lying in a swamp.

At the sight of her he tried to cut his own throat with his razor, but when his courage failed he used it on her instead.

“The only motive for his act was misery and despair,” says the official report. Thomas Clay was sentenced to life, but died in prison after serving only 20 months.