A deserter from the Canadian Army in Britain, where he had been stationed in London, Howard Grossley, 38, had a wife in Canada with whom he had not lived for 20 years. Since 1941 he had lived with Lily Griffiths, by whom he had a child. But although he seemed to love Lily, he was unfaithful and sometimes beat her. They also had money worries and both were in poor health.
In 1945 they were living in Porthcawl, in South Wales, and shortly before midnight on MARCH 12th, Lily was shot in a lane near their lodgings. Dying from her bullet wound four days later, she was also found to be badly bruised.
Grossley admitted firing the fatal shot, and at first he told the police that he had mistaken Lily for an escaped German prisoner of war who had attacked them. Then he changed his story and said his pistol had gone off accidentally during a struggle with Lily, who was trying to stop him committing suicide with it.
This was confirmed in a dying deposition made by Lily. But in response to a question from the police she made a further statement in which she said that Grossley had been beating her and when she protested he had shot her, taking the pistol from his pocket and saying, “I will finish it off now then.”
The judge would not allow Lily’s second statement to be given in evidence at Grossley’s trial, and the defence claimed there was insufficient evidence to disprove the defendant’s story that his gun had discharged accidentally.
But the jury heard that this was unlikely, due to the pistol’s mechanism. Furthermore, according to both Grossley’s evidence and Lily’s deposition, Grossley had pushed Lily away from him before the shot was fired.
Rejecting Grossley’s story, the jury convicted him of murder, his appeal was dismissed, and he went to the gallows.