The worst fears of the police were soon realised when nine-year-old Leslie Gaff and his seven-year-old sister Eileen were reported missing. On the afternoon of Friday, JULY 25th, 1947, they had gone out to play near their home at Guildford. A search was launched, and they were found in a nearby copse the following afternoon.
The boy lay dead, shot in the chest. He had also been battered about the head and chest, and his feet had been tied together with a red scarf.
His sister lay semi-conscious with severe head injuries a few feet away. Rushed to hospital, she was delirious, but nevertheless described her attacker. She died the next day, but the description she had given the police led them to Frederick Alfred Smith, a 21-year-old window-cleaner.
He at first denied any involvement in the crime. But during further interrogation he said he enjoyed childrens company and had wanted to show Leslie and Eileen his rifle which he used to shoot squirrels. They were in Dean Copse when the boy became tiresome, and Smith said he therefore beat him, tied his ankles together and then shot him. Eileen began screaming, so he lost patience with her too and beat her about the head with the butt of his rifle.
The police suspected that he was mentally retarded, and it emerged that this view had been shared by the army which had finally discharged him as suffering from hysterical amnesia.
Smith spent only seven minutes in the dock at Surrey Assizes when he admitted Eileen Gaffs murder, her brothers murder remaining on file. Smiths death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment after a psychiatrists report was submitted to the Home Secretary.
Seventeen years later the killer escaped from Wormwood Scrubs Prison, only to be recaptured near his mothers home at Guildford 30 hours later. By the time of his release in 1971 he had spent 24 years behind bars, and was Britains longest-serving murderer.
Returning to Guildford, he worked as a self-employed bricklayer, but was in trouble again three years later. On Saturday, December 21st, 1974, he was convicted of theft and fined £50 by Kingston-on-Thames magistrates. A few hours later he was killed when his motorcycle was involved in a crash near East Horsley.