It was a morning the milkman would never forget. At 8 a.m. on MAY 13th, 1961, he left his float and headed for the Pantile Bungalow, the gardener’s cottage in the grounds of Pantile House at Aldington in Kent. Approaching the doorstep, he was shocked to see his customer Alice Buxton covered with blood and sprawled half-naked across the porch.
He hurried off to call the police, and the constable, when he arrived, found a second body. The gardener Hubert Buxton, 35, lay in the scullery, shot in the head, whereas his Belgian common-law wife Alice, 38, had been beaten to death. The forepart of a double-barrelled shotgun lay near her corpse.
The torn scraps of a love letter written in broken English were found on the Buxtons’ bedroom floor. It had been sent five days earlier to Alice Buxton in Belgium and it was signed “Hendryk.”
Hubert Buxton had been seen still working in the grounds at 8 p.m. on May 12th. Alice worked in Hythe and she had arrived home by bus shortly before 5 p.m. A small, light-coloured car had been seen parked on a grass verge near the couple’s home at 9.15 p.m. Two hours later a cyclist had been seen pedalling down the lane leading to Pantile House. Whoever he was, he had not called at the house.
Detectives learned that Alice Buxton was married to a market gardener living in Worcesterhire, whom she had left to live with Buxton. She had subsequently become friendly with a Ukrainian woman she met on a bus. The woman was married to a Polish refugee, and Alice had invited the couple to visit her. They did so, and that was how she met Hendryk Niemasz, who had become her lover.
Eight months before the murders a constable had found a couple having sex in a small, light-coloured car. He had spotted it parked in a quarry near Hythe. A tarpaulin had been pulled over it, and it was rocking on its springs. The constable had discovered the reason when he drew back the tarpaulin. From his descriptions the couple were Alice and Hendryk. Niemasz’s car was a light-coloured Hillman Husky.
The Buxtons had been murdered between 10 p.m. and midnight on May 12th. Asked about his movements that day, Niemasz told the police he had arrived home at 1.30 p.m. and was in bed before 10. He denied being Alice’s lover, saying that he had signed off his letter to her with kisses because that was how both his wife and Alice signed their letters.
Searching his smallholding, officers found part of a double-barrelled shotgun concealed in hay in a shed. The forepart was missing, and the police already had it. It was the forepart found near Alice’s body. Furthermore, the gun’s barrels were out of alignment with the stock, as if the weapon had been used to beat somebody.
A bloodstained bicycle was found in Niemasz’s garage, and he was arrested. His wife now said that he had left home at about 11 o’clock on the night of May 12th. She had not heard his car start and he returned 15 minutes later. He had washed at the kitchen sink.
Charged with murder, Niemasz claimed that Alice had shown him a pistol, telling him he was to get rid of Hubert and his own wife. He said he hadn’t wanted to kill either of them, and hadn’t done so. Instead he had paid a man named George £60 to kill Alice! “George,” whom he said he met in a Gillingham pub, was sought but never traced.
The investigators learned that Niemasz had told a friend that he wanted to be rid of Alice because she was becoming a nuisance. He was believed to have paid the Buxtons two visits on the night of May 12th – once when there was probably a quarrel and a car believed to be his was seen parked nearby, and again when he cycled back with his shotgun, intent on murder.
The police didn’t believe in “George,” and neither did the jury at Hendryk Niemasz’s trial for murder. They found him guilty and he was hanged at Wandsworth Prison.