On being discharged from the army in November 1928 with an excellent military record, bandsman William John Holmyard, 25, had gone to live with his parents at 39 Tachbrook Street, Pimlico, London. Shortly afterwards he borrowed £5 from his 72-year-old grandfather William Holmyard, a wealthy street-bookmaker who lived alone next door.
The grandson repaid the loan within a week, and later borrowed further sums of £10 and £7. Then he learned that the old man had told his father he was borrowing money, and on December 7th he went next door to complain. In the row that developed, he struck his grandfather on the head with a pair of fire-tongs, fracturing the old mans skull. Then he stormed out.
His grandfather managed to get to the front door where he was found and taken to hospital by the police, who arrested the grandson and charged him with wounding.
Three days later, the old man died from his injuries and Holmyard was charged with murder.
He had struck his grandfather in self-defence, he claimed when he appeared before Mr. Justice Humphreys at the Old Bailey. In the judges summing-up the alternative of a manslaughter verdict was put to the jury, but they found Holmyard guilty as charged and made no recommendation to mercy.
His counsel was Miss Venetia Stephenson, the first female barrister to lead for the defence in a murder trial, and when Holmyards appeal was heard on FEBRUARY 12th she asked the three judges to quash his conviction and order a retrial.
While the jury were deliberating their verdict, she said, a court bailiff had entered their room and handed them newspapers containing reports of legal arguments heard by Mr. Justice Humphreys in their absence. Because of this, she argued, a retrial was necessary.
But the judges disagreed. They dismissed the appeal, and on February 27th, 1929, Holmyard was executed at Pentonville Prison.