The butt of a hand-rolled cigarette was found lying on the dead body of nine-year-old Pamela Coventry, dumped in a ditch near Hornchurch, Essex. Experts quickly identified the tobacco and the cigarette paper.

Was it a clue? The police thought so. They charged Leonard Richardson, who rolled his own cigarettes with that paper and that tobacco, with Pamela’s rape and murder.

The little girl left her mother’s house after lunch on Tuesday, January 18th, 1938, to return to school. Two friends were waiting for her a couple of hundred yards away, but she never arrived. That implied that she was decoyed into one of the houses she passed along the way – probably a house in Coronation Drive, where Leonard Richardson lived.

Richardson was brought to trial at the Old Bailey on the basis of this and other vague evidence which was far from convincing. When the jury heard that 60 million cigarette papers like his were in circulation at any one time they handed a note to the judge saying they had heard enough and he must be not guilty.

Richardson must have made a good impression, because the foreman congratulated him as he left the court.