Death stalked the Coverdale Kennels. They were established in 1929 by a Christchurch, Dorset, man to train sporting dogs. His first manager, William Steer, was found shot dead in a badger hole, with a 12-bore at his side, only months after taking the job. This, it was established, was an accident.

Steer was succeeded by Edward Welham, 24, who was also found shot dead, this time by a 16-bore two years later, on Friday, OCTOBER 2nd, 1931. This, it was established, was murder.

Sitting in his office, Welham had sent his young assistant, Frederick Deaman, to fetch a blind spaniel to which he was much attached. He was murdered while Deaman was searching for the dog.

The killer took the victim’s wallet from his pocket, probably containing about £9. The police received very little help from the Dorset rustics who, disliking the idea of a murder in their community, set up a hostile conspiracy of silence. A senior police officer said, “I think I know who did this killing.” But the evidence was insufficient to justify a charge.