Although Harold Greenwood had only a modest practice as a solicitor in Llanelly, Carmarthenshire, he and his 47-year-old wife Mabel lived in an imposing mansion in nearby Kidwelly, bought with Mrs. Greenwood’s money from her private income.
She soon became a popular, socially active figure, but her husband made few friends, probably because he was an Englishman in a Welsh community, and perhaps also because of his marked preference for female company. Few seemed to like him.
His wife was prone to fainting and was said to have a weak heart. She began to have bouts of illness early in 1919, and after Sunday lunch on JUNE 15th she went to bed early, complaining of heart pains. A stomach medicine was prescribed by her doctor, but it failed to settle her.
She began vomiting and suffering from diarrhoea later that night and the physician was summoned again. She died shortly after 3.30 a.m., from valvular heart disease according to her death certificate.
Tongues began to wag when her husband remarried only four months later. There were already rumours about Mabel Greenwood’s death, and in April 1920 her body was exhumed to reveal arsenic in several organs…but no sign of the valvular heart disease to which her death had been attributed.
Her demise, a coroner’s jury decided, had been caused by arsenic administered by her husband. Many attending the inquest clapped loudly on hearing the verdict.
At Harold Greenwood’s trial in Carmarthen the prosecution focused on a bottle of Burgundy from which Mabel had drunk a glassful at her last lunch. The prosecutor claimed it had been laced with the lethal poison.
But the couple’s 21-year-old daughter Irene testified that she had drunk wine from the same bottle and had been unaffected. The Crown’s case collapsed and her father was acquitted.
The community still thought Harold Greenwood guilty, however, and on finding himself ostracised he moved to Herefordshire, where he died nine years later.