I know that 25 Cromwell Street was ground up but it's the first time I've heard it about 10 Rillington Place.
To this day in Bartle Close there is no #10. It goes from 9 to 11, with a gap and a steep drop where 10 should be, though it's not in fact even on the actual location of 10 Rillington Place, which was some yards to the SW of there, I understand.
One of Ethel Christie's letters turned up on the Murder Auction site a year ago. I was going to possibly buy it but the price tag was over £200, which is more than I would pay for original documents signed by the actual criminals. It sold, nevertheless.
A few years back, some guy put up some original Christie documents on eBay in shoddy condition. Receipts and the like. He withdrew the items and didn't reply to any e-mails. However, about four years ago someone sold a circa 1930 image of Christie in a group of a lodge of some kind of Masonic order. I didn't win it but the winner did send me a good quality jpeg detail of the part of the image with Christie in it. Odd to see him as a younger man (still looking middle-aged, nevertheless).
I still don't have a single rare Christie item in my collection. It's probably my #1 want at present.
__________________ Tour guides do it loudly in front of a crowd.
The Black Museum hasn't been open to the public for many decades. I understand it still exists but is not referred to a such anymore. Maybe SPE will have better clarification than I. I know that Cowpat Cornwell did some kind of book launch there last year which was only admissable by invites that cost over £100 each.
__________________ Tour guides do it loudly in front of a crowd.
I'm not quite sure who owned 10 Rillington Place prior to 1950, although Ludovic Kennedy states that the landlord's agents were Messrs Martin East of 19 Gerrard Street, Soho. However, I do recollect seeing a rent book for the house being advertised on eBay a couple of years or so ago; I'm not sure if it actually belonged to Christie himself or to another tenant. If I remember correctly, this rent book stated that the actual owner of number 10
and another house in the street was a company director.
It is quite possible that Christie would have shown any prospective tenants around the house, as is seen in the feature film. Ludovic Kennedy states that he usually answered the front door whether the caller had come to see him or not, and was generally quite an interfering and inquisitive individual.
In August 1950 10 Rillington Place was purchased by a Mr Charles Brown from Jamaica, who filled it with tenants from his own country; I think I read that he also worked as a hotel comissionaire at the time. I also read in another book, which I think was by a policeman who worked in the Notting Hill area, that in the early 1960s number 10 was owned by a man named "Charlie Brown" who worked as a doorman for a club in Kingly Street, Soho, and who used the house as an illegal drinking club. I am not certain if this was the same Charles Brown who bought the house in 1952, but it may well have been.
I've already posed this question on another thread but I'll repeat it here as I think it may be of interest:-
If Christie had been tried under the terms of the Homicide Act of 1957, would he still have been executed if found guilty?
My understanding is that if he had been tried solely for the murder of his wife as he was in 1953 he would not have been subject to the death penalty as he did not kill her with a firearm or kill her in the furtherance of theft - unless his forging her signature to cash in her savings could be counted in this regard.
On the other hand, if he had been tried for two or more of the murders, he could have received the death penalty as the 1957 act prescribed hanging for two murders committed on different occasions.
Similarly, if Evans had been tried for the murder of Beryl alone after 1957 he would not have been executed, but if he had been tried for the murders of both Beryl and Geraldine he would still have been hanged as he would then have committed two murders on seperate occasions.
I also belive that prior to the 1957 act it was usual for a person to be tried for only one murder at a time in England and Wales; this was why Christie was only tried for the murder of his wife.
Did the 1957 act then provide for a person to be convicted of two or more murders at a single trial?
Location: McWopetaz Metroplex, Illinois U. S. of A.
I suspect that the practice of trying for only one murder was a way to skirt the double jeopardy prohibition. That is, should the person be found innocent for one murder, you can retry them on one of the other counts. You couldn't do that if you shoot your wad with all the victims in one case. There is the argument though that a jury is more likely to convict if there are multiple victims so that strategy might not always be the best. That's the way it works here in the States now anyway.
Regarding the erosion of the double jeopardy prohibition here, there are also the tactic of retrying the suspect for "violating the murder victim's civil rights" or bringing them to civil court for "being responsible for the person's death".
This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.
Interestingly, I believe that the Homicide Act of 1957 never applied in Northern Ireland, which although part of the United Kingdom had its own parliament until the early 1970s. Here, all murders continued to be punishable by the death penalty and there was no distinction between capital and non-capital murder. I believe the last execution in Northern Ireland took place around 1961.
On the other hand, the Homicide Act of 1957 also applied in Scotland, which although it had and continues to have its own distinct legal system, it did not at that time have a parliament of its own, although it now does. The last execution in Scotland took place in 1963 for a murder using firearms.
I suppose that if Christie had been found guilty but insane at his trial for the murder of his wife at the Old Bailey in 1953 it would have precluded him being tried for his other murders as he would then have been considered unfit to plead. His attorney, Derek Curtis-Bennett, tried to convince the jury that he was insane when he killed Ethel, and apparently Christie himself rather liked the idea of being sent to Broadmoor, the institution for the criminally insane, as he had been told that it was rather nice there!!!
Christie's method of rendering his victims unconscious with carbon monoxide gas also raises certain questions. I have in front of me a copy of Medical and Scientific Investigations in the Christie case by Francis Camps from which I have taken the following information.
Christie claimed to have rendered Muriel Eady unconscious by persuading her to inhale coal gas through a glass jar containing scented water of some kind to mask the smell of the gas - according to Christie, he had told Eady that this was a cure for her catarrh. Doctor Camps concedes that this method of adminstering the gas was at least possible, although the victim would have to be incurious or very gullible.
On the other hand, in his third statement he claimed to have used a somewhat different method on the three women whose bodies were found in the kitchen:-
I gassed the three women whose bodies were found in the alcove by getting them to sit in the deck-chair in the kitchen between the table and the door. There is a gas pipe on the wall next to the window, that had at one time been used for a gas bracket. The pipe had been plugged. I took the plug out and pushed a piece of rubber tubing over the pipe and let it hang down nearly to the floor. There was no tap on it so I put a kink in the tube with a bulldog clip to stop the gas escaping. When they sat in the deck-chair with the tube behind them I just took the clip off and let the fumes rise from the back of the deck-chair. When they started getting overcome that's when I must have strangled them.
However, Camps has difficulty with this statement for the following reasons:-
1) How much would they notice?
Two phenomena are always associated with the escape of coal-gas - a smell and a noise (hissing), and however carefully this operation had been done the women ought to have noticed the smell for there was no suggestion of a loss of smell by any of them. There is the possibility that they were persuaded to inhale the gas on some pretext or other...
2) How long would they take to be overcome?
This would depend entirely upon the exact conditions, information about which is unfortunately not available. It would undoubtedly have taken an appreciable length of time under the conditions he describes - several minutes at least - and during this time he too would be at some risk if resting and even more so if he indulged in any activity whilst he was in the room.
3) Would Christie also have been overcome if they were?
It seems highly improbable that Christie would not also have been affected unless he was in some air current, but this would depend on the gas flow. When asked why he was not overcome he replied that the window was open. Certainly his suggestion about the window is not very satisfactory but depends upon his exact position, which is not known. Apart from this if the window was open it seems probable that the air changes might have been too many to have allowed an adequate concentration to have built up in the air to produce the effect on the victims, the source of supply being some distance from them. Perhaps the most significant point is that if by some remarkable chance he was in an air current on one occasion it is unlikely that it could happen three times.
On the other hand, Camps has this to say on the case of Muriel Eady:-
The Skeleton Cases (Fuerst and Eady
The sole basis for any suggestion of gas in these cases is in Christie's statement in which he described his somewhat elaborate method of gassing Eady (later he said he wasn't sure as it might have been Fuerst). He stated that the woman had catarrh and he suggested an inhalant which he prepared by taking a jar with a screw cap and putting into it hot water and friar's balsam. He introduced a tube through the lid which he connected up wit the gas supply and another through which she inhaled, thereby making the friar's balsam mask the smell of the gas. This seems a very cumbersome method but has the merits of being at least possible, and a jar was found but without the top which would have been the only part of interest. Therefore admittedly it could have been done, but would have postulated a perosn of weak intellect who allowed it to be carried out without the curiosity of wondering what it was all about. Further than this it is impossible to comment as there are no reliable data available.
In view of Doctor Camps' observations, it seems rather more likely that Christie gassed his last three victims, Rita Nelson, Kathleen Maloney and Hectorina MacLennan, in a similar way to that used on Muriel Eady, ie by inducing them to inhale the gas orally. Possibly he could have claimed that this would in some way act as a sexual stimulant, or it is even possible that he gassed Rita Nelson on the pretext of carrying out an abortion, as she was six months' pregnant at the time, although the post-mortem showed no evidence of interference with the pregnancy.
One wonders why Christie claimed to have used the much more dangerous method of introducing carbon monoxide into the room? Could it have been to help his defence of insanity in some way?