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James Camb - "The Porthole Case"

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  • James Camb - "The Porthole Case"

    What do you think of the James Camb case? It's now the subject of my latest Cold Case Jury e-book, Death of an Actress, which has just been published.

    As many of you will know, a 21-year-old actress called Gay Gibson disappeared from the Durban Castle one humid night in October 1947, shortly after the liner crossed the equator. James Camb, a deck steward, later admitted that he pushed her lifeless body through a cabin porthole after she died during love making. The police thought he strangled her and then pushed her body through the porthole to destroy "the deadliest evidence against him". A jury agreed, and Camb was sentence to death (although he did not hang).

    Who was right? How were the emergency buttons pressed? What was the significance of Gay's missing black pyjamas? Was Gay Gibson a "nymphomaniac" who had an affair with Carry On actor Sid James (as alleged in one biography of the actor)? Was James Camb a sex pest who was preying on young women? In relation to the latter, I managed to track down the actual affidavits of three women who alleged they were attacked by Camb on previous voyages. For the first time ever, you can read what the women actually said.

    It's a fascinating case. Indeed, one of the most sensational cases of the 20th century. And you can deliver your verdict at the Cold Case Jury website.

    Antony Matthew Brown
    Author of Death of an Actress
    www.coldcasejury.com

  • #2
    I shall be interested to read it, Cold Case. I've always been intrigued by this quite unique murder!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Rosella View Post
      I've always been intrigued by this quite unique murder!
      Inspector Rosella, I think this is a unique case, too. Joshua Casswell, Camb's barrister, was involved in 45 British murder trials in the first half of the 20th Century and he said it was the most sensational he was involved in.

      But was it murder? I hope you will deliver your verdict.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by ColdCaseJury View Post
        What do you think of the James Camb case? It's now the subject of my latest Cold Case Jury e-book, Death of an Actress, which has just been published.
        ...
        Hi ColdCase,

        I think or, at least, suspect that by illegally disposing of Gay Gibson's body, James Camb for all practical purposes changed an integral part of the normal trial process for the jury and put the onus of proof on the defence. Unsurprisingly there was not then enough for them to find in his favour.

        The finding of guilt was very probably the right verdict and certainly an understandable one.

        Anyway, a fascinating case and good luck with the book.

        Best regards,
        OneRound

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by OneRound View Post
          Hi ColdCase,

          I think or, at least, suspect that by illegally disposing of Gay Gibson's body, James Camb for all practical purposes changed an integral part of the normal trial process for the jury and put the onus of proof on the defence. Unsurprisingly there was not then enough for them to find in his favour.
          Thanks for your post. I agree that the disposal of the body was suspicious and that, in the eye's of the jury, this might have shifted the onus of proof. Of course, legally it should not have; it was still for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Camb murdered her. For Cold Case Jury, however, I ask that the jurors (i.e. readers) decide what most likely happened. In a case like this, this is not as easy as it sounds because the evidence can be interpreted in different ways.

          Comment


          • #6
            Carry On Homicide!

            I did not know that Gay Gibson may have known Sid James. No reason for it to be improbable, but I thought James had been in the entertainment field longer that poor Gay. She was in for about a year or two before her death. Also she always reminded me of the then popular American movie star Veronica Lake.

            There is only one U.S. homicide mystery that reminds me at all of what happened to Gay. It's not quite the same story. A woman named Cedarholm (who lived in Brooklyn) had an affair with a younger man, a member of the military of Yugoslavia or Serbia named Podejay. This was about 1930. Poderjay was a kind of outgoing, overly friendly type - the sort who usually wears down his welcome soon. When Mrs. Cedarholm vanished Poderjay was already on an ocean liner (my memories of the case are old, so if details are off I am sorry), and one of his pieces of luggage were a large trunk supposedly containing hundreds of razor blades (he claimed they were difficult to get in his section of Europe. He was in his cabin much of his voyage back home, and it was later wondered if he disposed of Mrs. Cedarholm by cutting up the remains and tossing them out of the ship's porthole. Although some justice was meted out against Podejay for another crime, he was never tried for the murder of Mrs. Cedarholm.

            Jeff

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Mayerling View Post
              I did not know that Gay Gibson may have known Sid James. No reason for it to be improbable, but I thought James had been in the entertainment field longer that poor Gay.
              Hi there Jeff. The source for Gay Gibson's affair with Sid James was Cliff Goodwin, the biographer of the Carry On actor. It apparently occurred in Cape Town in September 1946. One of the reasons that Gay wanted to return to England was allegedly to track down her (married) ex-lover. As I explain in Death of an Actress, the account conflicts with too many other facts about Gay. For example, from the trial testimony, Gay was never in South Africa during 1946. Does this disprove that the affair occurred? Of course not (as you know, we live in a world of inductive inference and deductive proof is extremely hard to come by), but more evidence is required to support the claim. Would an affair be probative? Yes. As I explain, it would confirm that Gay was sexually proactive (James allegedly described her as a "nymphomaniac").

              This is one mystery among many in the case.

              I did not know about Podejay, so thanks for that.

              Comment


              • #8
                I have read your very interesting book, Cold Case Jury, and have delivered my verdict. I've come to the conclusion that, dark as the case was against Camb, he was no murderer.

                I feel there may have been a slightly different scenario in the cabin prior to Gay's death in that Camb may have made his way down to her cabin to try his luck, as he had with other young women and eventually Gay yielded. She may have been wearing her black pyjamas the pants of which were pulled down to the ankles, the top rucked up. That would account for their absence in the cabin after he had disposed of Gay's body through the porthole.

                Camb's violence against the young woman on an earlier voyage gave me pause, however the evidence of the placement of the scratches on his arms convinced me to give him the benefit of the doubt. He seems to have been a most unpleasant character, though

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Rosella View Post
                  I have read your very interesting book, Cold Case Jury, and have delivered my verdict. I've come to the conclusion that, dark as the case was against Camb, he was no murderer.
                  Thank you! It will be interesting to see how many agree with you.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hi,

                    Whether or not Camb actually killed her is open to consideration. What I think is not open to consideration is that he was a sexual predator, and if he she died as a result of his possible "forced" sexual activity, in my book he is still to blame. If not then why then force her body through the porthole into the sea.

                    I read somewhere (I cannot remember where at the moment although I will try and track it down) that she might not have been dead when he forced her out into the open sea. (A horrible thought.)

                    I also read somewhere that after he was eventually released from prison he sexually molested an underaged child.

                    If so, a really nasty piece of work.

                    Just a point on the legal issue. A prosecutor must prove ... to the jury's satisfaction ..... beyond a reasonable doubt.

                    But all the ame best wishes for the book.

                    Kind regards.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Hatchett View Post
                      Hi,

                      Whether or not Camb actually killed her is open to consideration. What I think is not open to consideration is that he was a sexual predator... Just a point on the legal issue. A prosecutor must prove ... to the jury's satisfaction ..... beyond a reasonable doubt.
                      Thanks for your comment. In my book I publish for the first time the actual affidavits of women who allege they were molested by Camb. It makes interesting (but perhaps disturbing) reading.

                      Many commentators believe that, despite the original jury's verdict, there was a reasonable doubt whether Camb murdered Gay Gibson. For the Cold Case Jury, however, I always ask the reader to decide what most likely happened after presenting all the evidence. At the moment the verdict of the Cold Case Jury is that James Camb most likely murdered Gay Gibson.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Current Verdict

                        The current verdict of the Cold Case Jury is that 70% believe it was a case of murder.

                        This may change as more verdicts are polled

                        Antony Matthew Brown
                        Author of Death of an Actress

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Unfortunately I don't place much weight on these type of Polls.

                          I get asked all the time, "What o you think bout X case" "was it the right verdict" "Wasn't the sentence light/heavy?" etc

                          My answer is invariably "Without seeing ALL the evidence it's impossible to say".
                          G U T

                          There are two ways to be fooled, one is to believe what isn't true, the other is to refuse to believe that which is true.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by GUT View Post
                            Unfortunately I don't place much weight on these type of Polls.

                            I get asked all the time, "What o you think bout X case" "was it the right verdict" "Wasn't the sentence light/heavy?" etc

                            My answer is invariably "Without seeing ALL the evidence it's impossible to say".
                            Hi GUT - that's fair enough although I suspect you've just walked into an advert for ColdCase's book!

                            Best regards,
                            OneRound

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by OneRound View Post
                              Hi GUT - that's fair enough although I suspect you've just walked into an advert for ColdCase's book!

                              Best regards,
                              OneRound
                              Seems like it.
                              G U T

                              There are two ways to be fooled, one is to believe what isn't true, the other is to refuse to believe that which is true.

                              Comment

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