Episode 2 Murder, Mystery and My Family


Episode 2

Criminal barristers Jeremy Dein and Sasha Wass reinvestigate the notorious case of Devlin and Burns, two petty thieves who were sentenced to death for murder in 1951.


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Transcript


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The British justice system is the envy of the world,

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but in the past mistakes have been made.

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Between the year 1900 and the year 1964

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approximately 800 people were hanged in the United Kingdom.

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Many of those desperately protested their innocence.

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Some of these long-standing convictions could be a miscarriage of justice.

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She has received most of the blows in this position once she is already bleeding.

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In this series a living relative will attempt to clear their

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-family name.

-I'm just hoping that this will actually prove what I

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believe, that he is innocent.

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Searching for new evidence...

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I can make the .32 fire both calibres.

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..with help from two of the UK's leading barristers.

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One for the defence...

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This is a very worrying case.

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I think the evidence is very suspect.

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..and one for the prosecution.

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I am still of the view that this was a cogent case of murder committed

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during the course of a robbery.

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They are on a mission to solve the mystery,

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submitting their findings to a Crown Court judge.

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There is a real risk that there has been a miscarriage of justice here.

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I will look again at the evidence in the light of the arguments that you

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both have put before me.

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Can this modern investigation

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rewrite history?

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On the 19th of August 1951, in Liverpool...

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..54-year-old widow Beatrice Rimmer was discovered by her son Thomas

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bludgeoned to death.

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Chief Inspector Herbert Balmer charged petty criminals

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22-year-old Edward Devlin

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and 21-year-old Alfred Burns with murder.

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Despite pleading their innocence, both were found guilty by a jury.

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At 9am on April the 25th 1952,

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they were executed in a rare double hanging.

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63-year-old grandmother Lindsay Langlands is a direct descendant

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of Edward Devlin.

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She has flown from her life in Australia in search of the truth.

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Hi, there.

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The Devlin family have always believed that Edward was innocent.

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Edward Devlin was my father's cousin.

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There was a lot of shame and stigma involved with what went on at that

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time, to the extent that my parents never even told me about it or told

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anybody else in our family about it.

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I am just hoping that given that the evidence is going to be looked at

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again, that it will actually prove what I believe from my heart,

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that he is innocent, and he should not have been hung in the first place.

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From a working-class background, Edward was one of five children.

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He lived in the slums of Manchester, and after a short stint in the Army

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found himself, aged 21, trying to make ends meet through petty theft.

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Certain of his guilt,

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Chief Inspector Balmer arrested Edward three months after the murder.

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Helping Lindsay unravel the truth are two of the country's top legal minds.

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Jeremy Dein QC is a defence lawyer with over 30 years at the criminal bar,

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specialising in murder cases.

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Sasha Wass QC is a high-profile barrister who has successfully prosecuted

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cases of fraud, murder and sexual misconduct.

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Hello, Lindsay, good to meet you.

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Both have agreed to look into the case.

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But first, they have a key question for Lindsay.

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Clearly no-one can promise that the outcome will be positive.

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Are you ready for the worst if in the end the judge concludes

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that these convictions were safe?

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I'm quite prepared for that.

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Lindsay, you are sure about that?

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Because sometimes there are cases where the evidence against a defendant

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becomes considerably worse from the material that you already know about.

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However, I will be entirely objective,

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so if any of the fresh evidence that comes to light

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causes doubt on the convictions, I will be raising that.

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I'm still happy to go ahead.

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I've travelled over 10,000 miles to see this case be reinvestigated

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and it's something that is really important for myself and my family.

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So, yes, I am prepared.

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The barristers will be examining five key areas of the case,

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before a reconstruction of the crime itself.

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Their findings will then be submitted to a Crown Court judge

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who could recommend the case for review

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or uphold the original guilty verdict.

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First, the barristers need to get to grips with the facts of the murder.

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In the 1950s,

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Liverpool was at the heart of post-war Britain's world shipping trade.

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Working-class families rubbed shoulders with the newly affluent.

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And, as a consequence, petty crime was rife.

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The murder victim, Beatrice Rimmer, also known as Alice,

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was a much-loved widow of a local businessman,

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and a doting mother to her only son.

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Her death and the subsequent conviction shook the local area

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of Wavertree to the core.

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With no physical evidence remaining from the original trial,

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the barristers are on their way to the crime scene.

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Has the house remained the same 65 years after the murder?

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So, Jeremy, the photographs reveal quite clearly that the layout of the

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house is identical.

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The stairway, and the dimensions of the hallway,

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and this is really useful to try and work out what happened.

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And we can see here from this photograph that Alice Rimmer was found

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really lying about here with her head towards the back of the house.

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We can see she is still wearing her overcoat,

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she still had her umbrella over her arm.

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She must have been attacked almost immediately on coming into the house

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and then been knocked to the ground.

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Alice Rimmer's body was discovered by her son Thomas.

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He initially came under suspicion but was soon discounted.

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He testified seeing her through the letterbox, lying in the hallway.

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Without a key, Thomas was forced to enter through a broken rear window.

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The prosecution alleged the motive for the crime was robbery,

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but it appeared nothing had been taken.

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Lindsay has come to Liverpool Central library to search the archive.

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She is hoping to fill in some missing facts about the case.

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"Wavertree murder trial opens.

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"Blows rained on widow, two accused."

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"A queue four deep stretched for about 60 yards outside St George's Hall

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"this afternoon, hoping to get into the court."

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The case created headlines, and attracted huge crowds to the trial.

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But what the world didn't see were the private letters written by

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the two defendants to their loved ones.

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It's distressing for me to read where Teddy actually does say,

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"I can honestly say we are innocent.

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"And in time, I hope to prove it."

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That, to me, it is just so distressing because it shows his belief in the

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system that failed him and hung him, ultimately.

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Whilst Lindsay relives her family's emotional past,

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the barristers are at the National Archives in London.

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It wasn't just the family who believed in the boy's innocence.

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The case caused public outcry.

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Jeremy, I've got another box here.

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There is just an extraordinary amount of material,

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bearing in mind that 65 years have elapsed.

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This is a petition put together by approximately 6,000 people for the

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reprieve of Edward Devlin and Alfred Burns.

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Trying to stop these two men from being hanged.

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Wading through hundreds of documents,

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Sasha has discovered something heart-wrenching.

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Jeremy, there's a letter here that I've found from the mothers of

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the two to defendants to the Queen.

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"May it please Your Majesty, we, your humble servants,

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"two working-class widowed mothers,

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"respectfully beg to draw your attention urgently to the plight

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"of our sons, who are due to die on Friday morning."

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"And as a last resort,

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"we're appealing to your gracious Majesty's clemency and mercy to intervene

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"to save the lives of our sons."

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And it's signed by both of them.

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So why was there such a huge public outcry to these convictions?

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Both testified that they couldn't have been committing the murder on

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that night, because they were committing a robbery in another city.

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The lads were petty criminals.

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Known to the local bobbies,

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they maintained that on the night of the murder, they were 40 miles away

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at an isolated warehouse on the outskirts of Manchester,

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stealing goods for the black market.

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But the jury didn't believe a word of it.

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Lindsay has come across a harrowing newspaper article.

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"As the prison clock struck 9am, yesterday,

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"13 weeping women knelt on the edge of the pavement outside Walton Jail,

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"Liverpool." In fact, one of those women is my grandmother.

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"Nine minutes later, a warden posted up two notices on the prison door,

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"Judgment of death had been carried out on Edward Devlin, 23..."

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"..and Alfred Burns, 22,

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"for the murder of Mrs Beatrice Rimmer."

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"While police held back the crowd, a small, grey-haired woman,

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"Burns's widowed mother...

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"..Mrs Alan Burns...

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"..walked alone to the gate...

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"..stood for two minutes looking at the sign...

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"..then friends led her away weeping."

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This is so sad.

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"Devlin's mother, Mrs Amy Devlin," who was my great aunt,

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46 at the time...

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"..was not outside the jail.

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"She attended mass in a church near her home in Hulme, Manchester."

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Oh, dear.

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This is just so sad.

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It's just unbelievable that two young blokes like that,

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their lives just gone.

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Just gone.

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The barristers are hoping modern forensics can unlock new evidence.

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All that remains are crime scene photographs,

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and the scientific reports from the case.

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Jeremy's meeting Home Office pathologist Dr Fegan-Earl.

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He is hoping to identify a possible murder weapon,

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something that was never discovered in the police investigation.

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Have you had a chance to look at the original pathology and forensic

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-science reports...

-Yes, I have.

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-And the photographs?

-Yes, I have. Thank you.

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I want to ask you about the murder weapon.

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-Yes.

-Devlin and Burns denied having murdered Alice Rimmer,

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but they were linked to possession of a cosh.

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What's your opinion as to the possibility that a cosh was, indeed,

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-the murder weapon?

-Looking at the description of the wounds,

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they do describe rather a mixture of wounds,

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some of which are consistent with impact with a blunt object,

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such as a cosh, like a bat.

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But also, there are some other wounds with a much sharper edge,

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so I don't think a cosh can reasonably explain the totality of injuries on this lady's head.

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So, is it your view that both a bladed instrument, such as a knife,

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and a cosh type weapon caused these injuries?

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You've got two attackers, one with a blunt instrument, one with a knife.

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To produce that series of injuries, they're likely to injure one another.

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So, you're saying one person

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caused these injuries, rather than two people?

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Yes, I think that is a reasonable suggestion.

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And you'll be able to help us as to the type of weapons that might have

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been able to cause these injuries.

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-Yes, I'll give that some consideration.

-Thank you.

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So, the pathological evidence points to a single attacker,

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suggesting either Devlin or Burns may be innocent.

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Sasha is at Greenwich University with Doctor Jen Guest,

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a forensic scientist who specialises in blood pattern analysis.

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They're exploring the single attacker theory.

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We've got three photographs here, the first showing Mrs Rimmer's body,

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and the wall behind her.

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And another of a view, you can just see the top of her body there,

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looking at that same wall straight on.

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And then, we're also looking at the front door.

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We've got a cluster of bloodstains right in front of where her head is.

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-Yes.

-Which seems to radiate away from her head.

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And that would suggest to me that she's received a number of blows when she's been in, pretty much,

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that position on the floor.

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Are there tests that you can do to recreate how blood spatter is formed?

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Yes, there's a piece of equipment that we use with the students in the

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-lab...

-Right.

-To recreate impact pattern.

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-Can we go and have a look?

-So we can see how it looks.

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Yeah, absolutely. So, this is the rat trap device.

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It's basically a spring-loaded metal plate, which we can pull back,

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and it will drop down onto the lower metal plate here and create impact

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spatter when we put some blood staining on the lower plate.

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OK.

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OK, so I just load the blood across the front edge.

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It's a bit loud.

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OK, so you see how you get clustering of blood staining just straight in

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front of the impact area,

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which is what we also see in those crime scene photographs,

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that clustering of blood staining in front of her head.

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And then you also get radiating bloodstains that come away from that

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source of impact, which is, again,

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what we see in the crime scene photographs.

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The blood pattern in the hall shows that Alice received multiple blows.

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However, it doesn't prove whether there was one or two assailants.

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Lindsay has come to Liverpool prison,

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where Edward Devlin and Alfred Burns were hanged.

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She wants to pay her respects to the boys,

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whose bodies remain in the prison grounds.

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It's very difficult.

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I've been told to look for a

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plaque with number 55.

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Where do I start?

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Their final resting place is now a car park.

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The burial site marked only by a number.

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Where are you, Teddy? Where are you?

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56... 39...

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They're not even in sequence.

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55.

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And this is all there is to acknowledge two young men,

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who I believe were hung innocently for a crime that they didn't commit.

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You wanted to have your names cleared of this crime,

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and I'm doing my best to do that for you guys.

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It's so sad just looking at this.

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Here's Teddy and Alfie buried below a car park.

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They've just built completely over the top of where their bodies are.

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It would be so nice for them to have a proper burial.

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I'm hoping that we will be able to give these two young men what they

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deserved.

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Jeremy and Sasha have come to Merseyside Police Station.

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They've been granted access to historic police files.

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Sasha, this is an opportunity to look at police files which contain

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evidence that was used at the trial, and, from what I believe,

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material that wasn't.

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19-year-old George McLaughlin was a prolific convicted criminal.

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He testified that Burns and Devlin could have carried out the murder.

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Jeremy has found a police statement from him that the jury never saw.

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Let me start with the witness George McLaughlin.

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What's astonishing when you look at these files

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is that McLaughlin had in fact named someone completely

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different when he first talked about this murder.

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He named someone called Dutton.

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The defence can not have been told that McLaughlin had named Dutton,

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because had the defence been told this would have been used.

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This is gold dust type material and it makes me wonder whether these men

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were wrongly convicted.

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Jeremy, I think the problem that both of us have in this case is that

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so little has been properly recorded in the way it would be recorded nowadays.

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So we aren't sure with any certainty what was given to the

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defence and what wasn't.

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21-year-old Manchester girl June Berry testified that she had heard both

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boys discussing robbing an old woman just days before the murder.

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On the 8th of October, 1951,

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June Berry makes a statement to the police and she describes a

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conversation with Burns and Devlin

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in which they are discussing doing a criminal job

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and it is said by Mr Burns, "I think it's worth trying,

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"it's easy, the woman has plenty of money.

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"If the old woman makes trouble I can easily handle her."

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Berry had been romantically linked to Devlin,

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but could this have been a motive for accusing him?

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I don't find June Berry to be an impressive witness at all.

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A week after she made a statement implicating Devlin and Burns,

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she made a statement to the police implicating another man.

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Whether she was a woman scorned and that that was the motive behind what

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-she told the police.

-Well,

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there's no doubt that the character of June Berry was attacked vehemently

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during the course of the trial, particularly in respect of her morals.

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I'm not sure how nowadays we would regard it as significant.

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Finally, Marie Milne, just 17,

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lived with her parents and testified that she met with both men shortly

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after the murder. She had the most damning evidence of all.

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She had no criminal history.

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She didn't blame anyone else at any stage.

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And she was drawn into a scheme

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to rob Mrs Rimmer and by acting as a lookout.

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Devlin has blood on his handkerchief, which is binding his hand,

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and at one stage she heard Devlin say to Burn, "Will the woman live?"

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and Burn says, "to hell with the woman,

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"we'll be out of Liverpool before long."

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Sasha, what I say is that you have taken Marie Milne's evidence at face value.

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Jeremy, the jury must have been sure that she was telling the truth

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when she spoke about Burns' and Devlin's guilt.

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As the barristers make progress,

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Lindsay is keen to learn more about Alfred Burns.

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She's arranged to meet his cousin, Angela, and her daughter, Donna,

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for the first time. They're meeting at the White Lion pub in Manchester,

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where Devlin and Burns used to drink.

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I actually went to the library and you might be interested in having

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a look at this, it's one of the clippings from one of the papers at the time,

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and my grandmother is in it, actually.

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-Oh.

-That's her, there.

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-Yeah.

-Devlin...

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I can't remember, I've looked at so many different articles of the time,

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but to actually see

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a picture there...

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Sat down kneeling.

0:21:560:21:58

It's heartbreaking, isn't it?

0:21:580:21:59

Them kneeling, praying, look at them all, and look at their faces.

0:21:590:22:04

I lost my daughter, so I know how Aunt Nellie must be feeling,

0:22:050:22:10

and under those circumstances.

0:22:100:22:12

Yes, yeah.

0:22:120:22:14

-That's awful.

-You can't imagine what it must be like for a mother when

0:22:140:22:19

that life has been taken.

0:22:190:22:21

Yeah. That still feels,

0:22:210:22:24

you know, that's our family.

0:22:240:22:25

I just don't feel that they ever had a fair trial.

0:22:280:22:31

-They didn't.

-No, of course they didn't.

0:22:310:22:34

The fact that they didn't get their sons' bodies.

0:22:340:22:37

Not only have they lost

0:22:390:22:42

their children, they weren't able to bury them.

0:22:420:22:45

-That's right.

-It's never too late to right a wrong.

0:22:450:22:50

More often than not people who commit murders,

0:22:500:22:52

it's usually people that they know.

0:22:520:22:55

-Yes.

-More often than not.

0:22:550:22:57

Well, we all have our theories about that.

0:22:570:22:59

-That's right.

-Yeah, exactly.

0:22:590:23:02

The barristers have brought the evidence and the experts together for a

0:23:050:23:09

reconstruction of the crime scene.

0:23:090:23:11

Will it reveal what really happened that night?

0:23:120:23:15

Can it prove if Devlin and Burns committed the murder?

0:23:150:23:19

And if not, who did?

0:23:190:23:21

Pathologist Dr Fegan-Earl is first to reveal his findings.

0:23:220:23:26

You've got a reconstruction of something how it might look.

0:23:260:23:30

We can see her opening the door.

0:23:320:23:35

She's suddenly taken aback, puts her arm up,

0:23:350:23:39

falls to the ground in the position that we have her,

0:23:390:23:42

as demonstrated here.

0:23:420:23:44

I think that this demonstrates the small area in which the assault has

0:23:440:23:50

taken place.

0:23:500:23:51

Can Dr Fegan-Earl link one murder weapon to the two types of injuries

0:23:530:23:57

inflicted to Mrs Rimmer, therefore supporting the single attacker theory?

0:23:570:24:01

One weapon suggested by the prosecution was a cosh.

0:24:020:24:06

Can we start, please, with the cosh?

0:24:060:24:09

Well, if we look at the cosh, it's a typical example of a blunt weapon,

0:24:090:24:14

but it would not explain the very clean edged wounds that were described

0:24:140:24:18

by the original pathologist.

0:24:180:24:20

What about a more common implement, like an axe?

0:24:200:24:23

Well, if we look at what this weapon has,

0:24:230:24:27

it has a clean cutting edge.

0:24:270:24:29

It's got blunt faces, causing those bruised, irregular areas,

0:24:290:24:34

and it's also got a degree of weight,

0:24:340:24:36

and you will recall there were fractures to the skull,

0:24:360:24:38

so I believe this object has all of the features if one implement only was used.

0:24:380:24:44

So, it's possible from the pathological perspective that one person

0:24:440:24:49

did all of this to Mrs Rimmer with one implement?

0:24:490:24:53

Yes, I believe that is plausible, yes.

0:24:530:24:55

That's very interesting.

0:24:550:24:58

So the reconstruction has already indicated that the likely murder weapon

0:24:580:25:01

was an axe, not a cosh, and was handled by a single assailant.

0:25:010:25:05

Next, forensic scientist Dr Jen Guest,

0:25:070:25:10

who thinks the key in the case could be the broken window discovered by

0:25:100:25:14

Thomas Rimmer.

0:25:140:25:15

So, we're in the parlour at the back of the house and this is the window.

0:25:160:25:22

The prosecution hinted at the suggestion that Devlin and Burns had got

0:25:220:25:27

through that window into Mrs Rimmer's home before killing her.

0:25:270:25:33

Is there any forensic evidence to support that suggestion?

0:25:330:25:37

No, the forensic statement said they found no evidence that anyone had come in through the window.

0:25:370:25:41

There were no fingerprints, no fibres,

0:25:410:25:44

no scuffs or marks of any kind to suggest someone had come in through the window.

0:25:440:25:48

But Thomas Rimmer told the police that he did climb through that window.

0:25:490:25:55

He said that he got to his mother's home, looked through the letterbox,

0:25:550:26:00

saw her lying on the ground, couldn't get in, went round the back,

0:26:000:26:05

saw the window broken and climbed in.

0:26:050:26:10

Thomas Rimmer had to demonstrate to the police three times how he got

0:26:100:26:13

through the window, only once managing to do it

0:26:130:26:16

without leaving any marks.

0:26:160:26:18

We can see in the photograph you had there of Thomas Rimmer,

0:26:190:26:21

he's having to put his hand on the window there to steady himself as he

0:26:210:26:25

climbs through, so we would really expect to find fingermarks on the

0:26:250:26:28

window, and then we look at how narrow the opening is,

0:26:280:26:32

and the sharp edges we have from the glass.

0:26:320:26:35

I'd have expected him to catch his clothing on there as well,

0:26:350:26:37

and possibly transfer some fibres.

0:26:370:26:39

Thomas was wearing a Harris tweed jacket, much like this one,

0:26:390:26:43

and you can see that the fibres are quite prominent on it,

0:26:430:26:47

they are quite loose, and in fact fibres have been transferred to the

0:26:470:26:50

window even just from me pulling it through just then.

0:26:500:26:54

How likely is it in your view that Thomas Rimmer climbed through that

0:26:540:27:00

-broken window?

-I think,

0:27:000:27:01

based on the evidence that they talk about at the time,

0:27:010:27:04

it's very unlikely that he climbed through that window.

0:27:040:27:07

None of the forensic evidence supports the case against Burns and Devlin.

0:27:070:27:12

We really need to find out more about Thomas Rimmer.

0:27:120:27:17

Jeremy, we still don't have any explanation as to why he would want to kill his mother.

0:27:170:27:22

With the submissions to the judge looming,

0:27:270:27:30

the barristers are closing in on potential new evidence.

0:27:300:27:33

So Lindsay has returned to London for an update.

0:27:370:27:41

Lindsay, since you and I last met Jeremy and I have been to Liverpool.

0:27:410:27:47

We've looked at the evidence relating to the main prosecution witnesses

0:27:470:27:52

and I have to say on that evidence alone I have not had cause to question

0:27:520:27:58

the safety of the convictions.

0:27:580:28:01

So actually, quite frankly,

0:28:010:28:02

I don't give a stuff about what you think or the jury,

0:28:020:28:07

or the people who gave evidence at that trial,

0:28:070:28:11

because as far as I'm concerned

0:28:110:28:13

there was a lot of lies that were told,

0:28:130:28:15

there was a lot of evidence that wasn't put forward,

0:28:150:28:18

and I will be relying on what Jeremy will be telling me.

0:28:180:28:24

Lindsay, I just want to reassure you that in my view there is still a

0:28:240:28:30

considerable way to go.

0:28:300:28:31

Lindsay, I do have more to tell you,

0:28:310:28:33

because Jeremy and I spent some time at a reconstruction,

0:28:330:28:38

and it is now clear to both of us that there is nothing scientific to

0:28:380:28:44

connect Mr Devlin and Mr Burns to the killing of Alice Rimmer.

0:28:440:28:49

Well, that, at least that gives me some more reason to feel

0:28:490:28:55

a bit more positive.

0:28:550:28:58

So, the reconstruction has revealed inconsistencies in the testimony of

0:28:580:29:02

Alice Rimmer's own son, Thomas.

0:29:020:29:05

And the jury was never informed he was an early suspect in the case.

0:29:080:29:12

I've now seen a good deal of material, and I'm really concerned about the

0:29:150:29:19

quality of the police investigation.

0:29:190:29:22

After more than 30 years as a criminal defence barrister,

0:29:230:29:27

my instinct is my best friend,

0:29:270:29:29

and I have a hunch that the senior investigating officer behaved

0:29:290:29:34

improperly and that he might well have influenced subordinate officers

0:29:340:29:39

to do the same, so this is an area I feel might well be very important.

0:29:390:29:46

I could be wrong, but that's my instinct.

0:29:460:29:49

Jeremy knows if he can find something to cast doubt on the police

0:29:500:29:53

investigation he might be able to persuade the judge.

0:29:530:29:56

Two years before Devlin and Burns were charged with murder,

0:30:000:30:03

Chief Inspector Balmer led another case - the Cameo Cinema murders.

0:30:030:30:09

More than 50 years later, books on this case have been published by crime writer George Skelly.

0:30:100:30:17

So, George, how did you first become interested

0:30:170:30:20

in the Devlin and Burns case?

0:30:200:30:23

Through writing my previous book about the Cameo murder case, in which

0:30:230:30:28

Bert Balmer was involved in both cases as chief investigating officer.

0:30:280:30:32

So there was a common chief officer in both cases,

0:30:320:30:35

and I believe that thanks, in part, to your book,

0:30:350:30:39

the Cameo murder convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal.

0:30:390:30:43

-Yes.

-Bert Balmer, the senior officer, was branded a liar.

0:30:430:30:47

Yes, in 2003 he was branded a liar.

0:30:470:30:49

-By the Court of Appeal.

-By the Court of Appeal.

0:30:490:30:52

He was condemned for deliberate concealment of evidence

0:30:520:30:56

and suborning witnesses.

0:30:560:30:58

Do you believe that if the jury in the Devlin and Burns case had known

0:30:580:31:02

Balmer was a liar that it might have made a difference to the verdict?

0:31:020:31:05

Oh, the verdict would have been not guilty.

0:31:050:31:09

The two men would have been acquitted, without doubt.

0:31:090:31:12

They'd have been acquitted.

0:31:120:31:13

The clear victim in this case was the brutally murdered Alice Rimmer.

0:31:140:31:18

But the Burns and Devlin families have also suffered,

0:31:200:31:23

living with the social stigma of having an executed murderer

0:31:230:31:27

in the family.

0:31:270:31:29

-Hello.

-Hi.

-Lindsay is meeting with her brother,

0:31:310:31:36

who was secretly put up for adoption by the Devlin family at the time of

0:31:360:31:39

the execution.

0:31:390:31:41

Mum and Dad never told any of us about Teddy or about you,

0:31:410:31:45

and, I mean, they're two significant things that happened in their lives.

0:31:450:31:50

Well, it was a long time ago. You know, times were different then.

0:31:500:31:54

Attitudes were different to unmarried mothers.

0:31:540:31:56

-Yeah.

-You have no real idea

0:31:560:31:59

and there's no real way we can maybe find out

0:31:590:32:04

what the situation was and why things happened the way they happened.

0:32:040:32:07

I just can't imagine Mum even being unmarried, adopting a baby out.

0:32:070:32:13

I just can't see it, and I feel sad because we've missed out on

0:32:130:32:17

all those years, you know?

0:32:170:32:20

When we didn't know each other.

0:32:200:32:23

I never, ever imagined that I'd have five sisters and a brother.

0:32:230:32:29

Like 10,000 miles away on the other side of the world.

0:32:290:32:32

Yeah, yeah. So what's your thoughts about all this what happened with

0:32:320:32:35

Teddy being hung and everything?

0:32:350:32:37

Who knows what the end result is going to be?

0:32:370:32:40

But I reckon what anybody is looking for

0:32:400:32:44

is for the truth to come out and for there to be justice.

0:32:440:32:48

Yes, yes, that's exactly right.

0:32:480:32:50

I believe whoever committed that murder is still out there.

0:32:500:32:53

It's the night before Judgment Day and both barristers are still hunting

0:32:570:33:01

for more key evidence.

0:33:010:33:03

Sasha has discovered a vital document that was also never revealed to the jury.

0:33:040:33:09

The police found a letter dated the 20th of July, 1951,

0:33:100:33:15

so that's a month before Mrs Rimmer was killed,

0:33:150:33:20

and it was a letter she wrote to her husband's pension provider,

0:33:200:33:24

and it reads as follows.

0:33:240:33:26

"I'm sorry to add that I cannot look for any help or sympathy from my son.

0:33:260:33:31

"I have not dared tell him about this extra allowance.

0:33:320:33:35

"I have given and given, but now firmly resolved not another penny.

0:33:350:33:40

"Money slips like water through his hands and now he is realising what he's done.

0:33:400:33:46

"I do know that if I passed out he would have a royal time of it for

0:33:460:33:51

-"a few months."

-Well that's just incredible because it seems to me that this letter,

0:33:510:33:57

and that sentence in particular,

0:33:570:34:00

provides Thomas Rimmer with a clear potential motive for killing his mother,

0:34:000:34:07

and I am very concerned that this letter appears not to have been

0:34:070:34:14

disclosed to the defence.

0:34:140:34:16

The legal arguments have been prepared.

0:34:230:34:26

And now it falls for His Honour Judge David Radford, to deliberate.

0:34:260:34:29

Based on his expert opinion,

0:34:310:34:33

he will recommend if the case should be reviewed or not.

0:34:330:34:36

Finally, the day's here.

0:34:390:34:41

This is what I've been waiting for.

0:34:410:34:43

The evidence is going to be presented to the judge by Sasha and Jeremy.

0:34:430:34:47

I can only wait to see what he has to say.

0:34:470:34:50

There's no guarantee with that,

0:34:500:34:51

but the one guarantee that I do have is regardless of whatever the outcome is,

0:34:510:34:55

I will not stop until Teddy and Alfie's names have been cleared.

0:34:550:35:01

Judge Radford has over 40 years of experience at the criminal bar.

0:35:040:35:09

He's tried many murder cases and sat at the Court of Appeal.

0:35:090:35:12

He'll be treating this matter as he would any other case.

0:35:130:35:16

Today I shall be considering fresh material and the arguments from learned counsel

0:35:200:35:25

presented to me in order for me to decide if I should recommend

0:35:250:35:31

further reconsideration of this case.

0:35:310:35:36

-Mr Dean.

-Your Honour, my first submission

0:35:360:35:41

is that the prosecution case substantially depended upon the evidence of

0:35:410:35:46

fundamentally unreliable witnesses.

0:35:460:35:48

George McLaughlin,

0:35:480:35:51

a convicted criminal.

0:35:510:35:52

He named someone else as the killer.

0:35:520:35:55

Second, June Berry,

0:35:550:35:57

21, who claimed to have overheard the defendants talk in advance of

0:35:570:36:02

robbing an old woman in Liverpool.

0:36:020:36:05

Unreliable witnesses, submit the defence,

0:36:050:36:08

a very weak foundation for the prosecution case.

0:36:080:36:11

-Miss Wass.

-Your Honour,

0:36:110:36:13

the jury were in the best possible position to evaluate the evidence of

0:36:130:36:18

these witnesses, and by their verdicts the jury determined that they were

0:36:180:36:22

telling the truth on the central issue, namely the defendants' guilt.

0:36:220:36:27

Yes, Mr Dean, move to your next point.

0:36:270:36:29

Your Honour, my next point is that the prosecution failed to disclose

0:36:290:36:34

information about other suspects,

0:36:340:36:37

in particular, Alice Rimmer's son...

0:36:370:36:41

..who was the first suspect to be interviewed by police.

0:36:420:36:46

The last to see his mother alive.

0:36:460:36:49

His account was bizarre and unsupported by forensic evidence.

0:36:490:36:54

Thank you. Yes, Miss Wass.

0:36:540:36:56

Your Honour, I can deal with this shortly.

0:36:560:36:58

All the other suspects in this case were thoroughly investigated by the

0:36:580:37:01

police and found to have little connection, if any,

0:37:010:37:06

with Cranborne Road on the 19th of August 1951.

0:37:060:37:10

Your Honour, my final submission is my most important.

0:37:100:37:14

It relies on the fact that decades after Mr Devlin and Mr Burns were

0:37:140:37:19

executed, the Court of Appeal found that the senior investigating officer, Herbert Balmer,

0:37:190:37:26

had lied and concealed evidence

0:37:260:37:29

in another case, the Cameo cinema murders,

0:37:290:37:33

which occurred shortly before this case.

0:37:330:37:36

That officer, Herbert Balmer, has his footprints over both investigations.

0:37:380:37:45

Both, I submit, are characterised by

0:37:450:37:48

the nondisclosure of important information.

0:37:480:37:52

It is my submission that this new material fundamentally supports the

0:37:520:37:58

proposition that the defendants were wrongly convicted and might well in

0:37:580:38:02

those circumstances have been unjustly executed.

0:38:020:38:07

Thank you. Miss Wass.

0:38:070:38:09

Throughout the investigation Sasha has been weighing up the prosecution's case.

0:38:090:38:14

But will she side with Jeremy on his final submission?

0:38:140:38:18

The real question, as the Crown sees it to be,

0:38:190:38:23

is had the defence in the Devlin and Burns case

0:38:230:38:27

been aware of Mr Balmer's misconduct,

0:38:270:38:31

and the similarities with the Cameo murder case,

0:38:310:38:36

might the verdict have been different?

0:38:360:38:39

And I consider that it might.

0:38:390:38:42

So in all those circumstances,

0:38:420:38:44

I have no option but to support Mr Dein's submissions in this regard.

0:38:440:38:50

Thank you for your submissions,

0:38:520:38:53

I'm going to consider them in conjunction with the written papers,

0:38:530:38:57

which I have read already and will now reconsider in the light of your

0:38:570:39:01

arguments, and in due course I will let you know my view.

0:39:010:39:06

Thank you very much, Your Honour.

0:39:060:39:07

The barristers have done all they can to convince the judge that this case should be reviewed.

0:39:090:39:14

For Lindsay, it could be the start of a legal process to get an official pardon,

0:39:150:39:20

or it could be the end of any hope that the convictions

0:39:200:39:24

are overturned.

0:39:240:39:25

It's difficult to know how that went.

0:39:290:39:31

Judge has got a poker face, he keeps his judgment very close to his chest.

0:39:310:39:37

Well, can I say first of all, you mustn't raise your hopes in any way,

0:39:370:39:42

the result remains unpredictable.

0:39:420:39:44

We just have to wait and see. OK.

0:39:440:39:47

Were the witnesses flawed?

0:39:490:39:51

Was this the real murder weapon?

0:39:510:39:54

Was a key suspect overlooked?

0:39:540:39:56

And was the whole investigation discredited by the leading detective?

0:39:560:40:00

The judge calls Lindsay and the barristers for his final verdict.

0:40:020:40:05

The long shadow of the gallows inevitably casts a baleful light over this case.

0:40:080:40:15

It is true that the civilian witnesses had inconsistencies in their accounts.

0:40:150:40:21

However, these were matters for the jury,

0:40:210:40:25

who saw and heard them.

0:40:250:40:27

I find no proper basis for reviewing the convictions on this basis alone.

0:40:270:40:33

I believe the fact that Mr Balmer,

0:40:350:40:38

his involvement in that Cameo cinema case,

0:40:380:40:42

tainted him as an investigating officer.

0:40:420:40:45

And if the extent of his being tainted had been known to the defence in

0:40:460:40:51

this Devlin/Burns case at the trial, that,

0:40:510:40:55

together with the disclosure of evidence that should have been made known

0:40:550:41:00

to the defence at the time could have had a significant impact on the

0:41:000:41:06

jury's evaluation of the evidence that was presented to them.

0:41:060:41:11

After full consideration, I concur

0:41:150:41:19

that there are proper grounds here for re-referring this case to the

0:41:190:41:24

commission, to evaluate whether the Court of Appeal should be asked to

0:41:240:41:29

consider the case again.

0:41:290:41:31

-Congratulations.

-Thank you, Jeremy.

0:41:370:41:41

Thank you, Sasha.

0:41:420:41:44

If I may say so, it's absolutely the correct decision.

0:41:480:41:52

Anyone who has been wrongly executed deserves justice,

0:41:520:41:56

and so does Mrs Rimmer.

0:41:560:41:58

And this is the beginning of, hopefully,

0:41:580:42:01

getting to the end of what has been an extraordinarily difficult journey

0:42:010:42:05

for, for all concerned.

0:42:050:42:08

Thank you. Thank you so much.

0:42:080:42:10

I'm feeling happy, but I'm very overwhelmed, of course.

0:42:140:42:18

It feels really good to know that the judge has seen this new evidence

0:42:180:42:22

and that he is in agreement that, you know,

0:42:220:42:25

there is grounds there for a review.

0:42:250:42:27

And I will just now keep going until their names are cleared.

0:42:290:42:33

Top criminal barristers Sasha Wass and Jeremy Dein reinvestigate the notorious case of Devlin and Burns, two thieves sentenced to death for murder.

When Beatrice Rimmer was found dead in her Liverpool home in 1951, the police arrested prolific petty criminals Edward Devlin and Alfred Burns, who were known for a series of robberies around their native Manchester. But could this pair of petty burglars really have been responsible for a murder?

Lindsay, a relative of Edward Devlin, has flown over 10,000 miles from Australia to team up with Jeremy and Sasha to examine the case in more detail.

Going back over the documents, they find that during the trial the prosecution alleged that the motive for the murder was robbery, but nothing was actually taken from Beatrice's home. With the motive in doubt, questions about the murder weapon and the evidence of key witnesses raises concerns for the barristers. But after a tense confrontation between Sasha and Lindsay, will they be able to get to the bottom of this notorious case and reveal the truth? And will the barristers decide to present evidence to a crown court judge?


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