Episode 8 Murder, Mystery and My Family


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Episode 8

Barristers Sasha Wass and Jeremy Dein scrutinise a violent burglary and murder from 1931. The murder weapon could be key to the conviction and execution of Henry Seymour.


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Mystery and My Family.

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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 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

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could be a miscarriage of justice.

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She has received most of the blows

in this position

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once she's already bleeding.

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In this series, a living relative

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will attempt to clear

their family name.

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My father died thinking

that his father was a murderer.

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That must have been terrible.

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Searching for new evidence...

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The findings on it are really

quite instructive.

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There was no blood inside

the hammer.

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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

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committed 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

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that you both have put before me.

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Can this modern investigation...

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..rewrite history?

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Oxford, 1931.

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This idyllic university city

is shaken

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when it's revealed there has

been a brutal murder.

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Mrs Annie Louisa Kempson

had been killed in her own home.

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In what appeared to be

a violent burglary,

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the 54-year-old widow was attacked

with a blunt instrument...

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..and stabbed in the neck.

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A desperate manhunt

for the killer began.

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Under the scrutiny of press

and public,

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the police initially

had no suspects.

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Interviewing hundreds of locals,

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investigators eventually learn of a

door-to-door salesman by the name of

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Henry Seymour.

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Seymour was in Oxford at the time

of the murder

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and he knew the victim - Mrs Kempson

had been one of his customers.

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A criminal records check proved

a major breakthrough.

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Henry Seymour was a career criminal.

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He was arrested and charged

with murder.

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87 years later,

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Henry's grandson Tony has discovered

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this dark chapter

in his family's past.

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Henry Seymour was

my paternal grandfather.

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My father had always been told

by his mother

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that his father had died

in a car crash

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when my father was

about ten years old.

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After my grandmother died, my father

went and researched his family tree

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and found out then

that his father had been hung.

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My grandmother had hidden it

completely from my father.

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These are the few photos I have got

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of my father as a child

and his mother.

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There are no photographs

of Henry anywhere. Nothing.

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After the court case,

my grandmother just hid it all.

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It was just a blank.

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She destroyed all evidence.

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The conviction had a devastating

impact on the family.

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After the hanging, she sent

my father to an orphanage...

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..and I think that, in six years,

she saw him twice.

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My father died thinking

that his father was a murderer.

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That must have been terrible.

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The police investigation

drew national and international

attention.

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With the public demanding

swift justice,

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Henry Seymour was tried

in October 1931

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and found guilty of murder.

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In the last few years, I have

investigated a little more.

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The evidence that I have seen so far

points to him being innocent.

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I think the evidence

is very circumstantial.

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Tony wants to learn who

Henry Seymour was...

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..and why he so passionately

protested his innocence.

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"I am convinced that sooner

or later,

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"the real truth will be revealed to

you all.

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"And when that time comes, you will

remember my last words to you -

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"before God and my fellow men,

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"I swear that I did not kill or hurt

Mrs Kempson.

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"I could not have done it.

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"I cannot say anything more."

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At Oxford Castle prison, at 8am

on the 10th of December 1931,

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Henry Seymour was hanged.

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Desperate to uncover the truth,

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Tony has travelled to London to meet

the barristers

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who will be reinvestigating

his grandfather's case.

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Jeremy Dein QC is a

top defence barrister

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with over 30 years' experience

in serious criminal cases.

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Sasha Wass QC,

who has successfully convicted

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some of the country's

most notorious offenders,

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will analyse the prosecution case

against Henry Seymour.

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Together, they will re-examine

the facts,

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searching for any new evidence

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that might cast Henry Seymour's

conviction into doubt.

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Can I ask you, Henry Seymour

was your grandfather?

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My grandfather.

When did you first

become aware of this part of your

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family background?

Um, in my early 20s.

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Do you have a view

about whether your grandfather

committed the murder?

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Based on what I have read,

I think it is unlikely.

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It seems very circumstantial,

the evidence.

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There is very little, if any,

physical evidence.

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Tony, what I ought to warn you

about is this -

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rather than exonerating

the defendant in the case,

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sometimes the evidence comes back

and proves almost conclusively

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that the conviction is indeed safe.

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Right. If he was guilty,

he was guilty.

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I hope you understand

that we need something new.

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Some new evidence or some new legal

argument to convince the judge that

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the case should be looked at afresh.

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Right, yeah.

Good.

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Well, we will go and do

some investigating.

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Thank you.

And hopefully we will

have some news for you very soon.

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Great.

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This was a challenging case

for the police at the time,

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who initially had no suspects

for the violent crime.

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The barristers must first identify

the key evidence

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that put Henry Seymour in the frame.

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Well, Jeremy, this is a case where

time of death

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is going to be critical to our

investigations.

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Annie Kempson was found murdered in

her own home

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on the evening of the 3rd

of August, 1931.

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She was last seen by a lodger

the Saturday beforehand,

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which was the 1st of August,

sometime after nine o'clock.

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And she was not seen by anybody

inside the house

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after the Saturday morning.

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The position is that one of the

clues that the police found

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was a visiting card from

a vacuum cleaner salesman.

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He was traced as being Henry Seymour

and, indeed,

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he was seen in Oxford on the

Saturday morning at about 11 o'clock

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at a bus stop.

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So there's a very narrow window

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in which he would have committed

the murder,

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if indeed he is the murderer

in this case.

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For me, the key point here

has to be time of death.

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I agree.

Because a large number of

witnesses were called at the trial

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to say that they saw Annie Kempson

after about 11 o'clock,

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when the prosecution said the murder

had been committed.

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The other important feature in this

case was the cause of death

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and the murder weapon,

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because the pathologist at the time

suggested that Mrs Kempson

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had been bludgeoned over the head

with a blunt instrument

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considered to be a hammer

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and she was then stabbed through

the throat

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with something similar to a chisel.

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And when Henry Seymour's lodgings

were searched by the police,

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they found a hammer which had been

cleaned, again, looking suspicious.

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So he has the opportunity

to kill her,

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he has the weapons to kill her and

we know that they have had contact

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because he had sold her a vacuum

cleaner 18 months beforehand.

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So, yes, a case for Henry Seymour

to answer,

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but by no means a compelling case.

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And we have to look at the fine

detail in order to assess

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whether this was

a proper conviction.

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Yes.

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Henry's early life

is shrouded in mystery.

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By 1931, he was married

and living in Oxford.

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Working as a travelling salesman,

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he was struggling to make ends meet

and had fallen into debt.

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For the first time,

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Tony is visiting the home

that Henry Seymour shared

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with his wife and child.

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It's nice seeing the location where

my father was hopefully very happy

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before he went into the orphanage.

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He would have known a real kind

of family environment.

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At the time of the murder, however,

Henry was estranged from his family.

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He was down in Brighton.

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Why he was there, again,

I don't know.

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I think he was just

doing the rounds,

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trying to collect money

for various...

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or borrow money from various people

and contacts.

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Either to pay his debts off,

which seemed to be quite large,

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or just to make ends meet.

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Just the fact that he was moving

around

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looks very suspicious, doesn't it?

I mean, he's a strange character.

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You can't...can't pin him down,

can you?

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Henry's suspicious behaviour on

a fleeting visit to Oxford included

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staying with a former customer, Mrs

Andrews, who lived at Gipsy Lane.

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This is where Henry stayed the night

before the murder.

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It's strange that he should choose

to stay the night here.

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Still in Oxford. He is not that far

away from where he was living with

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my grandmother and my father.

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Now, why he would do that,

I have no idea.

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If they'd had a falling out,

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or maybe he was on the run from

the police for some reason,

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I really don't know. But, you know,

just another puzzle.

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But Mrs Andrews was to provide the

police with a vital clue

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in their investigation.

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The landlady saw in his possessions

in his bag,

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she saw a hammer wrapped

in brown paper.

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Which would become important later

on in the case.

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I think the police

were very interested in that.

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The police had already found

Henry Seymour's business card

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in the victim's home.

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And now they had a witness

linking him with the suspected

murder weapon.

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They were certain they had

their man.

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Seymour was arrested

and charged with murder.

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The police were building

their case against Seymour,

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but the barristers want to know if

all the evidence places him

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at the scene of the crime.

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So, Jeremy, what I think would be

quite useful in this case

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is to consider what Henry

Seymour said his movements were

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on the 1st of August

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and how that dovetails with

the prosecution witnesses.

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Although Mrs Kempson's body was not

discovered until the evening of

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Monday the 3rd of August,

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police were certain that she had

been killed on the Saturday morning

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between 9:20am,

when her lodger left, and 11am,

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when a friend called at the house

but received no answer.

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On the night before

the 1st of August,

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Henry Seymour said he had stayed at

Mrs Andrews' house as a lodger

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and told police that he left

Mrs Andrews' house

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at about 9:30 in the morning.

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And the distance between Mrs

Andrews' house and the murder

location

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is about a 20-minute walk.

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What we know from prosecution

witnesses

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was that at about ten o'clock,

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Mrs Kempson answered the door to

someone

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whom she let in straight away,

as if she knew him.

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And, indeed, Henry Seymour said to

the police

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that he knew Mrs Kempson.

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So, could this 10am caller

have been Henry Seymour?

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He claimed that he'd set off from

Mrs Andrews' house to the home of

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another customer nearby,

before changing his mind.

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Without witnesses to corroborate his

movements during this crucial period

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between 9:30 and 11am,

he had no alibi.

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The next significant event is at

a bus stop on the London Road.

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And at the bus stop,

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a woman called Florence Collins said

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she saw Henry Seymour just after

11 o'clock.

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She said that he was in a bit of

a state and he appeared agitated.

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So, on the timing,

all this would fit.

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It would give Henry Seymour an

opportunity

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to attend Mrs Kempson's house.

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Whether they had an argument

straight away or not,

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we obviously don't know.

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The attack takes place, the

ransacking of the house takes place.

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Money is taken and a fast....

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A fast-moving escape

up to the bus stop

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which would explain why Mrs Collins

saw him agitated.

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So, what do you think?

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Well, what I think is that your

analysis fundamentally presupposes

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that the prosecution were correct to

time the murder

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at around 10am

on the 1st of August.

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But there was an abundance of

evidence available

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that that simply wasn't correct.

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Nine quite separate,

independent witnesses

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place Mrs Kempson in and around her

home well after 11 o'clock

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on the morning of the 1st of August.

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So, Sasha, ultimately,

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there is an issue as to whether

the prosecution were correct.

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And if they were wrong about that,

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then the case against Henry Seymour

begins to fall apart.

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I agree.

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If Jeremy can prove Mrs Kempson

was killed after 11am,

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then Henry Seymour could not

be the culprit,

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as, by that time,

he had left Oxford.

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Walking from Gipsy Lane to the site

of Mrs Kempson's house,

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Tony is not convinced there is

enough evidence to link Henry

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to the scene of the murder.

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I do know that the prosecution

wanted to believe

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that she was killed

on the Saturday morning.

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Their reasoning behind this was that

she was a fairly fastidious woman

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with regular habits and that

when they found the body,

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she still had her curlers

in her hair

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and the washing up hadn't been done

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and all these sorts of things.

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So it was obvious that she had been

murdered before she had had time to

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get ready and go out of the house.

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There was a man who was seen

visiting the house

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at around about ten o'clock.

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And I think the prosecution

tried to infer that this

was Henry Seymour,

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but he was never

positively identified.

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It may well have been the murderer,

but was it Henry?

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We just don't know.

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Tony travels to the bus stop where

Henry was seen shortly after 11am

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by Florence Collins.

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That's a good...

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40-minute walk, I should think.

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If he was there at all,

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he must have left Boundary House

at about 20 past ten.

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Mrs Collins said that when she

met him, he was agitated,

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but he wasn't out of breath,

he was, uh, he was fine.

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To do that walk in, uh...

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..in 40 minutes, you'd have had

to have been going some.

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Could these timings be the key

to solving this mystery?

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The window of opportunity when Henry

could have committed the crime

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just seems to be getting smaller and

smaller and just leads me to think

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more and more that...

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..the evidence is so questionable.

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Sasha believes the prosecution

case is strong,

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but Jeremy is searching for evidence

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that will cast doubt

on the time of death.

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A really interesting feature

of Henry Seymour's case is that nine

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witnesses were called

by the defence.

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And if their evidence was correct,

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then Mrs Kempson was alive and

apparently well throughout the day

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on Saturday the 1st of August.

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William Lowe said he saw her post

a letter in the pillar box close to

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where she lived at about 11am.

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I don't think there's any evidence

of a letter being received after her

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death by anybody, is there?

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But the thing is, Sasha, that he is

only the first of nine witnesses.

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Sarah King and, um...

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Evelyn Barrett, the next

two witnesses, their evidence,

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they're completely independent

of each other...

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They go together, though,

don't they?

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They go together in that both said

that they saw Mrs Kempson

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buying a loaf of bread.

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I think one of the difficulties in

relation to all of these witnesses

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is they are describing events which

were commonplace and routine.

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There was nothing really

to pinpoint the Saturday.

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There is, because Evelyn Barrett was

clear that Mrs Kempson said she did

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not need more bread because

she was going away tomorrow.

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Tomorrow was the Sunday.

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And she was going away

on the Sunday.

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So I am afraid there is something

very specific to fix her visit

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to the bread shop at Saturday

the 1st of August.

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What troubles me is when one goes

back to Mrs Kempson's home address,

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which is where her lodger returned

several days later,

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there was no new loaf of bread,

there was no extra pound of butter,

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which these people said had been

bought by her on the Saturday.

0:18:330:18:36

There are an escalating number of

witnesses who all pinpoint seeing

0:18:360:18:40

Mrs Kempson on that Saturday.

0:18:400:18:41

Jeremy, I agree, on the face of it,

0:18:410:18:44

these look like witnesses

who ought

0:18:440:18:46

to have shaken

the prosecution case at trial,

0:18:460:18:51

but let me just deal with Mr Taylor

as an example, because it was he

0:18:510:18:55

who went to the newspapers and said

that he had seen Mrs Kempson

0:18:550:18:59

after the police said

she had been murdered.

0:18:590:19:02

So he became a bit of a celebrity

as far as that was concerned.

0:19:020:19:06

And then it was only after Mr Taylor

that all of the other witnesses came

0:19:060:19:11

to make their statements,

saying that they, too, had seen her.

0:19:110:19:15

And I am of the view that the jury

were in the best possible position

0:19:150:19:20

to evaluate whether these witnesses

were credible

0:19:200:19:24

and whether they were reliable.

0:19:240:19:26

And obviously, if the jury

believed those witnesses,

0:19:260:19:29

they would have acquitted

Henry Seymour, wouldn't they?

0:19:290:19:33

Sasha is unpersuaded

by the defence witnesses,

0:19:330:19:37

so Jeremy still needs fresh evidence

to undermine the prosecution's case.

0:19:370:19:41

Can forensic pathologist Dr Basil

Purdue provide any new insight

0:19:430:19:47

regarding the time of death?

0:19:470:19:49

There was a lot of evidence

given at trial about

0:19:490:19:52

stomach content and time of death.

0:19:520:19:55

Because, for example, in this case,

0:19:550:19:58

there was a suggestion that,

12 hours prior to death,

0:19:580:20:03

Annie Kempson had eaten tomatoes

because tomato skin remains in the

0:20:030:20:03

Annie Kempson had eaten tomatoes

because tomato skin remains in the

0:20:030:20:08

intestines for quite a long time.

0:20:080:20:10

Do you agree with that much?

0:20:100:20:11

Yes. It's fair enough.

0:20:110:20:13

You can look at the separation

of them

0:20:130:20:15

and you can look at the normal rate

of transit of food through the gut,

0:20:150:20:20

but it makes the assumption that the

person is digesting normally

0:20:200:20:24

the whole time

0:20:240:20:25

and that they are broadly

within the normal parameters

for an average person.

0:20:250:20:31

I think what you're saying is

that it's dangerous to try

0:20:310:20:36

to pinpoint time of death by

reference to

0:20:360:20:40

evidence of when food has last

been digested.

Yes.

0:20:400:20:43

It's dangerously easy to jump to

conclusions of that sort and for

that reason,

0:20:430:20:48

timing by gastric transit

and the rest of it is just not done.

0:20:480:20:53

So, just to encapsulate your take

on this evidence,

0:20:530:20:58

from the pathological evidence given

at trial,

0:20:580:21:02

is it possible to say whether Annie

Kempson met her death

0:21:020:21:06

on the Saturday or the Sunday?

0:21:060:21:08

Even nowadays,

0:21:080:21:10

a bracket of timing is plus or minus

more than 2.5 hours.

0:21:100:21:15

So a bracket that is 5.5 hours long.

0:21:150:21:17

Making any sort of firm

determination that it was the

morning of the Saturday

0:21:170:21:22

or the evening of the Friday

or something of the sort

0:21:220:21:24

I think is far beyond what is

fair or reasonable.

0:21:240:21:27

Thank you very much. I think that's

cleared that up, has it not?

0:21:270:21:30

Yes. Thank you very much.

Thank you very much.

0:21:300:21:32

With all avenues for disproving

the prosecution's time of death now

0:21:320:21:36

closed, Jeremy will need to find

a new argument.

0:21:360:21:39

Back in Oxford, Tony has certainly

not been swayed by the evidence that

0:21:440:21:48

was used to charge his grandfather.

0:21:480:21:50

At the Oxford History Centre,

0:21:500:21:53

genealogist Jenny Montague Jones

has uncovered some information that

0:21:530:21:57

might explain why Henry Seymour

was such a convenient culprit.

0:21:570:22:02

I've picked up from reading books

about the case that there's

0:22:020:22:06

some South African connection.

0:22:060:22:09

And you know that he went out with

his parents to South Africa?

0:22:090:22:12

No.

Right.

0:22:120:22:14

OK.

No, I don't know anything...

OK.

0:22:140:22:15

A teenage Henry and his parents

0:22:170:22:19

travelled from England

to South Africa in November 1901.

0:22:190:22:22

Due to the Boer War,

0:22:250:22:26

there were job opportunities

for skilled tradespeople.

0:22:260:22:29

But Henry, it appears,

put his skills to other uses.

0:22:300:22:34

We've had a look at the

Oxford prison...

0:22:350:22:38

Right.

..calendar

and I can show you this.

0:22:380:22:42

You see his first offence is 1906.

0:22:430:22:46

But you might want to note

where it is.

0:22:460:22:49

Johannesburg, yeah.

0:22:490:22:50

This indicates that from basically

1904 to 1917...

0:22:500:22:57

OK.

..he's involved in various

criminal activities.

0:22:570:23:01

And then we've got something back

in this country.

0:23:010:23:04

1920.

1920.

0:23:040:23:07

But he's actually using

a different name.

0:23:070:23:11

I note above that

he's got another name.

0:23:110:23:13

Yes.

0:23:130:23:15

Henry Daniel Seymour.

0:23:150:23:17

Aliases Henry Daniel Goodfellow

and Harry Johnson.

0:23:170:23:21

It seems that on returning

to the UK,

0:23:220:23:24

Henry used new names to distance

himself from his criminal past.

0:23:240:23:29

But he was unable to change

his ways.

0:23:290:23:31

I'd like to show you this,

0:23:310:23:33

which is a police supplement.

0:23:330:23:35

And I don't know if you...

0:23:350:23:37

My word!

..recognise him at all.

0:23:370:23:39

I've seen that photo,

one photo of him.

0:23:390:23:41

Yeah.

And that's certainly the man.

0:23:410:23:43

That's definitely him?

Yeah.

OK.

0:23:430:23:45

Yeah.

There's also a description

of him.

0:23:450:23:48

Expert house, shop and safe breaker,

0:23:480:23:51

who came to this country

from South Africa,

0:23:510:23:53

where he was convicted

for various offences.

0:23:530:23:55

On each occasion he's been

convicted in this country,

0:23:570:23:59

he has denied the South African

convictions,

0:23:590:24:02

although they have been verified

by fingerprints.

0:24:020:24:06

This lists all the items.

0:24:060:24:08

Six suits in suitcase.

0:24:090:24:11

Good grief, he'd need a lorry

to get rid of the...

0:24:110:24:15

Also a one-inch jemmy, 14-inch-long

clawhead point hammer,

0:24:150:24:20

brace and bits, screwdriver,

0:24:200:24:22

six skeleton keys and

four small files.

0:24:220:24:25

Wow!

0:24:250:24:27

In some of the, uh,

0:24:270:24:29

documentation I've read

about the case,

0:24:290:24:31

he describes himself

as a cabinet-maker.

0:24:310:24:33

And that's why he had the tools

that he had.

0:24:330:24:36

Yeah, don't seem to have found any

evidence of him making any cabinets.

0:24:360:24:39

No.

More like breaking

into cabinets.

0:24:390:24:41

Yeah, I think so. Yes.

Housebreaking.

0:24:410:24:44

Stealing.

He's a career criminal,

isn't he?

0:24:440:24:46

He is a bit, yeah.

0:24:460:24:48

I've just seen something.

0:24:480:24:50

Look. Unlawful wounding,

reduced from attempted murder.

0:24:510:24:55

Now that's interesting.

That's the first time I've seen

any violence involved.

0:24:560:25:00

Because that's the impression I got,

0:25:000:25:02

that he was a criminal

but he wasn't violent at all.

0:25:020:25:06

But that is the first instance

I've seen of that,

0:25:060:25:09

which is quite interesting.

0:25:090:25:11

With this revelation

about Henry's violent past,

0:25:110:25:14

has Tony's confidence in his

grandfather's innocence been shaken?

0:25:140:25:17

Now I know that not only

was he a criminal,

0:25:190:25:22

but there is evidence

he was a violent criminal,

0:25:220:25:24

it kind of changes

my perspective on it a bit.

0:25:240:25:26

I can kind of understand why

the authorities were so keen

to prosecute him.

0:25:260:25:32

But does it make him a murderer?

0:25:320:25:34

I don't know.

0:25:340:25:35

Evidence concerning

the murder weapon was central

to the prosecution case.

0:25:380:25:43

Mrs Kempson suffered three blows to

the head with a blunt instrument

0:25:430:25:47

and a fatal stab wound to the neck.

0:25:470:25:50

A hammer found in Seymour's

belongings

0:25:500:25:53

seemed to indicate his guilt.

0:25:530:25:55

But when tested by the leading

forensic scientist of the time,

0:25:550:25:58

Sir Bernard Spilsbury, the police

received unexpected results.

0:25:580:26:03

The findings on it are really quite

instructive.

0:26:040:26:07

And it shows he's done a proper job

on it.

0:26:070:26:09

Yeah.

0:26:090:26:10

Dr Basil Perdue has reviewed

Spilsbury's reports.

0:26:100:26:14

Several areas on the head he applied

a chemical test for blood.

0:26:140:26:17

It was negative.

0:26:170:26:19

And he took the head of the hammer

0:26:190:26:21

and he took it off,

because even if you

0:26:210:26:23

clean a hammer, you won't be able to

clean the bit

0:26:230:26:27

that's inside the head.

0:26:270:26:28

Right.

And he actually applied his

blood tests to that inside bit.

0:26:280:26:33

And there was no blood inside

the hammer.

0:26:330:26:36

But he had another and more

important objection to it all.

0:26:360:26:39

He said the flat surface at one end

of the head was measured.

0:26:390:26:43

And he said it was found

to have a diameter

0:26:430:26:45

of one and one-sixteenth

of an inch.

0:26:450:26:47

This was applied to the two

fractures of the skull

0:26:470:26:51

to see if it fitted.

0:26:510:26:52

It was found to be smaller than the

curved segment of each of the

0:26:520:26:56

fractures, so it didn't fit.

0:26:560:26:59

Well, in fact, he goes on to say,

0:26:590:27:01

I think right at the end

of his report,

0:27:010:27:04

quote, "In my opinion therefore, the

injuries on the head of the deceased

0:27:040:27:08

"woman were not produced

by this hammer."

0:27:080:27:10

So, the impact of this report was to

exclude this hammer from having been

0:27:100:27:15

the murder weapon.

That's right.

0:27:150:27:17

Seymour's hammer was initially ruled

out as the murder weapon,

0:27:170:27:21

so why was he convicted?

0:27:210:27:23

It concerns the evidence that

Bernard Spilsbury gave at trial.

0:27:230:27:27

He said that he obtained a hammer,

exact facsimile,

0:27:280:27:32

if we take his word for it,

of Seymour's hammer.

0:27:320:27:34

And Spilsbury performed a number of

experiments on it.

0:27:360:27:38

Basically, he struck at a piece of

wood to see what sort of indentation

0:27:380:27:43

he could get and what I propose to

do is to replicate that now.

0:27:430:27:47

If you want to step back a moment...

0:27:470:27:48

That... That is the sort of fracture

that he produced.

0:27:490:27:54

So the dents on the wood

did not match

0:27:540:27:58

the injuries to the deceased

lady's skull.

0:27:580:28:01

In other words, as you were

in terms of his original findings.

0:28:010:28:04

That's exactly right.

0:28:040:28:06

Unable to reproduce the injuries,

Spilsbury began to experiment.

0:28:060:28:11

So, he said, let's get some material

and wrap the head of the hammer.

0:28:110:28:15

And he got a crash duster.

0:28:150:28:17

Spilsbury, I think,

tried two thicknesses.

0:28:170:28:20

One thicknesses, four thicknesses,

16 thicknesses, he used brown paper,

0:28:200:28:24

he used this crash duster material.

0:28:240:28:26

And he eventually said

16 thicknesses will do it.

0:28:260:28:29

So, not the most effective hitting

implement you could have but we will

0:28:290:28:35

try it. I will strike

this piece of wood again,

0:28:350:28:38

using this strange arrangement.

0:28:380:28:40

Certainly marked the crash duster.

0:28:420:28:44

On the basis of what you've seen,

0:28:450:28:48

had the police established any link

between Henry Seymour

0:28:480:28:52

and this type of material?

0:28:520:28:54

No. But it's the principle of it

that really worries me.

0:28:540:28:58

The idea of - can we make this

hammer fit the injuries?

0:28:580:29:02

But having covered the hammerhead in

that material, he did get a match,

0:29:020:29:06

according to him.

Yes.

0:29:060:29:08

Having tried many different

thicknesses of brown paper

and crash duster.

0:29:080:29:11

What would you say about those

tests?

0:29:110:29:13

Do you regard the tests he conducted

as safe and proper

0:29:130:29:16

in all the circumstances?

0:29:160:29:18

Basically, whether asked by the

police or off his own initiative,

0:29:180:29:21

he's gone too far.

0:29:210:29:23

Well, that's given us a lot

to think about.

0:29:230:29:25

Thank you very much indeed.

0:29:250:29:27

Sir Bernard Spilsbury's unorthodox

experiment has proved to be

0:29:270:29:31

a significant breakthrough

for the barristers.

0:29:310:29:34

What Spilsbury did was to fix

the conclusion in his own mind

0:29:340:29:41

that Henry Seymour was guilty of

murder and work backwards.

0:29:410:29:44

It appeared that he expressed a firm

opinion excluding a hammer that was

0:29:440:29:51

found on the defendant

and then turned round,

0:29:510:29:56

doing everything possible,

0:29:560:29:57

trying to conduct experiments

with a different hammer,

0:29:570:30:01

saying that it might have been

possible with 16 layers of cloth.

0:30:010:30:06

That appears to me

to be quite the wrong approach.

0:30:060:30:08

I'm wholly unimpressed with the way

Bernard Spilsbury dealt with this.

0:30:080:30:12

As was, perhaps more importantly,

Basil Perdue, our pathologist.

0:30:120:30:17

At Oxford County Hall,

0:30:190:30:21

Tony meets retired police officer

Paul Khyber

0:30:210:30:24

in the very courtroom where his

grandfather was tried for murder.

0:30:240:30:28

It's quite chilling, sitting here,

because I...

0:30:300:30:33

This is where my grandfather

was sitting.

0:30:330:30:35

Yeah.

I think he must have...

0:30:350:30:36

If he was innocent,

0:30:370:30:39

how must he have felt?

0:30:390:30:41

Henry's trial in October 1931

drew huge crowds.

0:30:410:30:46

Over four days, more than

40 witnesses were called.

0:30:460:30:49

The key defence witness, however,

was Seymour himself.

0:30:500:30:54

Your grandfather gave evidence

in the witness box under oath.

0:30:540:30:59

How do you think he performed?

0:30:590:31:00

That's an interesting one.

I mean, he was a compulsive liar.

0:31:020:31:05

He was obviously very experienced

at spinning a tale.

0:31:050:31:07

But with the amount of stress and...

0:31:070:31:11

..all the eyes looking at him,

I think...

That's right.

0:31:130:31:15

..he may have not done

such a good job.

0:31:150:31:17

I don't know.

Some words have been

said to say look, he...

0:31:170:31:20

The defence were doing a good job

up until he went in the box.

0:31:220:31:27

Oh, no.

0:31:270:31:28

Under cross-examination,

Seymour tied himself in knots

0:31:280:31:32

trying to explain his peculiar

behaviour

0:31:320:31:34

around the time of the murder.

0:31:340:31:36

He was there and they have to

nit-pick at everything.

0:31:360:31:38

Right.

And I think

that's what they did.

0:31:380:31:40

I think he got broken down.

0:31:400:31:42

Right.

And, then, at the end

of the day,

0:31:420:31:45

the jury looked at each other and

thought, "He's done it."

0:31:450:31:48

The jury took just 38 minutes to

find Henry Seymour guilty of murder.

0:31:500:31:55

And all subsequent appeals

for clemency failed.

0:31:550:31:58

Did the judge's handling of the

expert evidence at trial

0:31:580:32:01

condemn a man to death?

0:32:010:32:03

Well, Jeremy, I've looked through

the summing up now,

0:32:030:32:06

carefully, and it seems to me that

0:32:060:32:09

the judge covered

all the important issues.

0:32:090:32:12

I would regard this summing up as

legally correct, fair, balanced,

0:32:120:32:18

and helpful to the jury.

0:32:180:32:20

And he identified from the beginning

that the real issue in this case was

0:32:200:32:25

one of timing, which was what

we have recognised.

0:32:250:32:28

He went through all of the defence

witnesses,

0:32:280:32:32

he went through

Sir Bernard Spilsbury's evidence

about stomach content.

0:32:320:32:38

And did, at the end,

deal with the hammer evidence,

0:32:380:32:41

which was so controversial

when we saw our own pathologist.

0:32:410:32:45

So, all in all,

0:32:450:32:47

I cannot see that this summing up

0:32:470:32:50

can form the foundation

of any challenge

0:32:500:32:54

to the safety of the conviction.

0:32:540:32:56

Basil Perdue, our pathologist,

0:32:560:32:58

was categoric that the evidence

of Sir Bernard Spilsbury

0:32:580:33:03

about the hammer

was most unsatisfactory.

0:33:030:33:07

The problem in this summing up

is the judge compounded

that unfairness.

0:33:070:33:13

He said about Bernard Spilsbury's

evidence,

0:33:130:33:16

"You may think that a blow upon a

skull with a hammer of that weight

0:33:160:33:20

"might cause a bigger dent than

merely the measurement

0:33:200:33:23

"of the head of the hammer.

0:33:230:33:24

"You might think so

or you might not."

0:33:240:33:26

So, my point is this,

0:33:260:33:28

he's encouraging the jury

to believe that hammer might

have caused the injuries

0:33:280:33:32

by saying, don't worry about Sir

Bernard Spilsbury excluding it,

0:33:320:33:35

you can judge for yourselves.

0:33:350:33:37

I just think that that was

an unfair direction at the time.

0:33:370:33:41

So I'm going to argue that this was

a serious defect

0:33:410:33:44

in the judge's summing up.

0:33:440:33:46

Henry Seymour spent seven weeks

awaiting execution

at Oxford Castle prison.

0:33:490:33:53

He was hanged on the 10th

of December 1931

0:33:530:33:57

and buried in an unmarked grave.

0:33:570:33:59

This is the old prison wall.

0:34:040:34:06

And somewhere along here...

0:34:070:34:08

..is my grandfather.

0:34:100:34:11

Don't know the exact spot,

but Henry is somewhere along here.

0:34:120:34:15

Having visited Henry's

final resting place,

0:34:210:34:24

Tony is reflecting on his

grandfather's last moments

0:34:240:34:27

in what was once the execution

chamber of Oxford Prison.

0:34:270:34:31

I personally think he was innocent.

0:34:310:34:33

He was no angel, but...

0:34:330:34:35

..if you didn't murder somebody

and you were hung for that...

0:34:370:34:40

He must have just been feeling

so desperate.

0:34:400:34:43

And frustrated that nobody would

listen to him.

0:34:430:34:46

His pleas of innocence.

0:34:460:34:47

If he knew he was innocent.

0:34:470:34:49

And the injustice of it all

was just...

0:34:490:34:52

Just sickening, really.

0:34:520:34:53

Yeah, just...

0:35:000:35:02

Just nasty.

0:35:020:35:03

I just keep thinking back to his

speech in the dock and hope that,

0:35:080:35:12

as he said, one day,

the truth will be seen.

0:35:120:35:14

As the barristers prepare their

arguments for judgment day,

0:35:200:35:24

the new expert evidence

could be pivotal.

0:35:240:35:26

Sir Bernard Spilsbury, the

prosecution's pathologist at trial,

0:35:280:35:31

should never have been permitted to

conduct that bizarre test

0:35:310:35:35

that clearly influenced the jury

to convict.

0:35:350:35:37

And I'll be arguing before the judge

0:35:370:35:40

that the conviction is unsafe

as a consequence.

0:35:400:35:44

What is important is that

the defence were aware

of the experiments,

0:35:440:35:49

they challenged the experiments

0:35:490:35:52

and they criticised the veracity

of the results.

0:35:520:35:55

So the people who were in

the best possible position to make

0:35:550:35:58

a decision were the jury,

and that is what they did.

0:35:580:36:02

Judgment day has arrived

0:36:070:36:09

and Tony has travelled to London to

hear the barristers' submissions

0:36:090:36:13

about his grandfather's case.

0:36:130:36:15

I'm thinking of his closing

statement at the trial,

0:36:150:36:18

and the fact that he protested his

innocence right until the end,

0:36:180:36:22

I just think, you know,

0:36:220:36:23

at least we can help in some way

to prove that.

0:36:230:36:27

Good to see you.

0:36:270:36:28

Jeremy and Sasha will present

new evidence they have discovered,

0:36:280:36:32

or new legal arguments they have

formed in the course of their

investigation.

0:36:320:36:36

Judge Radford has decades

of experience at the criminal bar,

0:36:380:36:41

presiding over serious

criminal cases

0:36:410:36:44

and sitting in the Court of Appeal.

0:36:440:36:46

For this programme,

0:36:460:36:47

he will be treating this matter

as he would any other case.

0:36:470:36:50

Good morning. We are here today

0:36:510:36:55

for me to consider the safety of the

conviction of Henry Daniel Seymour.

0:36:550:37:01

Mr Dein, on behalf of the defence,

0:37:020:37:05

I think you're going to make

submissions to me.

0:37:050:37:07

Yes. As Your Honour knows,

0:37:070:37:08

an absolutely crucial feature of

the prosecution case

0:37:080:37:12

was that the hammer found at Mr

Seymour's lodgings was the hammer...

0:37:120:37:17

..that had been used as part

of the murder of Mrs Kempson.

0:37:190:37:24

The prosecution called Sir Bernard

Spilsbury, but, crucially,

0:37:240:37:29

in his first two reports, Spilsbury

had unequivocally concluded

0:37:290:37:34

that the three blunt force injuries

on Mrs Kempson's skull

0:37:340:37:39

could not have been caused

by the hammer

0:37:390:37:42

recovered from

Henry Seymour's lodgings.

0:37:420:37:45

And it's my submission

that matters ought to have been

left at that point

0:37:450:37:51

but, in fact,

what went on to happen

0:37:510:37:53

was Sir Bernard Spilsbury took it

upon himself to

0:37:530:37:56

wrap another similar hammer in cloth

a number of times

0:37:560:38:01

and then said that, in his view,

0:38:010:38:04

if Henry Seymour had done the same,

0:38:040:38:07

Mr Seymour's hammer

could indeed have inflicted

the injuries found on Mrs Kempson.

0:38:070:38:11

Now, Basil Perdue,

modern-day pathologist

0:38:110:38:14

with a great deal of experience

in homicide cases,

0:38:140:38:18

has said that what Sir Bernard

Spilsbury did, quote,

0:38:180:38:23

"Offends against science."

0:38:230:38:25

So it's my submission that what

occurred should never have happened

0:38:250:38:30

and that it had the clear

potential for misleading the jury

0:38:300:38:34

on a critical feature of the case.

0:38:340:38:36

Now, as if that wasn't bad enough,

0:38:360:38:38

when it came to the learned

trial judge's summing up,

0:38:380:38:42

he then goes on to rehearse Sir

Bernard Spilsbury's cloth-covered

0:38:420:38:47

exercise,

giving respectability to it.

0:38:470:38:50

Rather than to say, which he should

have done, well,

0:38:500:38:52

you should ignore this frolic

of Sir Bernard Spilsbury.

0:38:520:38:57

So in my submission,

0:38:570:38:59

this was a misdirection which could

well have led the jury

0:38:590:39:02

into rejecting Sir Bernard

Spilsbury's exclusion

0:39:020:39:07

of the original hammer and

accepting this bizarre experiment.

0:39:070:39:11

Those matters, in my submission,

0:39:110:39:13

undermine the fabric and fairness

of the trial.

0:39:130:39:15

Miss Wass, what do you say?

0:39:150:39:18

Your honour, as far as the new

hammer evidence is concerned,

0:39:180:39:22

which Mr Dein relies on,

certainly by today's standards,

0:39:220:39:26

that type of experiment would not

have been conducted in this way.

0:39:260:39:31

So for the purpose of this hearing,

0:39:310:39:34

you can exclude Sir Bernard's

evidence about the experimentation.

0:39:340:39:40

The important evidence is that the

defendant himself accepted having

0:39:400:39:45

a hammer in the vicinity of the

murder at the time of the murder,

0:39:450:39:50

when there was no lawful reason

for him to have a hammer

in his possession at all.

0:39:500:39:55

As far as the direction to the jury

is concerned,

0:39:550:39:55

As far as the direction to the jury

is concerned,

0:39:550:39:58

the judge made it abundantly clear,

as any judge would today,

0:39:580:40:03

that the jury were by no means bound

to accept the opinion of the expert.

0:40:030:40:08

And the submission that I make today

0:40:080:40:08

And the submission that I make today

0:40:080:40:11

is that in the absence of any such

experimentation,

0:40:110:40:15

there would have been a case

to answer in respect of murder.

0:40:150:40:19

The jury thereafter heard the

defendant gives his account

0:40:190:40:22

and they were sure that

he was guilty of this murder.

0:40:220:40:27

Yes, thank you, Miss Wass.

0:40:270:40:29

I am grateful to you both for

your submissions.

0:40:290:40:31

If you would be kind enough to leave

me for some time to reflect on them.

0:40:310:40:36

How do you feel about

what you heard?

0:40:430:40:45

I think you both gave a fair

and thorough...

0:40:450:40:47

..summing up.

Are you optimistic?

0:40:490:40:51

I'm... Yeah, I'm... Kind of.

0:40:510:40:54

It might be a while, because

he's got a lot to consider.

0:40:540:40:56

Sure.

0:40:560:40:58

Should Henry Seymour's hammer

have been excluded from evidence?

0:40:580:41:01

Were the expert's experiments

misleading?

0:41:020:41:05

And did the judge

misdirect the jury?

0:41:070:41:09

Judge Radford is ready to

give his verdict.

0:41:110:41:13

I have considered the complaints

0:41:190:41:22

adumbrated by Mr Dein

0:41:220:41:24

and controverted by Miss Wass

0:41:240:41:26

about the safety of the conviction

0:41:260:41:31

and I've considered the evidence

from the pathologist,

0:41:310:41:35

Dr Perdue, strongly objecting to the

way in which the pathology evidence

0:41:350:41:41

was adduced at the trial.

0:41:420:41:43

The admissibility of the

experimentation that was conducted

0:41:430:41:48

using a different hammer to that

found on the defendant

0:41:480:41:52

was objectionable and unfair.

0:41:520:41:55

And that conclusion does not mean

that I've formed a view that the

0:41:550:41:59

defendant's innocence of the crime

has been demonstrated.

0:41:590:42:03

But it is a conclusion, in my view,

there was a material irregularity,

0:42:030:42:08

there was a crucial piece of

evidence

0:42:080:42:12

that was not properly presented

or summed up by the judge,

0:42:120:42:16

and may well have caused the jury to

have gone beyond strong suspicion

0:42:160:42:22

to sureness of guilt.

0:42:220:42:24

For those reasons,

0:42:240:42:25

I think there is indeed

proper reason

0:42:250:42:28

to doubt that a safe verdict

was reached.

0:42:280:42:32

I am grateful to learned counsel

for their help.

0:42:320:42:34

Thank you, Your Honour.

0:42:340:42:36

I shall rise.

0:42:360:42:37

Well done, Jeremy.

Thank you.

0:42:420:42:44

Congratulations.

0:42:440:42:45

Obviously, that's a good,

positive outcome.

0:42:470:42:49

That's great, yeah.

Yeah.

0:42:490:42:50

Yeah, very pleased.

Excellent.

0:42:500:42:53

I think of his words in the dock

protesting his innocence

0:42:530:42:56

and he protested his innocence

right to the end.

0:42:560:42:58

And he said, one day

the truth will be shown

0:42:580:43:02

and this goes some way towards that.

So it's really good.

0:43:020:43:06

Barristers Sasha Wass and Jeremy Dein scrutinise a violent burglary and murder from 1931. The murder weapon could be key to the conviction and execution of Henry Seymour.

In Oxford in 1931, 54-year-old widow Annie Louisa Kempson was bludgeoned and stabbed to death in her own home in what appeared to be a violent burglary. Door-to-door salesman and career criminal Henry Seymour was quickly embroiled in the murder investigation and eventually executed for the crime - but now his grandson Tony is starting to doubt the original verdict.

Tony enlists the help of top criminal barristers Jeremy and Sasha, who examine the evidence, starting with the time of death. Their investigation leads to an important revelation about the hammer that connected Henry to the murder, but is there enough new evidence to present the case to a senior judge?