TRANSCRIPT - The Saint Valentine's Day 'Witchcraft' Murder: Was This Bizarre Homicide The Ritual Slaying Of A Warlock?

 [Music] This podcast contains descriptions of death and violence that some listeners may find upsetting on valentine's day in 1945 a brutal murder took place which remains unsolved 75 years on now this murder isn't some gangland killing where people are afraid to speak out and it isn't a domestic crime of passion where the suspect got off on a legal technicality no it's not a tragic death where the actual case is in doubt or open to interpretation it is a savage and brutal murder with no apparent motive not only that it occurred in a sleepy village in the heart of England if that isn't enough to get you interested then let's throw in some local folklore and superstition with stories of witchcraft all right let's find out some more about the location lower Quinton is a small and unassuming Warwickshire village just six miles from Stratford-upon-Avon according to the 2011 census the population of the two villages in the parish was under two thousand it lies on the heart of England way a long distance walk of around 160 kilometres through the midlands of England sounds like a beautiful setting to visit spend a few hours doesn't it well it is actually yeah but it does have as we will find out Jacques a sinister episode in its past indeed English villages like this aren't complete with at least one ancient pub oh yes and a medieval church and we're outside since St Swithin’s right now if you visit Lower Quinton you will notice the imposing plateau of Meon hill Meon hill is 190 meters above sea level and is visible above the farms and villages in the area while it's not that high and has fields and hedgerows on the slopes it has an odd look that makes it stand out so anyway that's the ancient history if you like let's talk about the more recent and more sinister history of lower quinton Jacques tell me a bit more about this spooky place yeah thanks Simon having learned the introduction and the history of this uh this area let's bring ourselves more up-to-date to 1945 and the events that took place at fern's farm on the slopes of Meon hill it's a case that's even baffled the former Scotland Yard detective of the era chief inspector Robert Fabian so Wednesday the 14th of February 1945 the second world war had been raging for over five years and the war had obviously taken its toll on the country even in quiet farming communities like lower quinton the farms were providing essential food for the people but farm workers were obviously in short supply most young men were serving in the armed forces and women were taking on the roles usually done by men Edith Walton was 33 years old and lived in a small cottage with a 74 year old uncle named Charles Walton Charles was an agricultural worker and that lived at lower quinton all of his life in fact he'd occupied the cottage at 15 lower Quinton since world war one he was a widower his wife had died in 1927 and they had adopted Edith from the age of three after her mother had died Edith’s father Charles’s brother was still alive and lived at 30 Henley street in nearby Stratford Charles Walton would give Edith one pound per week housekeeping he also paid the three shillings per week rent on the cottage as well as buying their coal and meat he received an old age pension of 10 shillings a week but also took him some casual farm work for a local farmer named Alfred Potter at furs farm okay Jacques you've asked me to drive you to the top of me on hill and here we are as near as we can get in the car what's all this about on the day of the murder Edith Walter and she'd been working as a printer's assembler for the royal society of arts which strangely enough had relocated during the war to the area Edith returned home about 6 p.m. on a normal routine expected her uncle Charles to be already at home from his work on the farm this is valentine's day it's February obviously things that it's dark now Edith went to see her next door neighbour an agricultural worker by the name of Harry Beasley and together they made their way to first farm to alert Alfred Potter the farm manager that Charles was missing had not come home Potter said he'd seen Charles earlier in the day slashing hedges in a part of the farm named hill ground which is just on the slope up towards Meon hill where we are now the three of them set out in the semi darkness to check the location where Charles had last been seen working when they reached hill ground Edith was completely unprepared for what she discovered she was immediately overcome with grief shock began to scream loudly Harry Beasley tried to pacify her and bring her away from the appalling scene that was before them so what on earth had she discovered well Charles Walton’s body was clearly dead and lying near to a hedgerow wow like all corpses it takes the fighter a few seconds to realize what is before them that's in your experience as a as a detective yeah it's there's something surreal about a lifeless person as opposed to somebody lying down even bodies that have no obvious injuries can appear strangely unreal the position of their lifeless limbs can make them not quite look human and the position of Charles Walton's body was certainly odd and the injuries what was before them told those present that this was a murder and a savage one not just he died so Edith clearly needs to be taken away so what had happened then what had happened to Charles Walton Charles had been beaten repeatedly over the head with his own walking stick and he'd also received horrific injuries from the tools and the implements that he'd been using for his work his neck had been cut open with the slash hook this is the implement that's used for cutting the wood in the hedge that the stems in the head yeah correct yeah like an extendable lopper I suppose we would call them there yeah it's a big iron sharp heavy iron implement yeah even more sort of horrific was the fact that he'd been pinned to the ground the prongs of his own pitchfork had been driven either side of his neck and into the earth to hold him there so this is a classic pitchfork has a long handle and it has two horseshoe shaped tines at the bottom doesn't it and that had been pushed over his through his neck over his neck into the ground basically pinning him to the ground so quite a savage attack on you know his poor man and this is a 72 year old man who's okay he's still working on the farm he's probably reasonably fit for his age but he's uh you know he's not a slider he's not a young guy yeah I mean clearly Charles Walton was not meant to survive this attack his killer or his killers had surely made sure of that okay so we're gonna go somewhere else now we're gonna go and try and get a little bit closer to where this happened and you can tell me a little bit more about this because the more you tell me the more fascinating this becomes yeah sure Jacques do you think these hedges would have been pretty typical of the ones that Charles Walton was working on I mean they're it's thorny stuff isn't it this that's uh that's definitely hawthorne uh wild roses and uh ivy and it's dense which is established yeah and you can see the extra growth on top which they're obviously trying to keep it down to what about six foot so we'd have been slashing that with the slash hook and then taking the cuttings off with the pitchfork and piling them up and maybe going to put them on a bonfire or something like that yeah yeah they were the tools they were the tools that he uh he had for the job yeah slash hook yeah and when he was found he was the pitchfork it had been wedged somehow hadn't it so it was standing up with the handle of the pitchfork pretty much vertical yeah I think the handle was actually at an angle sort of bent backwards we've lying on his side sort of almost where we're stood now just to the side of the hedgerow probably out of view to I mean where we are now you know it was dark wasn't it when they came looking for him so do you think this was an attempt to conceal the body or what well I think just the location he was working at pretty out the way had they not gone looking for him knowing he'd been working there probably wouldn't have been found for some time maybe but obviously the Edith was keen to find out where he was it was unusual that he wasn't at home and they found him you know within a few hours of his death so what do you do then in 1945 do you ring 999 or 911 or how do you call for help there's a local parish constable so Harry and Edith go back to the village and alert the local constable who then would speak to his colleagues in Stratford to say what he's doing clearly he was obviously informed that this looked like a murder that was pretty clear about that then he went back to the scene to have a look for himself there's a gate here we can go through this because as you can probably hear it's quite a cold windy day today and it's very muddy because we've had a lot of rain in England we're on a public footpath but this is farmland so we're being respectful of that as we've been walking around have we seen anybody at the moment no we haven't not a soul actually not a soul just sheep and signs saying keep out [Laughter] was that the sort of reception that the um the police got when they the investigation really kicked off because you talk on the one hand about close-knit communities but then again people might be inclined to keep themselves to themselves and stay tight lip was it was it easy to question people in the local community at the time about Charles Walton's murder that's a 64 000 question isn't it I mean it's local pc who knew the family who goes to the scene first at I think it was just after seven o'clock and then the CID from Stratford-on-Avon were brought in so the police they knew their community but how well do you know your community when there's a savage murder that's like to be living amongst you so what did the police do then local bobby he goes and looks at the body establishes that Charles Walton has been violently killed and is deceased what happens next you've got to get a pathologist out to determine the cause of death and to look at the at the scene and that was done on that evening we had to come from Birmingham I believe professor webster and he arrived about 11 30 and the body was actually removed at 1 30 in the morning so it's really a case now of closing down the scene until the morning when you've got daylight and picking things up again you know from that point in your experience did they do that properly it's 1945 we've got the benefit of hindsight you're a modern day detective but is that the sort of thing that they'd still do now is it good practice we've not had sight of the actual documentation from the time but I mean the fact that the body was removed within a couple of hours and during the night time no I think the body would remain in situ in this scenario now with a tent over it and kept secure you see at that time they're not looking for things like DNA they're not looking for kind of things that we would be uh interested in now and in need of keeping the integrity of that scene they did what they felt was necessary at the time in order to take the investigation forward we're going to do a bit more walking now so there's another gate here I’ll go through I’ll go through first and get it for you all right I don't know if it's just me actually but gates with rusty barbed wire on them and footpaths that lead nowhere and boggy fields where you're forever slipping and sliding it's not welcoming is it I don't know if that is somehow symptomatic of the attitude of the local people to outsiders both today and back in 1945 I got a bit soft in my old age so we are now pretty much as close to the top of me on hill as we can get without some trespassing right Jacques straight down now to uh to the church straight line of sight to the church where first form was on the left with the new development every field has got an established hedgerow at the side it's there obviously is quite a bit of work to do with those yeah there's a lot of work for one man to do particularly a 72 year old man who's up here on a relatively inhospitable February day like this with his equipment what happened next tell me about the investigation because we've established the scene and we've established that Scotland Yard was brought in and they interviewed pretty much everyone in the village didn't they did they managed to isolate any key witnesses or even suspects in this well the initial thing really was to establish you know the movements and found out that Charles had left home shortly before 9 a.m. to work in this area that we've mentioned down here called the hill ground with his equipment and off he went to do his work and he was actually seen walking through the churchyard between nine and nine thirty five minutes’ walk then across the fields the church looks what would you say a mile from here a couple of kilometres something like that yeah yeah now Edith uh she claimed that Potter the farm manager had told her that he'd seen him working on the hill ground and he came to the field to cut some hate about 12 o'clock he saw Charles at his work so we've got him you know alive up until around 12 o'clock certainly at 11 p.m. that night detective inspector from Stratford took a statement from Potter and Potter stated he'd been at the farm for about five years had known Walton for all that time and employed him casually in the last few months Walter had worked when the weather permitted he'd been engaged on hedging for a previous few months and Hillground was the last field that needed attention and we are looking now straight down at hill ground aren't we in fact these hedgerows are full of willow trees and it was near a willow tree that Charles Walton's body was found wasn't it exactly yeah so there's one two I can see two three stands of willow so we must be very very close to the spot you know within a few hundred meters of where Charles Walton's body was discovered I wouldn't like to have to come up here in the dark on a February night I mean we've been sliding around all over the place and our produce has fallen over a couple of times I’ve fallen over measurement length in a field don't mind sharing that I’m covered in mud it's an inhospitable landscape from that point of view isn't it and to discover a body up here and then the shock and all of the emotion that goes without the adrenaline your immediate instinct might be to run mind it and you can't really run in conditions like this so the investigation kicks off and then for whatever reason Warwickshire police decide they're not best placed to investigate Charles Walton's murder and so they call in a team from the metropolitan police in London is that right yes from Scotland you are the traditional uh term I don't think it was a particularly a team of detectives you know in any great number but what they wanted was the experience of the senior investigators maybe a couple of specialist advisers to help out so it's more to give the direction really of the investigation so they get a senior officer a very experienced detective and in fact this man was the foremost detective of his time wasn't he in England yes a guy called Fabian yes yeah a very credible very methodical and technically advanced kind of detective in fact I think in this case he actually had the RAF the royal air force take aerial surveillance pictures of the area didn't he did he brought a lot of experience and expertise and maybe the technical support what he probably couldn't bring with him was an understanding of Warwickshire village life this murder is unsolved and I’m sure Fabian of the Yard would have been disappointed that he couldn't get to the bottom of it but maybe his skills weren't uh weren't really that good in uh in dealing with rural communities such as this what were the big barriers then that he faced why couldn't he crack it I think there's general secrecy and maybe uh you know pretty proud communities they don't want to admit that they've got a problem they like to show things that everything's fine and uh fine and dandy 500 Yards right so he's been in the pub he's going home he walks past the church he looks up here so across one two three potentially four flat fields yeah yeah and then the ground rises quite steeply from there and he can see on hill ground which is just below us here the figure of Charles Walton cutting the hedge in his shirt sleeves so you can tell that he's taken his jacket off from 500 Yards away across fields that's quite some detail isn't it is that's the way it reads what he means by shirt sleeve is not all that clear although we do know that when Charles's body was found he had his jacket on it was a dark jacket and underneath it the sleeves were cut off making effectively a short sleeved shirt but he was certainly found with his jacket on so I suppose the big thing here is that at some point during this whole saga it became infected with stories of witchcraft and the occult what's the first instance that we have of that and is there any foundation to it yeah that came in much later I mean whatever folklore there was in the area and whatever people in the in the pub we're talking about wasn't picked up particularly by that first police investigation they were there looking at the facts trying to find the truth I mean we've actually got here the request that the chief constable of Warwickshire sent to the met when he when they decided they wanted assistance the following day absolutely let's see what we've got here because we've got some documentary evidence now that we can turn to if you'd like to read that please Jacques yeah it reads as follows the chief constable has asked me to get the assistance of Scotland Yard to assist in a brutal case of murder that took place yesterday the deceased man is named Charles Walton aged 75 and he was killed with an instrument known as a slash hawk the murder was either committed by a madman or one of the Italian prisoners who were in a camp nearby and that you know really shows the initial thoughts of the investigation wow so there's where was this prisoner of war camp it was a couple of miles I think up the road here to a place called Long Marston are you talking probably half an hour 40 minutes’ walk if uh if you needed to do it so Italian prisoners of war Italy had left the war they surrendered in 1943 didn't they this is 1945. so what are these guys doing there as prisoners haven't they been sent home or they're still being detained at the camp clearly there was an interest in in speaking to them in fact some of them had had been away that day and they've been to Stratford-on-haven to the theatre so there's a degree of freedom being allowed them but the point being that the investigators at the time thought they were dealing with a crazed madman or one of the prisoners of war you know they're clearly announcing we're out of our depth here we can't really deal with this well craig's mad man yeah obviously given the extreme violence that was meted out on Charles Walton and then in terms of a pow what do they mean what's the implication is this somebody who's got military experience or somebody who's perhaps suffering from what we would today call PTSD post-traumatic stress disorder there's no evidence from what I’ve read to suggest that I think it's probably more maybe the local villagers were it couldn't be one of ours could be one of the villagers who's committed this it must have been and then pointed the finger at the prisons and outsider and outside any outsider what's interesting as well right at the end of this formal request is that they explain that a metal watch is missing from the body now Edith Charles's niece had said that he always has this watch with him and would never leave home without it effectively so the details of that watch are circulated past the local pawn brokers and jewellers so there's an element of a possible robbery here motive theft do you think is that something they would have to consider but then smashing somebody over the head with a walking stick cutting their throat with a slash hook and then pinning their body to the ground by the neck with a pitchfork that seems disproportionate at the very least doesn't it completely but whatever has caused this person to launch that attack on Charles Walton has clearly lost control let's walk on and let's consider a few of the options and talk a bit more about the investigation so Jacques once again it got a bit too wet and windy out there for us so we jumped in the car and we've come to Long Marston which is where the Italian prisoner of war camp was in 1945 and in fact there are some buildings from that era in front of us uh in the middle of a field at the moment rather incongruously planted in the middle of a field which we suppose well what do you think at the time was this the prisoner of war camp I would think so yeah I mean you've got me on hill looking to the right now quite visible from wow look at this because you can see there are some barns and then above it there is the flat top like a billiard table and there's one tree just silhouetted at the top of me on hill yeah yeah you can see that place for miles around and you're going to have some military around here as well we've got the you've got an airfield nearby as well which whether it was used for military purposes at the time I’m sure you'd have had RAF personnel as well to assist with what's going off looking at the case again we've now got the officers from Scotland the order come up on the Friday two days later and detective sergeant Saunders who was a fluent Italian speaker begins interviewing the prisoners of war at Long Marston now these prisoners were able to roam the area willed so it was quite a relaxed operation and although there was a schedule for them to work on certain days but they did get free days and no records were kept of their movements on the afternoon of the murder there were some prisoners had gone into Stratford to see a play at the theatre and others had visited the cinema but what was apparent from this inquiry at the prison of war camp were that none of the prisoners were under suspicion they eliminated the prisoner of war camp and the prisoners therein from their inquiries yeah so if you go by the initial request to Scotland Yard they were considering the Italian prisons of war nearby or a madman and it's probably worth really looking at the injuries that Charles sustained to try and understand the severity of this killing what did the autopsy reveal well he'd been beaten about the head and his windpipe whose trachea had been cut his chest was badly bruised and several of his ribs were broken too this is the slash hook and the stick presumably yeah and he tried to defend himself was there any evidence of that yeah it doesn't say in what order but there were defence wounds and obviously these are injuries where if you put your hands up to defend yourself from blows that kind of thing that's the classic defence wound and on his left hand there was bruising in the back of his right hand and forearm and the pathologist who came from Birmingham concluded that Walton's wounds had been caused by two weapons stabbing weapon and a cutting weapon presumably the pitchfork and the slash hawk having been hit over the head his own walking stick and that was found three meters from the body and there's blood and hair stuck to it my interpretation of this is that he was beaten probably first over the head either being unconscious or certainly knocked to the ground tried to defend himself from these blows maybe he was then either kicked or stood on to hold him down and then the final injuries that killed him were done probably when he was prone on the ground so if a perpetrator was going to steal somebody's pocket watch this is out of all proportion to the theft of a pocket watch isn't it this degree of violence in anybody's book completely he's in a remote location so somebody's either come across him or found him knowing he was going to be there and there must have been some build up to get that kind of rage and that kind of anger to inflict these injuries and do we assume from this that whoever meant to do it set out to do it I suppose the test for murder being that you have to intend to cause death or really serious harm in England is this intentional yeah it clearly is these are injuries you've been inflicted with yeah with a lot of intent what the motive was we don't really know there's an interesting comment in the pathologist's report and he died between 1 and 2 p.m. is the estimate that the pathologist put on it his shirt was opened and the trousers had been unfastened at his uh fly button and obviously when anybody listening to this or reading this would think you know is there some kind of sexual angle here it doesn't appear that was ever really exploited or taken seriously but you have to consider these things it does raise a question mark about a sexual motive doesn't it does and again the police quite quickly weren't happy with Potter in his account and that's where really the inquiry went to but uh it was that lack of motive that was never really explained had he done something on the spur of the moment to upset somebody who then just reacted disproportionately and it led to his injuries or was there something more of a build-up was there an issue that had been festering for some time if there was you'd hope some people locally would have known about it everything that comes up on google is to do with the occult well most everything that comes up is to do with the occult and satanism and rituals and the fact that there was a cross or a crucifix carved on Walton's chest I mean is there any evidence to support that that was certainly discounted but I mean what makes this sort even worse is this Fabian from Scotland who came up the chief inspector when he wrote his memoirs a few years later he seems to get drawn into this folklore of witchcraft and this that and the other what did come about was Charles Walton was a bit of a loner and might be treated probably as a bit of an odd wall in the village even rumours that he was something to do with witchcraft as well I think it was just the fact that he was not one of the clique not one of the uh the farmers who were in the pub talking and having a laugh he was a loner didn't socialize or associate with anyone else in the village let's go back into the village now I want to have another walk around and see what we can turn up there [Music] so Jacques tell me a bit about Alfred Potter yeah I think it's worth going through the grassy really of his story because it seems to change a little bit with timings and what that's he was doing so people will now appreciate why the police at the time weren't happy with him in his second interview he uh stated that Walton usually worked for him about four days each week but never in wet weather he stated that he paid Walton 18 pence per hour and usually at the end of each fortnight although sometimes at the end of the week and he said that he left it to Walton to say how many hours he'd worked and he'd paid for what he claimed and he'd last paid him for the fortnight ending the 10th of February Potter state on the day of the murder he'd left the college arms as he said previously and gone across to a field on his cat's leaves to see to some sheep and to feed some calves well I saw some sheep up there today so they're still farming in much the same way I suppose as they were in 1945 pretty much unchanged yeah when he looked across he said he'd been about 12 20 he then saw Walton working in his shirt sleeves he was sure of this because it was the first time he'd seen him dressed that way and thought he's getting on with his work today right so he's hot he's taking his jacket off rolled his sleeves up or as it turns out he didn't he cut his sleeves off or they'd been cut off prior but remember he said he'd seen him from 500 Yards away which is quite a distance I was going to say yeah that's a that's a that's a long way yeah he said he would have gone over to see Walton were it not for the fact that he had a heifer that died in the ditch and needed some attention he's got a dead animal to attend to so he can't go and see his workman right okay so he claims he then went home and arrived there about 12 40. on the 20th of February pc uh lamasery the local village uh officer goes round to Potter and he tells him that they're hoping to get fingerprints from the murder weapons Potter reacts to this he says he touched the handle of the slash hawk and possibly the pitchfork when he first came across the body although he claimed he'd already mentioned this to the police but he hadn't he said he'd handle the weapons in response to a comment from Harry Beasley that you better have a look to make sure he's dead yeah I suppose it was dark wasn't it and he'd maybe want to feel for a pulse at his neck so not unreasonable I’d have said it's not unreasonable although Harry Beasley said he could tell immediately that uh that he was dead by the by the way the way he's lying okay so there's a slight change here now this conversation about the possibility of fingerprints Mrs Potter gets involved and says well you're bound to suspect my husband if he's if his fingerprints are on the murder weapon and then there's also conversations about it's the work of one of the fascists the Italians from the camp and this time the others so the Potters are getting quite animated about the suspicion that clearly they believe is on Mr Potter so already at this stage there is concern about Alfred Potter's role in those events it might not be as innocent as he's making out very much so confusion his time seemed to change whether he left the pub at 12 10 past 20 past and then later on he talks about he went out around one o'clock because he saw the clock on the church now that's interesting because we've just been to the church at a church clock actually has a bell on it to announce the time so it seems like he's looking to give himself an alibi to say that he couldn't have been involved in this death because he was with other people [Music] well we're back in the village now Jacques and we just popped into the porch at Saint Swithin’s to get out of the wind so far the police have ruled out any involvement by Italian prisoners of war they're all accounted for and they've got 500 witness statements from all over the village uh including that of Alfred Potter who at the moment seems to be the person whose account is the least consistent his story keeps changing yes so they're concerned about him I think the other thing as well is that of all the witnesses they're seeing over these three or four days no one's seen a stranger or somebody behaving oddly or whatever there's no suggestion of this strange madman that may potentially been about so the focus comes back to Mr Potter and uh when this line of inquiry or suggestion that there may be fingerprints on the weapon Potter claims well you know they would be because I touched the weapons anyway to check that he wasn't still alive when they found Charles Walton and Mrs Potter gets excited about this as well saying that well of course you'll think it's my husband if this prince are on the on the murder weapons and at the time when the pc is at the house there's a serviceman arrives um a military person comes and asks for Potter bear in mind he's the manager of the farm and he's probably got quite a bit of influence and responsibility in the area and this serviceman talks about uh one of the prisoners of war who'd been arrested for somebody who'd stolen some clothes and potty gets all excited about this said there you are it's one of these fascists from the prison at war camp so he's almost um gloating as though this is this is evidence that it's nothing to do with him that it's one of these fascists so do you think he's trying to pin it on the outsider he seems to be and we know from that early request to Scotland Yard they talk about the prisons of war so maybe the village was coming up with this they didn't want to think that it was one of their own that it must be an outsider and what better outsider than the enemies of war it must be a pretty tough time to be an Italian pow around here you know your country is capitulated in 1943 you're still subject to some form of internment here as a foreign national probably don't speak the language and you're surrounded by people who are so suspicious of you they're prepared to allegedly pin a murder on you yes I mean you get the impression that these villagers don't take to these people and there's no love lost between them yeah right okay so what happens next then what's the next step in the saga so Potter's got presumably an alibi and he's got some sort of reason why his fingerprints are on the murder weapons what happens next well he spoke to again a few days later and he talks about he'd gone home and read the paper for a few minutes and then he goes out with another farm worker a guy called Charles Happy bachelor to pump some mangoes bear in mind this talk of him uh checking on the cars the sheep the heifer in the ditch and now he's introducing some other tasks it's all agricultural work isn't it they pull those up it's winter feed for cattle yeah indeed but he's introducing the other things and he also says that both him and uh Mr Batchelor had gone to look at the church clock and saw that it was one o'clock Mrs Potter confirms this that he arrived home after 12 30 and read the paper it's getting more complicated isn't it this just nipped home and saw Charles Walton up the field yeah his wife has conveniently seen him at home at 12 40 and then he said he actually walked past and checked the time of the clock happy bachelor's corroborating it all because he was doing something with me makes you yeah it does make you wonder doesn't it if all of this is being cooked up as a defence for Alfred Potter to alibi yeah at the time of the actual uh killing so as in any police inquiry and it's probably even more so now we start to look at people's financial background you know are they in debt either the victim or uh or the suspect and this all that Potter said that he effectively paid Mr Walter more than he was probably due he trusted him to give the hours that he wanted paying for it turns out it was actually quite the opposite what Potter was doing was claiming more for his staff but he wasn't paying them less so he was he was making a pretty good living out of almost being a gang master where he had control of all the money and he gave his staff whatever he thought they were worth well surely that would give Charles Walton an excuse for wanting to whack Alfred Potter over the head with his walking stick wouldn't it would give him an excuse probably to complain about what was happening but I guess as a gang master or a farm manager he's got some control over these individuals and appears to be doing just what he wanted whether that's sufficient motive to go on and have a confrontation that leads to his death it's still pretty excessive I was going to say having your wage packet short by a few shillings a week and confronting the boss over it that doesn't seem to me to be sufficient motive for the boss to smack you over the head with your walking stick cut your throat with a slash hook and then pin your lifeless body to the ground with a pitchfork to be blunt yeah exactly and what threat was Mr Walton to Potter other than challenging him about the money he may have been owed but we know that Walton as well lived a very reclusive life so he hadn't got an expensive lifestyle what I would be interested in from a detective now is to know what lifestyle Mr Potter actually had was he a happily married man living at home and running the farm or had he got some other activities or something else that he was involved with you're going back to the sexual motive maybe possibly sexual yes there's all kinds of scenarios here that you would you would certainly have to consider you know what was his relationship like with his wife with Edith who is Charles Walton's niece she's 33. apparently she did have a boyfriend at the time right she's working away but is there some other issues that are going off maybe in the background was it just the case that at the time people didn't ask questions like that because it was indiscreet and impolite I think it probably was yes and the thing is you don't leave the same trail as you would do now you know with social media and other things and this village life as I say they probably don't want to suggest or even uh raise any suspicions about the activities of their own people and it was against the law to be gay as well so today no problem being gay or bi but in a small insular rural English community like this in the 1940s something like that would have been well certainly a social stigma if it had got out and maybe even a an excuse for blackmail it makes you definitely an excuse for blackmail thinking about it yeah yeah it makes you wonder how many frank conversations were had with these police inquiries about yeah about people's lifestyles would that be a reason to for well let's say if Alfred Potter had propositioned Charles Walton up at the hedge that day or Charles Walton had said to Alfred Potter I know all about you and your carryings on with other men would that have been sufficient motive do you think for Alfred Potter to have murdered Charles Walton in the way that Charles Walton was murdered I think he would certainly have fired up the emotions yes because there's no apparent evidence of a build-up of a dispute that's been festering if there was it was either not talked about or it didn't exist or it hadn't it hadn't happened and there wasn't that kind of great eruption of violence isn't it exactly the other thing I’m concerned here as well and I've not been able to see from the documentation is Alfred Potter is 40 years old why has he not done any military service at the time I think possibly because if he's working on the land he'd be in a reserved occupation so he might be exempt from military so that could well be the case but let's think as well that maybe a young or a man of 40 fit and able who by chance of his uh employment was not liable to serve the country and go and fight there might have been some other added stressors put on that maybe Walton could have even suggested you know well you should be fighting for your country rather than ripping us off and taking our wages so you know this is wartime this is the whole white feather cowardice from the first world war it might be another reason for the killer or for Mr Potter to react to the level that he did it's not looking good for Alfred Potter at the moment is it I mean we've pretty much got him banged to rights just talking here in the church porch is there anybody else who's in the picture for this or is it pretty much Alfred Potter in your mind who killed Charles Walton I’m going by the summer of the case and they clearly didn't suspect anybody else now what when the Scotland Yard left and went back to London they basically said well we believe it's Potter but there's no evidence of motive or any hard evidence to connect to him so he can't be charged so the case was effectively dropped now what I don't think is evident is how well they've plotted the movements of the people in the village because 500 people being interviewed where were you what were you doing would be able to establish that there was no stranger scene walking through the village there was nobody sleeping rough at that particular time there was no one behaving oddly well there's a snapshot been taken here of that valentine's day 1945 and if there's nobody else potentially involved in this then that focus on Potter is even stronger so there are deficiencies in the evidence gathering that would be addressed by a modern incident room isn't it the great privilege of historians that we have the benefit of hindsight and we can make these judgments and sit in judgment on our fellow human beings all these years later and we've got all of this wisdom haven't we now you put yourself in Robert Fabian's shoes he had a pretty much impossible task on his hands didn't he because nobody talked to him well they would but they wouldn't tell him what he needed to know he did we're not being critical particularly of the investigation and we're no better as individuals now maybe talking to people however we do have scientific advantages Potter was described as wearing a corduroy trousers at the time and there were two marks on the front of his trousers that were believed to be butt stains but it's been described that his trousers have been cleaned and it's too thoroughly for any kind of positive analysis now we all know in this day and age that something like that would have been looked at and it would have been identified as blood and whose blood that it came from so that is pretty crucial these trousers are still in a box somewhere is it possible to go back and get them and take them to a lab and get a home office pathologist to and to do some analysis we've not spoken with the originating police force but there's nothing being written about this case that suggests there have been so that evidence is now being lost but I think the question that you'd need to say is when were they washed and there's nothing coming out of that to say when that happened when were they seized when might have been cleaned have they been cleaned thoroughly or just the area where the blood was but again that would all add to the circumstantial evidence that we've got and you can see how if this is pushed forward theoretically and Alfred Potter comes to trial it wouldn't be a particularly difficult job for a defence barrister to sow that seed in the mind of the jury that all of the evidence was compromised and corrupted and therefore should be disregarded well exactly and Fabian before he's left and gone back to London he's almost answered those kind of questions he said that there was no evidence that Potter was a violent man no evidence that he and Walton had ever quarrelled and he described Potter as morose and sullen in an interview even when closely interrogated he never lost his temper and he was civil he said he's convinced that he's far from being door-witted and he's a man of considerable strength and a cunning individual but he just simply hasn't got that motive or that evidence so with our benefit of hindsight and of course many decades of policing experience and revisions in police practice and detective work since then as a former detective yourself would you be comfortable in ordering the six o'clock knock for Alfred Potter I think with a full review of the documentation and proper analysis of a timeline of where people are with that hindsight if you like yeah I think Mr Potter would certainly deserve the six o'clock knock and come into interrogation for a day or so and also to put a little bit of leverage on those crucial witnesses that he's relying on that maybe didn't happen at the time oh I see shake the tree see what fruit falls yeah exactly so Mrs Potter happy bachelor you know we need to get under their skin really to elicit a reaction we've seen how they've reacted before uh and really they it needs to be put on a level to them so that they decide whether they're going to risk giving a false alibi to a killer or to tell the truth so Alfred Potter's in a cell and that in turn turns up the pressure on happy bachelor and Alfred Potter's wife because they then realize how serious this is and I suppose the implication for them of performing a criminal act by lying to the police about where Alfred Potter was and what he was doing yes if these inquiries had been sort of routine speaking to all the village over the period of time that inquiry took place everyone appeared to be comfortable in saying nothing or saying sufficient to back Mr Potter up but when the inquiry is ramped up considerably and people can get under the skin of these people then maybe the truth the truth would have been something different so what happens if you fail to get under the skin of people like Mrs Potter happy bachelor you've got Alfred Potter in a police cell nobody's talking do you have to let him go where does the case go from there that's where cases do struggle and are not sold particularly in the cases when you you've got less scientific and less forensic evidence involved but they were the tools of the trade back then it's how people were spoken to and maybe a tight-knit rural village was not the kind of community that these uh Scotland Yard officers were used to speaking to so in 1945 in a place like lower quinton if everybody kept their lip buttoned up you could get away with murder exactly and I think that's what's happened to here so Jacques cheers we've made it as far as the college arms a non-alcoholic beverage for me and um what have you got there Irish whiskey for me oh goodness gracious so much old habits die hardy welcome and Alfred Potter he's going to get the six o'clock Potter definitely a modern-day six o'clock knock serious business then serious business yeah there's a lot of work goes before the six o'clock knock because it's our time we're in control to sort the job out the six o'clock knock you heard it here first Jacques cheers again mate cheers proper job the six o'clock knock is presented by Simon Ford and Jacques Morrell and produced by Paul Bradshaw and is available on every major listening app please help us spread the word by giving us a five star review and telling your friends to subscribe. 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