Three Murders and a Suicide! – Callington U3A Update

U3AlogoNot a title to cheer you up on a dreary wet January morning, our first meeting of 2016, but Simon Dell, a retired Policeman talked about his experiences with wit and humour.

His stories were all linked by the county pathologist  Dr Frederick Hocking. The first tragedy we heard about was the murder of a tobacconist from Falmouth.  Dr Hocking’s investigation centred on a gun left at the scene which had been stolen in a robbery some years earlier It was identified by it’s serial number, and the main suspect in that previous robbery was visited. He had in his possession a packet of Woodbine Cigarettes, again with a serial  number, and identified as coming from stock delivered to the tobacconist that day,  A repaired ten shilling note was also found on the suspect, which matched a piece cut from paper found in the waste bin in the shop. He was found guilty.

We then heard about a war time affair which ended in tragedy when the lovers, about to be parted, decided on a suicide pact. They decided to shoot  themselves in the summer house of the hotel where they were billeted as they worked on defence intelligence. The investigation by Dr Hocking proved that the lady involved could not have shot herself twice as her lover stated, as the second bullet, which killed her, was shot from 18 inches away- hardly likely from an already seriously wounded lady.  It was related twice over future years that a weeping lady matching her description was seen in the hotel’s garden, still awaiting her lover, who was jailed.

Constantine in 1963 was the final murder we heard about.  A young man, who avoided going to war in 1917, lived a secret nocturnal life helping to run the family farm. When his father and brother died, his mother moved away and they ran an isolated farm together. It was not until 1953 when the new Queen granted an amnesty for all war time deserters, that he was able to live openly. Ten years later he was killed during a robbery at the farm. A local man was suspected, and when questioned admitted that he had been there, but an accomplice had killed the farmer. During the trial a paper, written in Esperanto was translated to reveal the whereabouts of savings of £8,000 hidden at the farm. The farmer had been killed trying to guard his treasure.

Dr Hocking lived to be 98,  and when his wife died he decided he wanted to be with her and committed suicide. He left notes explaining what pills he had taken and how they would have killed him, and also an apology to the Police Constable who had to deal with the suicide – Simon Dell!