The Dundee Courier of Feb. 7, 1923, brings us the dramatic entrance into the criminal justice system’s toils of Bernard Pom(e)roy, who murdered his sweetheart Alice Cheshire after two-timing her with Alice’s own sister Mabel — getting the latter pregnant.
Girls’ Fatal Taxi Drive
Lover Who Surrendered Charged With Murder
“It Is All Right Cabby, Drive To Police Station”
“There are blood stains on my hands. The woman is in the taxi.”
With that blunt announcement a well-dressed young man dashed into Vine Street Police Office, Piccadilly, London, early yesterday morning.
To the taxi to which he had referred the police rushed, and there they found a girl with a wealth of golden hair lying unconscious on the floor with an ugly wound in her throat. Without regaining consciousness she died shortly after being admitted to Charing Cross Hospital.
The victim of the tragedy is Alice Cheshire (22), whose home is at Boxmoor, near Memel Hempstead, Herts, and who was in service in North London.
The man who gave himself up, and who is said to have been her lover, was Bernard Pomeroy (25), also of Hemel Hempstead. He was charged with the murder of the woman at Vine Street Police Station last night, and will appear at Great Marlborough Street Police Station this morning.
“Cabby, It’s All Right”
The couple had evidently been travelling in the taxicab for a long time, for more than £2 was marked on the cab’s clock, representing the equivalent of a 40-miles run.
Pomeroy, it is stated, admitted to the police that he had cut the girl’s throat with a clasp-knife, and with this knife was found in the taxi covered with blood.
When the taxicab was crossing Leicester Square the river heard the woman screaming. Looking through the window, he is alleged to have seen a struggle taking place. He pulled the taxicab up, and when he got to the door the man is alleged to have said, “Cabby, it’s all right, drive me to Vine Street Police Station.” The driver did so and on arrival the man made a statement to the police and was detained.
A ‘Phone Call.
Inquiries made at Hampstead show that the dead girl had been employed at West Hampstead for only a few weeks, and very little was known about her. She was a very quiet spoken girl, and always neatly dressed, said a maid at an adjoining house.
“She said very little to me about her affairs,” a fellow-servant said, “but I had an idea that he was very friendly with a man. Whether he was her fiancee [sic] or not I cannot say, but I know they met occasionally. I thought she had been rather worried lately.”
Some light is thrown on the mystery by a telephone call to the house of the dead girl’s employers yesterday.
The telephone was answered by another servant, and the caller — evidently a man — asked for Miss Cheshire. Miss Cheshire was not available at the moment, so the man rang again ten minutes later.
Miss Cheshire then answered, and it is said she agreed to meet the man, it being her night off. She left after dinner, and was due back at 10 p.m., but nothing was heard until the news of her death.
Pomeroy’s parents are an elderly couple, who have lived in Hemel Hempstead with their son and daughter for some years. “I cannot at all understand or explain anything,” the father said when interviewed. “The news came to us just as we were sitting down to breakfast. All I know is that my son went away last night just about as usual. He has been very strange at times since he came home wounded. He was knocked out in the shoulder and has done nothing since. He has been in a number of hospitals.”
“Worshipped Each Other.”
“Alice,” said Mrs Cheshire, the mother of the dead girl, “was 22, and was the third of four daughters. She went into service at Hampstead about three weeks ago, before which she was in a temporary situation.
“As far as we know she had been acquainted with Pomeroy for about four years. We regarded them at first as very great friends, and latterly as sweethearts. They worshipped each other.
“Bernard used to come here very frequently, and even when she was not here he used to come up and spend the evening with us.
“On Monday he came here and said he was going to see the girl’s father. After an interview with him he came back and said he was going to London to see Alice.
“I begged him not to go. I said we would do everything we could for him if he would act straight to Mabel (an elder daughter). I thought I could see Alice and explain the situation to her, and get her to see the matter in the right light and break it off with Bernard.
“We have begged Alice times out of number, but she always said, ‘Mother, I cannot. It has gone too far.’
“Bernard promised me he would not go to London yesterday, but apparently he sent a wire to Alice and met her. Alice informed me that she intended to meet Bernard.
“Alice kept very much to herself, and when she went out it was always with Bernard. Until Sunday she had no idea that Bernard had formed an intimacy with Mabel. Alice was a tall, pretty girl with a wealth of golden hair.”
Further detail is supplied by the same journal’s February 9 edition, covering the resulting coroner’s inquest.
Driver’s Story of Taxi Tragedy.
Murder Verdict Against Girl’s Lover.
A verdict of wilful murder was returned against Bernard Pomeroy, the girl’s lover, at the inquest at Westminster yesterday on Alice Chester [sic], who died from the effects of a wound alleged to have been inflicted in a taxi by Pomeroy.
Pomeroy, who stands remanded on the capital charge, was present in Court, seated between two policemen. He will be tried at the Old Bailey.
Esau Cheshire, of Bourne End, Hemel Hempstead, father of the dead girl, said that she had been keeping company with Pomeroy for about three years. Witness had another daughter, Mabel, with whom Pomeroy had been on terms of intimacy, and on Sunday evening she told witness she was in a certain condition. Pomeroy owned up to it.
On Monday Pomeroy called with his father and said that he was going west. He also said that he was going to see Alice, but witness tried to persuade him to stop.
He suggested that he should wait till Tuesday, as Alice was coming home that day.
“Say Goodbye Properly.”
Gladys Carrie Payne, cook at Hampstead House, where the girl was employed, said that on Monday evening Alice Cheshire twice had conversations on the telephone. Pomeroy came to the house at 6.30, and had tea with the maids. Pomeroy and the girl left after seven, Alice stating she was probably going to the theatre. As they were going out of the door, added witness, Pomeroy said, “Why not say goodbye properly, in case she does not come back again.” I simply that he was joking, said witness, who added that she thought he seemed a bit agitated and impatien[t] to get off.
Herbert Richard Golding, taxi driver, said Pomeroy hired his taxi at 11.10 on Monday night. Witness drove the couple to Kilburn and then on to Watford. At the latter place Pomeroy said — “It is rather late now. Go straight back to town.” Witness said he took them back to Leicester Square, and then Pomeroy asked him to drive to Templewood Avenue, Hampstead. Approaching Swiss Cottage, witness said he heard a slight scream and what he took to be somebody laughing. When they got to Hampstead Pomeroy asked the time, and said the house was in darkness and they drove back to Leicester Square. It was after 1.30.
Coroner — Weren’t you getting uneasy about your fare? — Yes, sir, but I knew it was in a vicinity where I could get protection. Both appeared fairly well dressed, and in a position to pay.
At Leicester Square Pomeroy told him to drive to the nearest police station. At Vine Street witness noticed accused’s hands were red, but he thought it was red ink.
The girl was afterwards found on her back on the floor of the cab, with the knees drawn up. There was a large box of chocolates on the seat and chocolates were scattered about. The clock of the cab registered 45s 6d.
“Did She Suffer Much, Doctor?”
Dr Gordon Hussey Roberts, of Charing Cross Hospital, said that when the girl was admitted she was gasping through a wound in the neck. She died twenty minutes after admission. Death, added the doctor, was due to hemorrhage. The throat was cut deeply from side to side, completely severing the larynx.
Pomeroy — Did she suffer much, doctor? — No, not after I saw her.
Inspector Rice said Pomeroy told him he had known Alice Cheshire for four years. Asked as to the woman’s injury, he said, “Yes, I did it.” He added that he did it with a knife.
A police official gave evidence that when told he would be charged with the wilful murder of a girl, Pomeroy said, “I have nothing to tell you.” Later, when charged, the accused made no reply.
Inspector Vanner said there were some affectionate letters between the dead girl and Pomeroy. One was handed to the Coroner, who, however, did not read any extracts.
Pomeroy declined to give any evidence.
On April 6, the Courier summed up the Pomeroy would go on to plead guilty to the capital charge, making no effort to oppose his own execution which was carried out on April 5, 1923.
Smiled When Sentenced to Death.
Bernard Pomroy, shop assistant, of Hemel Hempstead, was executed at Pentonville yesterday morning for the murder of Alice May Cheshire (21).
The circumstances of the crime were peculiar. Pomroy on the night of the murder took the girl, with whom he had been keeping company, to the Coliseum, and after the performance they travelled in a taxi from Holborn to Watford and back, and thence to hampstead.
Pomroy then told the driver to proceed to Leicester Square, and when the cab arrived there directed him to drive to the nearest police station, where he gave himself up. The girl was lying on the floor of the taxi with a wound in her throat. She died shortly after her admission to hospital.
When put on trial for his life Pomroy pleaded guilty, and refused to withdraw that plea in spite of the Judge’s advice. He also declined legal aid, refused to give evidence, and would not address the jury. He smiled when sentenced to death. An appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal was dismissed.
At the inquest which followed the execution the Governor of the prison said that only nine seconds elapsed between Pomroy leaving the condemned cell and death taking place. There was no hitch of any kind.
Harold Pomroy, of Hemel Hempstead, said that the deceased was his brother. After serving in the war he was a physical wreck, but the family had the consolation and joy to know that he was innocent of the crime for which he had paid the death penalty.
The usual verdict was returned.
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