Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Murder of Ella Staunton

This is a murder case I came across in a true crime magazine, which are great sources of information to post, although I did stop buying them about five years ago, due to finances.  However, they are coming back.  This case goes back to Liverpool in 1946, in which Police were keeping observation on a salon, run by Mrs Staunton, but suspected of being a brothel.  Six years before, she and a friend were suspected of running a brothel but the lady partner was killed in an air raid, so the investigation was dropped.  Forward six years and Police received information that the Gents Manicure salon Mrs Staunton ran, was simply a brothel.  Two detectives kept it under surveillance.  A man was seen entering the salon, then they heard a commotion.  Believing she was being attacked, they banged on the door but received no answer.  They rang the salon from the railway station opposite, but the line was engaged.  Crossing the road back to the salon, a man emerge, shutting the door behind him.  They stopped him.  Asking for identification, he produced his name, Tom Hendren, from Birkenhead, on the Wirral Peninsula, directly across the River Mersey.  They banged on the door again but received no answer.  Hendren told them that she had a client in there so she would not be answering immediately.

    The two detectives waited, then rang the salon again, but still the line was engaged.  They decided to enter the salon, where they found the body of Ella Staunton.  She had head trauma and electrical flex wire wrapped around her neck.  A post mortem revealed she had been stabbed.  Officers were dispatched to Birkenhead, to Roe Street, but they learned that Hendren had not been seen more than a week.  Enquiries brought information from a taxi driver, that he took a man fitting Hendren`s description to Huyton, but stopped off at a clothing shop to purchase a raincoat, in Wavertree.  He used clothing coupons bearing the name of the victim.  He phoned a sibling who lived in North Wales, from a phone box in St. Helens.  The phone was later taken away by police for fingerprinting.  Then a report came in about an extremely nervous man wanting train times to Leeds.  Police found papers belonging to Hendren behind a toilet.  A warning was sent to Salford Police to be on the lookout for him, as he had a former girlfriend living there.  It was here, he was arrested.

    He immediately confessed to it, saying that he asked for a loan and she refused, so he attacked her.  He went on trial on June 27th 1946 at Liverpool Assizes.  His defence was one of insanity, citing his wartime experiences, particularly in Singapore at the time of the Japanese invasion, where it was said he had to pile bodies together and burn them.  His behaviour became odd and he attempted suicide, a criminal offence for which he served a short prison sentence.  The prosecution countered this, by citing his buying a big coat, to cover some bloodstains that wee on his coat.  Prison doctors who examined him stated they found no mental illness.  Hendren was convicted and was executed on July 17th 1946 at Walton Prison by Albert Pierrepoint.