Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Execution of Daniel Raven

A defence of Insanity was put forward in the trial of 23 year old  Daniel Raven in order to explain the completely motiveless murders of his wife`s parents.  Raven`s wife had given birth to their first child on October 6th 1949, but was resting at a nursing home for some days.  On the 10th, Raven visited her and their child, along with his mother and father-in-law Leopold & Esther Goodman.  The grandparents left the nursing home at 9pm, then Raven, soon after.  At 9.50pm, the brother-in-law of Marie Raven had called at her parents home, along with his family, to check on how she was.  But there was no answer.  He climbed in through an open window and found their severely battered bodies.

    Raven received a phone call from Police asking him to come to the Goodman home.  He was greeted with an appalling sight, and was greatly distressed.  The motive was not robbery as there was money in the house.  Police noticed that Raven was smartly dressed, indicating he had changed his clothes.  They took him in for questioning and asked for his house keys.  He promptly handed them over and officers travelled to the house in Edgewarebury Lane.  There was a burning smell in the house and an officer found clothing burning in a stove.  He removed what he could, which later yielded bloodstains, identical to Raven, who had a rare blood group.  Police believed he killed them using the heavy base of a tv aerial, but could not discover why.  Charged and put on trial at the Old Bailey before Judge Cassels, he claimed that he visited them, left them, went to visit a cousin, then went back and found them dead.  This was his explanation for blood on his clothing.  Then, when Police telephoned him, he panicked and put his suit in the stove, hoping to burn it completely.  He was convicted and condemned.  He was executed at Pentonville by Albert Pierrepoint on January 6th 1950.  His defending Barrister, John Maude, put forward a plea of insanity, stating that whilst in the RAF, he survived a plane crash but as a result suffered from blackouts.  Usually, in cases of mental health, the word of the prison doctor is believed, even though they are not psychiatrists, psychologists or neurosurgeons.  But the mystery is why did he do it?  He certainly came up with a story of innocence, and was in the right frame of mind, to try and burn his bloodied clothing.