Dateline: Friday 23 December 1949 – Timothy Evans appears in court charged with the murder of his wife and daughter.
Timothy John Evans (25), lorry driver, of no fixed address, was at West London Magistrates Court yesterday committed for trial to the Old Bailey charged with the murder of his wife, 20 year old Beryl Susanna Evans and his 14 month old baby daughter, Geraldine, at their home in Rillington Place, Notting Hill, London. On December 2 the bodies of Mrs Evans and the baby were found in an outhouse at their home at Rillington Place.
Detective Constable G.H. Evans of Merthyr Tydfil, said that on November 30 Evans came to his office and said: “I want to give myself up. I have disposed of my wife. I have put her down a drain. I can’t sleep and I want to get it off my chest.” He added: “I am not very well educated and I cannot read or write.”
Chief Inspector Jennings said that in an outhouse at the Evans home at Notting Hill he found beneath a quantity of timber under a sink a large package wrapped in a green table cover and a blanket and tied tightly with cord. He discovered that it contained the body of Mrs Evans doubled over with the head between the feet. There was no wedding ring on her finger.
Behind the door of the outhouse and concealed by timber he found the body of a baby with a man’s necktie tied tightly around the neck.
When told that he was believed to be responsible for causing their deaths, Timothy Evans said – “Yes, she was incurring one debt after another and I could not stand it any longer, so I strangled her with a piece of rope and took her down to the flat below. The same night, while the old man was in hospital, I waited till the Christies downstairs had gone to bed, then took her to the washhouse after midnight. This was on Tuesday November 8.
“On Thursday evening, after I came home from work, I strangled my baby with my tie. Later than night I took her down into the the washhouse after the Christies had gone to bed.”
Inspector Jennings said that after he had signed the statement Timothy Evans said. – “It is a great relief to get it off my chest. I feel better already.”
When Welshman Timothy Evans was sent to trial in December 1949 and then in January 1950 found guilty of killing his wife and child the chief prosecution witness was John Reginald Christie. At that time he was nothing more than Evans’ neighbour. Evans was executed (by hanging) at Pentonville Prison on 9 March 1950.
Evans was 25, poorly educated and had been married to Beryl since 1947. In April 1948 the couple moved into Rillington Place, taking the top floor flat. What the couple didn’t know was that they were sharing a house with one of the UK’s most notorious serial killers. Christie by this stage had already killed more than once and had two bodies buried in the garden.
When Evans confessed to murder the police had no reason to doubt him, they had the bodies and Timothy and Beryl’s marriage had never been easy. Punctuated by huge rows and severe money troubles. In 1949 when Beryl found herself pregnant with their second child it was decided that they couldn’t afford another child and Beryl should have an abortion. During his initial questioning Evans told police that he had accidentally killed his wife after giving her something that would trigger an abortion. He also claimed to have put Beryl’s body down a manhole. Police quickly discovered this was not the case. Evans then changed his story saying that Christie had offered to perform the illegal abortion on Beryl.
For some reason Beryl agreed to this and when Evans returned home from work on 8 November Christie is alleged to have told him that things had gone wrong and Beryl had died. He also told Evans that he would dispose of her body. He told Evans that he would arrange for baby Geraldine to be adopted out to a childless couple he knew. He persuaded Evans to go home to Wales. It was only at this time that Evans made the confession mentioned in the article above. At his trial Evans said that the confession was false. He was in a state of shock at discovering his daughter was also dead and that he feared the police would harm him if he didn’t confess.
At Evans trial Christie denied any involvement in performing an abortion on Beryl and both he and his wife testified to the many rows between Evans and Beryl. The defence focused on Christie’s involvement and guilt and despite the fact that he had a criminal record for both theft and malicious wounding Christie did not sway the jury in any way. The jury took just forty minutes to find Evans guilty.
Three years later Christie moved out of 10 Rillington Place, when the landlord allowed another tenant ,Beresford Brown, to use the kitchen in Christie’s flat. Brown quickly discovered that the strange smell that permeated the Christie flat was because three bodies were hidden in a pantry that had been wallpapered over. When police began their investigation they also discovered three more bodies. Christie’s wife was buried under floorboard in the Christie’s front room and the two bodies that were buried in the garden. During police questioning Christie admitted several times to killing Beryl (but not baby Geraldine).
Christie was found guilty and excecuted by hanging on 15 July 1953. Albert Pierrepoint, the executioner, had also conducted the execution of Evans.
It’s highly likely that if the police search had been more thorough then the bodies in the garden would have been found and Evans’ story about Christie’s involvement would have been believed. After years of campaigning Evans was granted a royal pardon in 1966. It was the outcry over the Evans case that contributed to capital punishment being abolished in the UK.
Source: The Northern Whig and Belfast Post, Friday December 23, 1949.