Timothy Evans

Hanged on 9 March 1950, granted a posthumous free pardon in 1966

Download: Timothy EvansThe case of Timothy Evans was the first major post-war miscarriage of justice to capture public attention. Of low intelligence, Evans was damned by his own, false "confession" that he had murdered his wife and daughter. The trial and - rightful - conviction of John Christie for one of these murders three years later, did not, however, bring about a pardon for Evans. It was to be many years before the judiciary and the government were to finally allow the late Timothy Evans a pardon.
This case is dealt with at length in "Timothy Evans" by Bob Woffinden in his 1987 book Miscarriages of Justice (see Books section). This is a long article, and has, therefore, been presented as a printable version in "pdf" format. Click on the icon above to view and print out the document (requires Adobe Acrobat).

24 May 2001
Hanged man's family
launches damages claim

By Cahal Milmo

The family of a man hanged - and later cleared - of two of the infamous 10 Rillington Place murders has launched a compensation claim for "51 years of silence and disbelief".

Timothy Evans, 25, a Welsh van driver with an IQ of 70 who boasted that he was the son of an Italian count, was executed in 1950 for strangling his wife Beryl and his 14-month-old daughter, Geraldine, the previous year.

The bodies of the mother and child were found buried in a washroom at their flat in Notting Hill, west London, shortly after Beryl had told friends that she wanted to undergo an illegal abortion.

Three years after Mr Evans was hanged, John Christie, a neighbour in the house at 10 Rillington Place, confessed to strangling eight female victims - including Beryl and her baby daughter. He too was executed.

The confession by Christie, 40, which gripped post-war Britain with its grisly insight into the first mass murder of the era, uncovered one of the most notorious miscarriages of justice in British legal history.

In the face of apparently overwhelming evidence gathered by two public inquiries that Christie had sent his neighbour to the gallows, Mr Evans received an official royal pardon in 1966. A compensation claim to the Home Office was rejected. But the award last week of £600,000 in damages to the family of Mahmood Mattan, a Somali sailor wrongly executed in 1952, has prompted Mr Evans's sister, Eleanor Ashby, 79, to try again.

Mrs Ashby, of Chippenham, Wiltshire, who remembers her mother, Thomasina Probert, receiving the pardon letter, said: "The pardon offered some comfort but nobody knows how his family suffered.

"It has been 51 years of silence and disbelief. Every time a miscarriage of justice comes to light, we think of it. I would like people to know that he really was innocent. We feel like the victims."

The case has been taken up by Bernard de Maid, the Cardiff solicitor who was employed by the family of Mr Mattan to seek to overturn his conviction for slitting the throat of a South Wales pawnbroker, Lily Volpert.

Despite having four alibi witnesses, the 28-year-sailor, who was described by his own defence lawyer as a "semi-civilised savage", was convicted and executed within six months of the murder.

Mr De Maid believes a six-figure sum similar to that paid by the Home Office after Mattan's conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal in 1998 could also be awarded in the case of Mr Evans. He said: "The two cases are quite similar: someone was wrongly executed and information has been found that someone else was guilty of the murder.

"There are issues to be resolved about whether there was any misconduct on the part of the Metropolitan Police in the Evans case. By any standards, it is a scandal that compensation hasn't been paid."

The solicitor said concerns would be raised about the questioning of Mr Evans by detectives who knew he suffered from learning difficulties. The defendant eventually signed three separate confessions.

Mr De Maid said he had already received indications from the Home Office that it now accepted the relatives of Mr Evans were entitled to compensation.

The Home Office yesterday declined to discuss the issue, saying only that a dossier of evidence gathered by Mr De Maid would be considered by an independent assessor to decide whether a payment should be made. The case was brought to light by Ludovic Kennedy's book Ten Rillington Place, which was later made into a film starring Lord Attenborough.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission, which examines alleged miscarriages of justice, said last night that it had no plans to re-examine the Evans case.

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