Murder charge

THIS WEEK IN 1993: Royal Navy brings in drugs booty

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On this day in 1931 a murder was committed that almost resulted in an innocent Portsmouth man being hanged.

William Kell, a 19-year-old photographer, had a date with 15-year-old Madge Cleife, a member of the Band of Hope and the girl guides. Despite her tender age she looked much older.

They had been going out for five months, mostly to the pictures or for walks around town.

On this evening they walked, arm in arm, to Copnor and parted at the White Stone Bridge over the railway line about 9.45pm.

They had a tiff after Madge said she was going to meet someone else and William went straight home.

The next day some boys were playing on the Great Salterns golf course when they found a body.

Madge had been raped and strangled. Kell was immediately suspected by the police but, when it came to court, was lucky to have had a brilliant barrister.

When he was cleared the judge complimented Kell’s lawyer for defending his client when he was receiving ‘small remuneration’ for a ‘Poor Prisoner’ case – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.