Former TV soap star is cleared of killing antiques worker
The Guardian (Manchester); Feb 23, 1993;
(Copyright Guardian Newspapers, Limited Feb 23, 1993)
A FORMER actor who starred in the sixties ITV soap opera Emergency - Ward 10 was yesterday cleared of murdering a part-time employee in the basement of his antiques shop.
Judge Brian Smedley directed an Old Bailey jury to acquit Frederick Bartman, aged 67, at the end of the prosecution case because the evidence showed it was "inherently improbable" he was the killer.
Lady Brenda Cross, aged 73, the wife of Air Chief Marshal Sir Kenneth Cross, was repeatedly struck with antique fire irons in the shop in Pimlico, south London, where she had worked part-time for 10 years, in September 1991.
The jury heard that Mr Bartman, who played Dr Simon Forrester in Emergency - Ward 10, had been a friend of Lady Cross for 12 years and had no history of violence.
David Calvert-Smith, prosecuting, said Lady Cross was planning to leave the shop, but had promised to stay until a replacement was found. On the day of the murder Mr Bartman had not found a replacement for Lady Cross, had just had to pay over 40,000 pounds in back rent and new lease arrangements and the business was not doing well.
But he told the jury he could put forward no motive for Mr Bartman or anyone else to murder Lady Cross, who had no known enemies. There was no suggestion she was the victim of a robber or sex attacker.
The judge said it was clear from the evidence of pathologist Dr Iain West that whoever killed Lady Cross would have been drenched in blood from her "hideous" head wounds.
Police had found Mr Bartman's tie label on the floor of the shop but there was no trace of blood on the tie itself or on any other clothes or in his car.
The judge said it was clear police had drawn "the wrong conclusions". Other identification evidence of a man seen outside the shop did not match Mr Bartman.
Mr Bartman was awarded his legal costs out of central funds.
As he left court Mr Bartman said in a statement through his solicitor that he had been "horrified and shocked" by the murder. "It is of note that the judge decided the evidence was inherently weak and inconsistent," said the statement.