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  1. #1
    Rennie
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    Can anyone recollect any films, or TV productions about the triple Croydon arsenic poisonings in the late twenties. I can't find anything on IMDb.

  2. #2
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    Is this the one you were thinking of???



    The Young Poisoner's Handbook (1995)

  3. #3
    Rennie
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    Thanks Mysteriesof. No, that film is not about the Croydon poisonings which took place in and about Birdhurst Rise, South Croydon in the late twenties. As an after thought, I would like to contact any member who live in that area as I have a couple of questions about the location.

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    Super Moderator Country: Scotland
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    I live in Croydon



    ask away

  5. #5
    Rennie
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    Hi JamesM. Great, I will contact you on a private message as my queries will not be of general interest as they are not film related.

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    Hello James. There are no movies about this case, unfortunately. It would make a wonderful movie. There are only two publications about it. One is a Murder Casebook (this is a magazine - part of a series of over 100) the other is an excellent book written by Whittington Egan titled 'The Riddle of Birdhurst Rise'. It was written in the sixties and is a definitive analysis and study.



    I am interested in real life murder and this is the case that has fascinated me more than any other. I have visited the place (now flats) where 29 Birdhurst Rise once stood and have also visited the graves of the three murder victims, trying to get a better feel for the story. I have spoken to some of the Sidney's neighbours who remember the family. I know the story so well now that I could a screenplay for the movie!



    I would love to maybe talk to another person who holds the same fascination for this case and hear their theories.



    Victoria

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    Hello Rennie



    I'm sure one of the Julian Fellowes Investigates series has an episode about the Croydon Poisonings, if I remember rightly, he believes Tom Sydney (the brother) did it, I tend to think that Richard Whittingdon Egan was right, it was Grace!

    By the way, all the series are available on Amazon.com.



    Regards Angie

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: UK jonpsych's Avatar
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    name='apricot']Hello Rennie



    I'm sure one of the Julian Fellowes Investigates series has an episode about the Croydon Poisonings, if I remember rightly, he believes Tom Sydney (the brother) did it, I tend to think that Richard Whittingdon Egan was right, it was Grace!

    By the way, all the series are available on Amazon.com.



    Regards Angie


    This is a link to the Julian Fellwes TV show and the episode which deals with this



    A Most Mysterious Murder: - TV.com

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    I was interested to read this thread and therefore signed up. My father knew Tom Sidney towards the end of the latter's life - he died in around 1980, a few years after Grace. By all accounts a very jovial and amusing chap (he had been a professional entertainer). He wrote his own autobiography which went on limited release in the USA. It is called "Echoes Of The Past" and contains a substantial amount about the murders. I bought it for my father as a present and read it myself.



    His conclusion essentially is: the police said that only 2 people could have committed all 3 murders, my sister and myself and I know that it wasn't me!



    Definitely a fascinating murder mystery. The Julian Fellowes programme was not at all well-researched and i suspect they came to the conclusion they did to be different from Whittington-Egan. We shall, of course, never know but for me the key question is who murdered the first victim (Edmund)? Both Tom and Grace could have committed the other two but it is hard to see how Tom could have killed Edmund - or why he would have done so.



    Regards



    John

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    name='JohnMS']I was interested to read this thread and therefore signed up. My father knew Tom Sidney towards the end of the latter's life - he died in around 1980, a few years after Grace. By all accounts a very jovial and amusing chap (he had been a professional entertainer). He wrote his own autobiography which went on limited release in the USA. It is called "Echoes Of The Past" and contains a substantial amount about the murders. I bought it for my father as a present and read it myself.



    His conclusion essentially is: the police said that only 2 people could have committed all 3 murders, my sister and myself and I know that it wasn't me!



    Definitely a fascinating murder mystery. The Julian Fellowes programme was not at all well-researched and i suspect they came to the conclusion they did to be different from Whittington-Egan. We shall, of course, never know but for me the key question is who murdered the first victim (Edmund)? Both Tom and Grace could have committed the other two but it is hard to see how Tom could have killed Edmund - or why he would have done so.


    Welcome John,



    Exactly! What had Tom to gain from Edmund's death? I remember reading somewhere, it may have been the Whittington-Egan book, I haven't read it for a long time,( though because of this thread, I've just ordered a copy!) that during the investigation, Grace said to one of the detectives, while they were alone, of course, "You're not clever enough to put a rope around my neck!" Whether that's true or not, who knows, but it was a hideously cold and cruel crime.



    Regards Angie

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    I believe I did read that - from memory I think she said it to a policeman at one of the inquests but that may be incorrect. I don't think it means much as an innocent person wrongly suspected could have said such a thing.



    A big mistake was having the three deaths dealt with by three separate inquests - had one jury dealt with all three at the same time, it might have come to a definite conclusion. There were also two other sudden and unexplained deaths - Grace's daughter and an elderly lodger, both of whom died a couple of years or so before Edmund's murder. Their remains, even now, may hide a secret that would answer the question. Arsenic remains in the body (nails and hair) for many decades.



    It is also amazing that Tom and Grace were represented by the same counsel - that would be unthinkable nowadays in view of the obvious conflict of interests - I am a lawyer by the way, in case it isn't sadly obvious!



    All in all, the murderer/ess was very lucky indeed. In the circumstances, there could only have been two suspects - Grace (who remained in England for the rest of her life and died in Seaford) and Tom (who emigrated to the USA in 1929, by all accounts to avoid the whispering and notoriety but returned regularly to England until his death in around 1980)



    Indeed a tragic case. Arsenic poisoning is a horrific death. I wonder if the two "sides" of the family are in touch. That would make for an interesting dinner party!

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    Think they might skip the soup course!!

    I think you're right, the culprit was very lucky, there have been many cases where people have been convicted and even executed with less evidence than was available there, maybe the thought of a trial of a "respectable" middle class lady was unpalatable after the furore of the Thompson / Bywaters case.

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    Yes, and have wine in preference to beer!



    Possibly, but I think the real reason is that the police could only establish that the murderer was one of two people (and were probably confident in themselves which one) but could not prove which one - as Whittington-Egan rightly points out in his book, moral certainty is one thing, legal proof another. Grace Duff performed brilliantly in the inquests and presumably the prosecuting authorities thought it likely the jury would acquit by reason of the burden of proof - beyond a reasonable doubt.



    On a more positive note, we English love a whodunnit and had Grace been convicted the magic would have gone....except that it now looks as if even Crippen didn't murder his wife, so who knows!?

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    Hi John,



    You're absolutely right, all those mysteries like the Bravo case, Adelaide Bartlett etc, it would be almost disappointing to know who really "did it"without any reasonable doubt!





    Regards Angie

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    Rennie, this is a very, very late reply, but I grew up in South Croydon, so if you'd still like to know anything then perhaps I can help?



    Talking of which, I have another query about this neighbourhood that I want to ask about, but I'll bung that in another thread.

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    Does anyone know where I can get a copy of Thomas Sidneys autobiography from?

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    I got it from a bookshop in the USA via a google search. The book is called "Echos of the Past" and was on very limited release. Try shops in the New Orleans area which is where he spent the last years of his life.

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    The Julian Fellowes investigation was a very slipshod affair, jumping to conclusions on flimsy evidence and twisting the facts to suit the eventual verdict. Compare this to the meticulously researched book by Richard Whittington-Egan, which is well worth a read as a classic of crime investigation. The methodical manner in which he tracked down the survivors and his eventual confrontation of Grace Duff on her doorstep was a superlative effort. My only criticism is that he was rather too eager to believe everything that Tom Sidney, the other main suspect told him.



    I was so impressed by the book when I read it that I made a special journey to Croydon (not a place that I would normally willingly venture to) to view the "scenes of crime". Then (1975) all 3 houses were still there, but two have since been demolished.



    Certainly this would make an excellent subject for a fully impartial treatment.

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    A note to Alexis. You sent me a message earlier today. Unfortunately I am unable to reply to it because my password kept being rejected and I couldn't log in. I had to re-register.



    I am so happy to meet another fan of the Richard Whittington-Egan book and would love to discuss the whole case with you. I have just read another book which outlines this case and the author's idea was that the old woman (Violet) murdered Edmund (unlikely) and then Grace murdered Vera, and then Violet.



    Another author suggests that Grace's son did the murders. I have checked the dates and it seems possible, although again unlikely.



    I took close up photos of the graves and the inscriptions. I would love to have seen the houses. I leave fairly near the area and have visited the road a few times - even talking to the neighbours who lived there at the time of the murders.



    I would be happy to hear from you again.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Country: Europe Bernardo's Avatar
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    I was on my way to post 'What did you watch last night' but here may be apposite. It was a re-run on ITV3 of the Black Heath Poisonings, fictitious but very similar to actual arsenical murders.

    Well acted and a 3 parter so has a bit of depth, one tends to expect the standard ending but this one has a mild twist in the tail and viewing the recordings helped us over tonight's dreadful offerings.

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