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Chapter 16

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« on: January 12, 2023, 11:09:42 pm »

EXTRACT from fourth statement by Tony Purdon, alias Sid Ruddock, alias Springer Judge. Jan. 17, 1939.

“I first knew William Tinsley in Ireland in the Black and Tans, 1920-1. I remember the burning of a big house at Ballinabar in Co. Mayo in 1921 and a child who was rescued from the fire by Tinsley and afterwards taken back to Dublin by him. In my opinion it was then four or five years of age, to judge by its size and its strength. It could not talk, except to make a few sounds, but it could be taught tricks. It could walk erect but preferred to go on all-fours. It was very hairy and very like a monkey in the face, and very strong and active and could climb anything. It was wearing clothes when it jumped from the window of the house; Tinsley had a uniform made for it by our tailor. It was always well treated while we had it with the company and seemed very happy and contented.

“I saw it on the boat with Tinsley when we came back to England at the end of 1921. I often heard him say in Ireland that it would make a mint of money as a sideshow at his father’s circus.

“I did not see Tinsley again until I met him in London in 1933. He was then licencee of the Ring and Mitre at Catford. After that I saw a great deal of him. . . . I often saw Bonzo wrestling there. He always won easily whenever I saw him. There were no rules at these fights. I was not at the Ring and Mitre the night Jewy Solomons was killed.

“I remember Purefoy coming there. I think it was about the end of ’36 he first came there. I did not recognize him at first as he had grown a beard and looked greatly different. But afterwards Bushy Tinsley told me he was a chap we’d come across at another house at Ballinabar the night we had burned down the big place. He was very friendly with Tinsley and often came to watch the fights or watch Bushy making Bonzo do tricks. After a bit Tinsley told me that Purefoy had told him that Bonzo’s father and mother had been the owners of the place we had burnt down at Ballinabar, but that on account of him being such a freak he’d been kept hidden away under the charge of an old woman, and that it had been given out that the child that had been born had been dead, and that an empty coffin had been buried to kid the people living about. Tinsley said that Purefoy had told him some yarn that Bonzo had been born like he was because his mother had been cursed by some old dame or other for calling her a monkey and threatening to set the dogs on her. Me and Tinsley thought it was all boloney at first, because Purefoy was always ragging and kidding. But after a bit Tinsley said he thought maybe Purefoy was right and that maybe there might be something in it for us, if we worked it properly, because that Bonzo’s father and mother were both still alive and living in England, both of them, and that the mother, anyway, had plenty of stuff and had married another chap called Margesson after she’d been divorced by the chap that had owned the big place we’d burnt down. We talked about it a bit off and on, and Tinsley told me he was making some inquiries, but then he seemed to die on it, and it went out of my mind. However, after a while I found out that he’d got busy with the mother on his own and was getting money out of her, threatening to let her second husband know about Bonzo being alive. She used to send the money in postal orders, big wads of them.

“I didn’t want to have anything to do with that game, so I said nothing to Bushy about what I’d found out. After he lost the licence of the Ring and Mitre he got into a bit of a jam and went to Wandsworth, and me and Gallus Anderson looked after Bonzo while he was away. Bonzo was quiet enough if he knew you well, but you had to watch him with strangers. While Tinsley was away, Purefoy came pretty often to see me. That was in the late part of ’37. He used to bring cakes and sweets for Bonzo when he came, and Bonzo got very fond of him and used to cry when he went away again. Purefoy was very clever at the drawing and used often to make sketches of Bonzo doing his tricks.

“Tinsley came out in the December and then him and me and Jake Rowley fixed up to start a fish-and-chip joint. We opened in Kings’ Road in January, ’38. Bonzo used to help serve the customers and was a big draw for us. Purefoy came to Kings’ Road sometimes, during the day when it was quiet. Soon as we got started Tinsley remembered about the Margesson dame down at Cullerton and started on her again. As we were partners I didn’t want any trouble, so I spoke to him about it then and advised him to lay off that game, as I wouldn’t stand for it. He said O.K. to that, but I knew he was still getting money by post. So one day I had a talk with Purefoy about it because I reckoned it had been him that had started Tinsley on the game. But he only laughed and passed it off as a joke, and said that it would serve the Margesson dame right if she was shown up. I am quite satisfied in my own mind that at this time Purefoy knew the game Tinsley was playing with her.

“At the beginning of May last year, Tinsley took Bonzo out in his car with him one day and didn’t bring him back. When me and Rowley asked him where Bonzo was, he said Purefoy had taken him away to the country for a bit of a change, and he gave us each a tenner, which he said Purefoy had sent us for agreeing to let Bonzo go away, in case it should make any difference to our business, which it did make a big difference. As well as I remember it was the first week in May Bonzo went away. . . .

“I remember Tinsley going away on September 28, last year. He told us he was going to see how Bonzo was getting on. When we asked him, he said that Bonzo was down in Devonshire. That started me thinking, because I knew the Margesson dame lived down in Devonshire somewhere.

“On the evening of October 1st I saw in the paper that a Colonel Margesson and his son and daughter had been found murdered down at Cullerton in Devonshire, and me and Rowley talked it over with Gallus Anderson. So when Tinsley came back on the night of October 3rd, we asked him straight if he’d been at Cullerton. He said no, that he’d been somewhere near Plymouth and that Bonzo and Purefoy were there and that Bonzo was quite happy but was coming back in a week or so.

“On October 10th Tinsley went down to Exeter in his car and met Purefoy there and brought Bonzo back to Kings’ Road with him. When he came back he said that Bonzo had become a bit wicked and would have to be kept out of the shop because he might go for some of the customers. Bonzo seemed quiet enough to us, but a bit sulky, so as he was Tinsley’s concern, we said O.K. and after that Bonzo was kept all the time in the stable at the back. Tinsley told us to say, whenever anyone asked us, that Bonzo was still away, because he was afraid some nosey parker might kick up a dust about Bonzo being kept locked up always, and perhaps go to the police or the R.S.P.C.A. So we said O.K. to that. But we knew that a lot of the people about knew that Bonzo had come back all right and where he was being kept. After a bit, it wasn’t safe to go into the stable without Tinsley, as Bonzo got very sulky with being always locked up and the only one who could manage him was Bushy. Purefoy never came to Kings’ Road after Bonzo came back that I remember. But Tinsley went down to his place in Surrey, not far from Guilford, sometimes.

“I remember hearing on the night of Christmas Day last that Gallus Anderson’s joint at Catford had been raided. Tinsley and Rowley and me had a talk that night about Bonzo. He said that the cops would be hot on us all, now that they were looking for Gallus, as we were all pals of his, and that it would be awkward if they got poking their noses into the stable. As we’d been guessing there’d been something phoney about his wanting Bonzo kept hid away, we said we wanted to get the whole thing straight and know where we were, and in the end he told us he believed Bonzo had done the murders down in Devonshire, and that Purefoy had set him on to do it and that that had been Purefoy’s big idea all along. That made me and Rowley whistle, of course, and when Rowley saw Anderson the next night he told him about it, and Gallus wasn’t half in a sweat about it. Reason of that was he’d been down himself on the night of the murders at the very place, fetching away some stuff that was at a dump down there behind a bungalow just beside the house where these Margessons lived. And he said that if that came out he’d be in a proper jam, as he was known for a pal of Bushy Tinsley’s. He said Bonzo must be got rid of somehow at once.

“We told Tinsley that and he went and saw Gallus, and they fixed it the best thing was to send Bonzo back to Purefoy and threaten him, if he made any fuss about having him back, to spill the beans. Tinsley went down twice after Christmas and tried to see Purefoy but didn’t. So the second time he sent word to Purefoy by a moll down there that was sweet on him and was looking after the Margesson dame at a house close to Purefoy’s place, where she’d gone to live after the murders. The word Tinsley sent by her was that Purefoy would have to take Bonzo back at once or there’d be big trouble for him. He never got any answer from Purefoy that I know of. Tinsley said nothing to me or Rowley about trying to get more dough out of the Margesson dame while he was down there.

“Me and Rowley had several conversations with Anderson at this time about the murders. Anderson kept saying that Bonzo must be got rid of. I remember him saying that when he got to the dump that night, there was no one about, only a message that he was to lock up after him, and that he thought it queer that the keys of the shed where the stuff was should have been left in the lock, and had loaded up and got away as quick as he could. . . .

“On January 12th Tinsley got a telegram from this moll of his from Cullerton saying that inquiries were being made down there about him and Purefoy, and the same night we spotted a bloke trying to climb the wall of the stable-yard at Kings’ Road. Tinsley said that settled it and that Bonzo must go pronto, so he took him away that night in the car down to Purefoy’s place in Surrey.

“About an hour after he went, me and Rowley went and saw Anderson and we told him about the telegram and the chap we’d found trying to get into the stable-yard. Anderson got the wind up and said he must shift somewhere else as round Kings’ Road was getting too hot. When me and Rowley left him we walked into it, and the cops went in and got Gallus. . . .

“I know Dopey Cluffe and a pal of his named Bethune. I first came to know them at the Ring and Mitre at Catford while Tinsley had it. They both used often to come there, and Tinsley and Gallus Anderson knew them well. I never knew either of them well. I may have heard that they were dope-pedlars, but have never touched that game myself. I often saw Purefoy with them down there. Some time before last Christmas, when we were talking about the murders down at Cullerton, I remember Anderson telling me that it had been Purefoy who had first told him and Cluffe and Bethune about there being a vacant bungalow down there. At that time the mob Anderson was working with was looking round for likely places for dumps, and he thought this bungalow sounded O.K. In the summer of ’37, when Purefoy was down there, Gallus went down and had a look at it, and afterwards I heard that Cluffe had gone down there to live in it. I think I heard that some time in last July or August. I never heard anything more about the bungalow until after the murders.

“I never heard Purefoy speak of Mrs. Margesson or her husband myself, except the one time I have mentioned above. I had no suspicion or idea why Purefoy took an interest in Bonzo until when Tinsley told me and Rowley on Christmas night that he believed Bonzo had pulled off the job down at Cullerton. . . .

“When Bonzo was with us in Ireland, we all had a habit of whistling for him if we wanted him for anything. Bushy Tinsley had a habit of whistling like a curlew and we all got into the way of imitating him if we wanted to call Bonzo. I often heard Purefoy whistling the same way, and suppose he picked it up from Tinsley, and me and Rowley. . . .

“In my opinion Bonzo didn’t like coming back from being with Purefoy and being shut up in the stable always by himself made him sulky. Tinsley himself had to watch out when he went into the stable with his food and usually took the cat with him. Bonzo was afraid of his life of cats. . . . When he saw one he’d run off and try to hide himself. . . .

“I knew that Tinsley had had a try with the Margesson dame’s first husband, O’Malley-Martyn, down at Bournemouth, but there had been nothing doing with him. I remember an elderly bloke coming to Kings’ Road one evening while Tinsley was away in September. It was the evening before I read about the murders down there. He wanted to see Tinsley and got tough when we said he was away. He did not say his name, but when Tinsley came back he said he must have been O’Malley-Martyn. We thought he was nuts and chucked him out. He hit his head against the door. We put him in his car and Rowley left him round in Raikes Street. We never heard anything more about it.

“Tinsley told us O’Malley-Martyn believed that Bonzo had been killed in the fire until he told him different down at Bournemouth. Tinsley also told us he believed the Margesson dame thought the child she’d had by O’Malley-Martyn had been born dead until he got busy with her.”

“Interesting, you know, Granley,” commented Gore, when he had perused this illuminating document, “to see how his idea developed. In the rough, it must have been at the back of his head during all those years he was in Canada, that somehow—sometime—Bonzo ought to be able to help him square things up with Margesson and his wife.”

“You think,” asked Inspector Granley, “that he knew Bonzo was her child before he went out to Canada, even?”

“Well . . . he’d seen Bonzo. He knew where Bonzo had come from. He knew that a child had been born. The lodge-keeper from Gortrisha—and, more important still the lodge-keeper’s mother, were living at his mother’s house for three years before he went out to Canada. He knew that Bonzo was certainly not the child either of the old housekeeper at Gortrisha or of her daughter. . . . If he didn’t know whose child Bonzo was at that time, I’m very sure he’d had a good guess. Besides, as soon as he got back to England, it’s obvious he set to work to trace Tinsley. Why? To find out what had become of Bonzo. I expect what happened was that, first of all, he found out where the Margessons were living. That was easy, and he went to live where he could have them always in sight. And do you think that made the recollection of that kick in the behind any less vivid? I don’t. So after a bit, when he found that he was not getting any forrarder with the squaring up business, by himself, he thought of a way he could get help . . . and started looking for Tinsley.”

“Plausible,” commented Granley. “Well—go on.”

“I don’t expect he had much difficulty in finding Tinsley. The circus people would tell him that the son of the old boss had a pub in south London. . . . No doubt they remembered Bonzo well—told him Bonzo was still alive and kicking. . . . And so—he made contact with Bonzo all right—and began to think exactly how Bonzo could be made helpful.

“I suppose, originally, his idea was simply to make Mrs. Margesson’s life hell for her, and that he contented himself with egging on Tinsley to do the dirty work for him. Anyhow, it seems pretty clear to me that the reason Mrs. Margesson sold her house in Surrey in 1936 and bolted off to hide herself away down in Devonshire was that already she was badly scared. Of course, running away was fatal—Purefoy knew he had her on the run, then. And, when he’d been down to Cullerton in the following year and got the lie of the land and seen all its possibilities, his original idea began to develop—and, in the end, of course, it ran away with him. When he bought that caravan in February last year, it must have become something quite elaborate. And it must have been utter joy for him when he saw how Cluffe could be worked into it—or rather, could be let work himself into it. . . .”

“Ingenious, certainly,” reflected Inspector Granley. “But to come to the brass tacks of it—let’s see. . . . The son was killed separately. That was on the Tuesday night, wasn’t it?”

“Early on the Wednesday morning,” nodded Gore, “the little doctor down there thinks he and Margesson must actually have heard him being killed. But they thought it was a four-footed rabbit. . . .”

“Where was he, then, until the other jobs were pulled off? In the caravan?”

“No. I rather think he was where Cluffe was put afterwards—in that tree. It was a good place—safe—and handy.”

“And then . . . ?”

“Well, then Cluffe and the girl simply walked into it. I’ve no doubt whatever that the girl intended to spend the night at the bungalow with Cluffe. At any rate, she was there with him—and Purefoy knew she was there. Some time before those lorries came along, he managed to get in—either by force—or because Cluffe didn’t suspect anything wrong until it was too late. Cluffe would show no fight—he’d seen often enough what Bonzo could do. But the girl probably did make a fight for it—and that was the end of her. The lorries came along—but Purefoy had left that message for them by then—and they went away all right. Purefoy rang up Margesson then, I expect—Bonzo would look after Cluffe while he was doing that—and told him that his daughter was up there with Cluffe—and Margesson went along. We shall never know, of course—but I’m inclined to believe that Margesson himself shot Cluffe. However, whether he did or not, Bonzo, I think, appeared again then—and it was Margesson’s turn. . . .

“Well—Mr. Purefoy had a rather unusual sort of mind, I think—I shouldn’t like to undertake to explain its workings with any sort of accuracy. But I think we’re pretty safe in supposing that, after all this had been done, it had two main ideas. One, to make things look as confused-like as possible. The other, to produce the maximum effect upon Mrs. Margesson. The first idea was carried out by getting Bryant into the picture—dealing with him suitably—playing about with his hat and with Margesson’s torch—Cutting the telephone wires—and so on. . . . O’Malley-Martyn was an accident—but he was easily got rid of—and his eyeshade came in handy. His eyeshade put me off the track for a little bit. . . . I thought he had lost it earlier than he really did. . . . .

“As for the second idea—that was carried out by grouping the three Margessons and eliminating the irrelevant—that is to say, Cluffe. That, I think, is why the son was resurrected from that hollow tree and dumped alongside his sister—and why Cluffe was put out of sight. It would help the confused-like idea, too, if Cluffe was faded out.”

“Well, but—why was Margesson carted away and left in the wood, instead of being left with the other two—in the group, as you call it?”

“I think that was part of the confusion idea—to connect Margesson’s death with the attacks that had been made on people in those woods before that. . . . It left him sufficiently in the group. . . .”

“Why do you think those other folk were attacked? Bad luck—or a sort of try-out?”

“Partly that, perhaps. But also to keep people off the ground at night—and to create a bit of confusion-atmosphere beforehand. You’ve got to remember that Purefoy couldn’t fix a definite zero-hour beforehand. He had to keep on his toes until his chance came along. . . . That was where Miss Georgina Haines was so useful. . . .”

“Why the devil didn’t Mrs. Margesson tell her husband straight off?” commented the inspector with some impatience. “Any woman in her senses would have done that.”

“In her senses . . . ? My dear Granley, I don’t suppose that at any single moment of her life Mrs. Margesson has ever been in what you and I would call ‘her senses.’ Just think what the outlook of a woman like that must be. . . . From the first moment when she was able to understand anything, the whole and sole significance of life became—for her—the fact that she was lovely. So lovely that the whole and sole purpose of everyone and everything about her was to serve and to pay homage to her loveliness—to bow down before it unquestioningly—to humour all its whims—to acknowledge its supremacy and its paramount importance. No use turning on that cynical smile of yours, my dear chap. It has always been so, and it always will be so, and you know that as well as I do. At any rate, I’m very sure that until three years ago Mrs. Margesson’s own conception of herself—and that’s what we’re concerned with for the moment—was that of an exquisitely beautiful, graceful, dainty, adorable creature—a thing apart from ordinary folk—finer—more delicate—more precious. And I’m equally sure that her whole existence concentrated itself incessantly and solely on maintaining that impression and effect—in her own mind, just as much as in the minds of other people.

“Well, now—if, three years ago, this ethereal, immaculate creature had discovered, say, that she had developed pyorrhæa—that she had become an offence, physically, to herself and to other people—that all her teeth must come out and that she must wear false ones for ever in future. Well—what do you think that would have meant to her? Just think—before you start telling me what any woman ‘in her senses’ would have felt about it.

“And then let’s try to think what did happen to this lovely, dainty, precious, fastidious creature three years ago. . . . She discovered that her idolized, beautiful body had given birth to a horror—a monstrosity—to all intents and purposes, an animal—and a hideous one at that. . . . Are we thinking? I perceive we are. . . .

“I don’t think, however, that Mr. Purefoy is likely to have depended entirely on emotional shock to prevent the very obvious step which, you suggest, any woman ‘in her senses’ would have taken. I fancy it was conveyed quite clearly to Mrs. Margesson that if she confided her distressing secret to her husband it would be confided to the world at large. . . .

“These, however, as you are eager to point out, are merely my own surmises. The real answer to your question, of course, is—Mrs. Margesson didn’t tell her husband. She got as far as consulting her first husband. . . . Possibly she might have been driven into owning up to Margesson—if he had lived. However—he didn’t.”

Inspector Granley grunted ironically.

“All the answers. . . . As a matter of curiosity, Colonel—what put you on to Purefoy—to start with?”

“Well . . . really, what attracted my attention to him first was that he used a word which no one except a hundred-per-cent Irishman would use. Afterwards, I got thinking about that. . . .”

“And you think that, just for a kick in the pants . . . after twenty years . . . ?”

“Now, now, my dear Inspector. Once more I appeal to that imagination of yours. I’ve told you all about that kick in the pants, as the tale was told to me. Think about the humiliating rebuff that had just preceded it—imagine that little cock-sparrow of a lady-killer being taken by the scruff of the neck like a puppy—under the eyes of the lady that had refused to be killed—reflect upon the agonizing complexes—the little-man one—and the social inferiority one. . . . Think about it. And remember this. We noble, big-hearted Anglo-Saxons are, as we know, above the paltry pettiness of revenge. And the Irish are just as good as we are at forgetting kindnesses. But never, never—believe me when I say it—never, never does an Irishman forget or forgive an injury.”

“Well,” said Inspector Granley, as his visitor rose to depart, “lots of people get bright ideas, and some of them are lucky as well . . . till they run up against someone luckier anyhow. But what gets me is, how did this bright idea of his happen—in the beginning? You know what I mean . . . that yarn he told Tinsley about the old woman. . . . You say you saw the old woman, yourself. . . . Do you think there could have been anything in that?”

“I don’t want to,” replied Colonel Gore guardedly, as with care he adjusted his hat upon his crinkled head. “But if I met her along the avenue at Gortrisha—say, just before dark—I might. . . . ’Bye-’bye!”

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