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Neville Heath

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Neville Heath

Neville George Clevely Heath (June 6, 1917 – October 16, 1946) was an exceptional Walt. Unlike our common-or-garden LumpenWalten, Heath's pathological fantasies of military rank and recognition were fatally intertwined with sadistic fantasies of sexual domination. Responsible for the murders of at least two young women, he got dropped by Albert at HMP Pentonville in 1946.

Born to a lower middle class family in Essex, his barber father wasted considerable cash to have the dullard educated privately. Heath joined the RAF in 1937, but was soon dismissed for going AWOL. Caught obtaining credit by fraud, he then got sent down for Borstal training for housebreaking and forgery. On his release he started using a number of pathetically Wodehousian aliases including "Lord Dudley" and "Lieutenant-Colonel Armstrong".

WWII Walting

At the outbreak of WW2, Heath joined the Royal Army Service Corps, and was posted to the Middle East. He lasted less than a year. Whilst being shipped home he escaped the guard and headed for the up-and-coming Jo'burg Careers Centre For Suitably Anglo-Saxon Fuck-ups. Using a false name, he joined the South African Air Force and made Captain (presumably due to a neatly clipped tache, a nice stick and no competition). The SA's found him out but allowed him to stay because of his "present good conduct." But in 1945 he was court martialed for the third time - this time for undisciplined behaviour and for wearing medals to which he was not entitled. The war nearly being over, the SAAF finally decided that being upright and breathing were not sufficinet qualities for an officer and kicked him out. Heath returned to England in 1946.


Murders

In June, 1946, "Lieutenant-Colonel" Neville Heath took a room at a nondescript hotel in seedy (pre Julia-and-Hugh) Notting Hill. With him was his "wife", Yvonne, whom he'd just met. Heath had promised to marry her, so she spent the night with him and returned to her home the next day.

A few days later, Heath spent the evening with separated mother and good-time-girl Margery Gardner. A part-time "actress" she was well known in the pubs and drinking clubs where the underworld London circles of artists, queers, junkies, tarts and thieves intersected: Quentin Crisp, in his brilliant autobiography "The Naked Civil Servant, "remembered her as an incautious drink-sodden slum tourist.

The morning after her date with Heath, the hotel manager found Margery’s bound body on the bed: there were 17 slash marks on her body, her nipples had been savagely bitten, and the fireplace poker had been violently inserted into her vagina. All injuries were ante-mortem: inflicted before her death by suffocation. Slash marks on her back showed the distinctive diamond pattern of a woven leather riding crop.The FME, Professor Simpson, told the police "Find that whip and you’ve found your man".

Meanwhile Heath went to Worthing to see Yvonne. Her parents were impressed with the "Lieutenant-Colonel", but when his name appeared in the newspapers in relation to Margery's murder, he left for the Tollard Royal Hotel in Bournemouth under the alias "Group Captain Rupert Brook". A few days later he met Doreen Marshall, who was staying at the Norfolk Hotel. They spent the day together, had dinner at Heath's hotel, and talked until midnight. Doreen ordered a taxi back to her hotel but Heath persuaded her to cancel it and offered to walk Doreen back. She was not seen alive again.

The manager of the Norfolk remembered Doreen had taken a taxi to the Tollard whose manager said she may have been with "Group Captain Rupert Brook." Although Heath/Brook denied this, he phoned the old bill to tell them he "might be able to help", then went to the police station where he identified Doreen's picture as the girl he'd been with, saying he left her at the Norfolk. The detective recognised Heath as the man wanted by Scotland Yard, and asked "Isn't your name Heath?" Heath denied it, then said he wanted to return to the hotel for his coat. The police fetched it, searched it, and found a railway cloakroom ticket, which led them to a case with a riding crop with a diamond pattern weave. Professor Simpson identified it as the that used on Margery Gardner. Heath admitted his real identity and was transferred to London where he was charged with the her murder.

Meanwhile, the body of Doreen Marshall was discovered. Her clothes had been removed, apparently without a struggle, but wounds on her hands suggested she had grasped defensively at a knife. She had received blows to her head and been tied at the wrists and ankles and vaginally assaulted in a similar manner to Mrs Gardner. One nipple had been bitten off and her throat slashed.


Trial and Execution

Heath went on trial for the murder of Margery Gardner 24th September 1946. He had told his counsel, Casswell, to plead guilty, but when questioned about this, said "All right, put me down as Not Guilty, old boy".

Wisely choosing not to put an ego-bloated Walt with a tendency to pathological lying up in the witness box, Casswell went with the traditional defence of insanity and called a Dr Hubert (an experienced criminal psychiatrist) to testify as an expert witness. Dr Hubert testified that Heath knew what he was doing but not that it was wrong. However, the prosecution shat all over Hubert's argument: unknown to Casswell, the good doctor was a morphine addict and gave his testimony under the influence of some prime pharmaceutical gear. Two prison doctors testified that although Heath was a sexual pervert and a psychopath, he was not insane.

Heath was found guilty, the judge donned the black cap and Albert dropped by Pentonville Prison to do the job on 16th October, 1946 (just a fortnight after the trial began). Prior to his execution Heath, as was the pre-execution custom, was offered a whisky, and replied, "Considering the circumstances, better make it a double".


Others?

Heath is also said to have been the assailant when, in 1946, a few months before the murders, a woman was found naked and tied up in a hotel bedroom in the Strand, London. She had alerted the staff of the hotel by screaming. She refused to press charges, possibly to avoid the publicity.

One question that arose at the time was how Heath could have attacked Margery Gardner without her screaming. Heath admitted that he had gagged her, and a saliva soaked scarf was found with the whip but it emerged after the trial that Margery was a sexual masochist - and so had probably allowed herself to be bound and gagged. It was possible that he could have been convicted of manslaughter, if Heath had put up the defence that Gardner's death had been a kinky sex game gone wrong. Years after the trial Casswell wrote: "It is almost certain that a month before her death she had been with Heath to another hotel room, and had only been saved by [...] a hotel detective." (PI's that regularly prowled the corridors of certain hotels looking for the proof of adultery then necessary for a divorce).