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Neville Heath

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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.


Early form

Born to a lower middle class family in Essex, the son of a barber, Heath's old man wasted his cash having the dullard educated privately. Heath joined the Rifle Battalion in 1934 and, liking service life, the RAF in 1936 but was soon court-martial and dismissed in Sept 1937 for going AWOL. Just two months later he was put on probation for obtaining credit by fraud and earned himself three years Borstal training after being convicted of 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 in 1941 was granted a commission and posted to the Middle East. He lasted less than a year: the usual fraud and AWOL. Whilst being shipped home he escaped the guard and took off. Arriving at the Cape Town Careers Centre For Suitably Anglo-Saxons, he called himself Armstrong (a name he later like to append with the rank of Lt.-Col) and joined the South African Air Force. He made Captain (presumably due to a clipped tache and no competition). The SA's found out about his RASC past but allowed him to stay and prosper because of "present good conduct." In 1944 he was seconded to RAF (really,you can't make this stuff up) but after returning was, in December 1945, SAAF court martial for the third time: this go being for undisciplined behaviour and for wearing medals to which he was not entitled. The war now over and the SAAF finally realising that an ability to remain upright during daylight hours whilst not possessing a tendency to excessive suntanning were not sufficient qualities for an officer, Heath was kicked out of the Cape and 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 wrote that he had regularly encountered the drink-sodden "incautious 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 thrust into her vagina. All these injuries were inflicted before she was killed by suffocation. The 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 took off for Worthing to see young 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 Brooke.

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 later phoned the police 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?"which Heath denied. He then said he had to return to the hotel for his coat, which was instead fetched it by the obliging cops. In it they found a single pearl (identified as from Doreen's favourite necklace), the return half of her Bournemouth-London train ticket and a ticket to the Bournemouth West Station cloakroom. Opening the locker there, they found a suitcase containing a riding crop with a diamond pattern weave. Prof Simpson identified it as the one used on Margery Gardner by matching it to the pattern of the welts on her back. Heath then admitted his real identity and was transferred to London where he was charged with her murder.

Meanwhile, the body of Doreen Marshall had been found. 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 and torso 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).