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Topical Budget 486-1: The 'Crumbles' Murder Trial (1920)


Main image of Topical Budget 486-1: The 'Crumbles' Murder Trial (1920)
Opening Scenes in the 'Crumbles' Murder Trial
35mm, black and white, 116 feet
Production CompanyTopical Film Company

Circumstances surrounding the trial at Lewes Assizes of Jack Field and William Gray for the murder of London typist Irene Munro on the Crumbles at Eastbourne in August.

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This Topical Budget item provides brief glimpses of the participants in one of the most sensational murder trials of the 1920s, named after the location in which the killing took place - the shingle bank at Eastbourne, East Sussex known as 'the Crumbles'.

The victim was 17-year-old Irene Munro, a shorthand typist from London who was holidaying on her own. 13-year-old schoolboy William Weller found her body on 20 August 1920 when walking along the Crumbles with his mother, and the police later turned up sufficient witness evidence (notably from a naval stoker named William Putland, who vividly recalled her green velour coat) to prove that Munro was last seen in the company of two young men.

The finger of suspicion was quickly pointed at William Gray and Jack Field, a pair who had previously been in trouble with the police. Although the evidence linking them to the murder was only circumstantial, their alibi failed to check out when the woman they claimed to have been with was able to prove that she had been working as a servant at the time.

The trial eventually lasted for five days, at the end of which Field and Gray were found guilty of murder. An appeal followed in January 1921, but was quickly dismissed, and the men were hanged at Wandsworth Prison on 4 February.

Topical's record of the opening scenes of the trial at Lewes Assizes mostly consists of footage of the key participants: Mr Justice Avory, key witnesses, and the accused. The most visually interesting material is at the end, when Topical sent a camera to film the location where the body was found.

Michael Brooke

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Video Clips
Complete item (1:55)
Topical Budget 486-1: Ireland's Agony (1920)
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