19 August 1922 – Thomas Henry Allaway
Our next case features what has to be the job interview from hell. A woman was killed after a telegram summoning her for a job turned out to be bogus.
The telegram brought Irene May Wilkins to Bournemouth where she met her untimely end at the hands of a conniving chauffeur who’d masterminded the elaborate scam.
Thomas Henry Allaway went to enormous lengths to ensnare his victim. He’d issued telegrams inviting various women to interviews. How he got their names and addresses remains a mystery. One woman ignored the correspondence, the next was on the wrong train, which thankfully sped by the fateful stop of Boscombe.
Having tried to lure the two other women unsuccessfully to the south coast, it was third time unlucky when he finally enticed Wilkins down with the promise of an interview for a school just three days before Christmas.
She turned up at the allotted time and the very next day her battered body was found in a field – her head bashed by a blunt instrument.
So what drove the chauffeur to do it? With no apparent motive, there was the suggestion of a sexual undercurrent. But while her clothes were dislodged, there was no sign of rape.
Whatever the reason, the way the killer was caught was nothing short of ingenious. Tracks heading away from the field belonged to a car with specific tyres.
Ok so owning a car in the 1920s was a rarity, which made life a little easier. Nevertheless, both chauffeurs and garages in the area were contacted, which led the police to Allaway.
His handwriting matched the telegrams and a previous run-in surrounding forged cheques meant he was already a known felon.
Allaway tried desperately to wheedle his way out of it. A total of 16 people testified in his defence – he even roped his wife in. But he was the one who landed the rope when his bid for freedom failed. He was found guilty of murder and hanged at Winchester, aged 36.