Crumbles murders

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The Crumbles Murders may refer to one of two crimes that took place on "The Crumbles", a shingle beach between Eastbourne and Pevensey Bay — the 1920 murder of Irene Munro by Field and Gray, and the 1924 murder of Emily Kaye, a pregnant woman, by Patrick Mahon.

Irene Munro[edit]

Irene Munro, a young London typist on holiday, was murdered by Jack Alfred Field and William Thomas Gray on 19 August 1920.[1] Her body was buried in the shingle of the beach. Field and Gray were tried at Lewes assizes in December 1920 and convicted.

Emily Kaye[edit]

This case was handled by forensic pathologist Sir Bernard Spilsbury.[2][3] The butchered remains of Emily Kaye and her unborn foetus were found mostly in a beach house at The Crumbles, which she had shared with her married lover Patrick Mahon. Mahon, born in 1889 in Helena Street Edge Hill, Liverpool worked as a salesman and had met Miss Kaye during a visit to the company she worked for. Four large sections, 37 smaller fragments and various internal organs were found: Spilsbury was able to reconstruct the body, but could not unambiguously determine the cause of death.[4]

Dubbed 'the Man of Prey' by the press, Mahon was tried in Sussex before Justice Avory, (whose contempt for the prisoner shone through in his summing up) convicted and hanged for the crime. The execution took place at Wandsworth Prison in London, in early September, 1924, with differing sources giving the 2nd, 3rd and the 9th as the exact date. Anecdotal accounts suggest that Mahon offered resistance on the scaffold, apparently attempting to jump clear of the trap when the lever was pulled. [5][6]

A 1976 film was made of this case, Killers: The Crumbles Murder.[7] In 1984 the Australian group Severed Heads used narration from a description of the Emily Kaye murder, in a radio programme by renowned true crime writer Edgar Lustgarten, as backing for their song "Dead Eyes Opened".


  1. ^ Albert Borowitz (2002). Blood & ink: an international guide to fact-based crime literature. Kent State University Press. p. D-43. ISBN 0-87338-693-0. 
  2. ^, Lethal witness: How legendary pathologist Bernard Spilsbury's evidence was often fatally flawed, 20 August 2007, retrieved 17 November 2010
  3. ^ Andrew Rose, 'Lethal Witness' Sutton Publishing 2007, Kent State University Press 2009 pp114-124
  4. ^ Christine Quigley (2005). The Corpse: A History. McFarland. p. 129. ISBN 0-7864-2449-4. 
  5. ^, Murder at the Crumbles, retrieved 17 November 2010
  6. ^ Richard Gordon (2001). Great Medical Disasters. House of Stratus. pp. 81–83. ISBN 1-84232-519-1. 
  7. ^, Killers: The Crumbles Murder, retrieved 17 November 2010
  • Douglas Gordon Browne; E. V. Tullett (1951). "Unpleasant things on the Crumbles". Bernard Spilsbury: his life and cases. Harrap. pp. 148–163. 
  • Winifred Duke, ed. (1939). Trial of Field and Gray. Notable British trials. Butterworth. 
  • Frederick Porter Wensley (2005). Forty Years of Scotland Yard: A Record of Lifetime's Service in the Criminal Investigation Department (reprint ed.). Kessinger Publishing. pp. 283–287. ISBN 1-4179-8997-1. 

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