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 and convicted at Lewes assizes in December 1920. Both men were executed at Wandsworth Prison on 4 February 1921.

Emily Kaye[edit]

Mrs. Mahon, concerned by her husband's pursuit of other women, went through the pockets of one of his suits. There she found a cloakroom ticket which, when presented to a Waterloo railway station, produced a Gladstone bag containing bloodstained female clothing. Mahon was stopped by the police when he turned up to collect his bag. His excuse that he had carried dog meat failed, it having been established that the bloodstains were human.

The forensic pathologist on the case was Sir Bernard Spilsbury.[2][3] On 2 May 1924, the dismembered 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 Mr. Justice Avory, (whose contempt for the prisoner shone through in his summing up) convicted and hanged for the crime in Wandsworth Prison, 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]

In popular culture[edit]

The Thames Television TV series The Killers episode The Crumbles Murder was broadcast in August 1976. It is a dramatised telling of the Emily Kaye case.[7]

In 1984 the Australian band Severed Heads used narration from a description of the Emily Kaye murder in a radio programme by the 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. ^ Glenys Roberts (20 August 2007). "Lethal witness: How legendary pathologist Bernard Spilsbury's evidence was often fatally flawed". Daily Mail. Retrieved 17 November 2010.
  3. ^ Andrew Rose (2007). Lethal Witness: Sir Bernard Spilsbury honorary Pathologist. Sutton Publishing. pp. 114–124. ISBN 9780750944236.
  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. ^ "The Crumbles Murder (1976)". British Film Institute. 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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