The Murder of Mable Bundy at the Moorlands Hotel

1939, 5 July: Murder at Moorlands Hotel, Hindhead:

Moorlands Hotel

Moorlands Hotel

As the war loomed the population of the county increased dramatically with thousands of young men forced to leave their homes and families and thrown together. When war broke out the Canadian Army had a significant presence in the county and would feature regularly in the reports of serious crime. A murder that was to occur during the build up to war took place on the 5 July 1939 at the Moorlands Hotel, Hindhead on the Farnham Division.

a body on a path in the grounds of the Moorlands Hotel

a body on a path in the grounds
of the Moorlands Hotel

Roberts received a call from Superintendent Cox82 of Farnham Division reporting a body of a woman being found on a footpath by the staff entrance to Moorland Hotel. Miss Mabel Maud Bundy aged forty two and from Portsmouth, had been found at 6.20 am by Thomas Mitchell an employee. As the Daily Telegraph reported "It is believed she had been outraged" [raped] also saying Superintendent Cox was in charge of the investigation assisted by Tom Roberts.83

Victim Mable Bundy

Victim Mable Bundy

Miss Bundy a staff maid at the hotel, had severe head injuries and enquires revealed that the previous evening she had been at the Royal Huts Hotel with soldiers from Thursley Camp.

At the camp were about seven hundred soldiers, five hundred were regulars and two hundred on a refresher course as reservists. A parade of the 2nd Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment, still in battle kit from an exercise was held. Down these lines of hot and dirty soldiers Superintendent Cox, Inspector Roberts, the commanding officer and the adjutant passed three times once for each witness, two men and an elderly woman.84 The three witnesses picked out a soldier called Boon who then named Goodwin and Smith as being with him the previous evening.

PS Butterfield conveyed the three prisoners to Farnham Police station with their kit bags from where he seized the clothing they had been wearing the night of the murder, and sent it to the Police Laboratory at Hendon for analyses. Dr. James Davidson director of the laboratory examined the clothing and finger nail scrapings. The nail scrapings could have come from a skin surface. On the clothing worn by Boon and Smith he found human bloodstains of Group O which was included in forty two percent of the population.85 Smith had scratches to his face.86

Thursley camp during the identification parade.

Thursley camp during the identification parade.

That is jumping ahead. The pathologist Dr. Gardner saw the body at the scene and examined it believing she had been dead about ten hours. At the post-mortem a range of injuries were recorded including a broken nose, and an injury to the chin which, the pathologist thought, was the direct cause of her death having forced her facial bones upwards leading to brain damage.

Detective Sergeant T. H. Farndale went to the camp and with PS Edwards interviewed the suspect Boon and then Goodwin. Goodwin was first seen as a witness and there was a dispute in court over cautioning and the admissibility of comments made before caution. PS Edwards took a statement from Smith.87

At the Central Criminal Court on 22 September 1939 the jury after a four day trial took an hour to find Boon and Smith guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Goodwin was found not guilty.

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82 Surrey History Centre, Woking, item ref CC98/11/9, Murder at Moorlands Hotel, Hindhead, (cited in Roberts, p. 57).

83 The Daily Telegraph and Morning Post (1939). (Thursday July 6).

84 The Daily Telegraph and Morning Post (1939). (Thursday July 6).

85 The Surrey Advertiser and County Times (1939). (July 22).

86 Maxton, Caroline (2005). Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Guildford, Wharncliffe Books, p. 49.

87 The Surrey Advertiser and County Times (1939). (July 22).


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