Clay Corner Murder

Frdderick Gosling's shop at Clay Corner.

Frdderick Gosling's shop at
Clay Corner.

1951: Murder: Frederick Gosling at Clay Corner, Chertsey: Frederick Gosling was a shopkeeper, at Clay Corner in Chertsey where in 1951 he was murdered. He had worked and run the same shop for forty four years and was now seventy nine.

Federick Gosling

Although living at home and of a good age he was fit though deaf, and was supported by his son, daughter and daughter in law who regularly visited cleaned and cooked for the old man.

Three men from Ashford in what was then Middlesex, and in the Metropolitan Police District, decided to rob the shopkeeper as it was rumoured there was considerable cash kept on the premises. They drove in a borrowed car and parked in Wheatash Road by the premises and went into the shop. The plan failed as customers came in.

The men ran off and PC Hall with his Sergeant H. W. Jobson attended a reported attempted robbery. They had great difficulty understanding what had gone on, although later Mr Gosling's son was able to discover the details of the attempted robbery.

body of Frederick Gosling

The following morning the milkman found the premises insecure and on entering the living accommodation found Gosling bound and dead. The safe door in the bedroom was open and a few coins scattered on the floor.

Detective Inspector Cox was the first police officer on the scene Detective Superintendent Roberts took charge and attended with Dr. Keith Mant the pathologist and were later joined by Keith Simpson. The post-mortem was undertaken by Mant at Chertsey where the cause of death was established as asphyxia due to suffocation by gagging.

The safe door was open, although not forced with money scattered inside the safe and on the floor outside it. A quick search had been made of the bedroom but there was no indication of disturbance in any other part of the house. A quantity of tobacco and cigarettes were packed up ready to be taken away.

the murder scene

The police had a significant and fortunate early break when a witness was traced who had seen someone he knew at the time of the robbery the previous evening. The suspect Fred Brown was arrested and interviewed by Chief Inspector Tappenden and Detective Sergeant Place during which he implicated his brother, Joe. He also said that a friend Edward Smith was involved but another brother George Brown being on the run as an escapee from prison did not take part in the crime.

Forensic examination of the car suspected of being used found hairs, fibres and debris on the foot mat some of which were found to be goat hairs that exactly matched the hairs being shed from three moulting goatskin rugs in Mr Gosling's bedroom.

Fred agreed in return for immunity to act as a prosecution witness. Joe Brown was arrested and interviewed by Chief Inspector Sidney Tappenden then along with Edward Smith was charged with assault with intent to rob.

On the 15th January, Fred Brown, Edward Smith and Joe Brown appeared before the court charged with assault and Fred was then discharged. The remaining two were charged with murder and found guilty at the Surrey Assizes and executed on 25 May 1951.1

In an unusual aside for the modern police officer the attitude of the solicitor for a suspect is interesting. Inspector Ferguson tried to interview suspects but they refuse although later they agreed to do so in the presence of their solicitor. At first the solicitor advised them to continue to refuse to cooperate. When Inspector Ferguson complained about his attitude towards what was a very serious investigation, he changed his mind and told his clients to make a statement, warning them to say nothing that would incriminate them.2

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1 Roberts, Tom (1987). Friends and Villains: an Autobiography, Hodder and Stoughton, ISBN 0-340-41150-3, p. 131. Photos from the Chris Roberts collection.

2 Roberts, Tom (1987). Friends and Villains: an Autobiography, Hodder and Stoughton, ISBN 0-340-41150-3, p. 145.


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