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EPISODE ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY:
June 1863. In the basement of 11 Old Compton Street in Soho, 21-year-old Susan Lattaney lived and worked as a prostitute. Having met and fell in love with glass decorator Henry Broughton - keen to fullfil her dreams of a great life together - she agreed to keep selling her body for sex, with Henry as her pimp. It was a small sacrifice she would make for herself and the man she loved...
...but in truth, she would be trapped by his lies, his cruelty and she would become a prisoner inside her own life.
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SOURCES: This case was researched using some of the sources below.
Plus various news sources from the era.
UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT OF THE EPISODE:
Welcome to Murder Mile.
Today I’m standing in a place we know all too well, Old Compton Street in Soho, W1; five doors north of the murderous drug-fuelled spree of Joe Guynane, twelve doors east of the contract hit on Alfredo Zomparelli, three doors up from the radioactive trail left at Café Boheme, and a few doors down from Eliza Crees’ nightmare honeymoon - coming soon to Murder Mile.
Identical to every other building on this narrow hive of seedy smut shops and hipster havens is 11 Old Compton Street, a classic Victorian four-storey flat-fronted terrace with a shop below and flats above.
With old Soho dead and gentrified into a sickening pseudo-Shoreditch where history has been usurped by faux shops for the dim-witted who’ll ApplePay for anything that’s fashionable for a hot-minute, 11 Old Compton Street is home to ChaTime; a bubble teashop, where fans of cold milky tea can be fleeced into slurping (what resembles) a pint of rainbow-coloured porridge, sperm and frogspawn. Oh yummy.
What next? Tobacco flavoured toothpaste for when bad breath becomes hip? Very possibly.
Back in 1860’s, on the ground-floor of number 11 was a butcher’s shop with an abattoir outback, and above, the lodgings of the impoverished, some of whom were sex-workers. With the basement split into two by a thin wall, and a slit window at foot-level overlooking the rear yard where rats ran among bins of rancid meat, this tiny room was the home of 21-year-old prostitute Susan Lattaney.
It wasn’t much, but being trapped by the incessant cruelty of her pimp and supposed husband-to-be, Henry Broughton – she believed that this was the beginning of a bright future with the man she loved…
…and yet, she would ever only find peace, at the tip of his blade.
My name is Michael, I am your tour guide, and this is Murder Mile.
Episode 190: The Stockholm Syndrome of Susan Lattaney.
Whether guns, poisons or knives, there is no deadlier weapon than words. Words can trip, beat, maim, and kill; they can wound the skin but also the soul, their cuts can outlast any scar, and - by duping the victim to drop their defences – a word can lure us into believing that our worst enemy is our saviour.
Susan Lattaney was born in the summer of 1842. We know that as it was registered at The Strand, one street south of Covent Garden. Like many in the working-classes, her life would go unrecorded unless she was arrested or murdered during her tragically brief life. With no chance of escaping her situation, many would be born as they would die, often succumbing to sickness, starvation, or violent assault.
With her name misspelt so often on official documents, even the court record, the system cared little of Susan Lattaney because she was poor, because she was a woman and because she was a prostitute.
Raised in a shared lodging at 2 Adam Street West in Marylebone, originally from Somerset, her father John was a shoemaker, her mother Susannah was a shoe-binder, and both of Susan’s brothers – Alfred and John – went into the same trade. And although they were blessed with a semi-skilled profession, the Lattaney’s lives remained a struggle, as too many people chased too few jobs for too little reward.
As a young girl, she was educated to the age of 10, beyond which it was no longer compulsory. And as each mouth cost pennies the family could not afford, well before her teens she was earning. Possibly as a shoe-smith, or later raised by her grandmother, she may have earned her keep as a char-woman.
By 1861, aged 19, Susan disappeared from public records, which was not uncommon. But it does pose a question of why she had left her family home and yet they would remain close? Described as a slim girl with brown curly hair, pale skin and bright green eyes – as her future was pre-destined to be hard and bleak – she may have used the goods she was given in the chance of escaping a life without hope.
By at least her late teens, Susan had become a prostitute.
This may seem like the last resort of a desperate woman, but in her era, it was all too common for a girl to make her way by selling her body. It’s easy to surmise that; as Susan was born and raised in the West End where sex-work occurs on every corner, she was unskilled and poorly educated, a friend or family member may have already been working in the sex-trade, and in the 1800s, it was said that as many as one in three working-class women provided for their families through some form of sex-work.
In truth, she could have earned an honest living as a shoe-maker, but as the wage for a man in 1861 was 3 shillings and 6 pence per day, working 10-hour days, 6-days-a-week – as a woman would earn a lot less than that for the same job – prostitutes could make five times the wage of a manual labourer.
In many families -- although they’d deny any knowledge - it was not uncommon for their prettiest girl to be sent out to earn her crust as ‘a hole to fill’. It may seem like cruelty, but in an era where women had very little power, a young girl could have money and influence as the family’s breadwinner, and – being best served to meet a monied man – only she could escape the drudgery of this horrid little life.
Against a backdrop of poverty, one day her Prince could come and sweep her off her feet.
I mean, it rarely - if ever - happened…
…but it could.
On an undocumented day and in a way which will never be known - in the spring of 1861 - 19-year-old Susan Lattaney met Henry Broughton; a tall, handsome, and well-dressed man of a similar age to herself, who (reports state) earned an honest living as a ‘glass decorator’, a semi-skilled profession.
Born and raised nearby, Henry exuded the swagger of a man with big dreams; he spoke well (for a local lad), he knew everyone on his street, his suit was always neat with a silk hankie and a gold watch hanging off his waistcoat, and in his pocket was a thick wad of notes secured with a silver money clip.
Deeply smitten, she had fallen for his looks and his charm, and – as this aspiring man of money was clearly more than just her ticket out of this life - she liked him, and better still, he liked her too.
For Susan, it was the fairy-tale romance she had dreamed of. Every day, Henry would profess his love to his beloved; he’d read her poetry, he’d shower her gifts, and he’d buy her fragrant flowers. Over romantic meals, he’d speak the words she had long to hear, of marriage, happiness and babies. And feeling truly spoilt, she got a sense of how the rest of their lives together would be – truly blessed.
But that was the future, which she knew was still far away. In truth, Henry was no richer than she was; as although he dressed well, ate well and spoke well, it was all to give an impression of success. But as he told her – if they worked hard and only if she believed in him – they could be happy, forever.
I would be a long hard struggle, and - believing in him - she would do anything to make it happen.
For a few weeks or months more, Susan would earn as much as she could, as best as she could, doing the one job she was skilled at – prostitution – and (to ensure their success) Henry would be her pimp.
For Susan, it would be a simple sacrifice to keep selling her body for the man she loved, in the hope that their hard-work led to a life of love together in a comfortable home surrounded by children. Life had already taught her that nothing good was ever easily earned, so she settled in for a long hard slog.
A short while later, Susan & Henry moved into a small basement lodging under a butcher’s shop at 11 Old Compton Street, right in the heart of Soho’s red-light district. It wasn’t much, just a tiny room with a chair, a wardrobe, a washstand and a bed, but -in Susan’s eyes – it was the start of their life together.
That’s how she saw it, because that’s how he had sold it…
…but in truth, she would be trapped by his lies and his cruelty.
Henry was described in court as ‘a coward’ and a ‘utter scoundrel’ who lived off her immoral earnings. His con was simple; to pretend to love her, to show her some affection and to plant a seed in her mind of a life to be. Given enough time; she’d be too love-struck to believe she’d been duped, too exhausted to retort, and (as a violent cherry on a terrifying cake) too frightened to ever think about leaving him.
Living in (what was little more than) a lumpy bed in a foul-smelling brothel; being perched in a coffee shop opposite the lodging, here Henry drank, chatted and smoked, keeping tabs on the slew of punters who shunted her for shillings - in a ploy he’d done to many women - who all earned money for him.
This rancid little hell-hole was to be a little home for them both, but the only time he visited was to collect his cash, to criticise her for not making enough and to dole-out a small stipend for food and the rent of a tawdry sex-den overrun with flies and rats which whiffed of rotting meat and stale semen.
To escape her horror, you may think ‘why didn’t she leave’? But initially, his words were his weapon. With love, he built her up, and with cruelty, he broke her down, until there was nothing left of her…
…but what he needed for himself.
It began by making her feel as if she was loved. A few key phrases peppered when it suited him best, like; “no-one loves you like I do”, “it’s just you and me”, “we’re meant to be”, the casual contrivances only an abuser would say. And having sold her a hopeless dream of love, slowly he would withdraw his affections, until – like a ravenous dog with a growling belly – she would pine, she would cry and she would be grateful for whatever rancid scraps he tossed at her feet – worried it may be the last.
Having trapped her with his lies, he then had to ensure that every escape route was blocked. In times of panic, people always run to the safety of familiarity – their friends, their families, or the police – but by spreading lies and making her believe them, soon the only person she would trust would be him.
Feeling isolated, exhausted and seeing only him as her saviour, he would strip her of the last shred of dignity and worth she still had in her frightened little mind. Guilt did the heavy lifting, and if her dream felt too far away, it was all because “you haven’t worked hard enough… for us. Don’t you love me?”.
Next came the verbal abuse, designed to demean her, to ridicule her and put her in her place – ‘stupid’, ‘useless’, ‘ugly’ – and subordinate to him, every hurtful barb was her fault, as he was in the right.
Compounded by assaults – a slap, a punch, a kick or a choke - always striking her body and never to the head, he knew that time was money and “no-one’s gonna pay to fuck a battered bitch”, so he’d make her too scared to run, to cry, to give up or to lie. The only way for her to escape was to work.
Within a short space of time, Susan was be left broken, lost and humiliated; a young girl still clinging to a hopeless dream, beaten by a brute she would always return to, and being trapped inside a waking nightmare from which there was no escape from this viscous circle of sex and abuse.
Susan Lattaney was little more than a hostage in her own life.
Henry controlled everything; her mind, her body, her time and her money. He had turned a someone into a no-one, who endured pain and misery in the pursuit to earn more to make him happy. Trapped, she would forever know that – if she ever displeased him - her life may end by the tip of his blade…
… a blade, which – all too soon - would be stained with blood.
The day was Tuesday 20th June 1863. By noon, the cobble-stone streets were too hot to touch as the sun baked down through the thick dark gloom of the belching chimney stacks. 21-year-old Susan had been shagged and buggered by a slew of sleazy strangers for a quarter of her short unhappy life.
The young girl was gone, and all that remained was the shadow of pale lifeless woman, lost behind tired eyes, walking cautiously as the rabid shagging of bad men with boners had made her incontinent, and her face was made-up by cosmetics so she didn’t resemble an unsightly sack of skin and bones.
This was her life, it was what she did, and there would be no rest in sight… except when she was dead.
An account of what happened would be recalled in court by those who had witnessed it.
At 12pm, Susan left 11 Old Compton Street. Spied by Henry, he sat in the coffee tavern opposite, his new three-piece-suit all resplendent, as he quaffed and chatted with his pals, a fresh pipe of tobacco spewing from his lips, as he watched her walk her regular patch - a long hard day of pain ahead of her.
By 3pm, Susan had earned a sovereign, twenty shillings to be precise - making in three hours what a labourer made in a day – but it’s impossible to say how many punters had man-handled her glands and poked her with their sticky little probes. Every prostitute has a price for full sex, but for ‘extras’, it goes up depending on how degrading the act is, and what pain and humiliation she has to endure.
She may have been shagged thirty men in quick succession, or possibly (having paid a small fortune) by one rancid pervert who’d have slowly defiled this young girl in the most inhumane of ways possible.
As agreed, Susan met Henry on Regent Street. With a faint smile on her haggard face, she had hoped that the sight of a shiny sovereign in her hand would make him happy, and that – maybe – he might bless her with a faint hint of a memory of affection, rather than a slap of a kick? But it was not to be.
“A sovereign? It’s not enough. Get more”, he barked as her smile dropped, her distant dream departed and her notion of working for ‘us’ was replaced by ‘me’, as she was a nothing who worked for him.
Whether she knew it or not, Henry hadn’t saved a single penny of her ill-gotten gains for the plans he had once promised her, and - as he had with his other girls - he had squandered the lot. To him, that sovereign was an insult, but he took it and just as quickly as she would earn another, he had spent it.
Uncertain if Susan was fleecing him of his money, he followed her south down Regent Street, towards the bustling throng of Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, where - even on a week day afternoon – sadists with raging boners prowl the seedy side-streets seeking young girls to bang, finger or bugger.
A little after 4pm, on Oxenden Street, a few roads west of Leicester Square, Susan met a regular client who had offered her three sovereigns to have his wicked way with her for at least the next hour. It could be said that, maybe she felt three sovereigns would be enough to satisfy Henry, but who knows what horrors she’d have to endure to earn it; maybe sodomy, or maybe something more sinister?
But experience had taught her, that even if her punter was a man of money, gone was the hope of a charming prince coming into her life, sweeping her off her feet, and away from all this misery.
I mean, it rarely - if ever - happened…
…and for her, it never would.
Susan Lattaney was trapped like a hostage; she couldn’t run, she couldn’t lie and she couldn’t hide. As her captor rather than her husband-to-be, Henry was a brute with a sharp temper, fast fists…
…and a blade with her name on it.
As Susan was taken to a squalid room on Oxenden Street to be violated by a man who mauled her for money, Henry secreted himself in a pub – possibly the Union Arms at 36 Panton Street, or the Black Horse at 30 Oxendon Street – and within sight of Susan’s unspeakably sadistic submission, he perched his backside in a window seat and settled down to a spot of dinner and some bare-knuckle boxing.
As prize fighters battled it out, he gorged on that was described as ‘a capital meal including three kinds of fish, joints and steaks, as well as bread and cheese’. Washed down with a few jars of porter and a satisfying puff on his freshly-stoked pipe – while Susan possibly sucked on a stranger’s stinky little love raisin – Henry got progressively pissed and blew a sizable chunk of that sovereign on a few bad bets.
By the time 5pm had gone, as Susan staggered out of the seedy cess-pit with a pain in her privates, she proudly clutched the three solid sovereigns in her hand which she hoped would make him smile.
She had hoped… but she was wrong.
“Three sovereigns?” Henry barked, “it’s not enough. Get more”.
That day, she had earned him four sovereigns or eighty shillings, more than thirty times his daily wage as a (supposed) glass decorator, which he no longer did. Only now he wanted twenty pounds, five times more at four hundred shillings. It was more than she had ever earned in a day, but that was part of his con. If he ever gave her hope that a sovereign was enough, then that was all she would earn.
Daring to speak-up, she muttered “I can’t do it, it’s too much”. For such insolence, he demanded her watch and chain, which she gave him. He checked her pockets for coins, but as she squealed “I haven’t got any more”, for her insolence he slapped her, he kicked her and her tore at her hair in the packed street as onlookers jeered and jostled for a better view of her assault. And as she whimpered “I’m sorry, I’ll try…” - trying was not good enough. If he wanted £20, then £20 is what she would make.
And to ensure that she learned her lesson…
…in the middle of Oxenden Street, between three packed pubs and several coffee taverns, Henry grabbed the neck of her one-good dress and ripped it from her trembling body, until she was naked.
Standing amidst a baying crowd, all bruised and humiliated, Susan Lattaney felt more worthless than she had ever felt before. She was not a woman but a piece of meat to be manhandled and gawked at for a price. And having been broken down to such a pitiful point that she believed this was all her fault, as her petrified lips fumbled to form an apology “I’m sorry, I really am”, Henry pulled out his blade…
…to ensure that she would never defy him again.
Some people laughed and others sneered, but many did not. Many were moral and decent, some were rightly appalled, and a few (including several sex-workers who had witnessed similar brutality at close hand themselves) were not going to stand by and let this good woman be hurt any more.
Before his blade could nick her shivering skin, Henry’s eyes widened, as a thick sea of furious woman surged towards him. Before he could retort, the swelling mob had ushered the girl to safety and having surrounded this petrified pimp, they unleashed a volley of flying fists and clawing nails upon him.
Breaking free and tearing at his finest clothes-to-boot, as the coward fled towards Coventry Street, he swiftly hailed a horse-drawn cab to make his escape. Henry was lucky, at worst all he’d had was his face scratched and his pride dented. But with his hot blood coursing, he needed someone to blame…
…and that someone was Susan.
Having dashed three streets north to her lodgings at 11 Old Compton Street, Susan had grabbed some clothes, a bag, a few belongings and she had left, with Henry missing her by mere minutes. This was her one chance to escape him forever - but being so broken down - she wouldn’t go to the police or confide in a friend, and he knew that. But there was still one place he knew where she would be…
Hiding in Marylebone, at 7 Chapel Place, it wasn’t five minutes before Henry began bashing the door, demanding that this “bitch come out” and “get what she will be given”. Barging his way in, before her mother, Henry punched and kicked her until she fell, and as she lay upon the floor helpless, he beat her some more; whether on her head or hands, back, breast and face, as she was now worth nothing.
Pulling out his blade, with a savage slash, he had tried to slit her lying little throat, but missed. Many times, he had warned her that if she ever left him, he would kill her… and now he would.
And with her body bruised, her spirit broken and her resistance truly spent, as he dragged her by the hair out of the door to continue his brutal beating in private, Susan went limp. Not dead, but resigned to the fact that her blessed release from her misery had finally come, and by the tip of Henry’s blade.
The dream was over, and so was her life…
…but not yet.
Hearing the commotion, two lodgers ran from upstairs, Susan’s mother screamed alerting the police, and although Henry fled, later that day, he was arrested and charged with Susan’s assault. Left feeling empty and worthless, Susan didn’t want to press charges, but thankfully, her mother did. (End)
On Wednesday 1st July 1863, Henry Broughton was tried at Marlborough Street Police Court. With Susan bravely standing against him, the judge described Henry as a “coward” and he began to cry.
For her assault, Henry was fined £10, sentenced to twelve months bail and six months hard labour.
It may not seem like much of a punishment, but as a prostitute was not seen as a person, they were often blamed for the violence inflicted upon them, and their captor’s sentences in no way matched their own pain. But this is not to say that Henry’s own time in captivity was a doddle, as it was not.
Sent to Millbank prison, Henry was stripped of his clothes, his money and his jewellery to pay his fine; his once-pricey meals were replaced by a gruel with barely enough nutrients to sustain him, he was worked until he bled, and he was imprisoned with men who disliked the cowards who beat up women.
In a method similar to how he had broken Susan, the aim of hard labour was to crush his spirit; through a brutal regime of pain, hunger, humiliation and a slew of demeaning tasks to make him feel worthless. He was isolated from his loved-ones, he was punished for speaking his mind, and he was beaten for minor misdemeanours. He wasn’t a man, he was a number. He wasn’t a person, he was a nothing. And the only way to make his pain stop was to make his masters happy by working hard until he dropped.
Henry Broughton served his six months and was released. But being working-class, it was unrecorded whether he went straight, or went back to pimping to recoup his lost earnings with another girl?
As for Susan, it’s uncertain whether she ever found happiness in her life…? But I doubt it.
The Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast has been researched using the original declassified police investigation files, court records, press reports and as many authentic sources as possible, which are freely available in the public domain, including eye-witness testimony, confessions, autopsy reports, first-hand accounts and independent investigation, where possible. But these documents are only as accurate as those recounting them and recording them, and are always incomplete or full of opinion rather than fact, therefore mistakes and misrepresentations can be made. As stated at the beginning of each episode (and as is clear by the way it is presented) Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast is a 'dramatisation' of the events and not a documentary, therefore a certain amount of dramatic licence, selective characterisation and story-telling (within logical reason and based on extensive research) has been taken to create a fuller picture. It is not a full and complete representation of the case, the people or the investigation, and therefore should not be taken as such. It is also often (for the sake of clarity, speed and the drama) presented from a single person's perspective, usually (but not exclusively) the victim's, and therefore it will contain a certain level of bias and opinion to get across this single perspective, which may not be the overall opinion of those involved or associated. Murder Mile is just one possible retelling of each case. Murder Mile does not set out to cause any harm or distress to those involved, and those who listen to the podcast or read the transcripts provided should be aware that by accessing anything created by Murder Mile (or any source related to any each) that they may discover some details about a person, an incident or the police investigation itself, that they were unaware of.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster & tour guide of Murder Mile Walks, hailed as one of the best "quirky curious & unusual things to do in London".
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