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Welcome to the Murder Mile UK True-Crime Podcast and audio guided walk of London's most infamous and often forgotten murder cases, all set within and beyond the West End.
EPISODE TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIVE:
On Saturday 4th August 1945, Private Cyril Patmore knocked on the door of 12 Greenhill Road in Harlesden to speak to his heavily pregnant wife, Kathleen. Expecting to give birth within the week, this should have been a joyous moment for this devoted father of five. But with Cyril knowing for certain that the child was not his, what she said in these final moments decided if she lived or died.
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SOURCES: This case was researched using some of the sources below.
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On Saturday 4th of August 1945 at 8:55am, Frederick Keeling, a driver for Taxilux (a local cab company) pulled up outside of 16 Greenhill Road in Harlesden. The street was silent as the residents were roused by the chirp of a dawn chorus and the clatter of a milk cart. Having loaded the first of his fare’s luggage into the boot for what should have been an unremarkable day, it was then that Frederick saw Cyril.
Standing outside of his wife’s lodging at 12 Greenhill Road, a short stocky man in an Army battledress slowly approached him, his face a ghastly white, his mouth agog with shock and his pale hands dripping with a deep red ooze, from his fingertips, up his sleeves and with dots spattered up his agonised face.
Although slow, he didn’t stumble like a man in pain but a man in shock, as in his hand he held a curved knife, a souvenir from India, which continuously dripped with the warm fresh blood of his victim.
Stopping by Frank’s car, the driver stared but didn’t feel afraid, as Cyril wasn’t seen as a threat but as someone who needed help. And as the soldier shook his bloody hands, spattering the pavement, in a quiet voice he uttered “Get the Police, I’ve done my missus”. Unable to comprehend that he had said, Frank asked him to repeat it, and (as if he couldn’t believe it himself) he did, “I’ve just done my missus”.
And as Frank drove off to find a phone-box to call the Police, Cyril walked out of Greenhill Road.
Only, this wasn’t his escape, as he didn’t he didn’t even attempt to flee.
Keen to give himself up, amidst a gaggle of gobsmacked pedestrians, this bloodied and dazed soldier trudged half mile north to Harlesden Police Station, his sluggish demeanour like he had just emerged from a battlefield. And with Frank’s frantic call coming in, by the time Inspector Coote and Sergeant Firster had driven 100 yards, the unmistakable sight of Cyril Patmore was walking towards them.
Pulling up, this killer didn’t run. Instead, he stated “I’ve done my wife in”; he gave them the address, he confessed “I did it with this” having handed them a small curved knife from his right trouser pocket, and being cautioned, Cyril’s only reply was “to think it was an Italian she’s been going with”.
Having been to 12 Greenhill Road, at 10:30am, Inspector Coote told Cyril “I have seen the body of your wife Kathleen and I am making enquiries into the circumstances of her death”. Described as extremely distressed, clutching the last letters he had sent her, Cyril said “I want to tell you about my trouble”.
At that, he made an accurate and lengthy statement, and throughout his main concern was for his family, stating “I live for my children and my wife. They’ve had a rough time since I’ve been away”.
In a police report dated the 11th of August 1945, just days later, Inspector Coote wrote sympathetically of Cyril’s case, stating “the motive of the crime is most apparent, and it cannot be disputed that the moral character of the deceased woman (Kathleen Patmore) was of the lowest. There can be little doubt that her moral character during her husband’s absence has been utterly deplorable”.
Lying slumped in a bloody heap, Kathleen was dead, and yet, he was the victim, and she was the villain.
Across the investigation, it was the immorality of Mrs Patmore which was the motive for her murder. And yet, outside of Cyril and Kathleen, there was one other person who – it can be said – was to blame.
The spiteful writer of a letter, send to Cyril in Burma, which told him everything…
…and although anonymous, that someone was only known as ‘Joe’.
It was during those dark lonely days of the war that Kathleen’s lack of morals came into question. As witnessed by landlords, lodgers, locals and even her own children, no-one was decrying her desire to be loved was lacking, as it’s a very human need. But it was the uncaring way in which she went about it, her unashamed sexual appetite that caused whispers to spread from Farmoor all the way to Burma.
Described as ‘coarse and mouthy’, those who disliked Kathleen were said to be unsurprised when a welfare officer was called, when she got evicted from two farms, and her children were placed in their uncle’s care all within the space of a year. Many were shocked at how unashamedly she’d had sex in the woods and even with one-of-three (if not all three) lorry-drivers as her daughter slept beside her. But what riled them most was her fornicating with the Italian Fascists who Britain was fighting against.
That level of disgust is how a gust of gossip travelled to Burma…
…and set the seeds of her murder in motion.
One of those who spoke-up was her sister May, who she had always had a fractious relationship with. When questioned, May selectively said to the police, “I have seen Kathleen on numerous occasions in a field having intercourse with the lorry driver named Gordon. She also carried on with the other driver called Bill. I have spoken to her about her conduct, and she has told me to mind my own business”.
And although her statements of Kathleen’s morals were cherry-picked, it was like calling a ‘pot kettle black’, as according to the same witnesses, as a married mother herself, her morals were no better.
George Podbery, the landlord of Woodend Cottages stated “I began to think that immoral things were taking place in the cottage. I then did what I could to keep these men away and I told the women I would not allow the men in. They took no notice. I received abuse and insults when I spoke to them”.
Possibly out of spite, May had blabbed about her sister’s ‘filthy ways’, but according to Joseph Wiley, licensee of the Seacourt Bridge Hotel in Botley, often it was three women (identified as May, Kathleen and another, said to be one of May’s daughters) whose behaviour was so bad “I asked them to stop”.
And whereas Horace, the brother of both women, who – let’s not forget, was the uncle put in charge of the children, instead of it being their Auntie May – he would state “I have seen both women going out at nights to woods near the cottages with Italian prisoners of war. I have also seen them returning at 7am, and it was obvious to me that they had spent the night in the woods with the Italians”.
In her statements, May acted like she was an angel, only it’s hard to call someone immoral, when by your own actions, you’re no more moral than you are immoral. She told the Police, “I don’t know the names of any of the men. She was very secretive in nature and told me little about her men friends”.
Which was a blatant lie, but as Edward, a lodger in the cottage would state “May was alright until Mrs Patmore arrived, then she seemed to lose control and told me once that ‘this sister would ruin her’”.
And technically, she did, as on the 18th of December 1944, both Kathleen (who was pregnant by a man who wasn’t her husband), her sister May and their children were booted out of the cottages.
But having moved elsewhere, the immorality continued.
Between January and May 1945, at The Nunnery in Eynsham, the farm’s landlord Gordon Blake said Kathleen “was one of two women” (the other being May) “who were consorting with the prisoners”.
When questioned, Antonio Frunzo and Mario Saviello of No45 Camp said that they knew both women “only to pass the time of day”; with Mario only “acquainted with ‘May’” and Antonio having “never had sexual relations with her”. Although even admitting to that during wartime was a criminal offence.
But was there more to this than just sisterly spite and bitter jealousy?
In late April, May discovered that Kathleen was pregnant. Shortly afterwards, Cyril received a letter in Burma, from an unidentified person known only as ‘Joe’, who told him everything and could provide a list of possible fathers. But not only was Joe the nickname Mario gave to May, not only did she draw up a list for the police, but the letter written by ‘Joe’ was said to be in a similar handwriting to May’s.
May would state, she believed that Antonio Frunzo, the Italian prisoner of war was the child’s father. But that can’t be true, as with the child conceived between the 21st and the 28th November – easy to recall dates as Kathleen said she was celebrating their wedding anniversary and Cyril’s birthday – she didn’t move to The Nunnery until the January of 1945, two months later, when she first met Antonio.
That letter led to Kathleen being investigated by a welfare officer; having her children removed from her care, to her eviction from her lodgings and a paying job, and it ended her relationship with Antonio.
Whether that was May, we shall never be certain, but a second letter was also sent by ‘Joe’.
Dated the 28th of May 1945, the day Kathleen left for London, it was sent to the Commandant of the No45 prisoner of war camp at North Hinksey, it read; “Dear Sir. I feel it is my duty write to you as it concerns a British soldier, a wife and their five children. One of your men, Antionio Frunzo (also a married man) is going with a Mrs Patmore, who is using the name Miss Stanton. Will you please stop this man seeing this woman as her husband is away in Burma. I am sorry to trouble you, but it is only fair to her husband and children. Perhaps the man could be sent to another camp. I wish this letter to be treated in confidence, as they may not know she is married. Yours respectfully. A British Citizen”.
And although sent anonymously, Mario would confirm it was sent by ‘Joe’, as it impacted on him too.
That day, Kathleen moved into 12 Greenhill Road to anxiously await Cyril’s arrival…
… only May’s bitterness towards her ‘immoral’ sister was far from finished.
Arriving at St Pancras on Sunday 29th of July 1945, granted 28-day leave owing to “his wife’s conduct” – news which had caused serious ramifications for his brigade, as his fellow soldiers were now worried about the faithfulness of their wives - he sorted a place to stay, and headed off to see his children.
On Tuesday 31st of July, he savoured his time with his children – Reggie aged 16, Christina 12, Terry 6, Noreen 4, and Kathleen aged just 3 - at the home of their Uncle Horace at Lower End Farm in Thrupp.
Whilst he was there, Cyril said “I asked Mr & Mrs Jenning and my wife’s relations”, including her sister May “what had been going on while I was away”, and they told him everything. In fact, so helpful was May to this mild-mannered man whose heart had been ripped in two, that according to Cyril “off her, I got a list of names. She said the list was of the men my wife had been going with”, and with her also adding quite maliciously “when you see your wife, ask her to pick the one out of that list”. But even he would admit, “this might have been done for spite because my wife and her sister fight like hell”.
During his stay, May said “he questioned me about his wife’s behaviour. I told him the whole truth about everything” – except of course about her own immorality - “and he could not eat nor sleep”.
Torn by his tired head and his broken heart, with his children by his side and the list of her lovers in his hand, Cyril (who had often had concerns of his wife’s fidelity, having cheated on her husband with him) had begun to question which of the four children that he assumed to be his, were actually his.
Born in the period when he was stationed overseas, Cyril looked at his youngest daughter, 3-year-old Kathleen, and when Horace had asked “do you think it’s his”, it was said that Cyril replied “they’re just like the bastard”. And having wiped his hand with his brow, he huffed and gruffly uttered ‘Jesus Christ’.
Cyril had always been suspicious of who his daughter’s father was, as ever since the previous Christmas when he had read a letter written by Kathleen to Frank Tobin, their landlord at 63 Randolph Avenue, which was signed off with the words ‘love especially from YOUR little Noreen”, with ‘your’ underlined.
Unable to trust his own eyes, his own wife and the words of her spiteful and bitter sister – who would state, “she always told me that she never intended living with her husband again” - as hard as it was, he knew that the only person he could trust was his own daughter, Christine who was only 12.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on a child, being torn between their loyalty to their parents, and in later life, possibly blaming themselves for their own mother’s murder, but he had to know the truth. Asked, Christine said “on at least six or seven occasions I’ve seen ‘Bill’ and ‘Gordon’ sleeping with my mother”.
With the evidence undeniable, Maisie, May’s daughter said “Cyril was a devoted husband and father. I never heard him threaten to harm his wife”, but while he was there, “he acted like a man demented. He could neither sit nor stand” and upon leaving the house to head to London, he said one of either two things; “If anything happens, do what you can for the kids”, or a phrase impossible to verify…
…“I will do her in and I shall hang for it”.
On Wednesday 1st August, “I wandered about all day trying to pluck up the courage”, not to kill her, just to see her and to talk to her, as he knew that just the sight of her swollen belly would upset him.
The next day, stealing his resolve with a few thick hits of rum, Cyril headed to 12 Greenhill Road.
Being a little inebriated, with the list of his wife’s lovers in his hand, and May’s words still ringing in his ears - “when you see your wife, ask her to pick the one out of that list” – he was in no state to be rational.
At about 2pm, Ernest and ‘Marg’, two of the lodgers were told by Kathleen “It’s my husband. I’m taking him upstairs. He’s had something to drink”. They didn’t see him, but both entered her first-floor room.
Being drunk and tearful, Cyril claimed “I lost my temper with the way she had let me down. We talked for a while, and I asked her whatever made her do it”, only she didn’t reply to his question. Maybe she didn’t want to, or maybe she didn’t have an answer? Thrusting the list into her hand, she would defend “I don’t know who most of these people are”. And although Cyril was not a violent man, he hit her.
Later that evening, ‘Marg’ saw Kathleen in the shared kitchen, her lip cut and her mouth bruised. “She was upset, she said her husband had hit her because she had been carrying on with Yanks and Italians”.
In her room, he had spat “I could have forgiven you if it had been anyone else, but not our enemy”, and as several months of pent-up anger bubbled, “how could you expect me to own a child that wasn’t mine?’ he fumed - ignoring the fact that Reggie wasn’t his and possibly their youngest too – and although she pleaded with him to stay, “I couldn’t. I couldn’t be introduced as the father of the child she was carrying, so I left. She shouted, ‘if you go now, you’ll never see me again’. But still I left”.
It was not how either of them had wanted this reunion to go, but tensions were high. Kathleen was said to be frightened that Cyril would return, only he didn’t. He needed to cool off, and he knew that. So, that night, having bedded down in a Salvation Army Hostel, being drained and exhausted, he slept.
Early the next morning, he hand-delivered a letter through Kathleen’s door. It read “Dear Kath. I would like to have my personal articles”, some of which she had pawned, “please be good enough to meet me a half of an hour from now outside the Odeon. Pat”. On the envelope was scrawled “I love you”.
He was sober, it was a safe place, and having vented their anger, they both had a lot of talking to do.
At 9:45am, they met as planned. With Cyril’s head downcast and sore, and Kathleen’s mouth swollen and bruised, Cyril said “when I saw her, I felt sorry because I knew she was in trouble. I didn’t ask her for my things. I took her out for the day. It brought back memories of when we used to go together”.
They walked in the park, went to the theatre, and they ate a meal in a café where they talked. He still loved her, but along with knowing the truth, he needed to see her remorse so he could forgive her.
“I asked her why she had gone as ‘single”, having used an alias of Miss Stanton rather than her married name of Mrs Patmore, but she didn’t reply. Asked what the Italian wanted to do, even though she said she hadn’t seen him in a month, “he waits for me every night… the arrangements were, I would have the child and his people would come over, take it and give me a lump sum”, as if they were buying it.
“From her bag, she took out a lot of Italian money and tore it up in front of me”.
Whether she was committed to their future, their marriage or their children, he wasn’t sure. Together they could make it work, he knew that, but whether she could remain faithful, that he didn’t know.
After a pleasant walk in Paddington Green, Cyril walked her to the bus stop, “here, I’ll wait with you till it comes”. Thinking they had reached a resolution, she said “you’re coming home with me”, being a woman who believed she could get whatever she wanted from a man by using her body. Only, with a bump between them due within the week, being a reminder of her infidelity, he turned her down.
“I said ‘no, that’s impossible. How can you expect me to come back and sleep with you, when you’ve been with another man”. Like many servicemen, the one thing which had kept him alive was to come home to be with his beloved wife, “for years I’ve waited for this moment to return, but I was robbed of everything’. And with that, saying their goodbyes, and on the bus he put his heavily pregnant wife.
Their ruined relationship had a slim hope of surviving…
…but it all rested on whether she loved him.
On Saturday 4th August 1945 at 8:50am, having slept fitfully, Private Cyril Patmore entered Greenhill Road in Harlesden. The street was silent, as the residents were roused by the chirp of a dawn chorus, the clatter of a milk cart, and Frederick Keeling, a driver for Taxilux pulling-up to await his passenger.
Dressed in his battledress as expected of a soldier on leave, in his pockets Cyril held the list, his wife’s letters and a six-inch knife purchased as a souvenir at an Indian bazaar. “I did not know what to do, but I wanted to see her. I loved her so much. I had every intention of overlooking everything again”.
Inside, Kathleen heard him knock at the front door. According to ‘Marg’, “Kathleen said ‘I expect that’s my husband’, she trembled and said ‘I’m finished. I don’t know whether to open the door’”. She froze, as his unmistakable shadow loomed over the frosted door-pane just a few feet away, as she whispered “I’ll let him knock again. Perhaps he’ll put the letter through the door and go away”. Only he didn’t.
Informed of her immorality by her family, her sister, herself, and even his own children, for their sake, he wanted to give their marriage a chance. What he needed was the woman he had married and the mother of his children to show him that she still loved him… but – fed-up with his questions and having rejected her - what he got was an “uncouth and mouthy” Kathleen who was unashamed of her actions.
From the hallway, she led him into the empty kitchen at the rear of the ground floor, so with the lodgers in their rooms, no-one would hear the foul words she would unleash in his reddening face.
To the medical officer of Brixton Prison, Cyril confessed “it was her casual and indifferent attitude… she said ‘you’ve got a bag of nerves asking questions’, I said ‘are you coming, because I’m leaving’” -thereby giving her an ultimatum that if they left together, right now, there was still a possibility of saving what little was left – but with her shouting ‘do what the hell you like’, “I know I was finished”.
“I only meant to scar her, so that nobody else could have her but me”, Cyril would state, “she struggled and I stabbed her in the wrong place”. Although whether that was true, only he would know.
Hearing a scream, and Kathleen shouting ‘Marg! Marg!’, the tenants raced down to see Cyril, the knife in his hand, his sleeves bloodstained as he tottered into the street, and knowing his life was over, having uttered to Frank “Get the Police, I’ve just done my missus”, moments later, Cyril was arrested.
At 9:05am, Dr Crowe, the Police Divisional Surgeon entered the ground-floor kitchen, to see the walls splashed with fresh warm blood, it dripping off the surfaces where the human ooze was yet to congeal.
Lying face down on the tiled floor, wearing a print frock and blue ankle socks, Kathleen was pale and lifeless, as owing to her injuries, she was unconscious within a one minute and dead within three.
Bleeding profusely from a gaping wound to her throat, with no wounds to her hands nor any signs of a struggle, Cyril’s blade had severed the small muscles of the neck, slicing open her right carotid artery and the right jugular vein, penetrating the upper lobe of the right lung, and draining her heart of blood.
Kathleen was dead, but as Dr Crowe rolled over her still-warm corpse - seeing she was heavily pregnant and carrying inside of her a 10lbs and 4 ounce baby, which was barely a week from its birth - through her sopping wet bloody dress, he saw its final kick, as starved of life, the baby died inside of her. (End).
Tried at the Old Bailey on 26th September 1945 before Mr Justice Charles, the jury of ten men and two women were said to be in tears as the testimony unfolded. Taking pity on Cyril, owing to the immoral ways of his wife, a verdict of manslaughter was returned, and he was sentenced to five years in prison.
With Mr Justice Charles incensed at the jury’s decision, he stated “it would be the law of the jungle if a man finding his wife had been unfaithful once or even twenty times, was entitled to murder her and then say ‘but look at the provocation I have received’. But if manslaughter it be, and I am bound by the jury’s verdict… your counsel has said you were a sorely tried man. If you had not been so sorely tried, I should have been bound to give you a very very heavy sentence” – that sentence being death.
As a key witnesses in the trial, May – who it was never proven was the anonymous writer of the letters penned by someone known only as ‘Joe’ - spoke openly of her sister’s ‘wholesale immorality’, which not only lessened her killer’s sentence, but also her spiteful words had condemned Kathleen to death.
Serving his time at Wormwood Scrubs, throughout his prison term, Cyril’s concern was “the welfare of my children”, and not trusting his wife’s family, as far as we know, they were placed into care. Upon his release, Cyril Patmore went on to live a good life, he earned a living as a plumber, he remarried, he remained close to his children, and outliving his new spouse, he died in Southwark in 1999…
…never fully knowing the truth about the ‘immoral’ Mrs Patmore.
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 of Murder Mile UK True Crime and creator of true-crime TV series.
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