Louisa Merrifield, born 3 December 1916, became the third-to-last woman to be executed in the UK. The cases of Louisa Merrifield, Styllou Chrstofi and Ruth Ellis are noted for the differing styles of newspaper coverage.
Louisa Merrifield was born Louisa Highway on 3 December 1906 in Ince, Wigan, the daughter of Job and Emma Highway. The 1911 England and Wales Census has the family living in a four room dwelling in Farmer Street, Wigan.
|Job Highway||Head||45||Coal Miner|
|Mary A. Highway||Daughter||17||Cotton Weaver|
|Lily Highway||Daughter||14||Cotton Weaver|
Louisa Highway was married three times: Joseph Ellison, Richard Weston and Alfred Merrifield.
She met Joseph Ellison, an iron dresser, when she was in her early twenties. He was three years older and was frequently ill with chest trouble. They had four children: two boys and two girls. In 1940, the family moved to Park Road, Wigan. There, Louisa Ellison opened a boarding house. During this period, three of the four children were taken into care by the local authority. Louisa Ellison then stole a neighbour’s ration book and was fined £20. She didn’t pay the fine, so went to prison for two months. In October 1940, after a short illness, Joseph Ellison died of infective hepatitis.
Within ten months of becoming a widow, Louisa Ellison met 79-year-old Richard Weston, a retired colliery manager, in a Wigan pub. On 5 January 1950, they married at Blackpool Register Office. Three months later, Richard Weston suddenly died of a heart attack and Louisa was widowed for a second time.
Later that same year 1950, the 43 year-old Louisa Weston married 68 year-old Alfred Merrifield.
ALFRED EDWARD MERRIFIELD
Alfred Edward Merrifield saw service during the First World War as a sapper in the Royal Engineers. He arrived in the France and Flanders operational area on 9 November 1915. For his wartime service, Alfred Merrifield was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War and Victory Medals.
During World War Two, on 22 December 1942, Alfred’s son (by a previous marriage) was killed in a flying accident. Leslie Merrifield was a flight engineer in a crew of eight, which took off from RAF Leconfield, Yorkshire to fly to the Hadley Page establishment at Radlett, Hertfordshire. The Hadley Page Halifax Mark I L9522 encountered severe weather. The crew sent radio messages requesting a bearing so they could return to RAF Leconfield. As the messages were not answered, the plane descended in an attempt to get a visual siting. However, the plane crashed into the Terrace Hills, north-east of Melton Mowbray.
|P/O||BARKER Richard Percival William||–|
|P/O||BEATTIE William Stuart||Pilot|
|Sgt||DENNING James Albert||Air Gunner|
|F/O||GIBB Eric Arthur Fawns||Observer|
|Cpl||HANCOCK James Anthony||–|
|Sgt||MAYSTON Stanley Robert||Wireless Operator|
|Sgt||MERRIFIELD Leslie||Flight Engineer|
|Flt/Lt||OWEN Robert Fenwick||Pilot|
All the crew were killed and their remains returned to their families around the UK. Leslie Merrifield is buried in Horwich (Ridgmont) Cemetery, Division 2, Section 2, Church of England Grave P.25.
Alfred Edward Merrifield came to Louisa’s Park Road boarding house as a lodger. He came under the spell of her personality and glib talk. He was impressed by the large oil painting of Louisa in the Salvation Army, which hang on the living room wall.
At first, Alfred Merrifield found the widow Louisa Weston kind and an excellent cook. He used to help with odd jobs. They talked and the friendship between the lonely pensioner Alfred and the widow Louisa, grew stronger.
In August 1950 Alfred Merrifield and Louisa Weston were married at Wigan Register Office. There were 35 guests at the wedding reception. Alfred spent his life savings buying furnature.
The marriage became a disillusionment for Alfred. One night the police took Louisa to the station over an unpaid debt. which she had failed to pay despite a court order. He then discovered that his wife was drowning in debts; she preferred drinking and showing off in pubs instead of paying bills.
One day, Louisa sent Alfred out on an erranded. When he returned, he found that Louisa had vanished with his best suit and other belongings. Another time, Louisa took two of his overcoats and pawned them. Alfred also found out that Louisa owed £31 for the burial of her second husband Richard Weston.
When Louisa Merrifield’s debts began to catch up with her, in 1951, she put her furniture and Salvation Army painting into storage. There followed a period of estrangement between Alfred and Louisa Merrifield.
They reconciled when the glib-talking Louisa got a job as a cook at Blackpool, but she could not keep her posts. She went through a flurry of posts and seemed unable to stop quarrelling with her employers. Alfred went back to Louisa as he had nothing left but his pension.
Then came the fateful day when Alfred and Louisa Merrifield got the position as housekeepers with Sarah Ann Ricketts.
SARAH ANN RICKETTS
Sarah Ann Ricketts was born on 16 January 1874.
The second husband of Sarah Ricketts was William John Ricketts, born on 9 October 1874. Towards the end of 1944, Sarah Ann Green married William John Ricketts. Sarah Ann Ricketts’ second husband died on 1 August 1946 at the Ricketts’ bungalow. He had committed suicide by coal gas poisoning.
Mrs. Ricketts was only four feet 8 inches in height yet she was known as an eccentric with a short temper. She frequently rewrote her will as people pleased or displeased her. She favoured eating various jams with a spoon directly from the jam jar, washed down with rum or stout. She would also have an egg and brandy three times a day.
The second week that the Merrifields were at the bungalow, Mrs. Ricketts ordered a bottle of rum, a bottle of brandy and a box of stout. The third week, she ordered two bottles of rum, one of brandy and some lozenges.
It was the death of Sarah Ann Ricketts on 14 April 1953, at the bungalow in Devonshire Road, Blackpool, which led to the trial of Alfred and Louisa Merrifield for murder.
On 1 May 1953, Louisa Merrifield made her first appearance at Blackpool Magistrates Court, where she was remanded in custody, charged with the murder of Sarah Ann Ricketts. Alfred Merrifield shouted out to her
Keep your chin up Louie!The Daily Mirror newspaper, 2 May 1953.
At the second appearance of Louisa Merrifield, on 8 May 1953, queues formed outside Blackpool Magistrates Court. Only 50 of the estimated 250 were allowed in the court’s public gallery. When she was told that she would be remanded in custody, Louisa Merrifield said
Thank you very much my Lordships.The Daily Mirror newspaper, 9 May 1953
As she turned to leave, she waved at Alfred Merrifield.
On 15 May 1953, while visiting his wife at Blackpool police station, Alfred Merrifield was charged with the murder of Sarah Ann Ricketts.
The trial of Alfred and Louisa Merrifield took place at Manchester Crown Court on 20 to 31 July 1953. The trial judge was Mr. Justice Glynn-Jones. The prosecution was lead by the Attorney General Sir Lionel Heald, QC. The defence was presented by Mr. Jack Messoud Eric Di Victor Nahum, QC. Alfred and Louisa Merrifield pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution case opened with the Attorney General Sir Lionel Head QC, stating that Mrs. Ricketts had died from phosphorus poisoning. He stated that the phosphorus came from a tin of rat poison that had been given to Mrs. Ricketts “in one or more doses”.
The prosecution stated that the Merrifields had “an unrivalled opportunity” of killing Mrs. Ricketts, who apart from a tendency to bronchitis, was in good health at the time she employed the Merrifields.
It was then stated that Mrs. Ricketts had made a will in favour of the Merrifields, but on 13 April 1953 (the day prior to her death), she had shown “very definite signs” of changing the will again to remove the Merrifields.
On 14 April 1953, Dr. Yule was summoned to the bungalow, where he found the Merrifields with the dead Mrs. Ricketts. He examined Mrs. Ricketts and found nothing to indicate a cause of death. He refused to issue a death certificate and informed the coroner, who ordered a post-mortem.
Sir Lionel said that, apart from taking phosphorus from a chemical factory or laboratory, the only way to acquire phosphorus was to buy rat poison. The other main ingredient of the rat poison was bran, and there was also bran in Mrs. Ricketts’ body. The police had made a thorough search of the bungalow’s grounds, including using a mine-detector, but had failed to fine the rat poison tin.
On 13 April 1953, the day before Mrs. Ricketts’ death, a man arrived at the bungalow to deliver a bottle of rum. There was some difficulty in finding the money to pay for it. Apparently, Mrs. Ricketts said “I don’t know what they are doing with my money.” The delivery man said that Mrs. Ricketts told him that “They are no good to me. They will have to get out.”
Mrs. Jessie Brewer told the court of meeting Louisa Merrifield in the street on 11 April 1953; three days before Mrs. Ricketts’ death. Jessie Brewer said Louisa Merrifield told her
We’re living with an old lady. She’s died and left me a bungalow worth £4000.The Daily Mirror newspaper, 22 July 1953.
On 19 April 1953 (five days after Mrs. Ricketts died), Mrs. Brewer stated that she had read that Mrs. Ricketts had died on 14 April. Due to Louisa Merrifield using the past tense in her statement to Mrs. Brewer, Mrs. Brewer stated that she thought it was a printers error in her newspaper.
Dr. Yule testified that he examined Mrs. Ricketts, at Louisa Merrifield’s request, on 10 April 1953; four days before she died. Louisa Merrifield requested the examination to see if Mrs. Ricketts was mentally fit to sign a will. Louisa Merrifield said that Mrs. Ricketts might die of a stroke or something, and she wanted to be sure there would be no trouble with Mrs. Ricketts’ relatives.
On 21 July 1953, Mavis Atkinson, a shop assistant at a Manchester chemist shop, testified that she recognised Alfred Merrifield as the person who had purchased a tin of Rodine rat poison. She told the court that she had been “too nervous” to pick out Alfred Merrifield from a earlier police identification parade. Mavis Atkinson denied defence suggestions that she recognised Alfred Merrifield only after seeing his photograph in the newspapers.
The chemist shop’s manager, Mr. Harold Haigh, told the court he remembered seeing Alfred Merrifield in the shop, accompanied by a women. Harold Haigh also admitted that he had failed to identify either Alfred or Louisa Merrifield from a police identity parade. At one point, Harold Haigh pointed to the dock to identify the man in his shop.
On 23 July 1953, the defence counsel Mr. Jack Nahum, QC, stated that he had put some rat poison in his mouth to see what it tasted like. He then cross-examined the Home Office pathologist, Dr. G. B. Manning, who also tasted the rat poison during his experiments.
Both pathologist and barrister agreed that it had a horrible taste!
Dr. Manning described experiments with with rat poison, mixing it in turn with currant jelly, blackcurrant jam, blackcurrant puree, rum, whisky, beaten egg and tea. He stated that he
didn’t think anyone would take it by mistake unless it was disguised.The Daily Mirror newspaper, 24 July 1953.
Mr. Nahum showed the court a bottle containing rum and rat poison, which had a cloudy appearance. When Mr. Nahum asked Dr. Manning, would Mrs. Ricketts have helped herself to a bottle of rum with this cloudy appearance, Dr. Manning stated that Mrs. Ricketts would have been immediately aware that something was wrong with the bottle’s contents. After Dr. Manning was examined for three hours on his post-mortem findings, Mr. Nahum put it to Dr. Manning that his opinions on phosphorus poisoning differed from those in medical text books.
Louisa Merrifield testified in court that Mrs. Ricketts had rum in egg cups. She told the court of a conversation she had with Mrs. Ricketts about a will. A Salvation Army band was playing on the radio, as she said that Mrs. Rickett spoke about her will and that her first husband had been a bandsman. She said that Mrs. Ricketts had told her that the “bungalow would go to those that are good to me.”
When asked by her counsel about Mrs. Ricketts’ drinking habits, Louisa Merrifield said
She was constantly getting it. She said it was medicine. She had an egg cup, and she would fill that and sip it when she wanted – five or six times a day.The Daily Mirror newspaper, 25 July 1953.
On 12 April 1953, two days before she died, Mrs. Ricketts had cereal with jam. Before going to bed, she mixed glycerine or liquid paraffin in blackcurrant jam, opened a jar of fruit and drank rum and brandy.
When asked by her counsel if there was ever a day when Mrs. Ricketts never had rum, Louisa Merrifield replied that there was never a day, let alone two hours, when Mrs. Ricketts not had some rum in an egg cup.
Louisa Merrifield denied that when she went to see a doctor, it was so he could issue a certificate that Mrs. Ricketts was fit to make a will, as the will had already been drawn up and signed. Louisa Merrifield told the court that Mrs. Ricketts had got up one morning and asked Louisa Merrifield to fetch her solicitor, as she wanted her will altered to recognise that she liked Alfred Merrifield and therefore she was going to put both Alfred and Louisa Merrifield in her will.
The Attorney General, in his cross-examination of Louisa Merrifield, told the court that in a statement she told the police she had given Mrs. Ricketts an egg-cupful of rum about 1am on 14 April (the day Mrs. Ricketts died), a tot of brandy about 1.45am and brandy at 3.15am. But in her evidence in court, Louisa Merrifield told the jury that she gave Mrs. Ricketts something to drink at only 3am.
Louisa Merrifield replied
When I gave Mrs. Ricketts a drink, it was prepared by her the night before. I did not give Mrs. Ricketts Rodine [rat poison] to drink.The Daily Mirror newspaper, 28 July 1953.
Sir Lionel pointed out that a least twice in her statement she had referred to a mixture, and asked “What do you mean by mixture?”
Louisa Merrifield replied “Whatever she took, it was mixture. She would mix anything to ease her chest. There was no mixture that I knew of on the table; only what she prepared.”
The accusation that Louisa Merrifield had alway wanted the bungalow, from the day that her and Alfred Merrifield arrived, was denied by Louisa Merrifield. She also stated that she had never loved anyone, solely for their possessions. However, Louisa Merrifield did agree that at one time it was suggested that the bungalow be left to her alone but said that when she went to collect the solicitor, the arrangement was that it would be left to Alfred and Louisa Merrifield.
On 28 July 1953, the Merrfields’ defence medical expert testified. Professor J. M. Webster, Director of the Home Office Laboratory at Birmingham, told the court that he had experience of only three cases of phosphorous poisoning.
He went on to state that
If the statements made by the defendants were true, Mrs. Ricketts was an old lady who was addicted to alcohol; who was irregular with regard to her food; and who was in a coma from the early hours of the morning on which she died until 1pm when she died.The Daily Mirror newspaper, 29 July 1953.
Professor Webster stated that there were three types of phosphorous poisoning:
- Type One was acute where people died in a few hours without any remission.
- Type Two where people died in several days after remission.
- Type Three a chronic form.
When told by the defending counsel, Mr. J. Di. V. Nahum, that Dr. Manning had said that Mrs. Ricketts had died from “Type One” acute phosphorus poisoning, Professor Webster said that he disagreed. He also disagreed with Dr. Manning that in “Type One” acute phosphorus poisoning, people died from direct action of phosphorus on the heart.
When cross-examined by the Attorney General Sir Lionel Head, he told Professor Webster
What you have put to us is a fantastic hypothesis for a scientific man.The Daily Mirror newspaper, 30 July 1953.
Professor Webster replied that the Attorney General was entitled to his opinions.
Professor Webster gave the court these reasons why he thought death was due to natural causes.
- There was hepatic liver necrosis.
- No proof that phosphorous was absorbed.
- No proof of phosphorous being recovered from the organs.
- Period of death was equally consistent with either.
- If death was “Type One” (acute) phosphorous poisoning there were no signs of shock.
Professor Webster agreed that he had not examined Mrs. Ricketts’ heart.
When Sir Lionel asked “Do you seriously say that no phosphorous penetrated the wall of the intestine and reached the blood stream before Mrs. Ricketts died?” Professor Webster replied that there was no proof.
On 30 July 1953, before the Attorney General began his closing statement, the judge Mr Justice Glyn-Jones asked both counsel what the verdict would be if the jury found either or both defendants gave rat poison intending to kill but Mrs. Ricketts died of natural causes. Both counsel agreed that the verdict would be guilty of attempted murder.
In his closing speech to the all-male jury, the Attorney General Sir Lionel Head said
Poisoning has always been a crime of the deepest dye because of its treacherous and secret character.The Daily Mirror newspaper, 30 July 1953.
The evidence he said was that there was yellow phosphorous in the body of Mrs. Ricketts and yellow phosphorous doesn’t materialise out of the air. Sir Lionel continued that there is a possibility that a dying rat came through a window and the phosphorous was deposited that way.
I put it quite bluntly, suicide and accident are right out of the picture altogether – it can be nothing but murder.The Daily Mirror newspaper, 31 July 1953.
The defence counsel, Mr. J. Di. V. Nahum, QC, in his closing address described Alfred Merrifield as
a tragic simpleton, and no more capable of taking part in this scheme than a child.The Daily Mirror newspaper, 31 July 1953.
In the matter of Louisa Merrifield, Mr. Nahum stated that If Mrs. Merrifield had been a murderess about to kill, the two subjects she would have avoided talking about would have been the death of Mrs. Ricketts. Her conversations with various witnesses were just the reverse of an indication of guilt.
On 31 July 1953, the judge summed up the arguments presented during the trial.
The judge told the jury they were faced with the following problems:
- A woman who died on 14 April 1953 with rat poison in her stomach.
- Rat poison admitted the night before (13 April 1953).
- The only people in the house that night were Alfred and Louisa Merrifield.
Therefore, the judge continued, you may think that it follows that she took it herself or one of them administered it. If the jury did not believe there is any reasonable likelihood of an accident or suicide, you may think one of the Merrifields or both of them must have done it.
On the matter of the medical evidence, the judge stated that no human body was alike in its reaction to a drug. Since medicine is not an exact science, there is room for Dr. Manning and Professor Webster to disagree.
The judge continued by telling the jury that they might think Louisa Merrifield a “vulgar and stupid woman” and her husband Alfred “at times something foolish”. But the fact that Louisa Merrifield was a vulgar and stupid woman did not mean that they must convict her of murder.
The judge put forward three points for the jury’s consideration.
- Did either of the Merrifields, or both, give rat poison to Mrs. Ricketts or cause it to be administered to her?
- If they did so, did they do it with intent to kill?
- Did poison so administered kill Mrs. Ricketts?
If the prosecution had satisfied the jury that the answer to each one of those questions was “Yes”, then the verdict would guilty of murder against both Merrifields.
If it were proved that the poison had been administered with intent to kill, but had proved that Mrs. Ricketts had not died from it, the verdict would be guilty of attempted murder.
The judge’s summing up took three hours 50 minutes, and then the all-male jury took five hours 42 minutes to reach their verdict. They found Louisa Merrifield guilty of murder, and failed to agree on Alfred Merrifield.
Louisa Merrifield was sentenced to death, and returned to Manchester Prison to await her execution.
Alfred Merrifield was returned to Manchester prison. On 6 August 1953, Alfred Merrifield was released from prison when the Attorney General issued a nolle prosequi. However, he had not been acquitted of the charge of murder and could have been tried again on the same charge.
The Times newspaper, 22 September 1953, reported that Alfred Merrifield had written a letter, via his solicitor, to his M. P. Mr. A. R. W. Low (Blackpool – North Division) to see whether his innocence of the murder could be established and asking his M. P. to take the matter up with the Home Secretary.
AFTER THE TRIAL
On 8 August 1953, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported that steps were being taken by Mrs. Ricketts’ two daughters to ask the Probate Court to annul the will that benefitted Louisa and Alfred Merrifield.
On 1 September 1953, the appeal of Louisa Merrifield against her conviction was heard by the Criminal Appeals Court in London, before Mr. Justice Cassels, Mr. Justice Slade and Mr. Justice Berry. The grounds for the appeal were mis-directions to the jury by the trial judge.
Mr. J. Di V. Nahum, QC, for Louisa Merrifield, told the court in an address that lasted nine hours, that there was no evidence to support the theory that phosphorous killed by direct action on the heart and Mrs. Ricketts’ heart had been taken away for examination.
Professor Webster, the defence medical expert, had quoted authorities to support his view that phosphorous poisoning did not kill Mrs. Ricketts.
On 3 September 1953, Louisa Merrifield’s appeal was dismissed. In the court, Louisa Merrifield leapt up only a yard or two from the judges and muttered that she was innocent.
Alfred Merrifield visited his wife in Manchester Prison, on 4 September 1953, taking her a bunch of flowers to his wife. After about thirty minutes, he left the prison. A photograph of Alfred Merrifield steeping through the small prison gate, with his silver knobbed walking stick, appeared in the Daily Mirror.
On 8 September 1953, Alfred Merrifield arrived at Manchester prison to see his wife, but she declined to meet him. However, Alfred Merrifield told the Daily Mirror reporter that he would do everything he can to save his wife, including writing a letter to the Home Secretary Sir David Maxwell Fyfe. Louisa Merrifield did meet her solicitor, as he required her signature on an application for a reprieve.
Alfred Merrifield returned to Blackpool. He was staying in a boarding house, as the bungalow had its electricity, gas and water turned off due to unpaid bills.
On 16 September 1953, two days before her execution, Louisa Merrifield agreed to meet her husband Alfred; she had refused to met him on the last three occasions. Also on this date, Louisa Merrifield had been informed by the Governor of Manchester prison that the Home Secretary Sir David Maxwell Fyfe had decided not to recommend a reprieve.
The Daily Mirror published the contents of a letter that Alfred Merrifield had written to his wife.
Trusting you are bearing up and keeping well under the strain which you are living under, and I pray to our Saviour to give you the strength and courage to bear up to it.
I fully expected you to write and ask me to come and see you. It was a great disappointment when you did not ask me to come. But this does not mean I have forgotten that you are still Mrs. Merrifield, my wife.
But, anyway, Louisa I am coming to Manchester in the hope I will have the pleasure of seeing you. So again – offering up a prayer for you – I am trusting you in Our Lord’s keeping. Amen. Good-day and God Bless you. From your hubby, Alf.The Daily Mirror newspaper, 17 September 1953.
Alfred Merrifield had a final meeting with his wife on 17 September 1953. The meeting took place in a bare room in Manchester prison, across a wooden table with a partition down the middle.
At 9am on 18 September 1953, Louisa Merrifield was executed in Manchester prison. After a post-mortem and inquest, her remains were buried inside the prison. The day before her execution, Louisa Merrifield made a will, leaving everything she had to Oswald Ellison (age 21), the son of her first marriage.
In 1991, during rebuilding work in the prison, the remains of all the executed prisoners were exhumed, cremated and buried in two unmarked graves in a local cemetery.
Later on the day of Louisa Merrifield’s execution, the Mayor of Blackpool (Councillor Edwin Smith) appealed to the police to protect the bungalow in Devonshire Road from “gloating sightseers”; the Mayor lived directly opposite the bungalow. The Mayor continued by saying that children were playing in the bungalow’s garden and people were leaning over the garden wall to pick bits of plants and souvenirs.
ALFRED MERRIFIELD – THE NOT SO SIMPLETON
After his wife’s execution, Alfred Merrifield eventually gained access to the bungalow. On 6 October 1953, the Daily Mirror newspaper published an article by Lionel Crane, who spent the weekend with Alfred Merrifield.
In the report, Alfred Merrifield said that he had made £900 since his release. Lionel Crane went with him to a bank to deposit a cheque for £200 which he got for agreeing to have his effigy displayed in a seafront waxwork show. He could have got £2,500 if he had put himself on show. He will get another £125 from the same showman if and when he can sell some of the furniture from the bungalow.
The Daily Mirror report goes on to state that Alfred Merrifield is Blackpool’s greatest draw and acts the part. Before he goes out, he dresses carefully in the gay sports coat and new mackintosh be purchased with the £30 old-age pension accumulated while he was on trial.
When Lionel Crane and Alfred Merrifield were outside the waxworks display, he grabbed Crane’s arm, pointed to a huge queue, six-deep and 100 yards long, waiting to go inside. The admission price was 1 shilling 2 pence.
Alfred Merrifield told Lionel Crane
See that crowd, they’ve had 1,000 an hour going through since they put Louisa in there. Come and have a look.”The Daily Mirror newspaper, 6 October 1953.
However, according to the manager of the Tussaud’s Waxworks, due to the crowds, they moved Louisa Merrifield’s effigy into the war criminals section, positioning her effigy in front of the effigies of Hitler, Goering and Goebbels.
Alfred Merrifield continued to live in the bungalow for sometime but Mrs. Ricketts’ will leaving the bungalow to the Merrifields was disputed by Mrs. Ricketts’ daughters. In 1956, three years after Mrs. Ricketts death, the Probate Court proved a new will which provided one-sixth of the estate to Alfred Merrifield and the rest going to Mrs. Ricketts’ daughters.
When Alfred Merrifield tried to find somewhere else to live, 74 landladies turned him away in one day.The Sunday Times newspaper, 1 July 1962.
With his share of Mrs. Ricketts’ estate, Alfred Merrifield bought four caravans at Peel, just outside Blackpool and lived in one himself.
On 24 June 1962, Alfred Merrifield died in obscurity, in his caravan. He was 82 years old. Three days later, Alfred Merrifield’s remains were cremated.