On 21 June 1946 the body of a film extra called Margery Aimeé Brownell Gardner was found in a Notting Hill Gate hotel room.
MARGERY AIMEE BROWNELL GARDNER
Margery Aimee Brownell Wheat was born on 21 May 1914, in Ecclesall, Yorskhire. In April 1939 she had married Peter A. Gardner.
The 1939 England and Wales Register entry show the Gardner’s living in Beaufort Street, London.
|Peter H||10/05/1914||Company Director|
|Margery||21/05/1914||Unpaid Domestic Duties|
She had been badly mutilated on both her body and sexual organs. Her cause of death was suffocation. Margery Gardner’s body lay on its back, her right arm underneath her body. Both ankles were tied tightly together, and her wrists had been bound. Her face was bruised, as if she had been hit by a clenched fist. The room was also bloodstained.
This room had previously been reserved in the names of Lieutenant Colonel and Mrs. Heath. Neville Heath was well known to the police, as he had a borstal record and additionally he had been tried by courts-martial for wearing uniforms and decorations that he was not entitled to.
Posing as Group Captain Rupert Brooke, Heath met Miss Doreen Marshall, aged 21, at a Bournemouth Hotel on 3 July 1946.
DOREEN MARGARET MARSHALL
Doreen Margaret Marshall was born on 25 August 1924, the daughter of Charles and Grace Marshall.
The 1939 England and Wales Register has the Marshalls living in Kenton Road, Pinner, Middlesex.
|Grace E||27/05/1888||Unpaid Domestic Duties|
|Doreen M||25/08/1924||At School|
After they had dinner, they left the hotel after midnight. After not being seen for two days, the Hotel’s Manager reported their absence to the local police.
Health then went to a police station, posing as Group Captain Brooke, and asked if they had a picture of the missing lady. Due to his previous record, Heath was recognised and arrested. Among his belongings left at Bournemouth West Rail Station, were a bloodstained scarf and a metal-tipped whip.
On 8 July 1946, Doreen Marshall’s naked body (aside from her left shoe) was found in Branksome Chine, lying in some bushes. Her throat had been cut, and she had been sexually assaulted and savagely mutilated. No knife was found, nor was any of Doreen Marshall’s blood found on Heath’s clothes. It is thought that Heath stripped naked before attacking Doreen Marshall, afterwards washing himself in the sea where he also discarded the knife.
On 8 July 1946, Neville Heath, of Merton Hall Road, Wimbledon, was formally charged with the murder of Margery Aimee Brownell Gardner at the Pembridge Court Hotel, Pembridge Gardens, Notting Hill, on the night of June 20-21. Heath was remanded in custody.
On 29 July 1946, when appearing for a remand hearing, Neville Heath was, additionally, charged with the murder of Doreen Marshall. It was also stated in the remand hearing that the murders of Margery Gardner and Doreen Marshall would have to be tried in two separate trials.
Heath’s trial for the murder of Margery Gardner started on 24 September 1946 at the Old Bailey before Mr Justice Morris. The Prosecution case was led by Mr E.A. Hawke and Heath was defended by Mr J.D. Casswell, KC, and Mr. E. A. Jessel. The Times newspaper reported that people had been queuing since 9pm to gain admittance.
Heath did not testify on his behalf, as his counsel thought that his detached manner would not lend itself to his attempts to show that Heath was insane under the McNaghten Rules, and so must be found guilty but insane. However, two prison doctors testified that Heath was a sadist, a sexual pervert and a psychopath. However, he was judged to be sane although abnormal.
After the 3 day trial at London’s Old Bailey, the 10 men and 2 women jury took just 1 hour to find Heath guilty of Margery Gardner’s murder and he was sentenced to death. The second charge, of murdering Doreen Marshall, was not proceeded with.
AFTER THE TRIAL
On 15 October 1946, The Times newspaper had the following report.
The Home Secretary has decided that in the case of Neville George Clevely Heath, who is under sentence of death, he would not be justified in recommending any interference with the due course of the law. Heath, aged 29, was sentenced to death at the Central Criminal Court on September 27, for the murder of Mrs. Margery Gardner in a hotel at Notting Hill Gate, London, and his execution has been fixed for tomorrow. The Home Secretary arrived at his decision after considering reports from doctors who had examined Heath in prison.The Times newspaper, 15 October 1946.
Heath did not appeal his conviction and he was hanged at Pentonville Prison on 16 October 1946. Later that day, he was buried in the prison graveyard.
Margery Gardner is buried in All Saints Churchyard, Ecclesall, Sheffield, South Yorkshire.
Doreen Marshall is buried in Pinner Cemetery, Pinner, Middlesex.