Lily Hall’s Sighting

Because Lily Hall’s statement uses the names of roads which have since changed and her statement itself changes, it might be a little confusing, so I have attempted to help the matter the best I can with maps and diagrams.

Lily Hall’s statement is the strongest evidence favouring a conspiracy to commit murder as proposed by Gannon, Waterhouse, and a few others.

Lily Hall’s first statement (25th January 1931):

I am a typist employed at Littlewoods Ltd, commission agents, Charles Street, off Whitechapel, and I live with my parents at 9 Letchworth Street. I have known Mr Wallace for 3 or 4 years by sight and about a fortnight ago, I learned his name from Mr Johnston, junior, of 31 Wolverton Street. I was there visiting them.

On Tuesday night, the 20th instant, I left business at Charles Street soon after 8 p.m. and took a tram home at the corner of Lord Street and Whitechapel. I got off the tram at the tram stop in Breck Road at the corner of Walton Breck Road. I had arranged to go to the pictures that night if I got home in time and when I got off the tram, I looked at Holy Trinity Church clock, which is near the tram stop, and saw that it was then 8.35 p.m. by that clock.

I came straight home along Richmond Park and as I was passing the entry leading from Richmond Park to the middle of Wolverton Street, I saw the man I know as Mr Wallace talking to another man I do not know. Mr Wallace had his face to me and the other man his back. They were standing on the pavement in Richmond Park opposite to the entry leading up by the side of the Parish Hall. I crossed over Richmond Park and came up Letchworth Street and home. When I got into the house, our clock was just turned 8.40 p.m. but it is always kept 5 minutes fast. It takes me not more than 3 minutes to walk from the tram stop to our house.

The next morning I heard Mrs Wallace had been murdered and when I got home that night, I told my parents that I had seen Mr Wallace the previous night. Mr Wallace was wearing a trilby hat and a darkish overcoat when I saw him talking to the man in Richmond Park on Tuesday night. The man he was talking to was about 5ft 8ins and was wearing a cap and dark overcoat; he was of a stocky build.

The red line indicates the route Lily Hall took from the tram stop, the blue lines the entries beside Parish Hall and the one that she passed (which leads into the back of Wolverton Street). The blue cross is where she says she saw Wallace speaking to a man.

At this time, in this statement, she does not say that she saw the two men part. This seems to have come later.

Lily Hall at the committal trial (excerpts provided by Gannon):

…I last saw Mr. Wallace at 8.35 p.m. on the 20th January last at the bottom of the entry by the Parish Hall…

…One [of the two men she saw, one being Mr. Wallace, the other a stranger] went down the entry and the other down Richmond Park but I do not know whom…

…The man went down the entry opposite the institute.

Here she is saying that she saw one of them go down the entry opposite the institute (this meaning Parish Hall), which implies she means the entry leading to the back of Wolverton Street – although we will later see this might be a case of poor wording or a mistake, or something of that nature. It was never clarified to the degree I would have hoped considering the gravity of the testimony.

It is also a shame that Gannon has included only excerpts of this sighting rather than the full testimony. By “opposite” Parish Hall it is possible she meant beside which – again – we will see later. Indeed to have seen a man go down the entry, it would mean that she had actually watched one of the men cross the road and disappear down the entry leading to Wolverton Street… Or that she had just so happened to glance back exactly as the figure disappeared down that entry – since if she had actively watched the figures for anything more than a glance, she would surely know which figure went where.

From a logical standpoint, it makes more sense that as she crossed the road, she briefly looked across and saw the man by Parish Hall walk back down the entry towards Sedley Street.

The purple arrow shows where one of the two men went, the black arrow where she saw the other man go as implied at the committal trial. Although we will soon see that this may be a faulty interpretation…

Lily Hall at the Trial (22nd April 1931):

Full testimony…

Aside from the obvious mistakes/confusion about the days and time which you can see in the link above, I will focus on the sighting itself.

Mr. Justice Wright: Which side was he [Mr. Wallace]?

Lily: The side of the entry.

Mr. Justice Wright: Which side were you?

Lily: The passage side.

Mr Justice Wright: Then you had to cross over to get into Letchworth Street?

Lily: Yes.

Hemmerde: Did you then cross over when you passed him…so as to get into Letchworth Street?

Lily: Yes.

Hemmerde: As you crossed over towards Letchworth Street what was the last thing you saw?

Lily: They parted.

Hemmerde: And where had they gone?

Lily: One went straight along and one down the entry.

Hemmerde: One went down the entry and the other in the opposite direction, do you mean?

Lily: Towards Breck Road.

Hemmerde: Are you talking about the same entry still?

Lily: Yes.

Hemmerde: That little entry?

Lily: Yes.

Mr. Justice Wright: Which entry are you talking about?

Lily: The one I was standing by.

Hemmerde: That is right down the little entry down the Church Institute [Parish Hall]?

Lily: Yes.

Hemmerde: Could you see which one went there and which one along to Breck Road?

Lily: No.

Now it is quite confusing but it seems like she’s referring to the entry beside Parish Hall, meaning one of the two men – rather than go down the entry into the back of Wolverton Street – went back towards Sedley Street.

However it is difficult to tell.

If the man did indeed walk back towards Sedley Street, does this mean it wasn’t Wallace? Not necessarily. Had he noticed someone walking by (in this case Lily) as he spoke to this other man, he may well have ducked back into the entry to avoid letting her get a good look at him.

By the same token, are all sightings definitely credible? We can see that one man in particular swore blind for years that he had seen Wallace with his sister-in-law Amy at Scotland Road at about 20:10 on the night of the murder, asking for directions to the ferry landing stage.

When Anne Frank and her family went into hiding, neighbours swore they had seen them riding their bicycles down the street, or being loaded into a truck.

Especially considering it was dark at this time with only a lamp further along the road providing illumination, as well as the fact she only took a quick glance at the individuals, it is plausible she is simply mistaken about her sighting…

Although it does match up with the time Wallace would have arrived home, and she correctly stated that he had been wearing a trilby. She described his overcoat as “darkish”, and though Wallace had in fact been wearing a light fawn overcoat on his trip, another witness also described it as being “darkish”.

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