The statement of Allan (often spelled “Alan”) Close, whose sighting of Julia Wallace is critical in this case. Supplied by John Gannon.
Statements of other delivery boys/girls (etc) corroborating times and conversations with the boy, as well as generalities about that evening can be found here.
Allan Croxton CLOSE, 13 years, says:-
I am a schoolboy and live with my parents at 51, Sedley Street. My father is a dairyman – I deliver milk for him at our customers. Mrs.Wallace of 29, Wolverton Street, was one of our customers and I used to deliver her milk in the evening. I knew her well. Between 6.30 and 6.45p.m. on Tuesday the 20th January 1931 I took Mrs.Wallace’s milk. I was late starting my round that night and I hurried.
I knocked at the knocker of her front door [door closed presumably] and put the milk in a can on the doorstep. I went to No.31, which is next door and put their milk in a jug just inside the lobby. The front door was open and after putting the milk in the jug I pulled the door to. I went to No. 29. and the milk can had been taken in, the front door was open. In a minute or two Mrs. Wallace came to the door and gave me the empty can. She told me to hurry home out of the cold and I said “Good night” and went away.
As far as I could see there was no light in the parlour. There was a light in the kitchen. I did not see or hear anyone else in the house. I then went along Wolverton Street to Richmond Park and then to Redford Street and then went home. When I got to Redford Street I looked at my watch and it was then a quarter to seven. My watch is a minute or two fast.
I have since timed myself in company with the Police and find that it took me six and a half minutes to do my milk round from Holy Trinity Church to 29, Wolverton Street. I timed myself again on Tuesday the 19th inst. and found it took me 5 minutes.
(Signed) Allan C.Close.
Evidence taken 20th. February 1931.
ALLAN CROXTON CLOSE :-
I am 14 years of age and live at 51 Sedley Street, Anfield, Liverpool. I live with my father who is a Dairyman at those premises. I take out milk in the evening between 5-30 and 6-30. Up to two weeks ago I delivered milk in Wolverton Street. I know the accused and his wife who lived at 29 Wolverton Street. I delivered milk there for about two years. Mrs Wallace took in the milk from me between 6 and 6-30 each day.
The last occasion was the 20th. January last at 6-30 p.m. I passed Holy Trinity Church, Breck Road, at 6-25 p.m. I noticed the Church Clock. I then went to the Dairy in Sedley Street and on to 29 Wolverton Street. I then gave the milk to Mrs. Wallace at the front door.
[In Margin: Mrs W “You’d better hurry up
you’ve got a bad cough
so have I.”
His round ___ to Elsie Wright
in Collect__ at dairy, ___
Lethchworth St Richmond Pk Wolverton St
Passed Elsie Letchworth St.
Wildman 20 to 7
21 __ _____ __]
- Delivered milk every evening between 6 and 6.30 PM
- Had known Mr. and Mrs. Wallace for two years.
- Wallace did not arrive home until 6.05 PM. Close may have already been and gone by this time.
- Wallace could not have left home later than 6.49 PM at the very latest to have been on the 7.06 tram (second tram he boarded), arriving at Menlove Gardens West at 7.20 PM.
By Mrs. Johnston’s evidence it is possible for the milk boy to be as late as 7 PM, in which case Wallace would not be able to kill his wife and get to Menlove Avenue by 7.30 if the killing took the same amount of time. He would at the very earliest then arrive at 7.31.
- Allan was late starting his round and hurried with his deliveries.
- Left the milk in Mrs. Johnston’s lobby, as per her statement she went to collect it. The time by her would be around 18:30.
- After closing the door on the Johnstons Allan returned to the doorstep of the Wallaces’ house, and a minute or two later Julia came to the door. Their conversation was brief. By another delivery boy, the door was wide open when he saw Allan was standing there on the doorstep at 7.37 PM. The other boy did not see/hear Allan talking or see/hear Mrs. Wallace, and therefore this sighting would have been before Julia returned to the door with the milk jugs. Therefore before Mrs. Wallace had spoken to Close and shut the door.
- No apparent light in the parlour. Parlour not yet set up?
- Light on in the kitchen.
- Did not see or hear anyone else in the house. Possible Wallace had already left? Wallace did not claim to have known of the milk boy’s arrival.
- Checked his watch on Redford Street (0.2 miles from Wolverton Street). His watch is a minute or two fast and read 18:45, meaning the real time was then 18:43 or 18:44. The walk to Redford Street from 29 Wolverton Street is 3 minutes by the route stated. It is not said if he made further deliveries on his way there.
- By most testimony of other delivery boys and such, it appears the door would have closed on him at about 18:38 if not shortly after.
In this case, with no wait time for the trams (unlikely) Wallace would have a maximum of 11 minutes to then take his wife into the parlour, attack her, possibly stamp out a fire (or at least drag Julia out of it), and leave his home free from blood. Wallace was examined on the murder night for blood on his persons and clothing.
By his own claimed time of leaving the house of 18:45, that would be around 7 minutes.
If the parlour was not already set up or the fireplace on, then time must be added for the fireplace to be turned on, the radiants to get hot enough to cause burning (perhaps a few minutes for this heating?), and perhaps by appearances of the lounger’s cushions for Julia to have set up the couch and lied down upon it.
Analyzing the supposed plan, a planned milk boy alibi does not make sense. If the milk boy could be as early as 6 PM then Wallace arrived home too late to be certain of being able to create his “impossible timeframe”. If the milk boy could be as late as 7 PM then Wallace may not have time to kill his wife and make his 7.30 appointment time at Menlove Gardens, as he certainly could not act until after the boy had been and gone.
If he did not know the boy had recently been late often and was attempting to construct an impossible timeframe, he would have ensured he was home by 6 PM (probably earlier in fact, to be sure he will not miss the milk delivery time due to – say – a hold up on the tram home). Instead he accepted and stayed for a cup of tea with a client on his final rounds before returning home for 6.05 PM! The milk has been delivered between 6 to 6.30 PM every evening for two years, Wallace will certainly be familiar with the arrival times of the milk by now.
If he DID know the boy could be as late as 7 PM, he ought to have made the appointment for slightly later.
The milk boy in any plan is more plausible as an “obstacle” not as a timestamp, so a later appointment time would have been safer to choose to ensure he physically has time to kill his wife and get to Menlove Gardens. It is not plausible to believe that the “alibi” is the time the milk boy sees Julia – it must be the telephone message. Therefore any timestamps and locations imposed upon people by Wallace should have been on the tram to the chess club (if he has got someone else to call for him) and once he arrived at the chess club. If you believe he made the call himself, then he ought to have imposed it upon Beattie on the telephone in conjunction with the “faked” chess club route, then, again imposing the time upon arriving at the club.
If he has a hitman willing to go in and kill his wife there is no need for the plan call whatsoever since he can spend the day away visiting Amy Wallace at Ullet Road straight from work, or something of that nature.
The plan outlined by many authors and the prosecution simply does not make any logical sense.
What makes sense is this:
1) He gave police his genuine route to the club because he did not make the call (if he called with the idea of giving a fake tram route to exonerate himself, he would have imposed the time to Beattie on the phone, then to club members upon his arrival).
2) He did not impose himself upon the tram conductor on this real route, or upon members of the chess club upon his arrival, because he is not attempting to create a time alibi with a call made by a “not-William” upon his own orders.
3) The appointment time is set for 7.30 PM which makes it possible William cannot kill his wife and make the appointment (Allan can be as late as 7 PM to Mrs. Johnston who receives her delivery first), because there is no idea of the boy simply being an “obstacle”.
If the boy was merely an obstacle that means the boy’s timestamp was always meaningless and he could have picked a later appointment time for logistical advantages: Most importantly to ensure he is physically able to do the deed and make the appointment in good time full stop, but also because a later time means less people around which gives him more opportunity to dispose of weapons etc. unseen.
4) He accepts a cup of tea from a client on his final round and arrives home at 6.05 PM (AFTER the earliest time the milk boy/girl might arrive) because he is not planning to use the milk boy as a timestamp to create an “impossible” timeframe.
Therefore there is and never was any timeframe alibi plan.
- If he wants to use the milk boy to create an “impossible” timeframe he would ensure he is home by 6.00 PM (likely with time to spare) because the boy might call at that time, or Elsie Wright might in his place if Alan is running late (which she did do on the night prior). William would not therefore sit around with clients having a cup of tea and arrive home late at 6.05.
- If the boy is merely an obstacle it only matters that the boy has been and gone, not what time he sees Mrs. Wallace, and hence William would choose a later appointment time for logistical reasons including, crucially, to make sure it is actually possible to kill his wife and get to the appointment on time (since the boy can be as late as 7 PM).
- If he wishes to prove he did not make the telephone call because he had someone else make it, he would have of course asked his hypothetical accomplice to wait a bit before ringing – or even ring WHILE Wallace is at the club and request of Beattie a message be taken because the caller “does not wish to disturb Mr. Wallace’s game”.
Being lenient that the accomplice messed up or it was overlooked, he would have imposed himself on the real tram he took at Belmont Road, then again upon his arrival at the chess club.
The Wallaces have been receiving milk from this boy every evening for two years. William will be very aware by now of the times the boy (or girl if Elsie does his deliveries) can arrive between.