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The Garibaldi, Worcester, Worcestershire

 

 


 

The Garibaldi was situated on Wylds Lane. This pub is now used as a takeaway.

Source: Rob Williams

 
From The Worcester News:
It didn’t exactly take Sherlock Holmes to solve one of Worcester’s most brutal crimes of the 20th century. Because the killer of a city publican, his wife and their baby son convicted himself as soon as he opened his mouth. Remarkably, he was a local policeman and, even more remarkably, he never showed any remorse and went to the gallows singing.
It was early on a cold winter’s morning in 1925 when Herbert Burrows, a 22-year-old police constable in the Worcester City Force, rushed up to a colleague on point duty at The Cross and related a horror story.
He told in some detail how a city innkeeper, his wife and child had been murdered in the early hours.
Yet the big trouble for Burrows was that the horrific crime at the Garibaldi pub in Wylds Lane hadn’t been reported or even discovered at that time. Burrows had sealed his own fate and signed his own death warrant. He was the last Worcester murderer to go to the gallows.
The full story came out in the Police Court at the Guildhall and later at Worcester Assizes. On the night of November 26, Burrows was the last person left drinking at the Garibaldi when all the other customers had left.
The next morning the pub charlady arrived to find the place in disarray and called in a near neighbour and the police, who were soon confronted by scenes of horror.
The bodies of the 31-year-old licensee Ernest George Laight and his 30-year-old wife Doris were lying across the cellar floor. Both had died of bullet wounds to the heart and lungs.
Upstairs, the Laights’ two-year-old son Robert was found lying dead in his cot from a fractured skull, though mercifully his six year-old sister was discovered still alive in her bedroom.
In the bar, the till was on the floor with some copper coins around it, but gone was more than £80 known to have been in the Garibaldi that night. Four bottles of spirits in the kitchen had also been opened and part consumed.
It was around 7.30am when PC Devey on duty at The Cross was approached from The Foregate by Burrows, who asked: “Have you heard of the affair at the Garibaldi?”
When the colleague answered 'No', he went on: “Ern Laight and his wife have been found shot in the cellar and the kiddie dead in bed. The drawer and money was pulled out all over the floor.”
PC Devey asked how he knew of the crime. Burrow’s replied: “A man in Lowesmoor told me.” He then went on: “Funny thing, Billie. I was having two glasses of whisky with Ern Laight at 12 o’clock. I was the last with him.”
This fateful conversation took place well before anyone else knew of the crime at the Garibaldi.
Detectives soon learned how Burrows had given himself away and went to his home in Wylds Lane where they found a loaded revolver in a locked drawer with a box of 35 cartridges. The bullets which killed the Laights were later found to be of the same calibre as those in Burrows’ revolver. In a suitcase, detectives also found more than £65 in notes and coins and, on searching Burrows, a further £22 in his wallet and pockets.
It didn’t take long after that for Burrows to make his written confession to the police: “I voluntarily and fully admit that I killed at 12.50am on November 27, Mr and Mrs Laight and Robert Laight. I apologise to the officers and men of the Worcester City Police for the disgrace thus incurred.”
Burrows said the motive of the crime had simply been robbery. He was in debt to money lenders and wanted extra cash for the holiday leave he was due to begin the day after the murder.
Big crowds jostled outside the Guildhall for both the Police Court hearing and the Assizes where Burrows pleaded not guilty. His defence counsel claimed the accused was insane at the time of the murders, but the jury convicted him.
Berrow’s Worcester Journal of December 5, 1925, described the Garibaldi murders as “a tragedy that has shocked Worcester especially as the victims were well known in the city and highly esteemed”.
Burrows was hanged at Gloucester Jail on February 17, 1926. Pierrepoint was the executioner.
It seems from reports that the condemned man “met his death fearlessly” and “never at any time exhibited any remorse over his crime and was callous to the end”. He spent his last night “singing songs and playing patience”.
LInda Jones (January 2020)
 

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