Inside 10 Rillington Place – Peter Thorley 2020

Everyone who wants to know the truth already does. Those who still believe the “official” story don’t want to know the truth. [Once said of the events of 9/11 in New York]

August 2020 brought with it the publication of a new book entitled Inside 10 Rillington Place. Far from being ‘just another’ book to add to the many already written upon the whole subject, this constituted a historical watershed in that the writer was none other than Beryl Evans’s youngest brother Peter Thorley.

Aged 85 years at the time of publication, it follows that Thorley was but fourteen in 1949 when the fateful events occurred that deprived him of his sister and niece, and the book provides a most credible, moving and compelling account of what really went on at that house, recounted in a way, and in such detail, that only someone who was actually present and deeply involved could ever have brought forth.

The book should be read by any and all who have an interest in the subject and by the legions of readers, and viewers, whose perceived knowledge and understanding derive from the mass of previous works, that of Ludovic Kennedy in 1961 chief among them.

Many who had delved further into the research for themselves already harboured grave misgivings about the so-called Standard Version of events – that which had Christie as the sole guilty man and Evans the hapless innocent victim, framed by a wily older man and condemned under a corrupt, incompetent and vengeful judicial system.

The advent of this book must surely now remove all reasonable doubt – it exposes Timothy John Evans as a devious, foul-tempered drunkard who boozed and gambled away the family’s meagre means of support and left his young pregnant wife frightened, lonely and in complete despair for their future and that of their infant daughter and unborn son. Beryl’s increasingly frail body already bore the marks of the physical assaults upon her and she seemed to have come to the realisation that her husband’s threats to do her extreme harm were by no means idle.

And so, just as his detailed confession made apparent, it really does seem that Evans indeed did strangle to death his young pregnant wife and his infant daughter – the latter crime for which he was tried and convicted – and for which he suffered the only penalty available under the law of the day. Painfully for her youngest brother, no conviction in respect of Beryl’s murder was ever obtained.

It is, of course, an established fact that Christie was a serial killer and this new account reinforces the belief that he was, far from being ignorant of it all, a party to dealing with the aftermath of Evans’s deeds which would have left him open to charges as an accessory under the Accessories and Abettors Act 1861, still fully in force at that time. Penalties for such offences could be as severe as those imposed upon the principal offender. However, this is of course merely academic given Christie’s subsequent fate for his own crimes little more than three years later.

The book is not without its errors, mainly as to matters of more minor detail, but a little disappointing nonetheless; it is understood that this was at least contributed to by an inordinate degree of intervention by copy editors for the publisher leading up to the final text which resulted in mistakes being introduced or indeed reintroduced despite correction in earlier drafts. 

Above all, this book is a moving personal story of the enduring love a boy had, and still has, for his beloved big sister and tiny niece, both of whom he still misses and mourns to this day. As though such pain were not enough to have borne, he and his family have had also to live with the sensationalised, endlessly trawled over and almost always erroneously depicted events which are so very far from the truth as he alone knew it to be – alone, that is, until now, thanks to this belated but heartfelt and crucially valuable contribution.

No doubt there will continue to be controversy and disagreement, sometimes bitter, amongst those who understandably prefer the sanctuary of the long-held version of a story and who suspect or perceive bad faith in those who come to unsettle it even though their only real motive is to dispel falsehood with truth. Ultimately, it is for each to reconcile for themselves.

4 thoughts on “Inside 10 Rillington Place – Peter Thorley 2020”

  1. John Eddowes author of The Two Killers of Rillington Place:
    Brian Burden says (Blog 29 April 2019):
    To my knowledge Hume always despised Evans for being a baby killer. Evans confessed not twice, in his two statements at Notting Hill, but also to Sgt Trevallian, and in prison, saying she would not stop crying so he just had to strangle her.

    The forensic evidence from Keith Simpson, Camps with Mr Smith of the Gas Board, and Teare, is consistent with Evans strangling Beryl. The view of the prison doctor, Matheson, to whom Evans confessed in the course of his lengthy interviews, and who also interviewed Christie before he was hanged, was that Evans was guilty, and of course the police knew he was (I also discovered that Beryl was not in the house when the murders were committed, having left with Tim’s younger sister Maureen to go to the flat of the family home 300 yards away, as usual. Tuesdays were Maureen’s half day. The evidence against Tim is as large as it has been suppressed by the BBC.

    John Curnow’s and Peter Mylton-Thorley’s very welcome evidence on the guilt of Evans and the innocence of Beryl, who was a particularly nice young woman, but whose behaviour has been viciously travestied, particularly by Sir Ludovic Kennedy and the BBC. This has caused great distress to the Thorley family, particularly to her other brother Basil, whom I met several times and was a most impressive, modest, and honest man. I wish Peter the best of luck.

  2. John Eddowes,

    Recently I watched a YouTube video presented by one Fred Dinenage, made a few years back it seems, for one of the Freeview TV channels.
    In it he interviews Police Sergeant Len Trevallion. Trevallion was fairly firm on the point that Ethel Christie was a well known abortionist in the neighbourhood, and that the Christies operated a clandestine abortion clinic with Ethel performing the operations and Reg providing the ‘anaesthesia’. Quite shocking from an unimpeachable source such as Trevallion, and not mentioned before, as far as I know.

    Also, PS Trevallion relates the following bizarre conversation with Reg, having been called to 10 Rillington Place somewhat after the Evans murder and before the Christie arrest to investigate a theft in the house concerning ‘new’ tenants.
    “What’s that stink your house Christie, can’t you do something about it”
    “Oh, that’s just the coloured people and their cooking”.

    Trevallion was speaking to Christie in his front room, under which Ethel was buried.

    • Thank you for the post.

      The 2011 production of Dinenage’s is a piece entitled ‘John Christie’ in the first of his three Murder Casebook series that I refer to in my book as being ‘to all intents and purposes a work of fiction’. It was one in a number of similar such programmes made for A+E Networks UK – the other 21-odd possibly being better but I am unable to speak with any authority on those.

      As you rightly say, Leonard Trevallion, by then aged 97, could certainly lay claim to having had contemporary knowledge, but described a production-line abortion business being carried on by the Christies which simply had no basis in any known fact. If I might quote from my own book:

      It is also as well to note more generally that there was never any evidence to suggest that Christie, much less Ethel, was in any way involved in performing abortions. Indeed, Detective Chief Inspector Jennings who led the Evans inquiry explicitly stated that he was not. Christie had himself expressed incomprehension and indignation at the suggestion and had vehemently denied it. In all of the voluminous archive material now available, which includes a good many witness statements from close neighbours and others, there is nowhere to be found the suggestion or accusation that Christie was an abortionist.

      Sadly, some oral history recordings of Trevallion’s held at The National Archives contain further such questionable reminiscences which also need to be treated with caution.

      The linguistics expert in the programme opined that the wording used in Evans’s confessions was that of the police rather than of a poorly-educated and illiterate man, but even so it changes nothing of the substance of the statements and Evans himself never claimed to have been coerced into making false confessions or having had words put into his mouth under duress.

      Anecdotally, I understand that David Wilson subsequently expressed the opinion that the finished programme as broadcast was dire to say the least.

      Hoping the foregoing is of some interest.

  3. More Christie revelations, this time from Jonathan Oates’ exhaustive biography of 2011, the first of its kind, of that I’m aware, and is essential reading as it finally clears up a lot f myths and canards about the man ‘ he stole a priest’s car’ etc which for too long were repeated as ‘fact’.
    Apparently in 1953, before his arrest, but after Ethel’s murder, Christie was, in fact, a regular client of Kathleen Mahoney, whom who often ‘saw’ in conjunction with another ‘working girl’ one Maureen Briggs. Strangely, Christie took the pair to an illicit photo studio in which both he and Mahoney stripped fully naked, whilst Briggs was paid to take the hard core pornographic photographs. Mercifully, the photos have not survive, one winces at thought of a naked, bald headed, middle aged Christie featuring in hard core delicto.
    But what puzzles me is that, as far as I know, hard core pornography, featuring actual sexual activity between men and women was all but unknown in those prurient semi Victorian times. What the Hell possessed Christie to do it?


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