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.

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.

Sir John Hurt, CBE, 1940 – 2017

Today brings the sad news that actor John Hurt has died at the age of 77. First seen by a wide audience in Robert Bolt’s classic 1966 film A Man for All Seasons, starring the great Paul Scofield as Thomas More, Hurt played the villainous and ruthlessly ambitious Richard Rich who betrays More for the reward of being appointed Attorney General for Wales. In real life, Rich later became Lord Chancellor of England and, history tells us, the – by then Baron – Rich, died peacefully in his bed aged 70. But many will regard Hurt’s BAFTA-nominated portrayal of Timothy Evans, in the 1970 film 10 Rillington Place, as his finest hour and, alongside Richard Attenborough as John Christie, it is certainly a compelling performance and one of the most impressive aspects of that film, for all its factual failings.

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