Programme Index

Discover 10,249,320 listings and 230,327 playable programmes from the BBC

Murder, Mystery and My Family

Series 4


Duration: 43 minutes

First broadcast: on BBC One HDLatest broadcast: on BBC Two Northern Ireland

Available for years

Top criminal barristers Jeremy Dein QC and Sasha Wass QC re-examine the case against a young farm labourer convicted of the brutal murder of a travelling watch repairman in 1880.

On a cold February morning in 1880, a travelling draper was walking along a country lane on the border of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire when he spotted a hat on the ground. He stopped to pick it up and made a grisly discovery. Nearby, in a ditch by the side of the road, lay the mutilated body of a man named John Edmonds, whose head had almost been decapitated by a deep knife wound.

Edmonds had been drinking in a local pub the previous evening, and witnesses reported that he had been showing off an expensive watch that he was currently repairing. Police questioned four men who had been drinking with Edmonds. One of them was farm labourer William Dumbleton, and bloodstains were noticed on his clothes.

Dumbleton was arrested and charged with murder. Being from a poverty-stricken background, he had no legal representation until the day of his trial. On 20 April 1880, in a trial lasting just one day, Dumbleton was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.

Today, 140 years later, Dawn, the great-great-niece of William Dumbleton, is keen to find out more about the events which led to William’s execution. The case against Dumbleton included two key pieces of circumstantial evidence and seemed like a straightforward one, but as he wasn’t legally represented until the day, did he receive a fair trial? And could someone else have ultimately been responsible for the crime?

The barristers assess the evidence against Dumbleton and enlist the help of a forensic scientist and a psychologist to re-evaluate the safety of his conviction. Show less


Sasha Wass
Jeremy Dein
James Pearson
Clare Wales
Series Producer:
James Pearson
Executive Producer:
Mike Benson
Executive Producer:
Simon Cooper
Production Manager:
Johanna Scammell
Production Department:
Michael Klokkos
Production Company:
Chalkboard TV

About this data

This data is drawn from the data stream that informs BBC's iPlayer and Sounds. The information shows what was scheduled to be broadcast, meaning it was/is subject to change and may not be accurate. More