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Murder, Mystery and My Family

Series 4

Staunton

Duration: 43 minutes

First broadcast: on BBC One East MidlandsLatest broadcast: on BBC Two Northern Ireland

Available for years

Top criminal barristers Jeremy Dein QC and Sasha Wass QC re-examine the complex case against a Victorian auctioneer accused, alongside his brother and two others, of murdering his wife.

Penge, 1877. On 12 April, a desperately frail woman was taken on an arduous journey from rural Kent to Penge on the outskirts of London. That woman was 36-year-old heiress Harriett Staunton. Moaning and barely conscious, she had to be carried the final stretch to her lodging house. Medical help was sought but nothing could be done, and by the following afternoon Harriett was dead.

Her body was found to be in an emaciated state, filthy and riddled with lice. Suspicion for causing her death by starvation and neglect soon fell on her husband, 26-year-old Louis Staunton. He was charged along with three other people - his brother Patrick, Patrick’s wife Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s sister Alice Rhodes, who was also Louis's mistress.

The trial of Louis Staunton attracted huge public attention and relied upon contentious medical evidence. The four accused desperately pleaded their innocence, but after seven days the jury returned a verdict of guilty, and Louis Staunton and his three family members were sentenced to death.

Today, nearly 150 years later, Louis Staunton’s grandson Nigel is seeking justice. He has been researching the case against his grandfather for the past 14 years and strongly questions the original conviction, so has enlisted the help of the barristers.

Could Louis have murdered his wife to get his hands on her considerable fortune? Jeremy and Sasha consider whether this was a compelling motive, and they also enlist the help of a forensic pathologist to study the complex medical evidence that proved central to the case. Will they be able to put forth a compelling argument to Judge Radford that Louis Staunton’s case was a miscarriage of justice? Show less

Contributors

Presenter:
Sasha Wass
Presenter:
Jeremy Dein
Director:
James Pearson
Producer:
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

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