Was Justice Served? | The Terrible Crime of Jeannie Donald
hello everyone today we are going to Scotland in the 1930s to look at a
crimewhere many people argue that
servedso sit back as we go to Aberdeen in 1934 Aberdeen is a city in the northeast of Scotland which is famously known as the Granite City and by the end of the 19th century Aberdeen became the granite capital of the world it's coastal location ensured the granite a historically difficult commercial material to transport could be easily exported there was a lot of work in Aberdeen in the 1930s and living conditions were improving as housing slum clearance took place between 1919 and 1939 2955 slum houses were demolished and over 6500 new authority owned houses were built John and Agnes Priestley lived on the second floor of a drab an overcrowded tenement block number 61 Burkhart Street the imposing and dilapidated four-story building had been divided into eight to room flats providing squalid and cramped living conditions for working-class people they probably hoped that their building would eventually be replaced and their living conditions would vastly improve from their current oppressive surroundings at lunchtime on Saturday April the 21st 1934 Agnes Priestley sent her little eight-year-old daughter named Helen to the shops to buy a loaf of bread little Helen was well known in the neighborhood she was told for her age and she had run the errand for her mother on many occasions as time passed Helen's mother became increasingly worried...
as a daughter had not returned home concerned she asked all the neighbors if they had seen her but they hadn't so after asking everyone she could think of the neighbors and mrs. priestly all started looking for Helen the search failed to find the little girl and the priests Lea's reported their daughter as missing to the police this started one of the largest searches in Aberdeen history dozens of locals men women and children began searching the streets and alleyways for any sign of the missing girl the police also broadcast heavens disappearance in radio announcements and it flashed up on screens in local cinemas the search lasted until the early hours of the morning when it was suggested for Helens father John priestly who was completely exhausted should go home and get a couple of hours rest one of her neighbours named Alexander Parker promised he'd go to the priest his home at around 5:00 a.m. so three hours later to wake him so they could continue the search at first light sir five in the morning mr. Parker headed to Hart streets but this morning would be different he turned into the clothes where the priests Lee's building was and he saw a blue Hessian bag lying against the wall he thought why is that there and he could not recall it being there on the previous day intrigued he opened the bag and inside was the dead body of Helen Priestley shocked confused and horrified Alexander Parker informed his friend John priestly his daughter was dead they...
contacted the police immediately and the police thought it very strange that someone had risked returning the body almost to the child's home and so close to the area that was being searched by the police from the examination of the body it seemed the child had been strangled so it was unlikely to have been an accident of any kind but it was considered most certainly to have been murder examination also revealed bruising on the child's upper thighs and sexual organs which meant that in all likelihood the motive had been sexual when the local community heard the news of Helens
terriblemurder they feared that a child sex attacker was on the loose so they formed vigilante groups and took to the streets armed with clubs and other weapons this wasn't good for the police as they didn't want to have to deal with vigilantes who are investigating the
terriblemurder of a little girl the police decided that as the murder was of someone so young and that the local people were also concerned but a sexual predator might be amongst them they decided to put a lot of resource into their inquiry the police began to interview all the residents of number 61 had the Priestley's argued had John or Agnes ever been seen mistreating little Helen or was there someone in the building who might have had cause to want to kill or harm the little girl it was well known that there was a continuing issue between the
Donaldfamily who occupied the flat on the ground floor and the...
prisoners who lived immediately above them the police soon discovered but one neighbor had heard a scream from a house close to the prison his home and about lunchtime and this was confirmed by roofs later from outside the area who had been working at the back of her cart Street the same day jeanny
Donaldhad been seen shouting ahead and priestly on a number of occasions due to Helens bad behavior Helen had been known to torment Mc
Donaldfamily she'd often bullied Jeanie
Donald's little daughter also named Jeanie she also kicked at the
Donald's front door and rattled the Bannister outside their house to annoy the family she had also shouted abuse at mrs.
Donaldthe police took note that the Donnell family were the only residents of 61 Hart Street who had not participated in a search for Helen the police began to look a little bit closer of a
Donaldfamily and interview its members Alexandre
Donaldwas a barber he didn't own his own business but he worked hard and was good at his job
Donaldwas a 38 year old housewife who filled her day with household chores and looking after their daughter as police interviewed the
Donaldfamily they also investigated the Hessian bag that Helen had been found in the bag revealed distinctive markings of a Canadian export stamp the police discovered but it was a particular type of bag that was used for flour transportation it also contained traces of washing cinders an unusual cleaning habit that was very much out of...
date in the 1930s it also had source burn marks where it had been used as a makeshift tablecloth the local Baker where Helen purchased her bread on the fateful day confirmed that they had received a shipment of flour in the same bags the Baker told police that a customer had asked if she could have some of the bags and that he had given them to her it was awhile ago so he was unable to give a good description of the customer the police wondered if Helen had actually made it back to number 61 that day maybe not up the single flight of stairs to her home Helen would have had to have passed for Donnell family flat had Helen kick the door and a Donnell family finally cracked and harm the little girl they searched for
Donald's flat and found nine more identical bags to the one the body was found in each with similar saucepan stains bloodstains were found on a packet of soap flakes a scrubbing brush and some cleaning cloths the evidence was starting to mount against the
Donalds the police Alastair Sydney Smith a very well-known professor of forensic medicine in Edinburgh to examine the flat he discovered that little Helen had suffered from a rare condition for caused her to produce an extremely rare bacterium this meant that she would often faint microbiological tests showed that this bacterium was found in many places in the
Donalds flat so Sydney examined the dust fibers in the bag and they were the exact match to the dusts found in Mac
Donald's flat bloodstains in the...
flat the same blood group as Helen mr. Alexander
Donaldwas arrested had he finally snapped and murdered the naughty little girl or did he rape her first then murder her the police thought that they had caught the perpetrator of his
crimepeople gathered outside the flats wanting to attack mr.
Donaldbut the police managed to get him into the police van and take him to the police station without the vigilante groups taking the law into their own hands when the police started to interview him they were shocked as mr.
Donaldhad a rock-solid alibi he told police he'd been working on the day of the murder when the police investigated this many witnesses came forward all of whom were willing to state that at the time of Helens murder he had been miles away at the barbershop cutting hair the police was stuck if mr.
Donaldwasn't the killer then who was as forensics seem to point to Helen being killed inside the
Donalds flats they then focused on his wife mrs. jeanne
donaldsamples of mrs.
Donald's hair were taken and analyzed by Professor John Glaser of Glasgow University he could say beyond doubt that jeanne
Donald's hair perfectly matched hair found on the body and the blue Hessian bag the police was shocked as all the evidence now pointed to Jeanne
Donaldbeing the murderer they arrested Jeanne and charged her with murder as the trial approached the newspapers reported the facts of the case they wrote but the case showed that a woman could commit
as horrific as a man but they also highlighted that despite the modernization of authority run houses in the country many people in Scotland still lived in cramped and unfit living conditions on Monday the 16th of July 1934 the trial of jeanne
Donaldcommenced at Edinburgh high court before Judge Lord Craig Mason Aitchison the defense was simple Jeanne could not have committed the murder as she was physically incapable of raping a young girl the motive for murder being so obviously sexual the prosecution however had carried out extensive tests on Helen Priestley's body one thing that's a Sidney Smith was always worried about was the fact that no semen had been found on Helens body when he had examined the bruises and abrasions more closely he concluded but they had not been committed during a rape but by an object such as a broom handle to try and make the murder look like it was a result of a sexual attack the forensic evidence seemed very solid
Jeannie's daughter also testified that the loaf of bread they ate that day looked and tasted different from the bread they usually buy
Donalddid not testify the jury was sent out to consider the verdict but it took just 18 minutes for them to return a verdict of guilty
Jeanniewas sentenced to death by hanging she was taken to Craig inches prison Aberdeen to await execution on the 3rd of August 1934
Jeannie's lawyers lodged an appeal and remarkably the Secretary of State commuted her sentence to life in...
prison she was then transferred to the female jail in Duke Street Glasgow to serve out her sentence in jail she was a model prisoner but it was still a surprise that when her husband Alexander