True Crime Trial from St George’s Hall

Cameo Cinema Murder 

A trial in the Courts of St George’s Hall led to an innocent man being executed, it took decades for three family to receive Justice for his death. To this day no one knows the actual murderer. 

Late on Saturday 19th March 1949, in the Cameo Cinema in Liverpool the manager, Leonard Thomas, and assistant manager, John Catterall, were counting the earnings. 

Nobody quite knows what happened in that room that night but it is believed that the gunmen burst into the office to steal the money, and both men were shot. 

However, the money was left behind at the scene. The gunman ran from the scene wearing a brown overcoat and a scarf wrapped around his face and hat pulled over his face. He was chased away before escaping into the night. 

This led to the biggest manhunt the city had ever seen. 9,500 doors were knocked on and 75,000 statements were taken.

Nothing came of this until weeks later the police received a letter naming, George Kelly and Charles Connolly as suspects. 

No murder weapon was found and both men denied the charges but nevertheless they were charged with the murders. 

Kelly was tried first and despite no forensic evidence and no eyewitnesses, he would found guilty. 

The witnesses who saw the gunmen run away said he was drunk and Kelly was found to have been drinking that night. 

Kelly claimed he had just been drinking with his friend that day while Connolly claimed he was at a dance with his wife. 

Following what was then the longest criminal trial in English legal history, Kelly was sentenced to death and executed in March 1950. 

Connolly who was now terrified he would also face the death , struck a deal with prosecution and pleaded guilty to robbery. 

It was said that Kelly would shout his innocence to the guards everyday until his execution. 

It wasn’t until 2003 when the Court of Appeal posthumously overturned the conviction, and the family of the executed man received an official apology. 

Back to news articles