The Julia Wallace Murder

William Wallace / Photo: Keystone/Getty Images.

In one of the most fascinating cases the St George’s Hall courts have seen, William Herbert Wallace was wrongly convicted of the murder of his wife.

On 20 January 1930, Wallace returned home to find his wife had been brutally murdered. In April of that year, he would stand trial at St George’s Hall for that very murder.

Wallace lived in the Anfield area of Liverpool and regularly attended Liverpool Chess Club. One evening when he was attending a meeting, upon arrival he was greeted with a telephone message, left for him 25 minutes earlier. The message was from a man who called himself, R. M. Qualtrough.

The man asking Wallace to meet him the following evening to talk about insurance. Wallace dealt with insurance for a living and so this call was not particularly out of place.

The next evening Wallace left his home to make his way to the address. He did not recognise the address and so when he got off the tram he had to ask people around for some help, he even ended up asking a police officer nearby. No one could direct him to the house and no one even recognised the name Qualtrough.

After an unsuccessful search, he headed home. When he arrived home, he found himself struggling to get into his house. His neighbours, leaving for the evening, came out and offered him their spare key.

He eventually managed to get in through the back door, but when he did, he was greeted with his wife beaten and lying dead on the floor.

After the police investigation was underway, they very quickly began to become suspicious of Wallace. The theory was that Wallace and Qualtrough were the same man. They also believed that man who played chess would think far enough ahead to create his own alibi.

To see if their theory could be true, they had an officer act out the murder before running for the tram that William had to catch. This was to determine if Wallace had the time to murder his wife and make it to the tram spot in time, to meet Qualtrough. However, the officer who supposedly proved this was possible, was a lot younger than 52 year old William Wallace.

Despite little evidence against him and Wallace pleading his innocence, he was charged for the murder of Julia Wallace and stood trial at St George’s Hall on 22 April 1931.

During the trial it was said that William Wallace was calm and composed, something that worked against him. The Liverpool jury found him guilty, and he was sentenced to death.

However, in May 1931, the Court of Criminal Appeal judged the evidence against him to be circumstantial and quashed the verdict.

Wallace was released and the case remains unsolved to this day!

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