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Edwin Albert BUSH






The Antique Shop Murder
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery - The first case in the UK involving the use of the Identikit System
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: March 2, 1961
Date of arrest: 4 days after
Date of birth: 1940
Victim profile: Elsie May Batten (antique shop assistant)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
Status: Executed by hanging at Pentonville Prison on July 6, 1961

The Antique Shop Murder

On the 2nd March 1961, Edwin Bush, aged 21, went into an antique shop in Cecil Court just off Charing Cross Road in WC2, and told the antique dealer, Louis Meier, that he was looking for a present for his girlfriend.

He took an interest in a curved dress sword costing 15, and several daggers. In the words of Mr Meier "he told me his father was an Indian and that it was a common thing to carry a dagger in India." Bush returned to the shop shortly afterwards and spoke to Elsie May Batten, who worked for Mr Meier at Cecil Court.

The following day, a 15 years old apprentice signwriter named Peter Albert King left his place of work to call on a firm in St Martin's Lane. At about 11.30 am he looked in at Louis Meier's shop, intending to buy a billiard cue. Walking in to the shop he saw a curtain partly open, and what appeared to be a dummy lying on the floor. Thinking perhaps it was a woman who had fainted, King left the shop, but was obviously disturbed by the experience because he told many people about it later.

Meier discovered the body a little later, and called the police. The Pathologist Dr Keith Simpson attended the scene. He discovered the victim with three major stab wounds, one in the back, one in the neck and another in the chest. The wounds were very deep, with the dagger blade almost completely buried in the neck (about 9 inches). An ivory handled dagger remained in the chest wound with its blade buried to a depth of 8 inches. At 8.35pm on the 3rd March 1961, Mark Batten, the President of the Royal Society of British Sculptors, identified the body as his wife Elsie.

The first major step forward in the case took place on the 4th March 1961. Detective Sergeant Raymond Frederick Dagg, attached to Bow Street Station, interviewed the antique dealer, Mr Meier.

From his recollections of the Indian Meier had spoken to in his shop on 2nd March 1961, DS Dagg was able to compile a facial picture of the suspect using the 'Identikit'. Dagg also interviewed a Mr Paul Roberts, the son of a gun dealer in St Martin's Lane. The Indian youth had gone to this shop after leaving the antique dealer's in an effort to sell the sword.

From his interview with Roberts, Dagg built up another facial likeness of the suspect. Divisional Detective Superintendent Pollard decided the similarity of the two witnesses recollections was so outstanding that the pictures were photographed side by side, circulated internally to all Police forces and also released to the media in the hope that the youth could be identified.

On Wednesday 8th March P.C. Arthur John Hilton Cole, attached to West End Central Police station, was on duty in Old Compton Street when he saw an Indian answering the description of the suspect wanted in connection with the murder of Elsie Batten. P.C. Cole detained the man and his female companion. The man was Edwin Bush.

During interviews, Bush commented that the 'Identikit' pictures being circulated in newspapers looked a bit like him. His girlfriend, Janet Wheeler (aged 17) was also interviewed, but quickly eliminated from police enquiries. Bush's mother was also interviewed, and she stated that on the morning of the murder she thought Edwin had left for work at 7.30am.

At 7.40pm on the 8th March 1961 Divisional Detective Superintendent Pollard and Detective Inspector Howlett interviewed Bush. Bush initially denied any involvement of in the murder, claiming his mother as an alibi. The statement his mother had given earlier contradicted this. At 10.15pm Inspector John Child arranged an identification parade at Bow Street Police Station with Edwin Bush in the line up. Louis Meier was brought to show the parade but could not make a positive identification. Paul Roberts was then shown the parade and he immediately identified Bush. Divisional Superintendent Pollard then charged Edwin Bush with the murder. Pollard left the room leaving Bush with Detective Inspector Howlett . Bush wrote a full statement admitting the murder and insisting his girlfriend had nothing to do with it. He said in his statement "I am sorry I done it I don't know what came over me. Speaking personally the world is better off without me."

Edwin Bush had come from a troubled family. In 1953 the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children had enquired into the family's living conditions, finding 2 adults and 6 children living in 3 rooms. Edwin had firstly been sent to a home and then in 1955 was sent to a training farm near Uckfield in Sussex. He then had spells in Borstal following a string of breaking and entering and stealing cases.

He was committed to stand trial at the Central Criminal Court on the 10th May 1961 and was found guilty. The case was tried in front of Judge Stevenson and was concluded on the 12th May 1961. A verdict of "Guilty " was delivered and Bush was sentenced to death. He was executed on the 6th July 1961 at Pentonville Prison.

The detective in charge of the investigation said of this case:

"This case is of particular interest because the arrest of the murderer was achieved as a direct result of the use of an American system, known familiarly as " Identikit ", for building up the facial likeness of a suspect. This was the first time this equipment had ever been used in this country, but so skilfully was it operated and so effective was the resultant 'picture', that a ' C' Division Police Constable , P.C. 341 ' E ' Cole was able to recognise the wanted man Bush and detain him...."


Edwin Albert Bush

This was quite an important case and almost a milestone in crime detection. On 3 March 1961 Mrs Elsie May Batten was found dead in the antique shop in which she worked in Charing Cross road. She was an assistant in Louis Meier's Cecil Court antique shop. When she was discovered she had an antique dagger sticking out of her chest and another one in her neck.

The police launched a murder hunt and started to take statements from anyone who may have seen something. Witnesses recalled seeing a young coloured man enter the shop. Police slowly peiced together details about the young man and the identikit system was used for the first time in Britain.

Four days later a patrolman on his beat saw and recognised a young man from the identikit picture and brought him in for questioning. He was placed in an identity parade and was picked out by two of the nearby shopkeepers. Faced with this evidence Bush made a statement in which he confessed to the killing of Mrs Batten in order to steal a sword.

In mitigation he was later to say in court that she had made an offensive remark about his colour. Whether or not this was true the jury did not believe this should have resulted in such a brutal attack. The jury returned a verdict of guilty and he was hanged on 6 July 1961. 


Edwin BUSH

The case of Edwin Bush is notable as it was the first case in the UK involving the use of the Identikit System. This case also illustrates an aspect of the Homicide Act 1957. If no item had been stolen from the premises, then the murderer could not have been sentenced to death under the Act.

The Case

On 3 March 1961 Mrs Elsie May Batten, an assistant in Louis Meier's 23 Cecil Court antique shop, located in an alley off Charing Cross Road in London's West End, was found dead. She had been stabbed with an antique dagger in her chest and neck.

Nearby shop owners recalled a young coloured man who had been asking about the price of dress swords. This man also tried to sell a sword which was later proved to have come from the murdered lady's shop. After taking the descriptions of the suspect, the police constructed an Identikit picture. Within 4 days of the picture being issued, PC John Cole recognised the person and arrested him on his beat in the Soho area of London.

A 21 year old Eurasian called Edwin Albert Bush was picked out from an Identity Parade by two Cecil Court shop owners. Bush made a statement in which he admitted killing Mrs Batten in order to steal the sword:

"I went back to the shop and started looking through the daggers, telling her that I might want to buy one, but I picked one up and hit her in the back. I then lost my nerve and picked up a stone vase and hit her with it. I grabbed a knife and hit her once in the stomach and once in the neck."

Bush was charged with murder in the course or furtherance of theft. Under the Homicide Act 1957, this type of murder carried the death sentence. At his trail, Bush claimed that Mrs Batten had said that "You niggers are all the same. You come in and never buy anything." Bush was found guilty at his Old Bailey trial and was sentenced to death by hanging.

On 6 July 1961, Bush was executed at Pentonville Prison, London.



The case of Edwin Bush is notable as it was the first case in the UK involving
the use of the Identikit System.



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