Harries, Thomas Ronald Lewis
Neighbours, in the small Carmarthenshire farming
community, did not take long to notice the unmilked cows in the field in
October 1953. It was an unusual occurrence as 63-year-old John Harries
was a most diligent farmer. Ronald Harries, 24-years-old and adopted
nephew of John Harries, told people that his uncle and, 54-year-old,
aunt, Pheobe, had gone to London for a holiday and left him in charge of
their farm in Cadno where they lived.
Local police were not satisfied with the answers that
he gave them and called in Scotland Yard. They discovered that a cheque
made out to Ronald from his uncle had been altered from £9 to £909.
Detectives suspected that Harries had disposed of his elderly relations
but it was too large a farm to search manually. They tied lengths of
cotton across gateways and gaps in hedges.
They then set about making as much noise as possible
to put the wind up Harries. The plan worked. Harries couldn't resist
checking to see if the burial site was still intact and broke one of the
threads. Detectives, checking the threads at dawn, found the broken
thread and soon discovered the graves of the couple. Harries was charged
with the double murder.
Harries came up for trial at Carmarthen Assizes in
March 1954. The circumstantial evidence was strong and he was found
guilty. He was hanged at Swansea Prison.
28 April 1954 – Thomas Ronald Lewis Harries
A double murderer was caught and hanged thanks to
A herd of unmilked cows to be precise – they’d got
the neighbours talking in Swansea. And their suspicions were to lead to
the hanging of Thomas Ronald Lewis Harries.
Dairy of events
A normally meticulous farmer and his wife had gone
AWOL, so when their adopted nephew said that they’d gone off for a
holiday in London leaving him in charge, the neighbours smelled a cow
The police were even more wary and they made a call
down to their mates at Scotland Yard where a doctored cheque came to
light. It had been changed from a mere £9 to £909 and had been made out
to none other than nephew Harries. He was slowly getting penned in.
But the ultimate trap came when the police rigged the
premises with string in a bid to find the bodies. They then made a real
racket outside to freak Harries out. And it did – Harries sneaked out to
check the graves and in doing so, broke the thread, which led the police
right to Mr and Mrs Harries the elders.
What could he say? He was banged up for murder and
found guilty of killing his aunt and uncle. He was hanged at Swansea
prison, aged 25.
Thomas Ronald Lewis Harries
John Harries, 63, and his wife, Phoebe