04:00PM, Sunday 04 March 2018
A murder in Salt Hill on New Years Day, reported by The Express in 1845, has been featured in a new book about historic murders.
James Moore’s Murder By Numbers: Fascinating Figures Behind the World’s Worst Crimes includes the tale of Sarah Hart, who was poisoned by her former lover.
The Express’ January 4, 1945 edition reported that a stifled scream was heard from Mrs Hart’s Bath Place home and that a neighbour outside was stared ‘hard in the face’ by a trembling man, who made off to Slough Railway Station.
The neighbour found Mrs Hart moaning on the floor and in a fit and she was declared dead not long after a surgeon arrived.
The killer, who had ‘the appearance of a respectable Quaker, between 60 and 70 years of age’ was seen boarding a train at Slough Railway Station, giving the the station superintendent the chance to use a new electric telegraph machine to warn police at Paddington Station.
In his book, Moore notes a mix up between the two stations, after the telegraph machine was unable to transmit the word Quaker, and instead said ‘kwaker’.
After being asked to repeat the message several times it was eventually understood who officers should be looking out for.
John Tawell, had previously had an affair and fathered two children with Mrs Hart, who he poisoned by adding prussic acid to her beer.
The Express reported that Mrs Hart was married but did not live with her husband, who was abroad, and that Tawell visited occasionally to bring her money.
When Tawell’s wife died he married a Quaker widow and decided to kill Mrs Hart to hide his secret.
Tawell had been convicted in 1814, aged 30, after being found with forged banknotes, and was sent to Australia, where he became a wealthy businessman.
At his murder trial in Aylesbury, Tawell’s defence claimed his victim died after eating too many apple pips, which contain small amounts of cyanide, did not convince the jury, who found him guilty.
The judge sentenced Tawell to be hanged.
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