Donald Hume – 1949

By | November 12, 2016

“I watched the life run from him like water down a drain”


A piece of evidence in Donald Hume’s trial is taken intro the Old Bailey


Brian Donald Hume was born in Swanage, Dorset, on 20 December 1919. He began joyriding and petty thieving and, during the Second World War, black marketeering. In 1942 Hume began a number of successful companies including a legitimate electrician’s business.

In early 1949, Hume again met Stanley Setty, a flash, nattily dressed, 46-year-old Jewish spiv and car dealer. Their first meeting had been in December 1947. By day Hume would continue to work as an electrician and at night he worked for Setty, stealing cars to order. Setty would use logbooks from write-offs and match them to the cars brought to him by Hume. Hume also learned to fly a plane and smuggled anything and everything, including people.

On 4 October 1949, when Hume returned to his Golders Green maisonette, Setty was sitting on the sofa. They began to argue and Hume pulled out an SS dagger and at 7.35pm stabbed Setty repeatedly. Hume was to say later, “I watched the life run from him like water down a drain.” On 5 October he dismembered Setty with a hacksaw and a lino knife and made three separate packages, one each for the head, legs and torso. Hume flew over the Channel and threw out the head, legs, SS dagger, the hacksaw and lino knife. A second flight saw Hume dump the rest of Setty’s body but the parcel floated up the Essex marshes where it was found on 21 October. Hume was traced and police found bloodstains at his home. He claimed three thugs had forced him to dispose of Setty’s body and that defence earned him a not guilty of murder verdict at Court No 1 of the Old Bailey. Hume pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of accessory to murder and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.


620 Finchley Road, London, England


7.35pm Tuesday 4 October 1949


Hume was released on 1 February 1958 and sold his confession to the Sunday Pictorial for £2,000. Due to the law of double jeopardy it was not possible to retry him for Setty’s murder. He took to robbing banks and shooting cashiers in England and Switzerland. Caught in Switzerland, he was found guilty on 24 September 1959 and sentenced to hard labour for life. On 20 August 1976 the Swiss authorities released him. He was flown to England and examined by two psychiatrists. Hume was sent to Broadmoor, the hospital for the criminally insane. He was found dead in a field on 19 April 1988.


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