The question was one of his sanity at the time of the murders
Born in Ilford, Essex on 6 June 1917 Neville George Clevely Heath joined the Rifle Battalion in 1934, transferring to the RAF two years later but was court-martialled for going AWOL and in September 1937 was dismissed. Not long after he was sent to borstal for housebreaking and forgery. An ignominious war followed and in 1946 he was back in England. On 16 June he moved into the Pembridge Court Hotel in Notting Hifi Gate, London and called himself Lieutenant-Colonel Heath. On 20 June he went dancing at the Panama Club in South Kensington with Margery Aimee Brownell Gardner, a 32-year-old wannabe actress who had left her husband and daughter in Sheffield to seek fame and fortune in London.
The next day at 2pm, her body was found naked on the bed in Heath’s room, her wrists and ankles bound. Her nipples had been bitten off and a poker had been forced up her vagina. There were 17 mutilations on her corpse. Heath wrote to the police and told them that he had lent his room to Margery Gardner because she had wanted to have sex with someone and when he returned he found her dead. He moved to Bournemouth and on 23 June took a room at the Tollard Royal Hotel, using the name Group Captain Rupert Brooke. He dined with 21-year-old Doreen Marshall on 3 July 1946 — she was not seen alive again.
“Brooke” told the police that he might be able to help with their inquiries into Miss Marshall’s disappearance. At the police station he was recognized as Heath and arrested. The police searched his possessions and found a railway cloakroom ticket that lead them to an attaché case containing the whip that had done such damage to Margery Gardner. On 8 July the body of Doreen Marshall was found under a rhododendron bush in Branksome Dean Chine, Bournemouth. She was naked apart from her left shoe, one nipple had been bitten off and her body had been cut open from breastbone to pubis. Her vagina bore lacerations similar to Margery Gardner’s.
Room 4, Pembridge Court Hotel, London, England
Friday 21 June 1946
The trial of Neville Heath for the murder of Margery Gardner began at the Old Bailey on 24 September 1946. Although Heath pleaded not guilty, the question was one of his sanity at the time of the murders. He was found guilty and sane and sentenced to death. Albert Pierrepoint hanged him on 16 October 1946 at Pentonville Prison. He was 29 years old. Heath had asked Pierrepoint for a whisky, before adding, “Better make it a double.”
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
It is thought that Margery Gardner was a masochist who enjoyed being stripped naked and whipped by a man. Unfortunately, in Heath, she picked the wrong man to indulge her passions.