Lady Killers (1980–1981)
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A Smile Is Sometimes Worth a Million Dollars 

The story of Ronald True, convicted of the murder of a prostitute in 1922.





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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Himself - Presenter
Ronald True
Helen Cherry ...
Mrs. Grace Angus
Sir Richard Muir
Sir Henry Curtis Bennett
Mrs. Frances True (as Susan Skipper)
Michael Bruce ...
Henry Jacoby
George Pensotti ...
George Parsons ...
Emily Steel
Geoffrey Russell ...
Seymour Green ...
George Ramsay
Dennis Chinnery ...
Albert Burton
Tenniel Evans ...
Brian Orrell ...

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The story of Ronald True, convicted of the murder of a prostitute in 1922.

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Crime | Drama



Release Date:

31 July 1981 (UK)  »

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User Reviews

The Uneven Hands of Justice: 1922
8 November 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Another episode of this series LADY KILLERS, this time dealing with a male murderer. Again, I never saw the episode, so I am just commenting on the subject matter.

The murder of Gertrude Young by Ronald True in 1922 would probably not be too remembered today except for the antics of True, and the idiocies of Britain's judicial system. For, without intending it, the system allowed a glaring miscarriage of judicial fairness to occur - one that people still argue about. For True, mad as a hatter, but good looking, polished in manner, and from a middle class background, had the fortune to choose to murder and rob a prostitute. Found guilty of the murder, as his attempts to hide it were laughable, he still had a history of odd, "eccentric" behavior going back to joining the air force in World War I. True looked the part of the dashing pilot, going forth to face Von Richtofen or Werner Voss over the Western Front, but there was one problem - he kept insisting he knew all about flying, and kept crashing his planes. Eventually the government discharged him from the air force.

The "eccentricities" kept being noted, and kept getting worst. Around the time of his decision to commit robbery and murder, True insisted to anyone who'd listen that there was a double of his trying to get him into trouble named "Ronald TREW". After he picked up Young, went back to her flat, bashed in her head and stole some pitiful minor jewelry, and fled the flat, True did not do the obvious of leaving London. He was traced very quickly, and the police noticed he still insisted his doppelganger was responsible.

So at his trial the authorities actually had grounds to look into True's mental state. So far so good. It turned out he really was bonkers, and that (in the name of justice) he could not be hanged, but should be sent to the asylum at Broadmoor, where insane murderers were kept.

Unfortunately, at the same time True was being bundled off to Broadmoor (where he was soon in charge of the prison orchestra, and would be a popular inmate until his death in 1951), another murder took place in London. A Lady Alice White, widow of a former head of the London County Council Sir George White, lived in a nice residential hotel. Lady Alice was bludgeon to death in her rooms, and some jewelry stolen (sound familiar). The police found that a young man named Henry Jacoby, who worked in the hotel as a servant, was the killer and thief. Jacoby did make vague comments about hearing voices, but these were likely comments made to suggest the killers were hiding in the hotel cellar and Jacoby had heard them. There was no long line of crazy behavior patterns that Jacoby committed for the police to follow. All they had was that he was very young (in his early 20s), and he could be considered immature. But that is not a good grounds for a homicide defense.

Jacoby was tried a little before True was, and the public noticed the common similarities between the two cases. But then they saw True getting let down easy by going to Broadmoor, while the Home Office was not lifting a finger to save Jacoby (with reason - his mental state never got into question). So Henry Jacoby ended up being hanged. And the public grumbled of one law for the rich (i.e. True, who was not rich), and one law for the poor (Jacoby). Perhaps a bit more compassion for Jacoby due to his youth could have been shown, but the situation really did not invite the kind of response the public expected. Actually though the issue might have been one that was not to be settled satisfactorily at all. Had Jacoby been let off with a lighter sentence too, the public would probably have thought the government was getting too lenient with killers.

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