THE CASE OF CHARLOTTE BRYANT

By Tim Lambert

Frederick Bryant was a corporal in the military police shortly after the First World War. He was stationed in Northern Ireland and he had the misfortune to meet Charlotte McHugh. They married in March 1921. Charlotte was only 19 while Fred Bryant was 25.

The 1920s was a decade of high unemployment in Britain but Fred Bryant managed to find work as a farm laborer in Somerset. The couple lived at Over Compton near Yeovil. Eventually Charlotte had five children. However she often had affairs. Yet Fred Bryant tolerated his wife's infidelity. In December 1933 a man named Leonard Parsons became a lodger in their cottage. In 1934 the threesome moved to the village of Coombe. However in May 1935 Fred Bryant became ill. The doctor diagnosed gastroenteritis but this time Fred recovered. He fell ill again in August 1935. Once again Fred was lucky and he recovered.

Fred Bryant fell ill again in December 1935. He was taken to hospital but he died on 22 December 1935. This time the doctor was suspicious and he refused to sign a death certificate. He also told the police about his suspicions. They began investigating. A large amount of arsenic was found in the body of poor Fred Bryant. The police searched his home and they found a can in the garden. It once held week killer. Eventually on 10 February 1936 Charlotte Bryant was arrested for the murder of her husband Fred. She went on trial at Dorchester on 27 May 1936. On 30 May 1936 Charlotte Bryant was found guilty and she was sentenced to death. Bryant was hanged in Exeter prison on 15 July 1936.

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Catherine Wilson

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