Digging up the details of a child murderer

Digging up the details of a child murderer
Kate Summerscale has written a history of one of the most notorious murderers of the Victorian period Pic: Getty

Crime/History; The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer; By Kate Summerscale; Bloomsbury, €17.50

In 1903, Ireland took on England in an international chess match conducted by correspondence. One of the Irish players, a Mr P O’Connor, must have been intrigued to see that his opponent’s address was Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. Researching people was obviously more difficult in those days, but O’Connor may also have recognised Robert Coombes as one of the most notorious murderers in late Victorian Britain.

The bare facts of Coombes’ crime can...

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