Soon after ten o'clock they were seen having dinner in the
Cafe de Paris. Soon after eleven they were seen at a well-
known night resort in Dean Street the management of
which indignantly complained when the papers so described
it in the days and weeks that followed. ('We are a high-class
social rendezvous and members' club.') Soon after twelve
they left this club and so far as is known went straight back
to William Mews.

They were certainly there at three, when yet another of
their quarrels broke the silence of the summer night.
Sleepers in the mews reluctantly awakened; swore at the
nuisance; prayed it would die down. But instead the uproar
gathered force and swelled in volume. Woman's voice; man's
voice; woman's voice; man's voice; separate and distinct
at first, then jumbled together. The mews pulled its sheets
round its infuriated head; but could not shut out this
obliterating row. Groans, abuse, tears, entreaties and was
that the sound of a struggle, of a fight? 

Somewhere about four there was a piercing crack. People
sat up, startled. No, it couldn't be. Crazy as that woman
was, it couldn't be. ... 

Most of them had dropped of! again to sleep before the
doctor's telephone began to ring. 

'I have been cautioned that I am not obliged to make this
statement. I have known Michael for about a year. We were
great friends, and he used to come and see me from time to

'He always used to see me home. He did so last night as
usual. Immediately we got in we had a quarrel about a
woman he was fond of. 

'He knew I kept a revolver in the house. I have had it for
years. It was kept in various places. Last night it was under
the cushion of a chair in the bedroom, near the bed. I was
afraid of it and used to hide it from time to time. He knew
where it was last night. 

'He took it, saying, "I am going to take it away for fear
you kill yourself." He went into the room on the left. I ran
after him and tried to get it back. 

'There was no struggle in the bedroom. It was outside in
the spare room, in the doorway. As we were struggling to-
gether he wanted to take it away, and I wanted to get it
back it went off. Our hands were together his hands and
mine. . . . 

'I did not think anything had happened. He seemed quite
all right. He went into the bathroom and half shut the door,
and said, "Fetch a doctor." 

'I asked, "Do you really mean it?" I did not have the
revolver then. I think it had fallen to the ground. 

'I saw he looked ill, so I rang up a doctor, but no one
answered. I went upstairs again and saw him sitting on the

'I was upset and began to cry. I again rang up the doctor
and he said he would come. I went upstairs again. Michael
asked, "Why doesn't the doctor come? I want to tell him
what happened. It was not your fault." 

'He repeated that over and over again. I tried to cut his
tie off, put a towel on his chest and got towels. I again rang
up the doctor, and they said that he was leaving. 

'I again went upstairs and saw he was dead and just
waited. I don't remember what I did afterwards. I was so
frantic. I am sure as far as I know there was only one
shot fired. 

'Michael and I have quarrelled on previous occasions, but
not often.' 

Mrs Barney leaned back. Her face was ashen and her
breath came heavily. While the Inspector read over her
statement in official monotone, for the first time she allowed
her eyes to wander over the bleak and bare police station

The foolscap sheets were put in front of her. Mechanically
she signed. 

It was morning, almost ten o'clock in the morning, after
a night packed full with horror and distress. When the
doctor arrived in response to Mrs Barney's summons ('There
has been a terrible accident; for God's sake come at once!')
he beheld a scene that might have been pleasing in a mystery
novel, but was apt to harrow the steadiest nerves when en-
countered in real life. Michael sprawled at the top of the
stairs, a bullet through his lung; it was obvious to the doctor
that he was already dead. Close beside him lay a pistol; it
contained five cartridges, two of which were spent. Mrs
Barney herself was uncontrollably hysterical and only inter-
mittently coherent. 'Pie cannot be dead, he cannot be dead,'
she cried time and again. 'I will die too; I want to die. I
loved him so. I loved him so.' As the doctor, stooping low
over the corpse, confirmed his initial melancholy conclusion,
she ran aimlessly to and fro, calling the dead man's name
and trying to explain what had occurred in disconnected

The arrival of the police (whom the doctor as in duty
bound immediately informed) seemed to drive the unhappy
woman clean out of her mind. She said afterwards that she
had no recollection of this episode, and quite conceivably she
was in some sort of delirium; if not whether innocent or
guilty her conduct would have surely been less hurtful to
her cause. She cursed and fulminated against the officers,
calling them 'vile swine' and ordering them to leave; when
they used the telephone, she snatched it from their hands;
when told that she must go to the police station for further
questioning, she gave her interrogator a blow across the face.
She shrieked, stamped, laughed and wept alternately. She
was, said the doctor, absolutely frenzied. . . . 

No spark of frenzy lingered in Mrs Barney now. It had
died when they took her away from the cottage that had
been her home and where now her lover's body lay.
Thenceforward she was calm but patently exhausted; what
woman could be otherwise who in so few hours had passed
through so many prostrating events? While she made her
statement, under the horrified eyes of her distracted parents
who had been apprised and had hurried to her side, Mrs
Barney must have been close to collapse from sheer fatigue. 

The clarity of her account thus becomes the more remark-
able. Moreover, it entirely corresponded in essentials with
all she had so far said and all she was yet to say. There were
one or two omissions, probably deliberate. It would have
been painful to reveal in the presence of her parents that she
and Michael had been lovers many months; that the quarrel
had developed after they had gone to bed; that Michael had
threatened to leave her, got up again and dressed; that it
was then she had talked of committing suicide. She hoped
no doubt expected that the matter would soon drop with-
out necessitating these intimate disclosures. But substantially
the story that was outlined in her statement was the story
that the doctor had already pieced together from her
paroxysmal and confused ejaculations; nor was it changed
in that excruciating hour when, with two prison wardresses
beside her, she told it to a packed and palpitating court. . . . 

The police conferred together. Her own statement excul-
pated Mrs Barney, and they had no evidence yet to suggest
it was untrue. 

'Very well,' said the Inspector, 'we will not trouble you,
madam, any more just now. You are free to go.' 

'She will come home with us, of course, Inspector,' said
her mother. . . . 

The respite was a short one. Only three days afterwards,
as the troubled family prepared for dinner, the police came
visiting the house in Belgrave Square. They had now been
able to make a full investigation and, as a result, were no
longer satisfied. Data in their possession could not be made
to tally with the statement that the lady gave them earlier in
the week. 

That evening Mrs Barney, who had said she wished to
die, stood in grave danger that this wish would be fulfilled. 



From the moment of her arrest the popular press was in
full cry; their headlines sometimes read like a satirical bur- 

lesque. 'West End Flat Mystery,' 'Society Tragedy Sensa-
tion,' 'Mayfair Beauty in Shooting Drama,' 'Banker's Son
Dead after Cocktail Party,' 'Knight's Daughter on Murder
Charge'; variations revolved round these titillating words
save in one instance, where a banner frankly promised 'Mrs
Barney : The Biggest Thrills.' The prisoner herself, on her
first appearance at the preliminary proceedings in the police
court, unintentionally added to the atmosphere of melo-
drama by falling to the floor of the dock in a dead faint. 

Mrs Barney had good reason to feel deeply apprehensive.
The police had not at all overstated their position; the new
evidence if accepted made her story of an accident un-
tenable. One female neighbour was fully prepared to swear
she had heard Mrs Barney shout Til shoot you' just before
the shot. Another female neighbour was equally prepared to
swear that she had heard more than one shot being fired (an
assertion that appeared to gain considerable force from the
presence of a bullet mark on the cottage bedroom wall).
Both women also spoke of an incident some days earlier
when, as they declared, Mrs Barney from the window fired
at Michael in the mews. And to all these presumed facts was
added the opinion of two exceptionally influential experts,
Churchill the gunsmith and Spilsbury the pathologist; each
independently had come to the conclusion that Mrs Barney's
version of the shooting was improbable. The former attached
special significance to the type of pistol. 'It requires both a
long and heavy pull,' he said. 

The Crown thus had a formidable case and the prisoner
sore need of a formidable defender. For once in a murder
trial money was no object. The brief for Mrs Barney was
offered to Patrick Hastings. 

One may surmise that that distinguished advocate, then a
little over fifty and at the very peak of his dazzling career,
thought hard before he undertook this burden. It was in the
middle of the summer term, and a dozen heavily marked
briefs were on his desk. He was representing one of the
great trusts in a claim for ^60,000 from one of the great
banks. He was retained by a leading theatre management in 

a suit for damages brought by a leading lady. He was con-
cerned for the co-respondent in an aristocratic divorce with
Eaton Square addresses and an adultery charge at Cannes.
He was also concerned in a big probate action (disposed of
four days before the Barney trial began), in a newspaper
libel on a popular peeress (settled three days after the Barney
trial concluded), and, as leader of a string of eminent counsel,
in an appeal by the directors of a company against a verdict
of ^250,000 imposed upon them for conspiracy and fraud.
(This last case actually started on the final morning of Mrs
Barney's trial, and continued uninterruptedly thereafter for
a fortnight.) There were certainly ample demands on Patrick
Hastings and there was, of course, his confessed dislike of
capital defences. 

Nevertheless, he did not decline the Barney brief, and
this without doubt was artistically fitting. Here at last for
the sophisticated advocate was a murder case that had at
least grown out of his own world. 

Any murder trial at any time tends to attract spectators if
only because the stake is human life. A sensational Victorian
trial like Mrs Bartlett's or a sensational Edwardian trial like
Robert Wood's was not only sure of a continuously packed
court, but also as has already been remarked would draw
and hold great multitudes in the adjoining streets. More
recently this latter phenomenon had been rarely seen. It re-
appeared, however, at the trial of Mrs Barney, which, on.
4th July and the two succeeding days, made the Central
Criminal Court like a fortress under siege. 

The military metaphor is far from inappropriate. For in
one respect, at least, the crowds on this occasion easily sur-
passed all their predecessors. They were less demonstrative
than some, partly because of the changed bent of the time,
partly because at no point was there anything approaching
unanimity of view upon the case's merits. But they were
surely unique in ferocity and resolve. The waiting crowds
of earlier years may have envied those within; they did not
themselves seek entry by violence and brute force. But many
of those who stood and stared at the walls of the Old Bailey,
hour after hour while Mrs Barney was being tried, only
accepted this second-best sensation after a pitched battle in
which they were repelled. 

The queue had begun to form on Sunday afternoon, more
than twenty hours before the court was due to sit. Well
before midnight it had grown so long and deep that the
police decided it ought to be dispersed. Those who had
already waited nearly half a day did not receive this decision
with good humour. There were loud cries of protest; heated
disputes developed; one poor old lady burst into bitter tears
she had been there since two o'clock and now her last
train had gone. 

The police, however, insisted on their orders being obeyed,
and reluctantly the crowds withdrew from their vantage-
ground. Some gave up altogether and went home. Some
took refuge in the all-night cafes, where they debated plans
for making a fresh attempt. But the majority merely split
up into groups of two or three, who walked and stood and
squatted in the neighbourhood all night and took up posts
next morning within sight of the court door like so many
beasts of prey around a water-hole. 

These omens were not lost upon the police, and a strong
protective cordon was established before giving the signal
that the queue might be re-formed. Strong, but not strong
enough to seize immediate control. From all directions men
and women flew towards the spot with an impetus as if they
had been shot from catapults. The cordon swayed, retreated
and at one point finally broke; the mob hurled themselves
madly at the gap; and that first afternoon the newspapers
had pictures of police and civilians struggling on the ground. 

Only a handful of these warriors gained admission to the
court, where most of the space had been allotted in advance
by tickets bearing the full name of the successful applicant.
But there, too, disorder threatened, though of a different
kind. Many of the tickets had somehow been obtained by
young, well-dressed and frivolous-minded women who re-
garded the trial as a theatrical first night and proceeded to
behave like the audience at one. They giggled and chattered
with indecent zest as they waited, all agog, for the perform-
ance to begin. 

At any intimation of weakness on the Bench this animated
bevy might have got right out of hand. There was no such
intimation. 'If there is any more of this,' remarked his lord-
ship coolly, when the female babble broke out for the first
time in his presence, 'the whole court shall be cleared.' 

Thenceforward silence reigned. Even the silliest could see
that Mr Justice Travers Humphreys was a man who meant
exactly what he said. 


Hastings had come into court just before the appointed
hour. After one contemptuous glance at the gay parade of
fashion, he took his place without ostentatious fuss and sat
there very straight and very quiet and very still. Those
present who had witnessed Marshall Hall's volcanic entries
on similar occasions, and the indisputable gallery play that
followed them, could hardly fail to be struck by the sharp
contrast. One thing only the two men had in common a
personality magnetic and commanding. Without the slightest
effort almost as though it were contrary to his wish from
the very moment when he first appeared Hastings dominated
the entire Old Bailey scene. Long before he had said a single
word, even during the opening statement for the Crown, the
eyes of the jury were straying constantly to him. . . . 

A practised observer can usually detect when a prosecutor
feels full confidence in his case. If he harbours any serious
doubt himself, being imbued by his training with the salu-
tary doctrine that the prisoner must receive the benefit of a
doubt, this is almost sure to be reflected in his speech. He
will pitch his argument in a lower key, sprinkle it with
exceptions and provisos, leave the issue conspicuously open.
In short, he becomes more narrator than accuser. 

Nothing of this kind occurred at the trial of Mrs Barney.
Percival Clarke, leading counsel for the Crown, gave the jury
at the outset a strong and clear lead. His manifest integrity
befitting a son of Mrs Bartlett's great defender lent his
comments additional effect. Some of these consisted of direct
denunciation. Of the prisoner's hysteria on the arrival of the
doctor he said : 'Perhaps she realised then what she had
done.' Of her assault upon the police: 'You see what sort
of temper this woman gives way to on slight provocation.'
And of the actual shooting he spoke in these uncompromis-
ing terms : 'The medical evidence can definitely establish
the direction in which the revolver was held when fired. You
will learn from that that it is practically impossible for the
man to have caused this injury to himself. If he did not,
who did ? There was only one other person there. If you are
forced to the conclusion that she shot him, you will have to
consider whether she did it by accident or design. In that
connection you will bear in mind her admission of the
quarrel. You will bear in mind what she shouted before the
gun was fired. You will bear in mind that she had fired the
gun during another quarrel on a previous occasion. Mem-
bers of the jury, is there any explanation consistent with
common sense which will enable you to understand how that
man met his death unless this woman deliberately fired ? ' 

To the lawyers in court and there were a great number,
some even disposing themselves upon the floor it became
more apparent as each minute passed that the prosecution
were not pulling any punches. Obviously they believed in
their case and they were both seeking and expecting a con-


The chief witnesses called on the first day of the trial were
Mrs Barney's much-enduring neighbours from the mews. 

There were three altogether; but the last, a chauffeur, was
of little consequence. It was the two women who mattered
the women, each of them a decent chauffeur's wife, who had
had their lives made wretched by Mrs Barney's escapades.
The defence could not hope to find them favourably in-
clined, and their cross-examination needed infinite finesse.