Something of the mixture of outrage, prurience and moral superiority (and perhaps a whiff of envy) which typified both observers and prosecutors can be found in MacDonald Hastings biography of Robert Churchill (the prosecution’s ballistic expert).There is also the suspicion that the police were less than robust in their investigation, due to the high social status of the defendant.
“Half of West End society smirked that it had been present at the cocktail party which preceded the event, and yhe other half were accused of it. In fact, it was attended by not more than thirty people; and it isnotable that there were as many prepared to risk their reputations as that/ Elvira was rich and generous; but her converted stable househardly invited a second visit. Even the police, when they saw the place, were as shocked as it is possible for policemen to be.
Over the cocktail bar in the corner of the sitting-room was a wall painting which would have been a sensation in a brothel in Pompeii.The library was furnished with publications that could never have passed through His Majesty’s Customs. The place was equipped with the impediments of fetishism and perversion. The revolver which killed Michael Scott Stephen, Mrs. Barney’s lover, may well have had a sexual association, too. There is reason to suppose that it wasn’t the first time it had been fired.”
From a brothel in Pompeii
“But that is only one speculation among many in a case of which Churchill’s considered conclusionwas: “I never held that it was deliberate murder, but it was manslaughter and sexually odd.” The jury, at the trial, took a different view.
So many of the circumstances of the Mrs. Barney affair are enveloped in question marks …….it is worth noting that even the bare account of the facts reveals, between the lines, that it was treated by the prosecution and the police with what might be regarded as the utmost, indeed almost inexplicable, restraint. Why, is anybody’s guess.”
I’m sure there was an erotic picture – it fits with Elvira’s character. If there was a library then it was small – the room was only 19 feet by 11. As to the “impediments” who knows? That the gun had a sexual connotation seems overly Freudian – but it was always kept in the bedroom.