CHAPTER XII
Disturbed Years

THE HAMPSTEAD MURDER

THE FIRST MENTION of "the detective force" in a criminal case is to be found in the contemporary account of the Hampstead murder in 1845. At about 7:30 in the evening of Friday, February 21, a baker named Hilton heard cries coming from a field near Belsize Lane. The cries continued for three or four minutes. He informed Police Constable Baldock, who was patrolling in the neighbourhood. The constable found the body of a man lying against the blank wall surrounding Belsize House. Sergeant Fletcher, whom he had brought with him, went for a stretcher, and in his absence a young man strolled up, singing, and said, "Hallo, policeman! What's wrong?" Baldock replied, "I think that it's a man who has cut his throat."

The young man stooped to feel the dead man's pulse and said, "It's a nasty job, policeman." He added that for some years he had taken this route from town and had never been molested, but his parents had always warned him not to go this way at night. He remarked that the policeman had a cold job before him and offered him brandy, which Baldock refused, though he accepted a shilling.

The young man remained until the stretcher arrived and followed the little procession as far as Belsize Lane. Later he was seen by a witness, returning home to Portland Town at a run. At that time he had given his name as Thomas Henry Hocker and his age as twenty-two.

-120-

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