The Murder of Stanley Setty


Stanley Setty was a 44 year old used car dealer from the East End of London. Setty disappeared on 4 October 1949 with 1,000 in 5 notes which was a small fortune in 1949.

His car was later found abandoned at St Pancras but no more was heard of Setty.

On 21 October 1949 Stanley Tiffen a local farm worker was paddling a punt through the marshes on the lookout for ducks to supplement his cooking pot. Tiffen saw a large parcel floating on the tide, thinking it may be of value Tiffen opened the package and found it to be the torso of a man minus the head and legs.

An examination by the eminent Home Office pathologist Dr Camps revealed that the man had been killed by stab wounds to the chest.

Camps added another clue by his opinion that the torso had been dropped from a great height which led to police enquiries at local airfields.

Police were able to identify the body as that of the missing Stanley Setty.

The gruesome crime attracted the attention of the press.

As a result of the publicity the police were contacted by the United Services Flying Club at Elstree who said that a club member called Brian Douglas Hume had hired a plane on 5 October 1949 and had been seen to load a large parcel.

On arrival at Southend there  was no parcel in the plane although there was some damage to the window of the plane.

Further enquiries revealed that after the flight Hume had paid for a taxi from a roll of 5 notes.

Hume was arrested but told the Police that the parcels were being carried on behalf of a smuggler who had given him the parcels which they said contained forged petrol coupons and asked him to throw them out over the sea.

The money was pay for doing the task.

Police searched the house and found that blood was present under the floorboards of the hall and living room.

Hume said that he found the blood in his house and cleaned it up as he assumed that Setty had been murdered by the smugglers.

Hume was charged with the murder but the jury were unable to reach a verdict.

The prosecution offered no evidence but preferred a charge of being an accessory to murder. Hume pleased guilty and was given a life sentence for which he served 12 years imprisonment.

The murder marked the first recorded murder using an airplane- If Hume had not mistaken the water covered marshes for open sea the body of Setty may never have been found.