The Croydon Poisonings

Tim Lambert

In 1928-29 three people were poisoned with arsenic in the south London suburb of Croydon. On the evening of 26 April, 1928 after a meal 59-year-old Edmund Duff fell ill and died the next day. His death was, at first, attributed to natural causes.

Then on 14 February 1929, Edmund’s sister-in-law Valerie Sidney fell ill. She died on 16 February 1929. The last victim was Violet Sidney, Valerie’s mother. She fell ill and then died on 5 March 1929.

Violet Sidney was buried but soon people became suspicious. So her body and that of her daughter Valerie were exhumed on 22 March 1929. Both contained arsenic. The body of Edmund Duff was later exhumed and was also found to contain arsenic. The police investigated but nobody was ever charged.

The case is still a mystery but it shows that as late as the 1920s if you poisoned someone there was a good chance the death would be attributed to natural causes. It makes you wonder how many people got away with poisoning unwanted relatives.