I found one of the most interesting, but dismaying, cases in the new series of Murder by the Sea to be that of Miles Giffard.
Giffard murdered his parents, Charles, 53, and Elizabeth, 56, at the family home in St Austell in 1952. Miles Giffard was 26 and something of a puzzle.
He had played cricket for Cornwall and attended Rugby public school. However, that was virtually the pinnacle of his achievements. He had trained to be a solicitor (his father was a solicitor and clerk of the court in St Austell), but this had come to nothing.
He ended up selling ice cream but was described at his trial as an ‘unemployed clerk’. To his father he was a sponger and something of a failure.
Charles cut his son’s allowance and refused to let him marry until he got a job. He had received a legacy of £750 but had squandered this.
Giffard’s life in turmoil
He had a girlfriend, Gabriel Vallance, 19, whom he met him in London. Events leading up to the murders coincided with a visit he made to her.
Gabriel sent him home to Cornwall to get fresh clothes, so dismayed was she by his shabby appearance. However, Giffard was so down at heel he could not then break free of his father.
He wrote to Gabriel to say ‘the old man’ had refused to let him return to London. His father, Giffard wrote, had rationed him to one pint of beer and 20 cigarettes a day – and no pubs.
‘Short of doing him in, I see no future at all,’ Giffard wrote.
Giffard senior was insisting Miles get a job and be independent. At some point while he was stuck at home, his father refused to let him use the family car.
After murders, Giffard takes his girlfriend to a Chaplin film
Miles drank all afternoon at home. When his parents returned home that evening, he confronted his father in the garage with a metal pipe and beat him to death. He attacked his mother at the house.
The Giffards were pillars of the community and lived in a grand house, Carrickowl, by the cliffs. Miles Giffard took their bodies to the cliff edge in a wheelbarrow and threw them off. CONTD…