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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Circumstantial Evidence Only, 1951

There were two novel angles to the murder trial in 1951 of George Cecil Horry, an Auckland tailor, who was convicted by a jury nine years after the disappearance of his victim – his newly married wife. In the first place he used an imaginary post in the secret service to explain to the bride's family why they would probably not see or hear from her for several months; and in the second place a jury convicted him of murder without a body, and without any admission on his part; and the Court of Appeal upheld the verdict. Horry married his wife Eileen in July 1942 under the name of George Arthur Turner, secret service agent, although, as George Cecil Horry, he was employed as a tailor in a clothing factory in Auckland. On their wedding day his bride received from her solicitor a cheque for £687 6s. 8d., the proceeds of the sale of her house, and on the previous day she had taken £300 in savings from the bank. The last her family saw of her was when she left for the honeymoon at Helensville after the reception at which Horry banned photographers because of his “Secret Service” role. The following day the pair visited a friend of the bride at Titirangi, but she was never seen or heard of after that. On 12 December 1942 Horry married again, and a week later went to the home of his first wife's parents with the story that their daughter had been lost at sea when an entirely fictitious Empress of India was sunk by a submarine in the Atlantic. In the meantime he had employed a number of transparent devices to ensure a succession of letters to his “in-laws” from overseas, but they became suspicious and the police were called in. But they could do nothing, notwithstanding grave suspicions that Eileen Horry had been murdered. Eight years later, however, in June 1951, Horry was arrested. As no body had been found, there was only circumstantial evidence of the corpus delicti and Horry's connection with the crime. The police charged him with murder and secured a conviction, and he was sentenced to death. Horry appealed, but the Court of Appeal, upholding both conviction and sentence, held that the fact of death was provable by circumstantial evidence even in the absence of a body or any trace of it, and notwithstanding that the accused had made no confession. The final sentence was life imprisonment.