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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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From a local newspaper:

8 March 1948


Unless the Home Secretary grants a reprieve, the execution of Ernest Alfred Fountain, the Meavy murderer, will take place tomorrow at Bristol prison.

Fountain stood trial at Exeter Assize on February 16 and 17 for the murder of his landlady, Mrs Florence Ada Warren of Wood View, Meavy on November 25th last. The jury's verdict of Guilty was accompanied by a strong recommendation for mercy.


Meavy from the Meavy website
This lovely view of Meavy has been taken from the village website ( we have never been lucky enough to be there yet when the sun is shining! It is a place of idyllic tranquility and it is hard to associate it with this crime. There is still a house called Woodview but the original was a tiny chalet-type bungalow.


Meavy certainly doesn't appear to be a likely site for a crime of passion but that was not contested in court - there can be no doubt that Ernest killed Florence. But the case had some odd features.


It was said at his first court appearance that prior to 1941, Woodview had been built and lived in by Fountain and his wife and that in 1941, he sold the property to Florence Warren wherupon his wife left the home. Fountain told the court that "An understanding arose between me and Mrs Warren. I did it so she could move away from her sister and then we could live together as man and wife."


This went on for some time but then he fell ill with rheumatism and the doctor ordered him to go away. He went to London and letters were regularly exchanged between the couple until one day he got one which told him to go back to his wife. His wife wouldn't have him back so he wrote once more to Mrs Warren, begging her to to let him come back. It took time but eventually she relented and they lived as man and wife once more. Matters came to a head with a quarrel about another man.


Fountain said he had asked  her to realise that she had forced him to leave his wife and she agreed to carry on with their relationship. At this point, Mrs Warren's sister and her husband came to live in the bungalow and the atmosphere slowly began to change as the two women constantly nagged him about money.


But, said Fountain, "I always wanted to make sure that my wife was not left penniless as I considered I had done the dirty on her by turning her out" so he made a will in favour of Mrs Warren but did not leave her everything. His bouts of illness still continued then he developed influenza and needed nursing care so  they upped his board money by 5 shillings a week and demanded that he should leave his money to "them that had looked after him" On the morning of November 25th after a row during which he had crossed Mrs Warren's name off his will, she had turned on him and laughed at his saying she loved another man. " She said she did not want me any more, and that she lived in the hope that this man's wife should die so she could marry him".


"I had a razor (the old-fashioned type often called a "cut-throat" razor)  in my pocket with the intention of using it on myself but " as I lost my temper, I struggled with her. I have no recollection of using the razor" he declared. Now the medical evidence had been that the woman had at least seven deep slahes in her neck and her head had been partially severed - indeed, parts of a razor had been found embedded  in bones in her neck.




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