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Bertha Mary SCORSE






Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Jealousy
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: January 12, 1952
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1931
Victim profile: Joyce Mary Dunstan, 26 (her lesbian lover)
Method of murder: Stabbing with a dagger
Location: Cornwall, England, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to death on February 22, 1952. Commuted to life in prison. Released on licence in 1983

Bertha Mary Scorse, 20, of Newlyn, met Joyce Mary Dunstan, 26, of Pool, at a tuberculosis sanatorium, and they became lovers. After they were discharged Dunstan returned briefly to her husband, then went to live with Scorse at the latter's mother's home.

In January 1952 after Dunstan walked out, Scorse went after her and stabbed her to death with a dagger. She was tried in February and after two suicide attempts she was carried into court on a stretcher. Although found guilty, she was reprieved and is thought to have died in prison in 1995, after a history of being released and confined again for drunken behaviour.

The Little Book of Cornwall, by John Van Der Kiste


Bertha's double death sentence

Courier-Mail Special Service

February 23, 1952

LONDON, February 22. — Twenty-year-old Bertha Scorse lies in a specially prepared room in Exeter prison under double sentence of death.

The sentences — by legal execution and from tuberculosis.

A jury, including three women, rejected a plea of temporary insanity, and returned a verdict of guilty— with no recommendation to mercy— after a trial in which evidence was given that Bertha had stabbed Joyce Dunstan, 26, a married woman, also suffering from tuberculosis.

Mother wept

Bertha, white-faced and lying on a stretcher propped lip in the dock so that she was visible to the court, was asked if she wished to say anything before sentence was passed. She turned slightly to her nurse, but her lips did not move.

Her widowed mother and 18-year-old sister broke down and wept when the judge put on his black cap. Defence counsel had S leaded that Bertha had been a problem child from the age of two, and grew up callous, morose, lealous, and selfish. The prosecuting counsel, who had. called it 'cold- blooded murder,' buried his face in his hands when he heard the verdict.



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