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Brian Donald HUME






A.K.A.: "Flying Smuggler"
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robberies - Dismemberment
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: October 4, 1949 / January 30, 1959
Date of birth: 1919
Victims profile: Stanley Setty, 42 (used car dealer) / Arthur Maag, 50 (taxi driver)
Method of murder: Stabbing with a German SS dagger / Shooting
Location: United Kingdom/Switzerland
Status: Sentenced to 12 years as "accessory" on January 20, 1950. Released on February 1, 1958. Sentenced to life in prison on September 30, 1959. In 1976, he was judged to be insane and was returned to Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire, England
photo gallery

Brian Donald Hume was charged with murder and was tried in January 1950. The jury failed to reach a verdict. At his second trial the judge instructed the jury to find Hume not guilty. He pleaded guilty to the charge of being an accessory after the fact and received 12 years' imprisonment. He was released in 1958 and, knowing that he couldn't be charged with the same crime twice, promptly sold his story to the Sunday Pictorial in which he confessed to killing Setty.


Brian Donald Hume

By Iain MacFarlain

"In loving memory of Stanley Setty, who died 4th. October 1949. Deeply mourned by his sister, brothers, relations and friends."

Sulman Seti was born in Baghdad in Iraq, of Jewish parents. After the War, he became involved in various illegal activities, such as acquiring and selling stolen cars, and forging petrol coupons.

His partner in crime was Brian Donald Hume who, in 1941, had been invalided out of the R.A.F., suffering from meningitis. A quarrel broke out between the two of them, ostensibly because Setty had kicked Hume's dog.

Setty was last seen on the 4th. October 1949, on which date he was known to have £1,000 in £5 notes. On the 21st. of that month, a farm labourer named Stanley Tiffin was shooting ducks at Tillingham, on the Essex marshes, when he discovered a parcel which, on inspection, contained a torso with no head or legs, but with arms, and with stab wounds in the chest. From the fingerprints, it was clear that the corpse was Setty.

Hume was identified as having hired a light aircraft at the United Services Flying Club at Elstree and to have boarded the aeroplane with two parcels. When he landed at Southend, he had no parcels, but the window of the cockpit was broken, and he paid for his taxi back to London with a £5 note from a huge wad. Furthermore, in Hume's apartment was a left-luggage ticket for Golders Green Station, and this turned out to be for a blood-stained suitcase.

His first story was that the parcels he had carried on the flight had contained a printing press for forging food ration coupons. Later, he admitted that they had, indeed, contained Setty's corpse, but he claimed that he had been forced to get rid of the body by three gangsters called Greeny, Mac, and The Boy. Hume's apartment (above a greengrocers' shop in the Finchley Road, just opposite Golders Green Station), bore traces of blood under the floorboards. He admitted to having noticed these but said he had assumed that the mysterious three had murdered Setty there.

Hume was arrested and charged with murder, but the jury were unable to reach a verdict. At the second trial, the judge instructed the jury to find him Not Guilty. Hume did, however, plead guilty to being an accessory after the fact, for which he was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment.

He served eight years and, after his release, mindful of the fact that no-one can be tried twice for the same offence (double jeopardy), he sold his confessions to the now-defunct Sunday Pictorial. In these, he admitted that he had, indeed, murdered Setty with a Nazi S.S.dagger and, the same day, had dropped the head and legs into the English Channel from an aeroplane. The next day, managing to avoid both his wife and the cleaning lady, he asked a decorator to paint over the bloodstains on the wall and, even, asked the man to help him carry the parcel, which contained the torso, downstairs and into his car. This time, however, he misjudged the route of his flight and mistook the watery marshes for the Channel.

After his release, Hume committed bank robberies in England and in Switzerland. The latter took place in Zurich on the 30th. January 1959, in the course of which he shot and killed a taxi driver, and would have been lynched by the crowd if the police had not arrived. This time, he received a life sentence with hard labour; but, in 1976, he was judged to be insane and was returned to Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire, England.


Trial of Donald Hume

One of my first assignments took me to Geneva, where I met up with correspondent John Talbot to drive to Winterthur, near Zuerich, to cover the murder trial of Donald Hume, a British bank robber. Hume had already done time in England for killing his partner, Stanley Setty, also a petty crook. Hume had dumped Setty’s dismembered body from a hired private aircraft over the Essex marshes and served eight years in prison for this crime. The British legal system was unable to pin the murder on Hume. 

On release, he sold his story, admitting the murder to the Sunday Pictorial. Whose readers were fascinated by a front page splash that opened with the words, "I, Donald Hume, do hereby confess . . ." The lurid confession was that Hume had hacked to pieces a used car dealer named Stanley Setty — a murder that in two separate trials the Crown had been unable to prove. Convicted only of dumping Setty's dismembered body from a hired airplane, Hume got off with a mere eight years as an accessory. Upon his release, secure in the knowledge that he could never be retried for the murder, he sold his gaudy story to the Pictorial for 2000 pounds. When this nest egg began to run low, he replenished it by means of a couple of bank robberies. But each time police got enough evidence to go after him, he darted across the Channel to safety.

A spot of cash 

Eventually, he set up headquarters in Zurich, where an auburn-haired beauty-shop owner named Trudi Sommer, 29, was only too happy to have him share her apartment. She thought he was a Canadian test pilot named Johnny Bird. 

Then, one night, Hume wandered off to a church, where he drank up all the communion wine. Next morning, armed with a pistol, he turned up at a small branch of Zurich's Gewerbebank to help himself to “a spot of cash.”

When a teller balked. Hume shot and critically wounded him. Scooping up a meager $45, he ran out into the street just as the assistant teller rang the alarm. He killed a taxi driver who tried to stop him, and was finally brought down by a pastry cook after his pistol jammed.

In court, Hume put on a tremendous act, lashing out with kicks at me and other reporters as he was led into the courtroom. He yawned and shouted abuse, as witness after witness told what had happened that fatal morning. When the president of the court, mild-mannered Dr Hans Gut, began with the formality of asking the prisoner his name, Hume snarled at the interpreter: "Tell that bum that he should know my name.”

Hume finally received a life sentence, and after a few years was transferred to England, where he died.


The Press: Murder for Profit

Monday, Jun. 16, 1958

"I, Donald Hume, do hereby confess to the Sunday Pictorial that on the night of October 4, 1949, I murdered Stanley Setty in my flat in Finchley-road, London. I stabbed him to death while we were fighting."

With these boldfaced, blaring lines on its front page, the London Sunday Pictorial last week splashed the gaudy tale of a murderer who could talk freely about his crime. In 1950 Donald Hume was tried for the murder of a tinhorn used-car dealer named Stanley Setty. After his first trial produced a hung jury, the judge presiding at his second trial directed the jurors to find Hume not guilty of murder. Hume pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of being an accessory after the fact—he had dumped Setty's dismembered body from an airplane over the Thames estuary.

Serving time in Dartmoor Prison, Hume was frequently visited by Pic Assistant Editor Fred Redman, who suspected there was a bigger story still untold?" Redman was right. After leaving Dartmoor in February, Hume agreed to give the Pic a full confession. Pic Reporter Victor Sims took Hume to a country hotel overlooking the Thames estuary where the body was dropped. Hume lay on a bed, stared up at the ceiling, and calmly described how he killed and chopped up Setty. Recalls Sims: "It was the most terrifyingly bloody day of my life."

As Hume told it in last week's Pic: "I was born with a chip on my shoulder as big as an elephant." The "aunt" who raised him turned out to be his mother, who apparently refused to accept him as her son because he had no legal father. As a lad, Hume soon developed the ethic: "If you have an enemy, GET RID OF HIM."

Hume gave Communism a whirl, masqueraded as an R.A.F. officer ("It was a great thrill to have everyone saluting a bastard like me"), got married. Then he met Setty. "He had a voice like broken bottles and pockets stuffed with cash." When he heard reports that Setty was hanging around his wife, Hume suddenly felt a twinge of jealousy, grabbed a dagger and—"continued next week."

This week's installment gave the Pic's 5,677,000 readers an even wilder fourpence worth: "I was wielding the dagger just like our savage ancestors wielded their weapons 20,000 years ago . . . We rolled over and over and my sweating hand plunged the weapon frenziedly and repeatedly into his chest and legs . . . I plunged the blade into his ribs. I know; I heard them crack."

Hume is getting an estimated £3,600 from the Pic, with nothing to fear from British justice in all probability. He cannot be tried again for murder. If tried for perjury, he need only say that the Pic's story is a lie committed for money and reaffirm the testimony he gave at his trial.

The prospect of a murderer—and a story—getting away has set Fleet Street to trampling out a foaming vintage of sour grapes. Cried the Daily Sketch: "Arrest this man." Huffed the Star: "It is bad for a nation when a man can get away with murder and show a profit."


Donald Hume

In October 1949 a farm worker found a large parcel floating in the Essex marshes. Opening the parcel he found it to be the torso of a man, minus the head and legs. Am examination revealed that the man had been killed by stab wounds.

The man was Stanley Setty, a used car dealer, who had recently disappeared with one thousand pounds in his possession. His car had been found abandoned.

The gruesome crime attracted the attention of the press and, as a result of the publicity, the police were contacted by the United Services Flying Club at Elstree, who said that a club member called Brian Douglas Hume had hired a plane and been seen to load a large parcel.

On arrival at Southend there was no parcel in the plane, although there was some damage to the window of the plane. Further enquiries revealed that after the flight Hume had paid for a taxi from a roll of notes.

Hume was arrested, but told the Police that the parcels were being carried on behalf of a smuggler who had given him the parcels which they said contained forged petrol coupons and asked him to throw them out over the sea. The money he had was pay for doing the task.

Police searched the house and found that blood was present under the floorboards of the hall and living room. Hume said that he found the blood in his house and cleaned it up, as he had assumed that Setty had been murdered by the smugglers.

Hume was charged with the murder but the jury were unable to reach a verdict. The prosecution offered no evidence but preferred a charge of being an accessory to murder. Hume pleaded guilty and was given a life sentence, for which he served twelve years imprisonment.

He later confessed to the murder, and described his crime in a popular newspaper. However, the law of double jeopardy meant that he could not be tried again.


Donald Hume


When the torso of wealthy businessman Stanley Setty appeared in the Essex marshes outside London in 1949, police had a difficult case to crack. They eventually arrested Donald Hume, a business associate of Setty, but all they could prove was that Hume had dumped the body - they couldn't prove he had committed the murder. Hume was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment for being an accessory to murder. On his release in 1958 Hume admitted that he had killed Setty during an argument at his apartment, but now he was free to commit further evil - he was soon back in prison after killing a taxi driver in Switzerland.

In his book ‘Hume: Portrait of a Double Murderer’ author John Williams described Hume’s pathological mind as manifested through his angry facial expressions.

‘His eyes in moments of rage, stare out with a frozen, unblinking malevolence. If expression means anything, the eyes of Donald Hume are in truth the eyes of a killer’.

Donald Hume’s early life had been fraught with emotional tension and trauma. His experiences led him, by his own admittance in his book ‘Confession’ written while he was serving behind bars, to become a one-man vendetta against the world.

“I was born with a chip on my shoulder” he confessed and this chip had grown from the moment he was abandoned at an orphanage by his mother. According to Hume his bugbear with society grew from being illegitimate, deprived of a home and a mother’s love, denied not only by her but also by other members of his family.

Hume was the illegitimate son of a school mistress, born in Swanage in December, 1919. He was shortly abandoned by his mother to the West Country orphanage, which he loathed, particularly the three old ladies who ran it.

The place was bleak and forbidding, but worse it was also lacking in any compassion for the children who at that particular time were looked upon as the product of sin and treated accordingly. The proprietors even kept a parrot that shouted out the word ‘bastard’ just to remind the young residents of their lowly position in life.

Life in the orphanage was tough and devoid of the usual comforts expected in a family home. Often eight children would sleep in an iron bed and food was sparse. Punishments included being locked in a filthy, dank cellar for hours on end but more disturbing was the creation by the proprietors of an eerie character known as the ‘old green gypsy’.

A member of staff would dress up in green garb and appear as a visitation to scare the children. The ‘green gypsy’ also carried a green walking stick that rattled as the amateur actor in drag performed their macabre act to scare the wits out of the young residents.

One day after been locked in the cellar with a young girl for a misdemeanour, the two youngsters became terrified when they believed they were about to be visited by the Green Gypsy. But Hume recognised the feet under the Green Gypsy’s dress as belonging to a member of staff and in a fit of anger at being conned by a cruel myth, chased the member of staff with an axe. He was then only seven years old.

Finally, Hume experienced some youthful happiness when he was adopted by his grandmother and taken away from the home. But any sense of security was short-lived as he was soon sent to live with his mother’s sister, Aunt Doodie who was headmistress of a small Hampshire village school.

Far from being loving, Aunt Doodie turned out to be as cold and unforgiving as the proprietors of the orphanage. Doodie also had two daughters, Peggy and Betty and while the girls offered opportunities for Hume to play and feel involved in some kind of family life for the most part he was excluded from social occasions. The situation began to reflect a ‘Cinderella’ scenario with Doodie, her husband and the girls going off on holiday while leaving the young Hume at home to look after the house and chickens. On one occasion Donald was so miffed at being left out of a holiday excursion that he took the house shotgun and blasted Doodie’s favourite cockerel, before throwing it into the cesspool. When Aunt Doodie returned the boy made out that the poor creature had simply drowned.

Hume’s eventual distrust of human nature and descent into becoming a fully paid up member of the misanthrope society, occurred when he discovered from the mouth of the family maid, that Doodie was in fact his real mother and not his Aunt.

This revelation, according to Hume himself, was the catalyst to make him bear a grudge against society even more. His feelings of rejection and being betrayed were exacerbated by this disturbing truth. Together with the fact that Aunt Doodie prevented Hume from attending Grammar school, sending him instead to work in a kitchen, increased his hatred for her and desire to escape. Aunt Doodie, who taught religion and saw herself as a good Christian, kept up the pretence that she was still his Aunt.

Originally Hume planned to get a job on the cruise liners, but abandoned this idea when, after hitching a lift to Hammersmith, he was befriended by a lorry driver who helped him find accommodation and a manual job. But first Hume made his way to Somerset House where he was determined to find out the truth about his parentage. The brutal truth was recorded for him to see with his own eyes on his birth certificate. Aunt Doodie was indeed his mother but there was only a blank where the father’s name should have been written.

The man who had befriended Hume later wrote a letter to Aunt Doodie to inform her where Donald was and if she required him to go back home. She replied that she did not. Shortly afterwards Hume wrote her a letter detailing without restraint what he thought about her.

‘I was vomiting the vindictiveness of my soul in words’ he later recalled in ‘Confession’. This was to be the last time Hume ever contacted his mother again.

From that moment on Donald Hume, at barely fifteen, vowed to make life dance his tune. Over the next twenty years he would become involved in everything from joining the Communist party to taking up joy riding, petty theft and eventually graduating to fraud and criminal activity that would bring about quick riches in any way he could.

Strangely, his involvement with anti fascist organisations and in particular attending rallies to fight Oswald Mosley in the streets in 1936, was perhaps motivated by a strong desire to get involved in physical scraps and attack the police, rather than because he held socialist ideals and principles.

At the outbreak of the Second World War he joined the army, not out of loyalty to his country, which he felt had given him nothing , but out of the prospect of excitement that he believed the war would bring him. His criminal activities involved counterfeit booze making to supply to nightclubs and bars in London which suffered from a shortage of liquor. Hume sold ‘Finlinson’s Old English Gin’ which was basically surgical spirits laced with a small amount of gin. He even bought an RAF uniform and passed himself off as pilot officer Dan Hume, DFM.

Having peddled bootleg gin, he was now selling a bogus personality, passing off forged cheques at RAF stations until he was finally rumbled. His con trick activities often meant he socialised in West End and Soho bars where he would make deals. It was in the Hollywood bar that he first encountered the physically imposing Stanley Setty with his flash suits and flamboyant ties. The forty-six year old car dealer had previously done business with Hume when the latter bought a van from him.

By this time Hume, having actually set up a legitimate electrician’s business on Finchley Rd, in Golders Green, north London, was now married with a child on the way. He was desperate to move on to bigger things, make money and also have adventure. Both men realised that they could be useful to each other.

Hume was intrigued by Setty’s blatant appearance of wealth and prosperity. He could see that the shady car dealer had already arrived at the coveted goal of unlimited easy money; something that himself was striving to reach.

Both men sized each other up and Setty realised that Hume could be useful in his operations.

Thus, Hume began to lead a double life. On one side he had the legitimate electrician’s business and on the other he was working for Setty, basically as his dogsbody, undertaking the role of stealing suitable cars to match log-books that Setty possessed from wrecked cars. The substituted cars would then be re-sprayed and touched up.

Hume’s ability to fly a plane was also useful for aerial smuggling – anything from contraband to illegal aliens. There was a flourishing black market and Hume became known as the ‘Flying Smuggler’. This sideline and his role stealing cars and forging petrol coupons for Setty was his main means of making money. He was indifferent to the idea of earning a living honestly. His electrician’s trade it appeared was merely a temporary blip in his continuing fight against society.

The Crime

In the summer of 1949, Hume was happier than he’d ever been. Cynthia, his wife gave birth to a little girl and, along with a respectable image and apartment, he had a legitimate business. His ego on the other hand was inflated by a deluded belief that he was part of the ‘gangster’ world - a world concocted from the many gangster movies he had gorged himself on week after week in the cinema.

Setty, himself a former jailbird imprisoned under Debtors and Bankruptcy charges, was desperate to get back into business, despite the authorities impeding his attempts. Hume had never liked Setty, but felt compelled to work for him in order to enhance his own wealth prospects. Why Hume disliked Setty so much is not known.

Whatever the reason, the worse thing Setty could have done was strike out at the one thing that Hume had unconditional love for…….his dog Tony!

Hume’s terrier accidentally ruined a re-spray job on one of Setty’s stolen cars which prompted Setty to kick the dog in a fit of rage. For Hume, that one act of aggression towards his darling pet caused the brittle veneer of his friendliness towards Setty to disappear. His suppressed resentments gave way to hatred for something that most sane men would have forgotten in minutes. By the time he met up with Setty again in his Finchley Rd flat he was ready to strike out at the slightest provocation.

On Tuesday, 4th October, 1949, Stanley Setty was carrying out his usual business transactions at Warren St in central London. He sold a new Wolseley Twelve saloon to a dealer for £1000. The buyer gave Setty a cheque which later that day was cashed at a bank for two hundred £5 notes.

Later during the day Setty stopped off at Hume’s flat to talk business. He usually let himself in. By the time Hume arrived home and saw Setty’s car parked outside he was already building up anger.

It is not known exactly what words were exchanged between the two men, only that a heated argument developed into a physical fight. According to Hume’s later confession he picked up one of his wartime souvenirs, a German SS dagger and aimed it at Setty in defence.

Setty called Hume’s bluff and swiped at him. During a violent grapple Setty fell to the floor where Hume slashed repeatedly at his chest. As Setty fought back by trying to break Hume’s neck, he was stabbed in the chest and legs. Hume then lay back and observed Setty dying.

“I watched the life run from him like water down a drain” he recalled in his newspaper memoirs. “I had to hurt him. This man who had kicked my dog”

Shortly afterwards, Hume dragged Setty’s thirteen stone body through the flat to the end kitchen where he hid it in the coal cupboard. He then started to clean up the apartment trying to remove bloodstains, which had seeped into the carpet and into the floorboards. At one point, realising that he had to dispose of Setty’s car, Hume had to retrieve car keys from the dead man’s jacket. He then drove Setty’s car down Finchley Rd past Swiss Cottage and eventually to Setty’s own lock up at Cambridge Terrace Mews. He was back home at around 10.45pm where he pondered on whether he should go to the police. It dawned on him that he might have got away with the perfect murder.

Hume thought hard about how he could get the large body out of the flat and dispose of it without been seen. He finally came up with the idea of dismembering the corpse, parcelling body parts and dropping them in the sea by plane.

The next day on the 5th October, Hume began work on his macabre plan in the early hours. He first took the stained carpet to the next-door dry-cleaners and instructed them to dye it dark green. While Cynthia and the baby were having breakfast, Hume touched up bare patches on the floor with varnish. There were still stains on the sofa that troubled Hume but his main worry was to get the body dismembered and out of the flat while Cynthia was away.

Hume had a bank appointment that morning at 10am and, having pocketed some of the money he found on Setty’s body, he decided to deposit it in order to pay off an overdraft. Most of the £1000 was bloodstained but Hume was able to retrieve £100 of undamaged notes for himself.

When Cynthia left the flat with the baby for an appointment at Gt Ormond Street Hospital, Hume had only ninety minutes in which to dismember the body in the flat before the cleaning lady arrived.

The grisly operation was easier than Hume had imagined.

“I felt no squeamishness or horror at what I was about to do” he recalled as he began dismembering the body using a linoleum knife to cut to the bone and then a hacksaw.

He dismembered the legs first and packaged them up into a parcel using carpet felt. It was only Setty’s staring eyes that upset Hume, which he then covered as he continued to cut up the body. It took several strokes to remove the head which he placed in a box that contained baked beans. He also added pieces of brick and rubble to make the parcels heavy. The torso was the most problematic and after an abortive attempt to put it in a cabin trunk he pushed it back into the coal cupboard. The one thing that broke his heart was having to burn the damaged £900.

At 2.30pm Hume left the flat with two packages, the legs under one arm and the box with the head in it. He got into a hired car along with Tony his loyal dog, and sped towards Elstree Air field where a light blue Austin aircraft was waiting.

It was 3pm by the time he put the gruesome parcels in the plane and set off for Southend, despite his real destination being the English Channel.

Ninety minutes later he could see the French coast. He first threw out the SS dagger and tools before dumping the parcels which sank out of sight. Later he arrived at Southend airfield and made sure he was seen by as many people he could. It was 8.30pm by the time he got back to his London flat.

The torso however deeply troubled him. All the time while chatting with Cynthia and trying to keep up the pretence of everyday life, the grisly reminder of the murder lay only a few feet away hidden from view.

The following morning Hume arranged for a decorator to come to the flat. The unsuspecting man also helped Hume carry the torso, which was heavily packed with lead weights, out of the flat and into Hume’s car. It had even gurgled while the two men carried it to the vehicle, but Hume made a convincing excuse for its strange sounds. Amazingly, while Hume went back to the flat to clean the coal cupboard he left the torso in the car for an hour.

When Hume arrived at the Elstree airport a friendly engineer helped him carry the torso onto the plane. Together with his trusty canine companion, Hume set off again for the English Channel. Only this time the quest to dump the evidence wasn’t so easy. At first the torso, which rested in the back seat, wouldn’t budge when he tried to push it out through the door.

Hume even had to hold the joystick between his legs as he wrestled with the body part. After this failed he tilted the small plane at an angle in order to try and get the torso to slide and smash through the door. Finally, after a great deal of drama that nearly involved the dog falling out of the plane, the torso released itself from its position and fell from the aircraft. Moments later Hume was shocked to see the weights and blanket that had covered the body had got caught on a hook in the cabin. Realising that the torso had fallen out just covered in carpet felt, he knew it was unlikely to sink. He eventually managed to break the weights free leaving them and the carpet to drop into the sea.

Hume was now faced with the worse case scenario, a body that would float. He could see the torso bobbing in the water and realised he had no choice but to return back to land and hope somehow that it wouldn’t turn up on the coastline. The small speck he could still see bobbing in the water was evidence that could hang him.

The Arrest

It wasn’t long before various people were looking for Stanley Setty, including his sister and brother-in-law who reported him missing. The papers printed stories with headings such as ‘Dealer With 200 Fivers Vanishes’ inferring that Setty had been killed because of the £1000 he had on him.

Setty’s car was fingerprinted, but Hume felt confident that with so many questions relating to the dead man’s background and lifestyle the police would be on a wild goose chase for a long time.

On the 8th October, the papers revealed that Scotland Yard had issued the numbers of Setty’s £5 notes that he had received from the bank on the morning of his death. Some of this money had been deposited by Hume into his own bank account and also paid taxi cabs while travelling from London to Elstree Air Field. Hume now became worried that his blind greed, all for a miserly £100 could now lead a trail to him.

The police also recovered a notebook belonging to Setty which detailed all of his business associates. Then Hume’s nightmare came true when the torso finally turned up on the Essex mudflats on Friday, 21st October. The first witness to come forward was a taxi driver who had been given a £5 with the published serial numbers. He explained that he had taken a customer from Southend Airport to Finchley Rd.

After further investigations which involved all airfields in the area it didn’t take long before the police discovered that Hume had hired a plane and was also an associate of Setty. They knocked on Hume’s door at 7.30am on Thursday, 27th October.

Detectives were posted at both the front and back of the flat. Chief Inspector Jamieson and Superintendent MacDougall interrogated Hume at the Albany St Police Station although he kept up a convincing plea that he had nothing to do with the murder. He denied that he owned a car which appeared futile when he was then asked about the ‘parcels’ he took on board the hired plane.

Realising that petty lies were not going to get him off the hook Hume concocted an elaborate story about how he had been offered £150 by three shady smugglers who he only knew as Mac, Greeny and The Boy. The men asked him to drop off the parcels by plane into the sea. Hume made out that he was desperate for the money and only later realised that the situation was very suspect. Despite his convincing act the officers did not believe him. After forensics had swept his Finchley Rd flat they discovered bloodstains under the floorboards.

The Trial

Hume’s trial took place on the 18th January 1950 at the Old Bailey. Hume stuck to his story that he had not seen Setty on the day of his murder. He also maintained that the bloodstains had come about because of the parcels having been in his flat. It was left to the jury to make up its own mind on this and the story Hume stuck to that he had carried out an errand for three smugglers.

The defence managed to find a witness who admitted that had worked in Paris with a gang of car smugglers. His description of the men and some of the names seemed to correlate to Hume’s story. The jury were left to ponder whether the gang really existed and that Hume had been an unwilling accomplice.

The Judge, Mr Justice Sellers addressed the jury and laid out the various facts and assumptions they had to make. Could Hume’s story about the three men delivering parcels containing Setty’s body parts be true, especially when the men had no idea when Hume’s wife and child would be at home? Hume also claimed that one of the men pointed a gun at him, but why asked the judge would these men trust someone they had only met a few days before? Finally, he reminded the jury that if there was any doubt in the jurors’ minds about what happened then they were compelled to return a verdict of not guilty.

On the 20th January, 1950, the jury retired at noon after the judge’s last words. It took less than three hours for an astonishing verdict to be announced; that they all failed to agree. Hume himself was baffled and elated that he had not heard the word ‘Guilty’ for he knew he was now not to hang.

After twelve more jury members were sworn in, the one indictment that Hume was found guilty of was of being an accessory after the fact to murder. When Hume was asked if pleaded ‘Guilty’ or ‘Not Guilty’ to this charge the canny murderer replied in the affirmative.

Hume was sentenced to just twelve years in prison.

Hume's Release and further crimes

Donald Hume was released from Dartmoor Prison on 1st February, 1958. As he had earned maximum remission for good behavior he had only served eight years. Despite having been incarcerated and separated from his wife, child and adored dog, Hume still had a grievance against society. Prison life had not vanquished the 'chip' on his shoulder and as soon as he came out newspaper editors vied for his 'story'.

The Sunday Pictorial offered to pay Hume handsomely for his confession on condition that they would give him ten days to leave the country. Together with a photographer they re-enacted the crime. Hume changed his name to Donald Brown when he met up with a reporter for the paper and confessed his life-story.

As a result Hume became paranoid about being recognized and began to disguise himself. He eventually took on another alias, John Stephen Bird, someone with the same age as him whom he had come across in the files at Somerset House.

In May 1958, with a bogus passport and £2000 he received from the paper, he boarded a plane for Zurich to start a new life.

It was while he was in the affluent Swiss city that Hume reckoned that banks were a push over. He had decided on a plan to enrich himself further and begin a new life in Canada and breed huskies.

It was during a torrid affair with a girl called Trudi who lived in Zurich that Hume realized he would need money in order to continue to impress her with his elaborate lies. He treated Trudi to expensive gifts, took her out to restaurants and eventually told her that he wanted to marry her. In reality he only had £150 left.

He needed money fast and as he had also indulged Trudi with tales that he was a spy for the Americans, he felt pressure to come up with quick rich schemes in order to keep up the charade.

His solution was to rob a bank in London. Back in England and under the guise of Donald Brown, he made plans to raid the Midland bank on Boston Manor Rd on 1st August, 1958. Walking straight up to cashier Frank Lewis, he shot the bank employee in the stomach before making off with £2000. He escaped to Kew Bridge station and within twenty-six hours was back with an unsuspecting Trudi in Zurich.

Luckily, Frank Lewis survived his ordeal. But for Hume his was only beginning, as the police were starting to realize that he and Donald Brown were the same man. Also Trudi, who had already questioned Hume when she noticed his passport picture was unrecognizable, had greater cause to be concerned when she trod on a bullet.

Hume, ever the actor put on a convincing display as he burst into tears and told Trudi that he was in fact not a spy for the Americans, but the Russians and could she forgive him?

Desperate to make big bucks, Hume decided to raid more banks but this time in Zurich. The bank he chose was the Gewerbe Bank, one he was already familiar with. In January, 1958, carrying a cardboard box with a gun hidden in it, Hume entered the bank at 11:30am and marched straight up to one of the counters.

He aimed the gun at cashier Walter Schenkel and fired, before jumping over the counter and rifling the tills.

But Schenkel, mercifully was only wounded and managed to set off the alarm bells prompting Hume to run out pursued by passers by. As he ran down a series of alleys he finally reached the embankment, turned round and fired at the encroaching crowd. Arthur Maag, a fifty-year-old taxi driver tried to stop him. Hume shot and mortally wounded the brave man. Shortly afterwards Hume was overpowered, snarling like a dog at his captors. Maag's death was the one crime he was not going to escape from.

With the masquerade finally over Hume was committed to Zurich's District prison, the Regensdorf Jail, where he stood trial for eight months. During that time he was visited by the faithful Trudi who admitted to still loving him.

Hume was unique among criminals for facing trial twice for two different murders in two different countries. Throughout the trial he still tried to dominate proceedings and displayed both egomania and a pathological lack of understanding of the magnitude of his crimes. As there was no capital punishment in Switzerland Hume was sentenced to hard labor for life.

In 1976 the Swiss authorities sent Hume back to Britain where he was assessed by psychiatrists and incarcerated in Broadmoor for fifteen years.


1948: Hume marries Cynthia who later has a baby daughter.

October 4, 1948: Hume kills Stanley Setty in Finchley Rd flat.

October 5, 1948: Hume dismembers Setty's body and disposes parts in English Channel.

October 6, 1948: Hume disposes of last body part, the torso.

October 8, 1949: Police issue £5 note serial numbers.

October 27, 1949: Police arrest Hume at his Finchley Rd flat.

January 18 1950: Trial at Old Bailey.

January 20, 1950: Jury delivers 'Guilty' verdict for 'accessory to murder'.

January 2, 1958: Hume released from Dartmoor prison.

May 1958: Hume leaves for Zurich with £2000.

August 1, 1958: Hume robs Midland Bank in London.

Jan 1958: Hume robs Gwerbe bank in Zurich and kills taxi driver. Hume is arrested.

1976: Hume sent back to Britain and to Broadmoor.

Richard Bevan



MO: Killed a personal enemy (1949) and robbery victim (1959).

DISPOSITION: 12 years as "accessory," 1950 (paroled 1958); life sentence, 1959; ruled insane, 1976.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers



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