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Glamorous young wife Alma Rattenbury takes her chauffeur as a lover and their scandalous relationship leads to a murder most foul.
The 1935 murder of architect Francis Mawson Rattenbury, famous for his design of the iconic Parliament Buildings and Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia, and the arrest and lurid trial of his 30-years-younger second wife, Alma, and the family chauffeur, George Percy Stoner, her lover, riveted people.
Francis and Alma had moved to Bournemouth, England, after the City of Victoria had ostracized them for their scandalous, flagrant affair while Francis was married to his first wife. Their life in Bournemouth was tangled. Francis became an impotent lush. Deprived of sexual gratification, Alma seduced George, previously a virgin who was half her age. They conducted their affair in her upstairs bedroom with her and Francis’s six-year-old son in a nearby bed, “sleeping,” she said, and the near-deaf Francis in his armchair downstairs in a drunken stupor.
The lovers were tried together for Francis’s murder at the Old Bailey Criminal Court in London, resulting in intense public interest and massive, frenzied media coverage. The trial became one of the 20th century’s most sensational cases, sparking widespread debate over sexual mores and social strata distinctions.