The Trials of the Baroness by Terence Kirby
This is an account of the extraordinary but true story behind the trials of the Baroness de Stempel, which revealed a complex web of murder, fraud, intrigue and eccentricity. At the centre of it all was the enigmatic figure of the Baroness herself, a former debutante who was cleared of murdering her first husband but found guilty of conspiring, with the Baron de Stempel, to defraud her aunt, Lady Illingworth, of all her fortune and possessions before allowing her to die in poverty. The case, which cast a cloud of dishonour over the distinguished family of William Wilberforce and a harsh spotlight on England's fading aristocracy, left behind many mysteries, the most important being the identity of the person who took an iron bar and battered to death Simon Dale, the first husband of the Baroness. The author, who is Crime Correspondent of The Independent, had access to the trial papers and conducted interviews with forensic scientists, friends and relatives of the de Stempel family, and the Baroness herself.