James Camb

Reign of terror: 18/10/47

Motive: Presumably sex

Crimes: The murder of Eileen Isabella Ronnie Gibson (her stage name was Gay Gibson) on board the Union Castle liner Durban Castle, which was sailing from Cape Town to Southampton.

Method: Manual strangulation

Sentence: Camb was sentenced to death. However, luckily for him, at his time of execution, parliament was debating the aboliton clause that had recently been put in the Criminal Justice Bill - so all executions were suspended. The clause was finally deleted and hanging started up again. Camb was released from prison on licence in September 1959.

In 1967, he was sentenced to 2 years probation for indecently assaulting a young girl. Not long after, he was found guilty of indecently assaulting minors, and his licence was revoked, sending him back to prison to complete his life sentence. He was released from prison in 1978 and died from heart failure on 7/07/79.

Interesting facts: Being on a ship, it was easy to dispose of the body. The murder took place in Gibson's cabin. He then pushed the body through the cabin's porthole. The body was never recovered. It was thought at first that Gibson had just fallen overboard and drowned. However, it seems that during the struggle with Camb, Gibson had managed to press both the steward and the stewardess buttons, summoning them to her immediately. When the steward arrived, he knocked on the door, opened it, and a man closed it. Camb was an employee of the ship, and the steward, Frederick Steer, recognised him. When Gibson could not be found the next day, he remembered the incident with suspicion. If the occupant had rung both bells, she must have felt she was in danger.

At the trial, Camb claimed that she had died of natural causes whilst having consensual sex with him. The defence expert agreed that this was a possibility - in fact he had been employed by the prosecution to prove their case, but he decided that it may well have happened the way Camb said. The prosecution claimed she was strangled - the expert saying that bloodstained saliva on the sheets and the fact that she urinated just before death, staining the bed, showed that she had been strangled.

When Camb was examined by the ship's doctor, he was found to have scratch marks on his body: on the right side of the neck, on his shoulder, and on his wrist. This was consistent with a struggle having taken place, and Gibson scratching him whilst trying to defend herself.