Was a Wimbledon Finalist Later Convicted of Murder?

SPORTS LEGEND: A Wimbledon finalist was later convicted of murder.

The story of Vere St. Leger Goold is one of those things that you can barely even imagine how it would be handled if it happened in 2007 rather than 1907.

Goold was the top tennis player in Ireland in 1879. Buoyed by his success in Irish tournaments, Goold went to play in the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament of 1879, and made it all the way to the finals of the British tournament, losing to John Hartley in straight sets.

Goold’s tennis career took a sharp downturn at this point, and by 1883 he was out of the game for good as he descended into a life of drugs and alcohol.

However poorly his tennis career went, his life went possibly even poorer. He married a French dressmaker and he and his wife, Vera Goold, became rampant gamblers.

As is the case for most gamblers, the Goolds (who were going by Sir and Lady, which was due to Goold’s aristocratic background) felt that they had figured out a gambling system, so in 1907 they headed for Monte Carlo.

Soon, they had lost everything they had brought with them and were even in debt to people. One particular person was a Swedish widow named Emma Liven. The couple ingratiated themselves to Liven, who was the type of older rich woman who makes con men’s eyes gleam.

Ultimately, after a public row with another parasi…I mean, friend of Liven’s, Liven stated that she was leaving Monte Carlo over concern for her reputation (after being associated with such uncouth behavior). Vera Goold owed her some money, so before she left, she stopped by their hotel on August 4, 1907. She was never seen alive again.

When Liven did not show up at her hotel, her friend called the police who went to the Goold’s hotel where they were told that the Goolds had left to go to Marseilles. There was some blood stains in the room and some tools with blood stains on them, as well.

While in Marseilles, the Goolds left a large trunk at the train station. A clerk named Pons at the station was either curious about the smell from the trunk that was leaking blood (he was told it was freshly slaughtered poultry) or he was bribed to keep quiet and he just didn’t do so – either way, the police came and opened up the trunk to find the bloody remains of Liven.

The Goolds were arrested and tried for murder. Vere claimed that he did it alone, but no one believed him, and they were both sentenced to life imprisonment.

Vere died after a year in a French penal colony.

Can you imagine the media coverage if this happened in the 21st Century?


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