From the 1949 Acid Bath Murders to victims of the notorious 60’s gangsters, the Kray Twins, the pathologist who conducted post-mortems on some of the UK’s most infamous murders was honoured with a Green Plaque by Westminster City Council recently.
Professor Cedric Keith Simpson (1907 – 1985) worked in the field of pathology for over forty years. He taught at Guy’s Hospital London, and gained the reputation of having done more autopsies than anyone in the world.
The plaque will be installed at Professor Simpson’s previous residence at 1 Weymouth Street, W1.
He became renowned for his skilful work and for his post-mortems on high profile murder cases, including the 1949 Acid Bath Murders, where Simpson had the grisly task of sifting through human remains after victims were disposed of in a bath of concentrated sulphuric acid. Picking through gallstones and denture parts, he was able to identify Mrs Olive Durand-Deacon as one of the six known victims of the killer John George Haigh, who was subsequently hanged in August 1949.
Simpson also investigated the murder of the gangster George Cornell, who was shot dead by Ronnie Kray in the Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel in 1966. Kray was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder three years later.
Professor Simpson was a pioneer in forensic dentistry, recognised for his work in identifying a suspected murderer by teeth marks left on the victim's body. He was also responsible for the first successful 'battered baby' prosecution in England in 1965, after investigating the deaths of Susan Moon (4 months old) and Michael Moon (5 weeks old), both of whom had suffered from broken bones. His work was instrumental in raising awareness of abused childrens’ symptoms among health and child professionals.
Simpson became London’s first forensic pathologist to be recognised by the Home Office, and in 1975 his long public service was recognised with the award of a CBE.
Launched in 1991, Westminster Council’s Green Plaque Scheme draws attention to particular buildings in Westminster associated with people of renown who have made lasting contributions to society.
Speaking at the plaque unveiling, Cllr Robert Davis, Deputy Leader of Westminster Council said:
“Professor Cedric Keith Simpson and his efforts in his professional life are one of – if not the main – reason that forensic science has such a prominent place in the public consciousness. I am very happy to see the life and actions of a man whose career laid the foundations of modern forensic science acknowledged in small part today – and proud to see his story woven into the fabric of Westminster.”