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Vere Goold

tennis player
Full name: Vere Thomas Goold
Nickname: St. Leger
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Bio Vere Goold was born into a wealthy family. Goold was a grandson of Sir George Goold of Old Court. Many of his forbears were Mayors of Cork. A dashing and quick-witted net player. In his early life he apparently had boxing skills as well as tennis skills. In June 1879 he became the first Irish tennis champion. After an illness he failed to defend his Irish title in 1880, losing out in the Challenge Round, again to William Renshaw 1-6, 4-6, 3-6. St. Leger's career went downhill and he disappeared from the tennis scene by 1883. Vere Goold's life after 1883 was wasted on drink and drugs. He ended his life in prison convicted of murder and premature death, by suicide.
In 1891, Goold married Marie Giraudin. The couple quickly descended into debt. They moved to Montreal, Canada in 1897 where Marie had a dressmaking establishment before moving to Liverpool in 1903 to manage a laundry business. In 1907 Mrs. Goold convinced Vere Goold to go to Monte Carlo to try their luck at the casino. She thought she had a winning method for the gambling tables. They took with them her niece, Isabelle Giraudin. They also used the titles of "Sir" Vere and "Lady" Goold, which they claimed they were entitled to use. According to Charles Kingston the system did not work, but Leonard Gribble's account suggests that it worked for at least a couple of days or a week. However, soon the Goolds were without funds. They met a wealthy Swedish woman, Emma Levin, at the Casino, the widow of a Stockholm broker. Mrs. Levin already had a parasitical "friend" named Madame Castellazi, but soon the widow had Mrs. Goold as well. The two "hangers-on" detested each other, and finally had a public dispute in the Casino. This got into the social columns at Monte Carlo, and Madame Levin decided she had to leave the city due to the publicity. At this point the sources on the case are at variance again. Either Marie Goold or her husband Vere Goold borrowed 40 pounds from Madame Levin, and she wanted it repaid. Kingston makes it seem that when confronting Marie Goold the widow saw what a dangerous person the latter was. Gribble suggests that the demand to Vere Goold for repayment played into Marie Goold's scheme to murder the widow for the purposes of theft (of her cash and jewelry). On 4 August 1907 Madame Levin went to their hotel to collect the debt before she left Monte Carlo. Madame Castellazi was waiting for her at Madame Levin's hotel, and when she did not come by midnight she went to the police. They went to the hotel of the Goolds. Vere and Marie Goold had left for Marseille, but they left Isabelle behind (explaining that Mr. Goold had to see a doctor there). Blood stains were found in the suite, as well as some items like a saw and a hammer with blood on them. Also Madame Castellazi recognized Madame Levin's parasol.
The Goolds were in Marseille in a hotel (they were going to head for London). They had left a large trunk at the railway station at Marseille, and one of the clerks at the station named Pons noted it smelled due to blood that was leaking out of the bottom. The trunk was traced to the Goolds, and Pons confronted them. Again the details of the sources vary: Kingston says he wanted them to explain why it was leaking blood and come to the station to open the trunk up; Gribble says that Pons sought (and got) a small bribe to shut up about it. But either Pons told his superiors and the police of his suspicions (the Goolds said the trunk was full of freshly slaughtered poultry) or he talked too much and the story of the trunk got out. In any case, before the Goolds could leave Marseille they had to face the French police. The trunk was opened and the remains of Madame Levin found.
Vere Goold apparently loved Marie Goold deeply—he confessed that he was the murderer. However the relative strengths of character of the two came out in the course of the trial, which attracted great attention. Marie Goold was sentenced to death, and Vere Goold was sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's Island. But Mrs. Goold's sentence was reduced to life imprisonment. It did not do either of them much good. Vere Goold committed suicide on September 8, 1909, within a year of arriving at Devil's Island (French Guyana), where the movie "Papillon" was set.
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