Media Reports of a Murder

Several accounts of the crime and trial of Harold Hagger have been found, and are listed below.
Original trial documents are held by the National Archives.  Transcripts of some can be found here.

  1.  The Murder-UK Website, which has now disappeared.  Fortunately, a copy of the report had been saved, and is pasted below.  I am very grateful to the author, Ian Jennings.  Thanks Ian, wherever you are!

  "On 31st October 1946 the body of a woman was found alongside the A20 near Wrotham, in Kent. She had been strangled and, as there were no signs of a struggle, it was deduced that she had been killed elsewhere and dumped in the bushes at the side of the road where she was found. The woman was quickly identified as Dagmar Petrywalski. Miss Petrywalski was an eccentric, 48-year-old spinster who lived in a shack on the Hever Estate at Kingsdown in Kent. One morning every week she would set out early to hitchhike to London to visit her brother.

  Miss Petrywalski's elderly mother also lived near Kingsdown. She told officers that her daughter always carried with her an attaché case, containing her sandwiches, and a yellow string bag. Neither had been found near the body. The string bag had been crocheted for her by her sister-in-law. Chief Inspector Fabian, in charge of the case, visited the sister-in-law and asked her make another bag identical with the first. This task was accomplished by the next morning and Fabian was able to publish photographs of the bag in the evening papers, along with a request for information.

  Peter Nash was the fifteen-year-old son of a farmer in West Malling. He instantly recognised the picture of the bag as being identical to a string bag that he had pulled from Clare Park Lake several days earlier. Forensic examination of the bag found three hairs adhering to the bag, one of which was identical to hair from Miss Petrywalski. Clare Park Lake was separated from the site where the body was found by a high fence, so, initially, it was something of a mystery as to how the bag was found floating in the pool. Fabian got to hear about local girls who, to amuse themselves, would throw bottles into a stream near a mill at East Malling and then retrieve the bottles a few hours later from the lake. They had been carried there by an underground stream.

  When he visited the mill, which had been converted into a cider works, Fabian noticed a heap of bricks. He was told that they had been delivered the day that Miss Petrywalski had died. He traced the delivery company to Cambridge and they told him that the load had been taken by a driver named Sidney Sinclair. That was not, however, his real name. Harold Hagger, as the lorry-driver soon admitted his name to be, had a long and chequered criminal career with sixteen previous convictions. He told officers that he had given the woman a lift but that he had caught her trying to steal from his wallet, which was in his jacket hanging up inside the cab of his lorry. The pair had struggled and Miss Petrywalski had accidentally died when he had pulled her scarf too tightly. He could not explain how, at dawn on a bitterly cold morning in the unheated cab, he was not wearing his jacket.

  The jury at his trial at Maidstone Assizes dismissed his story of accidental death and found him guilty. Hagger was sentenced to death. He was hanged at Wandsworth on 18th March 1947."

2.  Murder Most Foul, No.45, a quarterly magazine, published in 2002, which includes several photos in a 5-page report.  Back issues are available from True Crime Library.  The same publisher had previously covered the story in a 7-page True Crime 'Summer Special' in 1989, but that is now out of print.

3.  Law and Disorder in Wrotham Over the Centuries, published by the Wrotham Historical Society.  This 100-page booklet includes a very informative 2 page account of the murder investigation and trial.  Last time the Wrotham HS site was viewed (Oct 2019), the account could be seen online here.

4.  The Times newspaper, which included the following brief reports -

  25 Nov 1946 At West Malling, Kent, on Saturday, Sidney Sinclair, 45, of Little Abington, Cambridge, appeared on a charge of murdering Miss Dagmar Petrzywalski, 48 - known as Miss Peters - at Wrotham, Kent, on October 31.  The accused man, who was granted legal aid, was remanded in custody until December 13.

Sentence of death was passed at Kent Assizes at Maidstone yesterday on Sidney Sinclair, 45, lorry driver, for the murder of Miss Dagmar Petrzywalski, 48, who was said to have led the life of a recluse in a hut which she had had built at Wrotham Hill.  The jury, after they had retired to consider their verdict, asked for a photograph of Miss Petrzywalski.  They were given one which was stated to be a copy from a passport photograph.  The prosecution said that Miss Petrzywalski was strangled by Sinclair with a man's vest which she was wearing as a scarf.

  19 Mar 1947 Sidney Sinclair, 45, of Little Abington (Cambridgeshire) was executed at Wandsworth yesterday for the murder of Miss Dagmar Petrzywalski.  At the inquest it was stated that his real name was Harold Hagger.

Other miscellaneous transcripts

Page last updated: 25th October 2019, e-mail: martin@hagger.org