Archibald Hall was a Scot born in Glasgow on June 17th in 1924. While still in his teens he ventured into a career of petty crime scam involving two Red Cross collection tins, the tin containing the small change was for the Red Cross while the other one was for paper money and this was for him.
In 1941 Archibald Hall received his first of many prison sentences for theft. Moving on to better things he graduated to confidence tricks and became a consummate actor, often posing as a member of the aristocracy or a wealthy American.
Archibald Hall was also a jewel thief and received ten years in 1964 for his activities. Shortly after his incarceration he escaped from Blundeston Prison, in Suffolk, only to be recaptured in 1966 and for this he received another five years on top of the ten he was already supposed to be serving. In 1972 he was paroled and it was during this time, while in Preston, that he met Mary Coggle, an Irishwoman, who became his mistress.
In between his periodic spells in prison, Archibald Hall worked as a butler to the rich and famous. By the end of 1973 he was back in prison and stayed there until 1977. This time when he was released he obtained a position in the household of Lady Hudson, the widow of an MP, near Waterbeck in Dumfriesshire.
While he lived there he was visited by one of his prison acquaintances, David Wright, who started to do various odd-jobs around the house. While Wright was staying with Hall, some of Lady Butler’s silver and a ring vanished. This annoyed Archie as he liked his job and had decided that he wanted to ‘go straight.’ When he found out that Wright’s girlfriend had the ring he persuaded her to return it. This time it was Wrights turn to be upset and when Archie was in bed asleep he was suddenly woken up by a loud bang.
Archibald Hall saw Wright standing next to his bed and pointing a rifle at him. The bullet had hit the headboard above his head. It was obvious that Wright had taken advantage of the fact that Lady Hudson was away and had consumed a number of bottles of her champagne. Wright jabbed the gun at Archie catching him in the face with the barrel. After quite some time Archie eventually managed to calm him down and get him to go to bed.
The very next day Archibald Hall and David Wright went out hunting rabbits. After they had fired at several rabbits, and Archie was sure that Wright’s gun was empty, he shot him n the head killing him instantly. He dug a rough grave in the bed of a stream and buried the body A little while later Lady butler was informed by the police about Archie’s criminal history and she dismissed him.
Moving down to London in November of 1977, Archibald Hall once more got a position as butler, this time to 82-year-old Walter Travers Scott-Elliott and his wife Dorothy. It didn’t take Archie long to notice that his new home was full of priceless antiques and he decided that this was going to be the big one, after this he would be able to retire. The Scott-Elliotts were very wealthy with many bank accounts around the world and were the owners of several houses in Britain. Not long after moving to London, Archie again met up with Mary Coggle. He saw her in a pub, chatting to a man named Michael Kitto.
Archibald Hall found that they had quite a lot in common as Kitto also had a history of petty crime. The three of them chatted and decided to burgle the house of the Scott-Elliots.
Mrs. Scott-Elliott had to go into a nursing home for a few days and, on the evening of December 8th, Archie took the opportunity to show Kitto around the Scott-Elliott’s house. Unbeknownst to him Mrs Scott-Elliott had returned home earlier in the day. When he opened the door to the Scott-Elliott’s bedroom he expected to see the old man fast asleep but was confronted by Mrs Scott-Elliott, who wanted to know what he was doing there, with a stranger.
Panicking, both men grabbed her and, using a pillow, managed to suffocate her. They decided to try and make it look like an accident so were putting her into bed when he husband woke up. Archie explained to him that his wife had had a nightmare and that he should go back to sleep.
The next day Mr. Scott-Elliott went to his club for lunch and Hall, Kitto and Coggle tried to decide what to do next. They thought that if they kept the old man sedated with his normal quota of pills, then Mary would be able to impersonate his wife, at least for a while. The next problem they had to decide was what to do with the body. They put the body into the boot of the car and, that evening took Mr Scott-Elliott to a cottage in Cumberland that Archie had rented. Mary sat in the back with Mr. Scott Elliott with wig and Dorothy’s fur coat, and they all drove north.
The next day he trio buried Mrs. Scott-Elliott’s body by a lonely roadside near Loch Earn. Having gotten rid of the body, they then drove back to the cottage and left Mr. Scott-Elliott there with Mary Coggle, still posing as his wife, while they both returned to London and ransacked the house. They went back and picked up Mr. Scott-Elliott and Mary Coggle and continued their drive north.
On the afternoon of December 14th, near Glen Affric, Archibald Hall and Kitto decided it was time to get rid of the old man so they attempted to strangle him. Perhaps fear gave him added strength but he fought back with unexpected aggression. The two men finally used a spade to beat the old man to death and then, using the same spade, buried his body in a shallow grave.
During the next day things were tense between Archie and Mary. She wanted to keep Dorothy’s mink coat but Archie wanted to get rid of the evidence. When they got back to the cottage the row erupted into violence.
Archibald Hall struck Mary, knocking her to the ground with a poker, and put a plastic bag over her head suffocating her. Later that night Archie and Kitto drove the Carlisle to Glasgow road and dumped her body in a stream under a bridge.
The pair spent a quiet Christmas with Archie’s family. After the end of the festive season Archibald Hall and Kitto returned to their Cumberland hide-out, this time with Hall’s brother, Donald. Just like Archie, Donald also had a criminal record for burglary but he also was wanted also for child molesting. Archie hated him for this and thought of him as pervert. When Donald started to ask too many questions about their new found wealth, Archie decided he would have to go. He was rendered his brother unconscious with chloroform, then drowned him in the bath.
The next day, on January 15th, 1978, Archibald Hall and Kitto once again drove north looking for somewhere suitable to dispose of the body. It had been snowing and the ground was frozen so they decided to spend the night at the Blenheim House Hotel, North Berwick. The hotel proprietor was suspicious about his two new guests and telephoned the local police and asked them check out their car registration. Hall had fitted false plates to the Granada and this then was to be his downfall.
When the licence number was checked, it was found that it should belong to a Ford Escort and, consequently, two policemen appeared at the hotel to ask them to explain this discrepancy. They were taken back to the police station. Here, Archibald Hall asked to go to the toilet and escaped out of the window. His freedom was short lived however and he was picked up later in a taxi on his way to Dunbar.
The police had searched the car and found Donald’s body in the boot. Mary Coggles body had also been found and the disappearance of Mr and Mrs Scott-Elliott was also being investigated. Archibald Hall broke down in questioning and made a full confession, even mentioning the earlier murder of David Wright.
Archibald Hall and Kitto were tried in Edinburgh in November of 1978. Kitto received fifteen years and Archie received life imprisonment without possibility of parole.