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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. Goold's mother, he pointed out, had died when was only 17, meaning he was without a maternal presence at a crucial point in his life and his father passed away in 1879 -- the year of his promising Wimbledon showing.
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. He was the founder of Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club, Secretary of the Irish Boundary Commission, bon viveur and fantasist. St. Leger's career went downhill, sadly his fondness for drink and drugs would be his undoing and his life rapidly spiralled out of control. What had been a promising tennis career came to an abrupt end in 1883 when he abandoned the sport altogether after suffering a series of defeats. Vere Goold's life after 1883 was wasted on drink and drugs.
He moved to London, where a local journalist would later write of him: "Those who knew him described him as a man of perfect breeding and of courtly, charming manner, cultured and generous. He was wont when coming home late from the club or the theatre to collect stray cats and to bring them to share his supper."

In 1891, Goold married Marie Giraudin. He married a French dressmaker, Marie Giraudin, who, according to the London Times, had wed a man against her parents' wishes but then left him and fled to England. There she met and married a captain in the English army -- her first husband having died in the meantime -- but was made a widow for a second time when the captain died and, sinking into penury, she was forced to sell her jewels. It was around this time, in London, that she met Goold. After marrying, the couple were reported to have taken a large and furnished house in London's West End where they held lavish parties and "lived extravagantly".
The couple quickly descended into debt. Financial difficulties led them to emigrate to Montreal to escape their creditors in 1897 where Marie had a dressmaking establishment. There the couple continued to spend freely and racking up significant gambling debts, were forced to flee once more, settling in Liverpool in 1904 to manage a laundry business. In 1907 Mrs. Goold convinced Vere Goold to go to Monte Carlo to try their luck at the casino. Upon arriving in the sunny centre of sin, they rented for £100 the fourth floor of a well-known local villa (at their apartment in the Villa Menesini, Avenue des Fleurs (now 15 Avenue de Grande-Bretagne) in Monte-Carlo.
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. A friend had advised him of a secret system of winning, which, he said, was "infallible". 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. According to the Irish Times, "They mixed with the best society and were frequently seen at the tables in the casino." Goold himself was "quiet, unassuming and soft spoken" while his wife was invariably depicted as a domineering battleaxe. They were "on visiting terms with people of note in the resort and were always well dressed and paid their bills regularly". Their niece, Isabelle, who stayed with them, was "one of the belles of the season" and had English doctors pursuing her across ballrooms.
Behind the scenes, however, things had begun to unravel.Although Vere himself would later deny this, the Goolds were running out of money and by midsummer their respectability was increasingly threadbare. After some initial success at the roulette table they began to lose heavily and once more sought to endear themselves to wealthy patrons who could subsidise their lifestyle. Since the Goolds were without funds, their solution to these problems was to befriend a wealthy Danish dowager woman, Emma Levin, at the Casino, whose Swedish merchant husband had left her a fortune. She was "one who revelled in the atmosphere of Monte Carlo, the lure of the roulette wheel and the fun of attracting men from 18 to 80 -- anyone who could remove the money from her account or the jewels from her back". According to one newspaper report, the Goolds appeared "anxious to cultivate her".
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. But before doing so on August 4, 1907, she visited the Goold's villa, at their invitation, in an attempt to get the money owed her, however the couple instead decided to murder the dowager during her visit to their apartment and make off with her jewellery, valued at 125,000 francs.
Late in the afternoon a neighbour heard a woman scream, "leave me alone" but didn't pay any attention, assuming that it was a domestic quarrel. Isabelle, it was later learned, had been sent out that very morning, with strict instructions not to return until evening. When she did arrive back she noticed the box room in the apartment was locked and was told its contents were none of her business.

(At this point the sources on the case are at variance again. Either Marie Goold or her husband Vere Goold borrowed 40 pounds (1,000 francs) 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 August 4, 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.The Goolds were promptly arrested and clapped in separate prison cells.
The discovery shocked the world.
The incident became known as “the Monte Carlo Trunk Murder” and gained global media attention.
When interrogated, the Goolds seem to first have claimed that a man named Burker (or possibly Barker) had killed Ms Levin in their suite while they were absent, and they had merely dismembered her body to prevent a scandal taking place in their temporary home. Their accounts didn't match, however 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. Both were found guilty: Marie Goold was sentenced to death, the court ruled that Marie was to pay for Ms Levin's head with her own: she would face the guillotine and Vere Goold was sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's Island. By January 1908 both of the Goolds were in the midst of ultimately unsuccessful appeals.However, a month later Marie's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. It did not do either of them much good. Mrs. Goold died in 1914, she succumbed to typhoid fever and passed away in Montpellier Prison. Vere Goold ended his life in prison convicted of murder and premature death, by suicide. He committed suicide on September 8, 1909, within a year of arriving at Devil's Island in French Guyana, where the movie "Papillon" was set.
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