21 William Mews, Belgravia, London SW1X 9HF, UK
Michael Scott Stephen (1908 – June 3, 1932) was shot and killed just before 5am, on the morning of 3 June 1932, the rich, privileged and drunk Elvira Barney, child of Sir John and Lady Mullens, shot dead Michael Scott Stephen. She’d claimed it was an accident.
Elvira Barney was 27. Her parents were among the richest in London. She didn’t need to work. Instead, she filled most of her days sleeping off the drink and drugs she’d overindulged in the night before. Four years earlier, in 1928, she’d married American singer, John Sterling Barney. They’d met in Café de Paris, one of London’s glitziest nightclubs. And it was to the nightclubs Elvira returned when her marriage had turned sour and she’d separated from John. There, in early 1932, she’d met Michael Scott Stephen.
Unlike Elvira, Michael’s parents were ordinary folk. They lived in Putney, which was a rather down-at-heel part of London at the time. He’d left for Paris, hoping to make his fortune as a fashion designer for the rich and famous. But he’d come back to London penniless, his dreams of high-fashion over. Every night, he’d trawl London’s most exclusive, most expensive nightclubs, selling drugs to the small circle of wealthy London party-goers who could afford pay for them.
Michael moved in to Barney's Knightsbridge flat, lived off the money she gave him. Elvira was frustrated by the rumours Michael had lovers. And that those lovers were said to be men. Then, on 2 June 1932, at 4.50 in the morning, after returning from a night at the Café de Paris, Elvira shot Michael dead. The court heard how Elvira’s neighbours had been woken by a row and heard Elvira shouting something like, ‘I will shoot you.’ Elvira Barney was cleared of the murder charges against her and released. Her trial had made the front pages of the country’s newspapers. But only four years later, she was making headlines again when she was found dead in a Paris hotel room.
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