Serial killing butler dies in prison aged 78

ONE of Scotland’s most infamous serial killers of the last century has died in jail, it was revealed today.

Former butler Archibald Hall, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of four people including a former MP, in the 1970s, died at Kingston Prison, Portsmouth, Hants, on September 16 this year.

A spokesman for the coroner’s office said that Hall, dubbed The Mad Butler by national newspapers, died of natural causes at the age of 78.

Serial killer Hall, who also went by the name of Roy Fontaine, was born in Glasgow on June 17, 1924.

His adolescence and early adult years were filled with petty crimes from which he graduated to become a con artist, often posing as an aristocrat, for which he served several prison sentences.

But in 1975, Hall’s crimes took on a deadlier twist as he served as butler to Lady Margaret Hudson. Hall, who was bisexual, had intended to burgle her Dumfrieshire estate, Kirleton House, which was packed with antiques, but his plans were disrupted when a former homosexual lover turned up.

After inviting David Wright to stay at the mansion, Hall found that he had stolen a diamond ring from Lady Hudson.

After an argument in which Wright shot at Hall, the butler invited him on a shooting trip in nearby woods during which he shot him in the back of the head.

Hall soon left the employment of Lady Hudson and moved to London where in 1977 he was employed by former Labour MP and minister Walter Scott-Elliott and his wife Dorothy.

On December 8, 1977, Hall had been drinking with a former girlfriend, Irish barmaid Mary Coggle, who introduced him to small-time crook Michael Kitto.

That night he boasted that he was going to burgle the Kensington flat of his 82-year-old employer. But as he gave his friends a tour of the apartment they were disturbed by Mrs Scott-Elliott. The two men are believed to have killed Mrs Scott-Elliott by smothering her with a pillow.

Covering his tracks, Hall plied Mr Scott-Elliott with drugged whisky and put the body of his wife in the boot of his car.

Coggle was dressed up in a wig and mink coat to look like Mrs Scott-Elliott as they visited banks to access the couple’s money.

The group, with Mr Scott-Elliott still drugged and Coggle dressed as his wife, then drove to Scotland to dispose of the body.

After reaching a desolate spot in Perthshire, the wife’s body was buried and Mr Scott-Elliott was killed by strangulation.

Angered at Coggle’s indiscretion over the murders, Hall killed her by hitting her over the head with a poker while Kitto held her arms.

Hall’s final victim was his half-brother Donald Hall, who the butler hated because he suspected he was a sex offender.

Again with the help of Kitto, he subdued Donald with chloroform before drowning him in a bath.

The murderous duo were finally caught as they stopped at a hotel in North Berwick on their way to dispose of the body.

In 1978, Hall was given two life sentences for the murders of Wright and Walter Scott-Elliott. He denied murdering Mrs Scott-Elliott and the file was left open.

He was later given two more life sentences for the murders of Coggle and Donald Hall. Kitto also received four life sentences.

Speaking at the time of the publication of his memoirs, A Perfect Gentleman, in 1999, Hall was reported to have said: "Death will be my release."

An inquest into Hall’s death was being held at Portsmouth Coroner’s Court this afternoon.