Photo of Arthur Conan Doyle after the trial of Oscar Slater
Oscar Slater was convicted of the murder of an elderly woman in 1908. Slater was a petty criminal, not personally liked by Conan Doyle, however, he recognised that a greater injustice had been done to him than to Edalji.
Conan Doyle published The Case of Oscar Slater in 1912. In it he describes how the supposed murder weapon was too flimsy to have been used on the victim and difficult to conceal during a get away. Conan Doyle pointed out that the testimony of many witnesses was contradictory and none of them mentioned Slater possessing the murder weapon when they were supposed to have seen him. He concluded that the victim had to have known her attacker and allowed him into her flat. Conan Doyle asked why the police had not searched the premises better. It seemed the victim's relatives had powerful friends. Evidence seems to be that Slater was named because the murder had to be pinned on somebody, but the police did not expect him to return from New York, where he was living at this time, to defend himself. That had been Slater’s mistake. If Slater had stayed in New York, the case would have been clearly 'solved'. What seemed to transpire was a cover up of the real murder.
Following the publication in 1927 of a second book, written by William Park, public outcry led to Slater being released on license after serving over 18 years in prison. A subsequent retrial led to Slater being cleared of all charges and being awarded £6000 in compensation.