3.2.8 Perry, Walter Andrew Bowman


Walter (Bill) Perry was born in Winnipeg, Canada. He was an engineer by training and profession.

Walter Perry moved to New Zealand in July 1953, while the Hulmes were abroad in England, at the direction of Associated Industrial Consultants, a British Company based in London. When Walter Perry's marriage broke up, he became a client of the Christchurch Marriage Guidance Coucil, where he met Hilda Hulme, some time after her return to Christchurch at the end of August, 1953. The two fell in love, in what must have been something of a whirlwind romance. Even disregarding Hilda Hulme's defiance of her 'scandalous' professional conflict of interest, the social disparity between Walter Perry and Hilda Hulme, mentioned previously in the FAQ, and the time line surrounding their relationship are very important points to consider.

Hilda Hulme had an enormous amount of social standing to lose by undertaking a relationship with Walter Perry. Throwing away a lifetime's worth of respect and social standing is not something undertaken lightly or on the spur of the moment and, to me, the velocity of Walter and Hilda's relationship is highly suggestive of serious and longstanding domestic problems between Henry and Hilda Hulme. In effect, Walter Perry was probably more a catalyst of the upheaval to come than its cause, more a trigger than the reason. As things would turn out, this was not to be a casual and temporary fling for either Walter Perry or Hilda Hulme. In fact, their relationship would be tested to limits experienced by few people, and it would survive. To me, this indicates a genuine and rather deep emotional need in Hilda Hulme part which Walter Perry was apparently able to fulfill.

Around Christmas, 1953, Walter Perry moved into a semi- private flat at Ilam to live with the Hulmes. He had a private housekeeper, but she would be dismissed before Easter, 1954. Walter Perry's relationship with Hilda Hulme was apparently known to Henry Hulme and even accepted by Dr Hulme, according to testimony. The unusual living arrangement at Ilam generated significant gossip and social pressure, however, and it would precipitate the final breakup of Hilda and Henry Hulme's marriage. It also probably contributed to the forced resignation of Henry Hulme from his post as Rector of Canterbury College.

While at Ilam, Walter Perry was discovered in flagrante delicto with Hilda Hulme by Juliet Hulme around Easter, 1954. This event crystallized a family crisis with very wide-reaching repercussions because it occurred at a critical moment amidst several other key events:

  • it was a few weeks after Dr Hulme received the letter asking for his resignation, so the three adults had already planned the breakup of the family,
  • it was less than two weeks after Pauline's removal from school by her mother, and Pauline had been frustrated by her inability to get a job,
  • it was just one day after Pauline's first day at Digby's Commercial College,
  • it was just three days before Dr Hulme informed the girls of the plans for divorce but not the specific plans to remove Juliet from New Zealand.

    The Easter event and ensuing crisis were well-documented by Pauline Parker and were entered into testimony during the trial, though Pauline's account was disputed by both Walter Perry and Hilda Hulme. There is no doubt that Walter Perry had become a significant presence and influence at Ilam by this time.

    Significantly, Walter Perry was also very well-informed about the girls' activities and writings. Ilam was apparently a house with enormous numbers of poorly-guarded secrets. At the trial, he claimed that Juliet had shown and discussed with him some of her work; if true, it would indicate a more intimate relationship between the two than has generally been painted. Although it was claimed in the trial that he had been blackmailed by the girls, it seems pretty clear that there were no secrets between the three adults by this stage, so his giving money to Juliet was probably just an attempt to win her affection, the step-parent trap or, perhaps, it was a genuine attempt to soothe an obviously-troubled girl.

    Within a month, Hilda Hulme was forced to resign her positions because of Walter Perry and Pauline Parker mentioned despair and suicide and the word murder for the first time. One diary entry after Easter quoted in the open press mentions Walter Perry, and it is an important one.

    Walter Perry was still living at Ilam when Pauline and Juliet murdered Honora Parker on June 22, 1954.

    On the evening following Honora's murder, Walter Perry was involved in several absolutely key events. First, at Hilda Hulme's request, Walter Perry took the girls' bloody clothing to a commercial dry cleaners before the arrival of the police. There have also been persistent rumours that Walter Perry was also involved in the destruction of other damning evidence that night, including Juliet Hulme's diaries and writings. Walter Perry also sedated both girls the evening of the murder, before they were interrogated by police. He was present at all but one critical interrogation session.

    In addition, Walter Perry apparently advised both Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme to simply "tell the truth," without benefit of counsel, apparently with the blessing of Henry and Hilda Hulme. In a very real sense, then, it was Walter Perry who defined the defense strategy, because it was the girls' damning confessions which left the defense with few options.

    When Henry Hulme left New Zealand a couple of weeks later, Hilda Hulme and Walter Perry were evicted from Ilam. They auctioned the Hulmes' private possessions to raise money for the defense and their expenses and they took up residence at the Hulmes' holiday home at Port Levy.

    Walter Perry testified on behalf of Juliet Hulme at both the inquest and the trial, though his testimony was not much assistance to the defense. To his considerable credit, Walter Perry stood by Hilda Hulme emotionally and even physically throughout this period, apparently unconcerned about being photographed with Hilda Hulme after their relationship had been made public through testimony.

    After the trial, Walter Perry left New Zealand for the UK with H Marion Perry. He made a statement to the press during the sea voyage which was disparaging to Juliet Hulme but which also expressed his concern for Hilda Hulme. That was his last public statement about the case. Walter Perry married H Marion Perry after her divorce from Henry Hulme. The couple settled in the UK.

    After Juliet Hulme was released from prison, she moved back to the UK and lived with Walter and H Marion Perry for a time. Juliet Hulme adopted the surname Perry (revealed in 1994) and, as Anne Perry, she listed Walter Perry as her father in her official biographies written before 1994. Ms Perry now refers to "Bill" Perry, in public, as her stepfather. [This was how she referred to him during her comments in Corte Madera, 95/03/29. jp].

    Walter Perry is now deceased. [sb]

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