Toronto Sun

June 9, 2002

Fatal Attraction

Paul and his paramour down at the funeral parlour did it while they fussed about with corpses

By MAX HAINES -- Toronto Sun

When Paul Birch joined the British Army, he was only 24 years old. Paul figured the whole exercise to be a great adventure, especially after he was stationed in West Germany. That's where he met his future wife, Julie, who hailed from the West Indies. It was love at first sight. One couldn't say she was a rookie at the marriage game. Fact is, the 36-year-old hairdresser had been married, divorced, and was the mother of three children when she first met our Paul.

Paul had never encountered anyone quite like Julie. She was full of vim and vigour and, quite simply, was one of those gregarious, happy people whom it's a pleasure to be around.

When Paul was discharged from the service, the couple returned to England and settled down in a comfortable, if not luxurious, home on Horace Rd. in Kingston, England. Sure, there were those who looked down on the racially mixed marriage, but these folks were soon won over by the charming couple, who ultimately became well-known in the entire district.

Julie, pursuing her profession in the blue rinse trade, soon became manager of the B. Casual Salon. Upon leaving the army, Paul took up the funeral trade, studying for a year before joining the ranks of the British Institute of Embalmers, quite a feat for the ex-army man, who was then only 26 years old. He soon became a valued member of the firm, Lear of London.

Best embalmer

Paul, I should point out, was one heck of an embalmer. He gained the reputation of being the best embalmer in all of England. Paul had the perfect personality for his profession. He was sympathethic to his customers -- well, not exactly his customers, but to the surviving members of his customers' families and friends. In the funeral industry, he was known to have the ability to put the most disarranged corpse back into, if not mint condition, then close to it.

There they were, year after year, charming Julie and personable Paul, working hard and enjoying every minute, not only of their chosen professions, but also of their love for each other. Julie, the more experienced of the pair, taught Paul to perform in bed in ways he had only fantasized about. Life was a bowl of cherries without the pits.

Ever ambitious Paul had political aspirations. He joined the Labour Party and ran for a seat on the local council, which he won with ease. By now, he was well-known, not only in his profession, but also politically. In 1986, he ran as the Labour Party candidate for Kingston. Although he lost, the publicity did much to ingratiate him into the community. At Lear of London, he was somewhat of a hero. His superiors knew that his sojourn into the political arena could only be a boon for business. They were delighted with their employee, but none more so than a cute little colleague, whom we must assume was tired of playing around with deceased males. She obviously was ready for the real thing.

One day, while working over a body, she gave Paul the high sign. He caught it, cherished it, and couldn't wait to introduce his cute colleague to more lively pursuits. The two commenced a prolonged affair.

Paul was a busy boy. His career as the best embalmer in all of Christendom was flourishing. Politically, he was active and, with a sexy, attractive mistress vying for his favours, he hardly had time for his good-looking wife who desperately longed to romp between the sheets with her man. Paul had to juggle his time, forever wary, since Julie had often expressed her intention to remove an essential portion of his male anatomy should he ever be unfaithful to her.

As time went on, Paul and his convenient paramour down at the funeral parlour did it while they fussed about with corpses. Although this was not the most romantic of locations, it did offer a degree of privacy.

We all know such an affair cannot last forever. Paul was spending too many evenings at work and had become less attentive to Julie. Never one to mince words, Julie accused her husband of having an affair. When he denied the accusation, hot-tempered Julie hit him over the head with a bottle, which broke, imbedding tiny pieces of glass in his skull. Paul kept his cool. He packed his belongings, while Julie begged for forgiveness. He left the home he had known for so many years. Julie was beside herself with grief. She had driven her husband from her bed and blamed herself for the breakup.

Paul was apprehensive as to what steps Julie would take. The truth is, she had gone completely around the bend. She hatched a plan, which included killing Paul and then taking her own life. She even bought a new dress in which to be buried. The shopping bug had gripped Julie and wouldn't let go. She purchased a sawed-off shotgun from an underworld character who asked no questions.

One word exclamation

On July 16, 1987, a pleasant summer day in Merrie England, Julie left her hairdressing job and headed for home. She called Paul, asking him to drop over to his former home to discuss the details of their pending divorce. Yes, she was sorry about the bottle incident, but that was in the past. Surely they could discuss matters in a civilized manner.

Paul knocked on the door. Julie greeted him with one word, "Bastard!" Out came the shotgun. Forty-five-year-old Julie Birch aimed for the male organ she had once promised to maim if her husband ever strayed from the straight and narrow. Not waiting for a response to her one word exclamation, she pressed the trigger. The blast tore into Paul's thigh, missing his male organ by inches. He too was a man of few words. He said only, "No, no, no."

For her part, Julie was a tad disappointed with her aim. This time, she would make sure. She straddled her bleeding husband's fallen body. Wielding a butcher knife, she plunged the blade into Paul's chest. The horribly wounded man was still breathing. Julie swung again, this time to the stomach.

Neighbours who had heard the shot called police. Four constables commenced to break down the front door. Sensing the end was near, Julie quickly stabbed Paul three more times. If you are keeping score, that's one shotgun blast and five stabbings. As the front door crashed down, Julie, still straddling her husband, turned the shotgun on herself and fired at her heart.

Bleeding profusely

Certainly, Julie could not be commended for her dexterity with a shotgun. She missed her heart, but slumped down on top of Paul with a serious wound to her shoulder. The police were faced with the bloody sight of Julie, bleeding profusely on top of her husband who, surprisingly, was still alive. Rushed to Kingston Hospital, he died five hours later.

Julie survived the self-inflicted wound to her shoulder. She pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and was committed to a mental hospital. Eventually, Julie Birch was released from custody. One can only assume she has stayed away from knives and sawed-off shotguns. Barring that, let us hope that her aim has not improved.

Copyright © 2002, Canoe, a division of Netgraphe Inc.