21 February 1918 – Joseph Jones

Being an ex-army man didn’t stop Joseph Jones from targeting soldiers in a life of crime.

He was strung up today in 1918, aged just 26, for killing a fellow comrade in arms.

In the run up to the murder, he’d been discharged as an invalid. But his infirmity had left him far from incapacitated.

Cunning plan

Jones had already chalked up a criminal record for violence, before he served in World War I. So it was second nature for him to team up with two Aussie deserters, Thomas Maguire and Ernest Sharp Between them, they hatched a plan to turn their money-grabbing attentions to soldiers on leave.

It was a cunning plan, natch, as the soldiers had money in their pockets and were in a strange place…perfectly susceptible to a bit of local kindness. The trio would befriend them then lure them off to a quiet alley, where they’d set upon their new-found friends armed with truncheons and nick off with their money. And that’s how they stumbled across two Canadians – Privates Oliver Gilbert Imlay and John M’Kinley.

Battle of Waterloo

They drank for a while in Waterloo before leaving the bar and that’s when the terrible trio turned on their victims and began bashing them. M’Kinley managed to get away, but Imlay was not so lucky. He died in hospital from his injuries.

The three men were apprehended and sent to trial at the Old Bailey, all the while trying to blame each other for the murder. But it transpired that Jones had indeed dealt the death blows. To boot, Sharp deserted for the second time, securing a shorter sentence in return for stitching up his friends. He got seven years, while Maguire got 10 years and Jones got the death penalty.

Jones was hanged for his crimes at Wandsworth by execution duo, John Ellis and William Willis on this day in 1918.

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