27 April 1927 – William Knighton

If you killed someone, you’d know it, wouldn’t you? Well, not according to William Knighton. First Knighton said he killed his mum, then he thought he hadn’t. But, whichever his story, it was all looking decidedly dodgy.

Of course you know the outcome, but that doesn’t stop this being a bizarre tale that was resurrected not so long ago in the court of appeals.

All because the main gripe hinged on blood.

Cut throat

Knighton’s mother Ada (55) was found dead in her home in Ilkeston – her throat had been cut. First the son admitted his crime – weapon of choice, a razor. But then he withdrew his argument, instead claiming insanity.

And this is where the blood kicks in. Where did it come from? One policeman said it had come from a coat that was taken upstairs. But in court the story changed and the blood suddenly came from the razor.

Bloody mess

And let’s face it, it does sound way juicier, so no wonder the jury sat up and took notice of that soundbite. Needless to say 22-year-old Knighton was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged in Nottingham.

But an appeal was lodged as recently as 1999, by a remaining relative – the defence was that the policeman proved an unreliable witness. But also that it could have been Ada’s husband who killed her. These two bits of information could have swayed the jury. At the moment there’s no verdict on the appeal. But if the plea is successful, Knighton will be granted a posthumous pardon.

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