29 June 1961 – Zsiga Pankotia

In the twilight of British execution history, Leeds hit a milestone today in 1961.

Armley Gaol executed its final prisoner on this day. His name was Zsiga Pankotia and he was a Hungarian, who actually committed murder mid-robbery.

Knifed

He was sent to the gallows for breaking into the house of Eli Myres and killing him in cold blood. The crime took place in the monied area of Roundhay, and the victim, who was a rich market-stall holder, was stabbed to death, when he caught Pankotia pilfering his prized possessions.

The 31-year-old was sentenced to death and the execution was carried out by Harry Allen amid controversy – political attitudes were changing and hanging was seriously frowned upon.

Just four years later, executions ceased to be doled out as a form of punishment in Britain and it ceased to be a form of punishment in 1969, save for a handful of crimes, such as piracy, spying and treason. However, these have since been commuted to lesser crimes too.

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3 Responses to “29 June 1961 – Zsiga Pankotia”

  1. Alex Says:

    The often-described “growing discontent” actually a myth: the political establishment were anti-Capital Punishment, but the majority of the British population were not.

  2. You’re absolutely right.

    According to the ‘Daily Telegraph’, ‘in 1960, a Gallup poll found that more than two thirds of people, 70 per cent, believed that murderers of police officers should hang’.

    The discontent was within the political camps and there was a strong contingent of anti-capital punishment campaigners too, not least because innocents had been sent to their deaths, notably Timothy Evans.

    However the ‘Telegraph’ says ‘the death penalty in Britain was suspended in 1965 and then finally abolished in 1969, despite strong public support for its retention’.

  3. Trevor Geoffrey Holmes Says:

    I worked with Zsiga at Waterhaigh Colliery,Woodlesford.When he came to the pit he told them he was Hungarian,He was told to re-apply later and he was to say he was a Pole.He was set on and he work has a main gate ripper down the number 3 shaft on regular nights.I know that there is a picture of his grave in Armley Jail.And at later time due to the extension of the prison,they were removed and transfered in to Armly Cemetery,covered in lime and no stones were placed so they could not be located.I would if anyone can locate his gravestone for me and send me a picture of be grateful. Any info on him would be welcome.I have in my working life worked with 13 murderers in various parts of the country.Koalowski who was hung at Manchester also worked with me.He was a contrct borer.Any info on them would appreciated.
    My neceice is at the present time the Prison secretery.And uncle Thomas Lindill of Armley was one of the first Goalers. Should I write a book on the killers?

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