Archive for July 10

10 July 1919 – Henry Perry (aka Beckett)

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , on July 10 by Old Sparky

Lodger from hell, Henry Perry, aka Beckett was done for wiping out his landlord and the family, who had so trustingly and unsuspectingly taken him in.

Perry murdered the Cornish family – made up of Walter, mum, Alice, plus daughters Alice and Marie – all in cold blood.

At a time when post-traumatic stress was coming to the fore post-World War I, ex-army man Perry proposed a whole litany of war sufferings in his defence. This included a bastinadoing sesh, (where the soles of his feet were whipped), after which his captors whacked him on the head with a rifle butt before holing him up in a Turk jail, then there were the head injuries thanks to shrapnel embedded in his brain.

Stress out

He also put it down to hearing voices in his head that had told him to commit the murders. But no-one bought shell-shock as a defence, because he had previous.

While he hadn’t committed murder before that point, he had chalked up as many as 17 convictions before he’d gone off to war.

According to Clive Emsley’s extremely specific round-up entitled ‘Violent crime in England in 1919’, the actual trial prosecutor, Percival Clarke, is said to have remarked ‘The war has done great good for some persons, it has taught them discipline, and made honest and honourable men of people who started badly. But the brutalities of war may have made more vicious a person who was vicious before’.

And it was this damning indictment that secured the quadruple murderer his guilty verdict and he was hanged at Pentonville for his crimes, aged 36.

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