Archive for July 21

21 July 1903 – Thomas Porter & Thomas Preston

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , on July 21 by Last Writes

The sleepy village of Sileby in Leicestershire is the focus for today’s murderous event. The villagers’ lives were thrown into turmoil when two likely lads targeted a policeman and it all ended in tragedy.

Thomases Porter and Preston claimed they were being victimised by a pair of coppers – PCs Wilkinson and Hall.

The boys were known for their drunken disorderliness and were into the odd bit of poaching on the side too – fairly innocuous crimes in the grand scheme of things. However, the animosity were escalating between the two camps, which provoked Preston to vow he would ‘shoot the pair’ of them.

Grave events

This morphed from idle threat to reality on night in May 1903 when a noise lured Wilkinson to the graveyard, where the two men, who’d had a real skin-full, promptly sprang out on him and Wilkinson copped a fatal shot.

Well, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the drunken pair had something to do with it. They’d been pretty vocal about their dislike and had made no secret of their opinions.

So it was natural that the suspicions fell on the two steaming louts. The two men tried to brazen it out, holed up in Porter’s house, but the village was out in full force and it soon turned into a siege.


Eventually the duo cracked and they were taken into custody, but the question on everyone’s lips was who actually pulled the trigger on the hapless cop.

The easy answer is Porter. The older of the two men, Porter had been pretty mouthy at the time of his arrest and had even managed to squeeze out a confession.

However, he’d obviously had a rethink as the trial came nearer, because he changed his story, slimily stitching his partner up by saying ‘I don’t know no more about the poor man’s death than a baby just born’, according to the ‘Daily Mercury’ at the time. And in saying this, it was sure he would take Preston down with him, despite Preston’s protestations of innocence.

Even Preston’s family rallied in his defence, clubbing together to get him a defence lawyer – fat lot of good that did. The pair got sent down and they were eventually hanged at Leicester Castle – Preston, aged 22, and Porter, 29.

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