10 October 1923 – Susan Newell


Susan Newell

Susan Newell

The last woman hanged in Scotland, Susan Newell let her temper get the better of her when she strangled a 13-year-old paperboy to death.


Glaswegian Newell had lived on the breadline since before the turn of the 20th century and had a history of beating her philandering husband, John Newell. The day before the crime took place, she’d beaten her husband and he’d left home to stay with his sister.

So that was the backdrop to the murder which took place 24 hours later. Early evening on 19 June 1928, paperboy John Johnson came to deliver a newspaper. But of course he wanted paying for his delivery. Newell gripped by an uncontrolled anger, strangled the little boy. Her daughter helped wrap the boy’s body in carpet and they slept on it before Newell decided to cart his body off in a pram the next day.

They managed to wangle a lift from a lorry driver who failed to notice the dead boy’s foot sticking out as they unloaded the pram. She dumped the pram by a block of flats but not without people noticing. She was caught and dragged in for questioning.

At first she tried to lay the blame at her husband’s feet. They were both brought to trial but it soon emerged that John had an undoubted alibi, with witnesses to boot. So the focus shifted to Susan Newell, and it was her daughter who came clean and revealed the details of the crime. John Ellis carried out her execution in 1923.

He didn’t secure her wrists tightly ironically for fear of hurting her, so she was able to work her hands free and pull off the hood that kept her face hidden from view on execution. ‘Don’t put that thing over me.’ Newell said and Ellis respected her final wish.

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