Archive for Murder

29 January 1913 – George Mackay

Posted in Hanged with tags , , , on January 29 by Old Sparky

The 13th year of the 20th century was definitely an unlucky one for George Mackay. He was sent to the gallows on this day for murder.

Mackay was hanged in Lewes prison for killing Arthur Walls. He was 29 when he was executed.

Also on this day

29 January 1913 – Edward Hopwood

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29 January 1913 – Edward Hopwood

Posted in Hanged with tags , , , on January 29 by Old Sparky

Just up the road in London, the same fate was awaiting fellow murderer Edward Hopwood.

The 45-year-old was hanged in Pentonville Prison for killing his girlfriend, Florence Silles.

28 January 1953 – Derek Bentley

Posted in Hanged with tags , , , , , , , on January 28 by Old Sparky

Derek Bentley

Scapegoat Derek Bentley infamously took the flack for a minor’s actions on this day in 1953.

Derek William Bentley was hanged at the age of 19 for a murder committed by a mate. He was in the midst of breaking into a warehouse in Croydon with ringleader 16-year-old Christopher Craig, when the police were called to the scene.

Bentley had already been apprehended when Craig fired the lethal shot that killed PC Sidney Miles. But Craig was just 16, so he couldn’t take the rap for the crime. So the prosecution turned to the only other suspect available.

Let him have it

Despite only having a mental age of 11, Bentley was 19 and legally old enough to be fitted up with the crime. Fellow police officers asserted that he goaded Craig by saying ‘Let him have it’, upon which the prosecution hanged their entire accusation.

However, Bentley’s defence asserted that he was appealing to Craig to let the policeman have his gun and Derek’s sister Iris always maintained he didn’t even say the fateful sentence. But his defence failed to sway the jurors and Bentley was found guilty of murder. He was sentenced to be hanged at Wandsworth Prison.

Not guilty

Bentley was granted a posthumous pardon following a 45-year campaign by his parents – which Iris took on after their deaths – to prove his innocence, in which scientific evidence emerged suggesting that the police had lied under oath. But, of course, that didn’t change the fact that it was too late – Bentley had already paid the ultimate price.

Christopher Eccleston puts in a stellar performance as Bentley in the 1991 film Let Him Have It and this is well worth checking out but you will need to be careful. I bought it in Woolworths for £2.99 and it came as a twin pack with Al’s Lads which, despite having Marc Warren in, is crap.

Also on this day

28 January 1829 – William Burke

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28 January 1829 – William Burke

Posted in Hanged with tags , , , on January 28 by Old Sparky

William Burke

Forget body snatching when you can bump people off and get rich by it thought the infamous Williams Burke and Hare.

Using Burke’s lodging house, the deadly Edinburgh duo along with Burke’s girlfriend Helen McDougal, would target unsuspecting guests, plying them whisky until they literally lost consciousness, before suffocating them.

They then offloaded the pristine corpses on to grateful GPs all in the name of medical research.

But the success of their cunning plan went to their heads and they got sloppy. Instead of siphoning off strangers or faceless vagrants in West Port, they targeted two prostitutes who were well known to the area, along with a street performer who had a distinctive deformed foot. They were eventually shopped by their own tenants, who’d started to get suspicious of the scheming trio.

Scot free…

Of course their true feelings for each other emerged as they began turning on each other. Burke blamed Hare, and Hare blamed Burke and McDougal.

Hare won! He got pardoned for his part in the spree, in return for fitting the other two up with the crime. While McDougal was freed due to insufficient evidence, Burke was not so lucky. He got saddled with the guilt and was hanged.

In a sharp twist of fate, some allege Burke was skinned and his bits were used to bind a small book, which is on show at Edinburgh’s Royal College of Surgeons, while others say he was posthumously dissected…for medical research.

But, in case you were wondering, Hare and McDougal didn’t get off lightly either. McDougal is said to have emigrated to Australia to flee her infamy. But it followed her to the Antipodeas too, where she was hounded until she died in 1868.

Some say Hare was apparently flung into a lime pit and died a blind beggar on the harsh streets of London. Others say he wound up in Carlisle.

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27 January 1928 – Edward Rowlands and Daniel Driscoll

Posted in Hanged with tags , , , on January 27 by Old Sparky

Edward Rowlands and Danny Driscoll where hanged for abetting a murder, after two sets of bookies went head to head in Cardiff.

Turf war

Rowlands and Driscoll carried the can for the murder of a rival Welsh bookmaker Dai Lewis. They were found guilty of aiding Rowland’s brother John to kill. John, in turn, was banged up in Broadmoor, deemed unable to take reponsibility for his actions.


But it transpired recently that Driscoll may yet get a posthumous pardon. Apparently, new evidence has emerged, which suggests that both men didn’t realise John Rowlands was out to kill. So they were incapable of aiding or abetting a crime for which they had no prior knowledge. However, the transcripts of the original trial have gone AWOL, so the sentence still stands to this day.

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26 January 1996 – John Albert Taylor

Posted in Firing squad with tags , , , , on January 26 by Old Sparky

John Albert Taylor

Firing squads ceased to be offered as a death penalty method following John Albert Taylor’s execution in Utah in 1996.

Taylor was executed by firing squad in Utah on 26 January 1996 in an alleged sensational bid to embarrass the largely Mormon political population. A commentator at the time said ‘he wanted to cause more trouble for the state’.

Taylor purported that he didn’t want the lethal injection because he didn’t want to flap around ‘like a dying fish’, but many believe it is because he was making a point.

Out dated

You see, the Mormons were desperately trying to phase out firing squads as a method of ‘blood atonement’, ie, a death for a death. It was felt that the execution method was anachronistic – it no longer seemed fitting in the modern day.

Similarly, Utah was keen to stop offering death by firing squad, because it enabled murderers to exit in a blaze of glory.

Cue, paedophile Taylor, who was convicted of the 1988 rape of 11-year-old Charla King who he then strangled to death. His own fingerprints were found on the cord wound tight around the child’s neck, linking him unequivocally to the murder. And in turn, the murder led to his death penalty.

Shot to the heart

Five rifles were used to put Taylor the death and, according to the ‘New York Times’, the shooters apparently took aim at a white circle on his blue jumpsuit, which helped them target his heart.

The execution took place within the confines of the Utah-based prison, but not without controversy. The 36-year-old is currently the last person to have been executed in the United States by firing squad, and the penalty only remains legal in Idaho and Oklahoma.

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25 January 1996 – Billy Bailey

Posted in Hanged with tags , , , on January 25 by Old Sparky

Billy Bailey

‘It’s not as if you can look in the yellow pages under ‘h’ for hangman.’ So said Billy Bailey’s lawyer after his client chose to exit via the noose.

Bailey’s was the first hanging in Delaware, America since 1946, so that method of execution was not common.

Cold blood

Nevertheless, he’d been found guilty of murdering two elderly pensioners – husband Gilbert Lambertson, 80, and his wife 73-year-old wife Clara.

The killings were particularly cold blooded, because he’d used both a pistol as well as the couple’s own shotgun to finish the job. And before he’d left, he’d even placed the bodies on chairs.

The penalty was unequivocally death – the only question that remained was the method. And that was a toss up between the injection and the gallows. Of course, Bailey chose the latter for his exit in 1996 and, so far, remains the last man to be hanged in the United States to date.

Also on this day

25 January 2006 – Marion Dudley

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