Monday, 29 April 2013

Hanged in Error?

In 1948, David Maxwell-Fyfe made a statement in the House of Commons saying that mistakes in capital murder trials are not issues to be considered.  He also said that Judges, Juries and Home Secretaries may be stricken mad in thinking so.  This blind approach to Justice and whether somebody died on the end of a rope, revealed the set in stone views that mistakes do not happen in the UK.  Author and researcher John Eddlestone has researched many murder cases and found nearly one hundred had dubious convictions.  Many of these convicted were hanged.  We have to consider the odd trifling mistakes we Brits have made.  Timothy Evans, Derek Bentley, Mahmood Mattan, George Kelly; all paid the ultimate price.  Many years later their convictions were thrown out.  What about George McKay or John Williams as he also called himself in 1912 for the murder of Inspector Arthur Walls of the Eastbourne Police, and the so-called friend who cheerfully set him up to the Police just so he could get his hands on his girlfriend. 

    Guy Browne for the murder of PC George Gutteridge in 1927.  He was hanged as was his accomplice William Kennedy, yet Kennedys` actions were ignored when it came to his arrest.  He tried to shoot Police Officers.  Browne did have an alibi, but Kennedy made the most remarkable statement in which Police claimed that he made with no prompting but most conveniently answered all the questions they needed to ask.  The execution of Robert Hoolhouse in 1938 for the murder of Margaret Dobson yet witnesses saw a stranger by the scene of the murder, and the description and clothes wore by the man were not Hoolhouse.  Another case was the murder of prostitute Olive Balchin in Manchester in 1947 and the execution of Walter Rowland for the crime, despite alibi witnesses which included a couple of Police Officers, and the mysterious appearance of paricle evidence turning up in Rowlands` trouser turn ups but not on the trousers themselves.  What really went against Rowland was his conviction for murdering his daughter in 1934 but being reprieved from the Death Sentence by the Home Secretary.

    Another case being examined by researchers is that of Burns & Devlin.  They were both executed side by side for the murder of Beatrice Rimmer in Liverpool.  This, like the hanging of George Kelly, involved notorious Liverpool detective, Bert Balmer.  I will try and do a summary of these cases over time.  I have already been asked to have a look at the Walter Rowland case by a writer researching it.