Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Spared From The Scaffold PT1

The last two executions occurred in the UK on August 13th 1964 when Preston dairy worker Peter Allen was hanged at Walton Prison in Liverpool, and his co-accused, Gwynne Evans was hanged at Strangeways Prison in Manchester.  The death penalty was suspended after these two executions whilst it was debated in Parliament.  Death sentences were still handed out, but all these were commuted to life imprisonment.  Death sentences were still handed out until March 1966, and into the 70`s & 80`s in the Channel Islands, Isle of Man & Northern Ireland.  The last one passed was in 1992 in the Isle of Man.  The Death penalty was finally abolished in 1969.  But just who were some of these people reprieved? 

    I start off with two cases, but have only been able to find bare bones details.  The first concerns a triple conviction for murder.  Vincent Patrick Keighery, who lived at 58 Carroll House in W2 of London.  He had invited three men to his house for drinks, at the beginning of December 1964.  These men were Bill Dunning, John Simpson & Michael Odham.  Mr Keighery was said to have been a homosexual, and after a drinking session, the men got up to leave and Mr Keighery tried to give a hug to Dunning and plant a kiss on his cheek.  The men reacted violently to this by savagely beating Mr Keighery, who died from his injuries.  They were charged with Capital Murder, and convicted on March 22nd 1965.  Their deaths were set for April 20th, with Dunning & Odham to be hanged at Pentonville Prison & Simpson to be hanged at Wandsworth.  These were commuted to life sentences with them serving between 11 years 4 months to 12 years 3 months.  Wandsworth is the only prison in the UK with execution facilities today.

    The second case features a man who the public look to for protection.  This man chose to brutally take life.  He was Police Sergeant Henry Francis Burgess, 41, who came from Woodford in London.  He had one dead victim but nearly took three lives.  He shot dead 23 year old nurse Veronica Baker at her parents home in Plashet Grove, East Ham, London.  He fatally wounded Miss Baker, shot her mother, Jessica, in the stomach, requiring emergency surgery to save her life.  Her husband, George, was shot and wounded in the leg.  He struggled acrossthe road to get a neighbour to call Police and an ambulance.  It all happened on May 14th 1965.  Burgess was caught, charged with Capital Murder, as a firearm was used, and convicted on July 27th 1965.  His execution was scheduled for 10th October at Pentonville.  This was commuted to life with Burgess serving just over 12 years.  Why did he do it?  I will update when I can find more information.  The case file has a 95 year closure on it.