Thursday, 10 September 2015

John Dickman - Railway Killer

This is a case that goes back to 1910 and the robbery & murder of a wages clerk on a train running from Newcastle on March 18th, of that year.  The train had pulled into Alnmouth station in Northumberland, and the carriages were being checked by a porter.  He spotted blood in one compartment, so checked it thoroughly.  He came across a body shoved under a seat.  It was 44 year old John Nisbet, a wages clerk from a colliery.  Mr Nisbet had been shot in the head, and it was established that he had a wages bag which was now missing.  It was later confirmed to have had £370 in it.  A very nice sum for that time.  Police started a huge manhunt and established that Mr Nisbet had gotten on the train with a bookies tout, named John Dickman, 43, a man who was paid on commission.   They got on in Newcastle.  Dickman had left the train in Morpeth, but upon questioning, his alibi was not standing up to scrutiny.

    A search of his home produced trousers covered in blood, and a bag with £17 in gold sovereigns inside.  He claimed that he suffered a nosebleed and that explained the blood on his trousers.  The sovereigns were part of his float he used working for bookmakers.  The stolen money bag was found in an old mine shaft near Stannington that he was known to have been to.  All the evidence was circumstantial but the jury felt it was strong enough and convicted him of the murder of John Nisbet.  There was disquiet over the verdict, as witnesses were thought to have been unreliable, and Police did actually help a witness in picking out Dickman.  He was put in a room and witnesses were asked to look at him through a window but said they could not see properly.  An officer took them to a door slightly open and they seen Dickman from behind.  They were able to make out certain features that they remembered when it came to the actual identification parade.  The case was referred to the Court of Appeal by the Home Secretary but the court rejected the appeal, stating the evidence was still strong against Dickman.  He was hanged at Newcastle Prison in August 1910 by John Ellis & William Willis.