Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Murder of Abraham Levine

Here is a case from 1949 that took place in Leeds on November 16th.  Abraham Levine, 53, who ran a jewellers in Albion Street, was working alone when two men came into the shop, saying that they had some old watches for sale but Mr Levine was not interested and believed they may have been trying to sell stolen property.  The two young men wore raincoats but no hats, which was a familiar trait of the time, so Mr Levine would have been able to identify them.  One then hit him with a gun, but he fought back and was grappling with one of them in the shop doorway, when a shot was heard by passers-by and Mr Levine collapsed.  They scattered shoppers in the street by firing shots in the air.  Onlookers tried to give chase but more shots were fired.  Frantic calls to Police produced carloads of armed officers who proceeded to set up road blocks.  Abraham Levine died the following day.

    A driver saw the two suspects turn into a street but when they saw the car trailing them, they opened fire on him, and then ran into the Leeds College of Technology.  Police quickly surrounded the college but the gunmen had escaped.  From descriptions given by witnesses, Police were certain that the killers were 19 year old Walter Sharpe and 17 year old George Lannen.  They put out a nationwide alert and were quickly arrested in Southport.  They went on trial at Leeds Assizes in March 1950 for Capital Murder.  Sharpe admitted firing the shot that killed Abraham Levine, but claimed it was an accident that happened during the struggle.  (What about the shots fired at people giving chase?)  The jury were out for a mere twenty minutes, coming back with two guilty verdicts.  Lannen was under eighteen, so he went to prison.  For Sharpe, it was an appointment with hangman Steve Wade at Armley Prison on March 30th 1950.