Peter Anthony Allen and Gwynne Owen Evans -
Gwynne Owen Evans was a short, wiry 23 year old who was known as “Ginger” and also as “
On the evening of Monday the 6th of April
1964, Allen and Evans stole a Ford Prefect car registered NXC 771 from outside
a pub in Preston to drive to
Mary Allen and her two children went for the ride but stayed in the car asleep, during the visit. They arrived in Seaton around 1.10 a.m. on Tuesday the 7th of April and Evans knocked on Mr. West’s door while the others waited in the car. He was welcomed in and even offered refreshments. It was suggested by Evans that Mr. West, who was a bachelor, was also homosexual and that he invited Evans to have sex with him. Evans would tell police that ‘And I said “No”. I was going to ask him for £100 and told him I had a friend in the car outside.’ Evans also claimed that West summoned him into his bedroom in order to retrieve something from a cupboard. Stupidly Evans left his raincoat in Mr. West’s bedroom.
Around 3 a.m. Mr. West’s neighbours, Mr. and Mrs.
Joseph Fawcett, were woken by a commotion and thuds coming from the other half
of the house. Mr. Fawcett looked out of
his bedroom window in time to see a car driving away. Mr. Fawcett went next door to investigate but
could get no reply so he went across the road to a neighbour who had a phone to
summon the police. Sergeant James Park
and Constable John Rodgers responded to the 999 call. “I saw the body of a man lying on the floor
at the foot of the stairs,” Park recorded. “There was a large amount of blood
on the floor, and the man was obviously dead.” Poor Mr. West had been battered
about the head with a metal pipe and stabbed through the heart. Dr. J. S.
Police quickly discovered the raincoat and
realised that it wouldn’t have fitted Mr. West.
Searching the pockets they found a medallion inscribed with G. O. Evans,
July 1961. Also found, was a piece of paper with the name Nora O’Brien and an
Allen and Evans had stolen Mr. West’s bank
books from which they withdrew just £10 in
The stolen car was found in Ormskirk and when dusted for prints revealed those of Allen and Evans. The knife was found in Windemere and had blood stains of blood group A, the same as Mr. West’s. (Both Allen and Evans were blood group O) By Wednesday the 8th of April both men were in custody. Evans was arrested in
Allen was arrested in
Allen and Evans were tried at
Both defendants testified and both blamed the other for the violence.
Mr. Justice Ashworth made it clear to the jury that they were not obliged to reach the same verdict on each of the accused if they did not believe that each had been involved in the killing.
On the 7th of July after a deliberating for three-and-a-quarter hours, a jury of nine men and three women unanimously found both men guilty of the capital murder of John West, in the course of robbing him in his home.
Mr. Justice Ashworth sentenced them to “to suffer death in the manner prescribed by law". Their appeals were dismissed two weeks later. In dismissing the appeal, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Parker commented “A more brutal murder it would be hard to imagine.”
Although neither man would admit that he was the one who had struck the fatal knife blow. Under the legal principle of "common purpose," it didn't matter, both would be deemed equally guilty if they had both intended to rob and kill or seriously injure Mr. West. Murder committed in the course of robbery was a capital crime under the 1957 Homicide Act.
At 8.00 a.m. on Thursday the 13th of August
1964, Peter Allen was hanged by Robert Leslie Stewart, assisted by Harry
Robinson at Walton prison, Liverpool and Evans was hanged at the same moment in
Strangeways prison in
Allen had reportedly injured himself by throwing himself against the protective glass during a last visit by his wife the previous afternoon, cutting his wrist. He is said to have cried "Jesus!" as he saw his noose dangling over the trap doors. There were about 40 anti death penalty demonstrators outside Walton prison, but none outside Strangeways.
It was not realised at the time that these
would be the last hangings in
Thus ended capital punishment in
A further 17 men would be
sentenced to death, the last being 23 year old David Stephen Chapman on the 1st
of November 1965, for a murder committed during the course of a robbery. On the 9th of November 1965, the Murder
(Abolition of Death Penalty) Act suspended the death penalty for murder in
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