Henry John Burnett -
21 year old Henry Burnett became the last person hanged in
Thomas Guyan had married Margaret May on the 2nd of February 1957
and a year later they moved into a first floor flat at 14 Jackson Terrace,
In December 1961 Margaret took a job at John R. Stephen Fish Curers where she met and fell for Henry Burnett. The relationship blossomed and by May 1963, Margaret had moved out of Jackson Terrace with her younger son, Keith, to 40 Skene Terrace to live with Burnett.
Burnett was very possessive and feared that
Margaret would leave him. He took to
locking her in the house whenever he went out which was totally unacceptable to
her. On May the 31st 1963, Margaret met
Thomas and agreed to go back to him. Margaret went to Skene
Terrace at 4.00pm, to pick up Keith on that day. Her friend, Georgina Cattanagh, accompanied her.
Margaret announced her intention to go back to her husband to which
Burnett replied "Margaret, Margaret, you are not going to leave me!"
He put a knife to Margaret's throat, closing the door behind them.
Later that day Burnett went to Guyan’s
flat at 14
Trial and execution.
Burnett was tried at
Both his own family and that of the victim petitioned for his reprieve. Even Thomas’ mother, Jeanie, petitioned the Scottish Office for clemency. She said: “I can find it in my heart to forgive Henry Burnett. I’ll sign the petition. I don’t think Henry Burnett should hang. I don’t want revenge. His death won’t bring my Tom back.”
As this was the first hanging in
A few days before the execution Burnett wrote to Margaret saying: “Well, my darling, you will be wondering why I did not kill you up in Skene Terrace. “Well, it was because I loved you. I could easily have done it if I had wanted to but what they were saying in court was a heap of rubbish about me being insane even at the time. I knew exactly what I was doing.”
Margaret was allowed to spend half an hour with Burnett on the day before the hanging. She would stand by Burnett till the end and later claimed: “My heart is with Harry (as she called him). People can talk but I still love Harry.”
Harry Allen was the hangman, assisted by Samuel Plant. A crowd of some 200 people had gathered outside the prison. (see photo) HMP Aberdeen as Craiginches is now known, closed in January 2014 and Burnett’s body has now been re-interred elsewhere. Here are the written instructions for carrying out this execution. (Pages 1 & 2)
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