On this day in history : 13th August 1964 – The last two criminals to face the death penalty in Britain are simultaneously hanged for the murder of a laundry van driver In Cumberland….
24 year old Gwynne Evans dropped to his death at the hands of hangman Harry Allen in Strangeways Prison, Manchester – whilst at exactly the precise same time 21 year old Peter Allen was hanged in Walton Jail, Liverpool by Robert Leslie Stewart….
The pair had been convicted of killing 53 year old John Alan West at his home in Seaton, Cumberland…. John West, known as ‘Jack’, was a bachelor and had worked for the Lakeland Laundry at Workington for 34 years…. He had returned home after an ordinary days work and gone about his usual evening routine…. But then, at 3am, a neighbour was woken by noises coming from West’s house…. On looking out of the window he saw a car disappearing – and he called the police…. West was found dead, with severe head injuries and a stab wound to the chest….
A search of the property revealed a raincoat which had been left behind by Evans…. In one of the pockets was a medal, along with the name and address of a Norma O’Brian in Liverpool…. The police contacted her and she confirmed that she knew Evans and that the medal belonged to him….
Evans was traced through his criminal and army records to the home of his parents – and from there they were able to find Allen…. Within 36 hours both men had been arrested – on being questioned Allen initially claimed that he had been at home with his wife on the night of the murder – however, it soon came to be that both men were blaming each other for striking the fatal blows…. Both were found guilty of murder at trial….
By now public opinion had turned against capital punishment – despite this calls for a reprieve failed…. Theirs were, however, to be the last executions in Britain….