On this day in history : 14th December 1959 – The shortest murder trial in British legal history takes place at Winchester Assizes….the proceedings take just 30 seconds….

Brian Cawley pleaded and was found guilty of the murder of Rupert Poole Steed – he was later sentenced to life imprisonment….


Cawley, a 30-year-old council worker lived, along with his wife and three children, rent free in a house owned by Rupert Steed, in New Road, Basingstoke…. Steed, a 43-year-old retired grocer’s manager and batchelor, had befriended the family – helping them out financially and buying them presents….

However, Cawley started to drink and as a consequence lost his job…. His wife left him, taking the children with her…. One night Cawley returned home….and for no explicable reason beat Steed to death…. After pleading guilty – at his 30 second trial – he began his life sentence….img_4845

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