Welcome to Liverpool Confidential
Reset Password
The Confidential websites will be undergoing routine updates. This may cause the sites to go offline. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience.

You are here: Liverpool ConfidentialNews & Comment.

40 years clean of the death penalty

Murdering couple who went down in history this week in 1964

Written by . Published on August 14th 2014.

40 years clean of the death penalty

Thirteen is regarded by many as an unlucky number. And so it proved to be the case 50 years ago this week for Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans. 

On August 13,1964, the two friends had an 8am appointment with the hangman, to earn their places in history as the last people in Britain to be executed.

Both convicted by a jury of murder, Allen, 21, was hanged at Liverpool’s Walton Prison , while at exactly the same time, 35 miles away at Manchester’s Strangeways, Evans was dispatched to the afterlife with a noose around his neck.

Just months later, in 1965, the Queen signed an Act of Parliament abolishing the death penalty in Great Britain.

In the past half century there have been numerous demands for the restoration of the death penalty, particularly for the slaughter of law enforcement officers and children.

But there has never been an appetite among political leaders of all parties to see a return of the death sentence.

The last Parliamentary Bill calling for the restoration of the death penalty was put forward last year and scheduled for a hearing earlier this year. But it has not proceeded.

Evans and Allen were hanged for the murder, in April, 1964, of van driver John West, 53, in Cumbria.

Their crime started life as a robbery, but the pair beat up their victim with an iron bar and then stabbed him to death with a knife. They fled in a car, but were picked up by police just two days later.

They rather clumsily, though thankfully for the police, left a coat at the scene of the crime. It contained a medallion engraved with Evans’ name as well as a piece of paper on which was written the name and address of  one of Evans' friends in Liverpool.

Allen and Evans went on trial for capital murder at Manchester Crown Court in July and were found guilty. Within four months of their crime, the trial had taken place and their sentences carried out. The law really did mean a life for a life, though if, like the Moors Murderers, their crimes had been carried out a year later, they would have escaped the gallows.

The Act  abolishing the death sentence for murder, was passed in 1965. No other convicted killer would follow in the short footsteps of Evans and Allen who earned their places in British criminal history.

It brought to an end a tradition that had seen people – including children – executed for minor crimes, prematurely ending the lives of thousands of people.

Over the years the law changed; at one time the theft of property valued at just a shilling (5p in today’s currency) attracted a death penalty. Death by beheading for the crime of treason ended in 1870, just two years after public executions were abolished.

Even the 1965 Act of Parliament left open the death sentence for the crime of treason, though in reality no executions would have taken place in any event.

The final piece of the legal jigsaw took place just 10 years ago when the death sentence was outlawed for any offence. This is despite polls showing a majority of British people would endorse a return of hanging for some classes of murder.

Like what you see? Enter your email to sign up for our newsletters which are chock-a-block with more great reviews, news, deals and savings.

MickeydrippinAugust 14th 2014.

There is a story (I have no idea whether or not it is true) that the Governor of Strangeways deliberately delayed the execution of Evans by 10 minutes, in order that they would have the dubious honour of being the last UK prison to execute a prisoner.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 30th 2014.

Probably untrue. As numerous articles on the anniversary of the execution have pointed out, no-one expected this to have been the last one. I doubt the governor of Strangeways was psychic.

Emma BAugust 15th 2014.

50 years surely?

To post this comment, you need to login.Please complete your login information.
Or you can login using Facebook.

Latest Rants


Remember your username is firstname.surname.last4digitsofemployeenumber@mysainsburys.co.uk…

 Read more

Once you log in you will be able to access information that is unique for your role Like any other…

 Read more

This online payslip process not only makes the payroll system comfortable, it also saves a lot of…

 Read more

Mycoles Logging In For The First Time -Registration If you are logging in for the first time. You…

 Read more

Explore The Site

© Mark Garner t/a Confidential Direct 2022

Privacy | Careers | Website by: Planet Code