Terence O’Brien’s marriage was unhappy right from the start, and his 20-year-old wife left him on July 2nd, 1939, to live with her mother at Mossley, near Oldham.
Fifteen days later, on JULY 17th, O’Brien had just taken his seat in a local cinema when his wife passed him and sat in the row in front of him. He promptly moved to join her, intimating that he wanted to speak to her. Because he was deaf, they left the cinema to talk in an adjacent alley.
Shortly afterwards the cinema’s cashier saw a woman lying in the alley, with O’Brien kneeling beside her. The cashier fetched the manager, who arrived to meet O’Brien coming out of the alley. “Will you call the police?” O’Brien asked him. “I have killed my wife.”
She had been strangled, and at his trial for her murder O’Brien, a 28-year-old former soldier, was said to have a good record both as a serviceman and as a civilian employee. The court heard that his meeting with his wife had been by chance, and there was little evidence of premeditation as their encounter had lasted only two minutes. Because of this, Terence O’Brien’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He was released eight years later.