Although 47-year-old William Duddles didn’t get on with his landlady, he seemed strangely attached to her and her husband. When they moved to Lutton Marsh, Lincolnshire, he moved with them despite his frequent arguments with his 36-year-old landlady Catherine Gear.

Another row erupted between them in early October, 1907, Duddles calling Mrs. Gear a whore, and her husband hitting him to bring him to order. The quarrel seemed to be forgotten the next day, OCTOBER 8th, when Duddles retuned from work at midday, was given his lunch and then said he was going out to get some beer.

He came back an hour later with a gallon, and the party was joined by the Gears’ neighbour Edmund Hocking and his lodger, a man named Towson. By 4 o’clock the beer had all gone, and William Gear went out to buy more from the Ship Inn at Gedney. Hocking and Towson meanwhile went home for their tea. On their return 15 minutes later they found Catherine Gear lying battered on the floor near a bloodstained hammer. Duddles had disappeared.

Meanwhile a police sergeant had been called to the Gears’ cottage. Informed of what had apparently happened, he left Mrs. Gear with a doctor and Towson and went to the Ship Inn in search of Duddles. At 6.20 p.m. he found him leaning against a nearby fence, very drunk and with blood on his hands and a black eye.

By the time the sergeant returned to the cottage with Duddles, Catherine Gear had died. Duddles was charged with her murder and convicted at Lincolnshire Assizes. His execution at Lincoln Prison on November 20th, 1907, was the first there for four years.