At the instigation of their mother, two Czech brothers, Antonin and Vaclav Slanicek, together with their younger brother Emil, set about beating their father Josef with an axe while he was lying in bed. After beating him they strangled him, then, thinking he must be dead, they hid him in a stable.

But Josef Slanicek was made of strong stuff. He recovered consciousness and cried out for help. Antonin and Vaclav then went back to the stable and beat him to death. This time they took their father’s bloodied body to a railway track, to give the impression that he had been struck by a passing train. But the body was discovered before the next train arrived, and within a few hours the family were all arrested.

Emil and Mrs. Slanicek were given long prison sentences for the attack, but not the murder – Emil because he hadn’t taken part in the final assault, and the mother because she claimed she never intended her husband to be killed.

Antonin and Vaclav were both sentenced to death and on Friday, September 27th, 1901, they cut sorry figures on the scaffold. Two gallows were erected with a wooden wall between them, so that they could not see each other. At 7 a.m. Antonin, the elder brother, was the first to go. He was weak, frightened, and hardly able to walk, and because the rope strangled him he took five minutes to die an horrific death.

His younger brother walked firmly to the scaffold, although he too was described as white with terror. His execution was also botched – his agony lasted some minutes longer than his brother’s.