Murder! The cry from room 10 at the Shaftesbury Hotel in Station Street, Birmingham, was unmistakable.
Fourteen-year-old bellboy James Kilkenny knocked fearfully on the door. It was opened by Louis van de Kerkhove, a Belgian, who had booked in earlier that day, January 13th, 1918, with his girlfriend Clemence Verelst.
I have done it now, he told the bellboy, and threw a knife on the floor. At that moment Clemence, covered in blood, crawled out of the door, gasping, God help me, Im dying!
The couples tempestuous love affair came to an end when Clemence died of her wounds two days later. On Saturday, APRIL 9th, 1918, De Kerkhove became the first man to die on the gallows at Birminghams Winson Green Prison for almost two years.