“My bonnie wife has been murdered in the water closet!” Scotsman Charles Smith shouted out in the early hours of December 27th, 1897.

His wife, Mary Anne, 30, wasn’t in the water closet, however. Her battered naked body lay on their bed at their home in Pipewellgate, Gateshead, her head smashed in by blows from a broom handle, and her torso covered in cuts and bruises. And Smith himself was standing beside the bed, dead drunk and covered in blood.

The 33-year-old plasterer claimed at his trial in March 1898 that, bad as the assault on Mrs. Smith was, it did not amount to murder, because the weapon used was only a broken brush. This didn’t save Smith from the gallows, where he was despatched on Tuesday, March 22nd, 1898, at Durham Prison.