Dudley Hoard was manager of the Eastern Palace cinema in Bow, east London, and lived on the premises with his wife Maisie. On the bank holiday Monday of AUGUST 6th, 1934, three days’ takings totalling more than £90 were waiting to be banked, but they never got there. An intruder axed Mr. Hoard to death, attacked his wife, and vanished with the money.

When a young man booked into Yarmouth’s Metropole Hotel a few days later, the manager was suspicious. The new guest appeared to be no more than a teenager. How had he come by the money to afford a hotel that was far from inexpensive?

The manager informed the police, and when the guest was questioned he admitted the cinema robbery, Mr. Hoard’s murder and the attack on his wife, who had made a swift recovery and described the young killer. He turned out to be 19, his name John Frederick Stockwell. After leaving the cinema, he said, he’d spent the next day in Southend, before going to a hotel in Lowestoft and later to Yarmouth.

His short trial at the Old Bailey ended with his conviction and the death sentence. “If any ray of light is to be found in this dark and tragic story,” Mr. Justice Goddard told him, “it is by your confession, the course you are now taking showing some remorse for a crime as terrible as any on record, even in the grim annals of this court.” The jury made a strong recommendation to mercy on account of Stockwell’s age and “lack of parental control between the ages of one and eleven years.”

The court had heard that his father was killed in the Great War shortly before the boy was born. His mother remarried, but died when he was 11. An aunt then looked after him, but at 15 he became beyond her control and the Salvation Army took charge of him, later refusing to shelter him any longer because of his misbehaviour.

The Home Office did not consider youth a reason for respite for anyone over 18; and Stockwell, armed with an axe and determined to do whatever was necessary to effect the robbery, had not only murdered Mr. Hoard but had also attempted to kill his wife.

The Home Secretary decided there were no grounds for a reprieve, and on November 14th, 1934, Stockwell was executed by Robert Baxter and Robert Wilson.