Forty-year-old bachelor John Riley Young was a partner in a small firm of builders whose bank account was £1,500 in the red. Frederick Lucas, a 52-year-old travelling jeweller, was one of his acquaintances, and Young undertook to obtain some gold sovereigns for him which he said would be supplied by a man named Neal. To pay for them, Mr. Lucas gave him more than £3,000, part of which Young used to buy a car.
The sovereigns were not forthcoming, and on June 6th, 1945, Young went to the jewellers bungalow in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, and confessed that he had embezzled the money. Neal did not exist.
When Mr. Lucas called him a twister and threatened to call the police, Young beat him to death with a piece of wood. Moments later the jewellers wife Cissie suffered the same fate when she entered the room.
Young then took cash and valuables from the bungalow and drove back to his lodgings in Ilford. He went out the next day, and when he phoned his landlady that evening she told him that two police officers had called to see him. Young told her he would be back in about 30 minutes, but instead went to his sisters home in Barking where he cut his wrists and tried to gas himself.
The police were seeking him because they had learned that Mr. Lucas had an appointment with him on the day of the murders, and on June 9th Young was arrested at Oldchurch Hospital, Romford, where he had been taken after his suicide attempt.
At his trial at Chelmsford Assizes for Mr. Lucass murder the defence sought a verdict of guilty but insane, pointing out that Young had made several attempts in the past to take his own life. Moreover, his family had a history of mental trouble, and he had once made a savage attack on his sister-in-law. A specialist in mental diseases told the court he believed that Young had become temporarily insane for a very short period at the Lucases bungalow, but two prison medical officers said they found no evidence of insanity in Youngs behaviour.
The jury rejected the insanity plea, finding Young guilty of murder, and he was sentenced to death. The verdict was upheld by the Court of Criminal Appeal, and a medical panel found that although Young was emotionally unstable, he was neither mentally deficient nor insane.
Finding no grounds for a reprieve, the Home Secretary ruled that although Young may not have gone to Leigh-on-Sea intending to kill Mr. Lucas, Cissie Lucas had probably been killed to eliminate her as a witness, and Young had subsequently taken cunning measures to elude suspicion.
On DECEMBER 21st, 1945, he was hanged at Pentonville Prison by Albert Pierrepoint, assisted by Steve Wade.