Beautiful Florence Seymour was so besotted with the lover who had made her pregnant that she would forgive him anything. Even murder. And the need for that forgiveness arose on OCTOBER 9th, 1912, when John Williams told her that he had just shot a policeman.

Williams’s real name was George MacKay. He was the Raffles-style, 29-year-old burglar son of a wealthy Scottish family, and he had left Florence on the sea front at Eastbourne while he went to rob the Southcliffe Avenue home of Countess Sztaray. But he was spotted crouched on the canopy of the porch, and the countess called the police. Inspector Arthur Walls arrived and told Williams to come down.

The response was two shots, the inspector collapsed mortally wounded, and Williams rejoined Florence on the beach. Telling her what had happened, he buried his gun in the shingle.

Five days later Edgar Power, a petty criminal, went to the police. Jealous of Williams’s pretty mistress, he told detectives that Williams had shot the inspector. The gunman was arrested, and the police got the informer to tell Florence that her lover could be saved only if she found his pistol before the police discovered it. She led Power to the revolver’s hiding-place on the beach, and they were arrested as they retrieved it.

But Power’s arrest was a sham. At the investigators’ request, he then convinced Florence that she could save herself only by telling the police of Williams’s confession. She reluctantly did so, later retracting her statement when she realised she had been tricked.

But the damage was done. Williams was convicted of the inspector’s murder, and as he awaited execution Florence took their new-born child to see him. He was reported to have pressed a scrap of bread into the baby’s hand, saying, “Now nobody can say your father never gave you anything.”

He was hanged the next day at Lewes Prison.