Ruby Wright had a problem. A 26-year-old prostitute, she had arrived in Newcastle upon Tyne from Glasgow with 29-year-old William Cavanagh. Before long she was behind with her rent and facing eviction, but Cavanagh turned a deaf ear to her pleas for money.
On the evening of June 20th, 1917, she entered the Mechanics Arms in a Newcastle and saw the answer to her problem. Four sailors were there drinking, and she invited them back to her home together with three women friends who had joined her. Bottles brought by the sailors were opened, and carousing was in full swing when Cavanagh arrived and was only too pleased to join the party.
But a row developed, and in the ensuing melee Henry Hollyer, a 27-year-old leading seaman, was stabbed in the back by Cavanagh, who also knifed another sailor in the cheek, while Ruby hurled glasses at the seamen.
Police were fetched to the house, where Hollyer was found lying unconscious in a pool of blood in the back yard. Cavanagh and Ruby were arrested and charged with assault, and when Hollyer died on JUNE 25th Cavanagh faced a charge of murder. The charge against Ruby was dropped.
Convicted and sentenced to death at his trial at Newcastle Assizes, Cavanagh had gained two stone in prison by the time he went to the scaffold on December 18th, 1917.