William Bennett fought for king and country against Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo and for that he was still drawing an army pension many years later. When he went to collect it on Wednesday, October 28th, 1837, a young lad who lived in the same street in Hertford stepped across his path.
Mr. Bennett, there are four men hanging around in the woods and theyre talking about you, the boy warned him.
Dont worry, Bennett replied cheerfully. I know who they are and theyre harmless.
Bennett would have done better to heed the boys warning. Minutes later the four men set upon him, stole his pension money, and kicked him in the head until he was dead.
The murderous quartet were George Fletcher, 21, David Sams, 20, William Roach, 18, and Thomas Taylor, 22.
Bennetts young informer went to the police when he heard the old army pensioner was dead, Fletcher and Sams were soon arrested in Hertford, and Roach was captured in London. Taylor wasnt caught until much later.
The three men in custody were tried at Hertford Assizes the following March, where Sams agreed he took part in the robbery but denied any violence against the old soldier. He was acquitted of murder, but Fletcher and Roach were sentenced to death and hanged outside Hertford Prison on Wednesday, March 14th, 1838.
(When Thomas Taylor was finally caught and convicted, he was hanged almost a year later, on Wednesday, March 13th, 1839, again outside Hertford Prison. He was the last man executed publicly there.)