Alf Derrick, 31, hated living with his mother-in-law. He insisted that he and his wife should have a home of their own. But Mrs. Derrick wouldn’t hear of leaving her mum.

So Alf Derrick upped and went himself, and soon forgot his family to such an extent that he served two short prison sentences for failing to maintain them. Released after the second stretch in October, 1909, he took lodgings at Chapel Street, Stalybridge. It was there that he espied Hannah Etchells, 25, the 4ft 10ins beauty living next door.

One day he wrote to his mother: “She’s been a good one to me…but I’ve got her into trouble.” A couple of weeks later passers-by found Hannah dead in a field alongside Ridge Hill, with Alf Derrick scarcely conscious beside her. She had been strangled with a bootlace, and he had cut his throat.

Alf Derrick was put on trial at Chester Assizes on JULY 14th, 1910, where, his bandaged throat still troubling him, he pleaded not guilty to killing Hannah. He insisted they had no suicide pact deal, and that he had found her in a field with a piece of leather around her neck.

He was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death, but on the grounds that the evidence against him was purely circumstantial the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

The irony of the case came with the post-mortem result on Hannah: she wasn’t pregnant.