The Privy Council in London, arbiters of Trinidad’s legal affairs in 1984, had decreed that a prisoner could not be hanged if he had been on Death Row for more than five years. The decision was an important one for prisoner Glenn Ashby, sentenced to death on July 20th, 1989, for stabbing an airline pilot to death during a burglary.

Ashby’s execution was set for 6.40 a.m. on Thursday, July 14th, 1994, at Port-of-Spain Prison – six days before the deadline was up. Just before he was due on the scaffold the Privy Council sent a fax to Trinidad ordering a stay of execution to allow him to lodge a second appeal. If he did appeal the hanging sentence would automatically lapse, because the five-year period would have passed.

But the fax did not arrive until 6.50 a.m. – 10 minutes after Ashby was hanged.

Few in Trinidad were seriously upset by this administrative blunder. The authorities had been desperate to hang Ashby because he had also murdered a prison officer, although he had never been tried for that offence.