Nobody believed 44-year-old Joseph Deans when he repeatedly said he was going to kill Catherine Convery, his widowed 51-year-old former mistress. He was so free with his threats that he was not taken seriously…until the night of October 7th, 1916, when Mrs. Convery staggered into the Grey Horse pub at Monkwearmouth, Sunderland.

“He has murdered me this time!” she cried, blood streaming from her head. Then she fainted, but on regaining consciousness shortly afterwards she walked the half-mile to Sunderland Royal Infirmary, where she died from her injuries six days later, on OCTOBER 13th.

The police didn’t have to look far for her assailant. Deans was arrested at his home in Southwick, Sunderland, two days after the attack. He had spent nearly 17 years as a gold-miner in South Africa, and he complained: “She has had hundreds of pounds from me, and now she wants to toss me over.”

At his trial for Catherine Convery’s murder the jury heard that after trying unsuccessfully to buy a revolver Deans had settled for an axe and a razor, saying the axe was for Catherine, the razor for himself. When police arrived at his home to question him his attempt to kill himself failed, as murderers’ suicide bids so often do. Their proficiency with the razor strangely deserts them when they are their own victim.

It took the jury just five minutes to decide that Deans was guilty. Asked if he had anything to say before he was sentenced, he replied, “I killed the woman and I am pleased I killed her.”

With his execution at Durham Prison on December 20th, 1916, he became the last man hanged that year in Britain.