When a six-year-old girl disappeared on MARCH 22nd, 1932, failing to return home after going to a local shop on an errand, the police investigation focused on Charles James Cowle, an 18-year-old unemployed cotton operative who lived a few doors away from the missing girl’s home in Darwen, Lancashire.

He was known to have a troubled history, for nine years earlier he had been sent to an approved school after assaulting a two-year-old boy. And when police went to search his home he admitted murdering the girl, who was found raped and strangled in a tin trunk in his bedroom.

Cowle’s defence was insanity, but a medical examination found him to be neither insane nor mentally defective, and he was hanged at Manchester’s Strangeways Prison.