Like many men before him, and many to follow, John George Thompson, a 39-year-old engine-fitter, couldn’t accept that his relationship with his girlfriend was over when she told him it had finished.

Maggie Ann Lieutand, 33, had lived with him, although she was married, but their affair had been troubled and she had finally left him to live at the Gateshead home of her friend Mrs. Ivy Dawson.

On September 16th, 1901, Thompson bought a revolver, and the next day Maggie and Mrs. Dawson found him waiting outside Mrs. Dawson’s house on their return home. When he grabbed Maggie’s arm and asked her to return to him, she pulled away and said she wanted nothing more to do with him.

Mrs. Dawson told him to stay away and stop bothering her friend, but as the two women entered her home Thompson forced his way in, drew his gun and shot Maggie below the shoulder-blade.

Mrs. Dawson shouted to her to run to the house opposite and, pushing past Thompson, Maggie ran across the road and into the house facing her friend’s. But Thompson was on her heels. He put his foot in the doorway, preventing her from closing the door. Then he reached through the gap and fired twice.

One bullet hit Maggie in the arm, and the other ploughed into her head and she collapsed. Overcome by remorse, Thompson cradled her in his arms as she died.

At his trial for her murder he admitted the shooting, but claimed temporary insanity, hoping to have the charge reduced to manslaughter. The medical superintendent of Durham County Asylum, however, testified that he had found no evidence of insanity in the prisoner, and Thompson was found guilty as charged. His execution took place at Durham Prison on December 10th, 1901.