Although 50-year-old William Butler was only five feet two inches tall, he weighed more than 15 stone. He lived in Union Street, off Great Titchfield Street, Marylebone, with Mary Catherine Allen, who was also 50 and had two failed marriages behind her. She also had a son, George Melhuish, from her first marriage, and in the early summer of 1905 he moved in with her and Butler.
Right from the start there was tension between the two men. This led to a fight in which Butler came off much the worse, requiring hospital treatment. Mary and her son had conspired against him, he suspected, and his jaw had been broken intentionally.
Ill do for both of them one day, he told a neighbour. And he told his own son, You must not be surprised if I am charged with murder.
On the morning of SEPTEMBER 24th, 1905, Butler stabbed Mary Allen four times with a shoemakers knife. She was rushed to Middlesex Hospital where she died later that day, after naming him as her assailant.
His defence at his Old Bailey trial was that he was so drunk that morning that he did not know what he was doing. But the prosecution called witnesses who testified that he had made threats against Mary and her son, and on October 19th he was convicted of wilful murder and sentenced to death.
After studying his short, overweight prisoner, hangman Henry Pierrepoint gave him a drop of six feet when he went to the scaffold on November 7th, 1905.