Although rape had ceased to be a capital offence in England, Wales and Ireland by 1841, it remained punishable by death in Scotland until 1887. As a result, James Robb, 19, was sentenced to death twice – once for raping his victim and once for murdering her.

A labourer and petty criminal, he was drunk when he decided he would “have a woman” before he went to bed. He knocked on the door of the lonely cottage owned by Mary Smith, 63, in Auchterless, Aberdeenshire. When she refused to let him in, he climbed down the chimney and raped her.

The old lady tried valiantly to fight him off, but he hit her with any object he could find. To quieten her when he had subdued her, he pushed other objects down her throat and up her nose. Eventually she died of a heart attack.

Robb was hanged on Tuesday, October 16th, 1849, outside Aberdeen Prison.