“She was jealous of me, so she shot herself,” declared James Tapping as he showed a policeman the body of his girl friend Emma Whiter, 18, at the home they shared in South Conduit Street, Bethnal Green, on January 28th, 1845. “She picked up the pistol, put it to her neck, and fired a single shot.”

In fact, as the policeman pointed out, it couldn’t have happened like that at all. It must have been Tapping himself who picked up the pistol and fired the shot into Emma’s neck.

Even so, he went on protesting his innocence at his trial at the Old Bailey the following month. Sentenced to hang, he waited until he was in the death cell at Newgate before confessing that he had been receiving anonymous letters to the effect that Emma was seeing someone else, and he killed her out of jealousy. He was hanged on Monday, March 24th, 1845, when the Newgate crowd of regulars numbered 7,000.