The Victorian small shopkeeper was always vulnerable to a hard-up predator, especially as so often rumours circulated that he had wealth hidden somewhere on his premises. Roger Drew, 57, was a quiet, self-effacing grocer who lived alone in Launceston, where local gossip had it that he had a hoard of money at the back of the shop.
Drew went to the pub down the road 150 yards from his home on Saturday, June 7th, 1862, and returned home at 10.30. Next morning he was found face down in a pool of blood in his shop, and some of his money had been stolen. The shop and his room above it had been ransacked, there was blood everywhere, and Drew had been struck many blows to his head.
Attention focused on John Doidge, 28, an unemployed labourer who lived only yards away from Drew and had been in the same pub that Saturday night, exhibiting a billhook that he used to cut wood. When Doidge was arrested the billhook had blood on it.
He was convicted after a two-day trail and hanged on Monday, August 18th, 1862, outside Bodmin Prison.