A convict who had been trained as a plumber and who was serving six months for burglary was asked by prison authorities at Strangeways Prison, Manchester, to renew some gas piping at the house of the matron within the prison complex.

John Jackson, 33, agreed to do the work, and on May 22nd, 1888, he was taken to the house by a prison officer, Ralph Webb, 45, with whom he was on good terms.

In the middle of the afternoon the matron heard a strangled cry from the bedroom and, investigating, found the door locked. She summoned help, and three warders broke down the door. They found their colleague Webb beaten to death with a hammer, and a hole in the ceiling through which Jackson had escaped.

A massive manhunt was mounted, but Jackson was at large for several weeks before he was arrested in Bradford after breaking into a house. He was tried for Warder Webb’s murder at Manchester Assizes on Friday July 13th, 1888, and hanged on Tuesday, August 7th, 1888, at Strangeways, where he had committed the murder. Hangman James Berry was grimly satisfied with this execution – he had been a great friend of the victim.