“You won’t get a penny out of me. I’ll do you in first,” Clifford Holmes told his wife Irene when she obtained a separation order on the grounds of his persistent cruelty.
He was a 24-year-old soldier stationed at Aldershot, and they had married five years earlier, in 1935. In recent months he had begun unjustly accusing his wife of seeing another man, and had threatened her with his rifle and bayonet and bombarded her with obscene letters.
On October 5th, 1940, he obtained compassionate leave and returned to Manchester to try to sort out his marital problems. But when he traced Irene, who had moved back home, he gave her a black eye.
On OCTOBER 10th, he had a lunchtime drink at the Plymouth Hotel in Chorlton-on-Medlock and asked if he could leave his army kit there. He was told that would be all right, but he must not leave his rifle.
“That’s what I want to get rid of,” he replied. “I might use it.”
After calling at other pubs for drinks, he went to his wife’s lodgings at Longsight. The door of her room was locked, and when she refused to admit him he fired at the lock and went in. His next shot missed his wife, who dashed from the room and ran downstairs.
Pursuing her, Holmes cornered her behind the back door, shot her in the chest and stabbed her four times with his bayonet. Then he carried her corpse to a sofa, where he was seen weeping over her, fumbling with her clothes and putting his hand up her skirt.
At his trial for her murder his defence called two doctors who said they thought he was mentally ill. But the medical officer at Strangeways Prison said Holmes was sane and showed no sign of mental disease.
Convicted and sentenced to death, Clifford Holmes was duly hanged at Strangeways.