William Benjamin Reeve, a 42-year-old labourer, claimed that he’d shot his wife on JULY 5th, 1915, and had then cut his own throat because she was unfaithful. But at his trial at Bedfordshire Assizes it emerged that her infidelity with Reeve’s brother-in-law, if true, had long been condoned, having taken place some years earlier.
The prosecution alleged that Reeve, a heavy drinker with no regular employment, had killed his hard-working wife because she refused to give him money. In convicting him the jury made no recommendation, but the judge, Mr. Justice Shearman, later advised a reprieve on the grounds that Reeve’s prolonged heavy drinking had made him irrational.
The Home Secretary, however, decided that an undesirable precedent would be created if the prisoner’s life were to be spared simply because his heavy drinking had weakened him mentally and morally, and Reeve duly went to the gallows.