After a gang of Irish Republicans set upon and murdered two British diplomats in Phoenix Park, Dublin, in May 1882, one of them, James Carey, 45, turned informer. The information he gave to the police helped to send five fellow-Republicans to the gallows, and from that moment Carey was a marked man.

Knowing the sort of fate that would befall him if he wasn’t spirited away somewhere, the British authorities arranged a passage for him to South Africa, where he would have a new identity and a new life.

But the Republicans, vowing vengeance, discovered the plan, and one of them, Patrick O’Donnell, 48, booked a passage on the same ship, the SS Melrose. On July 30th, 1883, while the ship was sailing from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, he shot Carey three times, the last one in the back.

He was brought back to England to face trial, claiming at the Old Bailey that he acted in self-defence. Found guilty, he was hanged on Monday, December 17th, 1883, in Newgate Prison. Victorian murder stories from True Crime Library.

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