Two sailors, William Sproull and Charlie McEachern, had just been paid off from the SS Dorset on completing their voyage from Australia, and they seemed easy prey for two prostitutes working for Mark and Morris Reubens.

On the night of MARCH 15th, 1909, Ellen Stevens and Emily Allen picked up the two drunken sailors, luring them to a house in Rupert Street, Whitechapel, where the Reubens brothers laid in wait, intending to rob them.

But the sailors put up a fight in which Sproull was fatally stabbed. His body was discovered in the street, and McEachern was found further along the road, semi-conscious and muttering incoherently.

A trail of blood led police straight to the house, where the brothers and the two girls were arrested.

“I didn’t stab him,” Morris Reubens, 23, protested when he was charged with Sproull’s murder. “If he was stabbed, my brother must have done it.”

Charges against the girls were dropped, Emily Allen agreeing to give evidence for the prosecution, and an Old Bailey jury heard that Mark Reubens, 22, was the actual killer. But in his summing-up Mr. Justice Jelf pointed out that if a defendant conspired with another to commit grievous bodily harm and death resulted, then that defendant was just as guilty of murder as his accomplice who delivered the fatal blow.

When the death sentences were passed, both brothers wept hysterically, appealing for mercy and asking why the jury hadn’t recommended it. Warders had to support the pair in the dock, and for some time after the brothers left it their shrieks were heard coming from the cells below.

On May 20th, 1909, their hanging by Henry Pierrepoint, assisted by his brother Thomas and William Willis, was Pentonville Prison’s second double execution.