Ruby Anne Keen was 23, lived with her widowed mother in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, and worked in a Dunstable factory. In the evenings she liked to have a good time, and there was no shortage of young men willing to provide it.

One of them was Leslie George Stone, a 24-year-old builder’s labourer, and on Sunday, April 11th, 1937, he met Ruby by arrangement at a Leighton Buzzard pub. They later visited another inn, which they left together around 9.50 p.m.

The next morning Ruby’s almost naked body was found on a footpath in a nearby wood. Marks on the ground indicated that she had fought hard for her life, and an autopsy found that she had been knocked out by a punch on the chin, and then strangled with her scarf. There was no evidence of sexual assault.

At first, Stone said he and Ruby had parted shortly after leaving the last of the pubs. But several witnesses had seen the couple heading for the path where Ruby’s body was found, and Stone was charged with her murder.

At his Old Bailey trial in June he changed his story, claiming that Ruby had provoked him by calling him names and striking out at him.

“She called me a dirty devil and hit me above the left ear,” he told the court. “It was a full arm swing. I was surprised and went up to her, and she struck again at me with the other hand. It made me jump at her.

“I caught hold of her scarf, I think, and pulled it. I think it knotted again after that. She started to fall down and I caught hold of the front of her clothes. I was in a kind of rage. Her clothes were torn off as she was falling.”

He did not try to interfere with Ruby and thought she was only stunned, he said, and he walked away thinking she would revive.

After retiring to consider their verdict, the jury sent the judge a message intimating that they wanted to ask a question. Their foreman then asked: “If as a result of an intention to commit rape a girl is killed, although there is no intention to kill her, is the man guilty of murder?”

“Yes, undoubtedly,” the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Hewart, replied.

Those two words spoken by the judge were the basis of Stone’s appeal after he was convicted and sentenced to death. On JULY 29th the appeal was heard by three judges who dismissed it, ruling that Lord Hewart’s answer to the jury’s question was correct. And on August 13th, 1937, Stone was hanged by Thomas Pierrepoint, carrying out his first execution at Pentonville for 24 years.