Diagnosed in early 1917 with diabetes, New Zealand farmer Sydney Eyre was told to take a long sea voyage for the sake of his health. He certainly made the most of it.

Leaving his wife Millicent to run their farm, he went to the United States, from there to Canada, joined the Canadian Army, served in Siberia in the Russian civil war, and arrived back at his farm unannounced after two and a half years’ absence.

Millicent had taken on various farmhands to help out, including one Samuel Thorne who, she later admitted, was sharing her bed while her husband was away.

A few days after his return, Farmer Eyre was shot dead by a rifle aimed through his bedroom window. By daybreak, hired hand Thorne had disappeared on his horse.

He was traced after a blacksmith studied the horse’s hoofprints and compared them with the prints of 1,300 horses that had been shod within a 20-mile radius.

At Thorne’s trial for murder the defence raised serious doubts about Millicent Eyre’s integrity, suggesting that besides having an affair with Thorne she may have murdered her husband herself. When the jury failed to agree, a new trial was ordered, and this time, after a four-hour retirement, the jury found Thorne guilty. He was hanged on Monday, December 20th, 1920. Worldwide Hangings from True Crime Library.

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